Category Archives: Bars

Coffee Shop Worthy Date Squares

My girlfriend and I have a serious appreciation for good coffee.  We’ve visited some of the best coffee shops and cafes within our area, and talked with those who make a living roasting beans from around the world.   Undoubtedly, we settle in with a good cup of caffeinated bliss, share a pastry or two and get caught up about our busy lives.  I don’t know why, but often times I choose a date square with my coffee.  It’s something I rarely bake at home, but I love to enjoy a nice big serving when in a coffee shop.  You might say I’ve become a bit of a connoisseur about these dense, date filled, oat bars.

Date Squares via SweetRevelations

I have no idea where my love for these classic homemade bars came from.   Just thinking about them makes me think of old-school recipes that are hardly made at home anymore.  I mean, with all of the salted this and caramel that options we have these days, the date square is hardly at the top of the list for the newest generation of home bakers.  Even though they keep well, travel well, freeze well, and are fairly fuss-free, they’ve kind of disappeared from potluck menus and home kitchens.  Years ago, a sweet relative of mine used to bring them with her to pretty much every family function.  They were thick and sweet and had the best crumble on top.  She passed away a long time ago, and unfortunately her recipe was never passed on.  Since then, I’ve been on a quest to find the perfect one.  As a result, I’m often comparing the servings I’ve had from one coffee shop to the next.  Too dense, too crumbly, too thin, too sweet.

Date Square via SweetRevelations

This week-end, after another coffee shop visit, I decided to make my own.  I already knew what some of my requirements would be.  A thick bottom layer is a must, with a slightly sweet date filling, and a golden crumbly oat top.  Classic date square recipes require that you boil the chopped dates for a few minutes in water, to soften the dates and thicken the filling.  As I was pitting and chopping the dates, I had an epiphany!  Instead of adding water to my date filling, I brewed a cup of my favorite coffee and used that instead.   The results were just as I had hoped.  A thick filling, that was slightly sweet and only made richer tasting with the addition of coffee.  Don’t be alarmed, the coffee taste doesn’t exist at all, it just enhances the date flavor.  The buttery, crumbly topping was pretty simple, but the last-minute addition of pumpkin seeds has made these a little more, well, glamorous I’d say.

I’m voting for a date square comeback every one!

Date Squares via SweetRevelations

I must confess that these were pretty satisfying.  Coffee shop worthy in fact.  The filling to base ratio was spot on and they didn’t crumble in my hands.  And they made a hearty breakfast treat this morning (by the way, they qualify as a breakfast option on account of the fruit and oats in my books).   My friends can expect them to be making an appearance at our next pot luck!

Date Square via SweetRevelations

Have you got a family date square recipe?  I would love to hear about it!

Happy coffee shop lingering and baking friends,

Renee

xo

 

Date Squares

Preheat oven to 350°

Filling:

  • 2 1/2 cups Medjool dates, chopped and pitted
  • 1 cup hot black coffee
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

Base:

  • 1 1/2 cups large flake oats
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed and slightly soft but still cool
  1.  Line an 8 x 8 square pan with parchment paper and set aside.  Make the filling first by combining the coffee, dates, sugar and lemon juice in a pot.  Bring to a boil.  Add the baking soda and stir mixture continuously for approx. 4 minutes, until filling is thick and dates are soft.  Set aside to cool while you prepare the base.
  2. Combine the first 6 ingredients of the base recipe in a medium-sized bowl and mix to combine.   Add the butter and use your hands or a fork to coat the flour mixture with the butter until crumbly in texture.   Press 3 1/4 cups of oat mixture into the bottom of the pan.  Spread on the layer of date filling.  Top with remaining oat mixture and press down slightly.  Bake for 30-35 minutes until topping is golden.  Cool completely before cutting and serving.

 

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Filed under Bars, Breakfast

Warm Skillet Butter Tart Bars

There are a few things some of us take seriously in this country.

Hockey.  The weather.  Politics.  Poutine.  Back Bacon.  Maple Syrup.  Nanaimo Bars (we made these first!).  Good beer.

And Butter Tarts.

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It’s a classic Canadian treat, that is beloved for its flaky pastry filled with brown sugar, melted butter and syrup.   Most people have a preference about how they should be filled.  Raisins or no raisins.  Nuts or no nuts.  Made with maple syrup or corn syrup.  Runny or firm.  Some use currants or cranberries.  Perhaps a splash of Whiskey or Maple Whiskey.

There’s also the popular Butter Tart Bars, that have that gorgeous buttery, tender shortbread crust with all of that gooey Butter Tart goodness on top.  They are very easy to make, great for serving at parties and potlucks, and on the Christmas holiday baking list of moms all across this country.

Everyone, we have got this Butter Tart thing down to a science.

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I for one, am a complete sucker for a warm Butter Tart Bar, slightly runny, filled with raisins and walnuts, with a splash of Maple Whiskey, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.  So baking a full on Butter Tart Bar in a skillet is only natural.  I  haven’t met anyone yet, who doesn’t swoon over the warm, buttery piece that comes out.  The scoop of ice cream, just pretty much takes it over the top.  Insanely, buttery, gooey, good.

sweetrevelations

I think most families have a recipe that’s been passed down.  Aside from all of the additions, the base recipe of Butter Tart Squares is essentially the same.  Instead of powdered sugar in my shortbread base, I use brown sugar.  I saw it used in another recipe for bars and have made shortbread crust that way ever since.

Do you love Butter Tarts as much as me?  What are your filling preferences?

Happy finger licking, slightly runny, full of raisins and walnuts, Butter Tart baking friends,

Renee

xo

 

Warm Skillet Butter Tart Bars

For the Crust:

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

For the Filling:

  • 1-1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. Maple Whiskey (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°

  1.  In a medium bowl, combine the ingredients for the crust, using a fork or pastry blender.  Press into the bottom of a well seasoned skillet (I did a quick swipe of shortening around the sides first, very little) or baking pan lined with parchment.  Bake for 10 minutes.
  2. Combine the first six ingredients for the filling and mix until well combined.  Stir in the raisins, walnuts and whisky.  Pour the filling on top of the crust and bake for an additional 30 minutes.  Serve slightly warm with ice cream!

Notes:

  1. This recipe can also be made in an 8 x 8 pan.
  2. Butter Tart Squares freeze very well.   If making ahead, bake in an 8 x 8 pan lined with parchment.  Freeze when cool.

 

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Filed under Bars

Love Cookies

You know the saying, that as you get older, you open your mouth and your mother comes out?   I would’ve sworn on my life as a teen that this would never happen to me, that it couldn’t, wouldn’t be how I would parent.  Speed ahead 30 years later and lo and behold I was blessed with three amazing children of my own and I’ve seen my mother in a whole new light.

I should say to her, thank you for loving us as deeply as you did and I’m sorry for all the trouble I gave you.

Oh, and you were right.

top

Mom scratch baked for us every single week-end.  Tunes always blaring in the kitchen, she made the best meals and treats.   I have vivid memories of standing on a chair and helping her roll dozens of cookies in sugar.  These Love Cookies were a regular during our childhood.  They aren’t really cookies, they’re made in bar form, and I’ve never seen another recipe similar.  Waiting for the glaze to set while they were still warm was a killer but mom usually cut a little warm piece off for us.

When I make these now, I often eat a piece or two (sometimes a row!) right after it’s been glazed.   It takes me right back to that little kitchen of my childhood, and to mom, within minutes.

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These are full of walnuts, cinnamon and raisins.  They are baked on a sheet pan and topped with a sweet glaze while still warm.  When the glaze sets, it leaves a gorgeous crackly layer on top.

I have no idea where this recipe came from, but I’m pretty sure of the Love in the name.

Thanks mom. xo

loveslice

Do you have a recipe that takes you right back to your moms kitchen?  I would love to hear about it!

Happy Spring!

Renee

 

Love Cookies

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup+ 1 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup + 1 tbsp water, divided
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup cold milk
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

1.  In a medium saucepan combine sugar, cinnamon, 1/2 cup butter, raisins and 1 cup water.  Mix well.   Combine baking soda and remaining tbsp water and stir until soda dissolves.  Add to the raisin mixture and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat.  Boil for 5 minutes stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, add the walnuts and set aside.

2.  Mix flour and baking powder and add to the raisin mixture.  Stir just until combined.  Spread onto 10 x 15 cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake for 25-27 mins until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Watch carefully at 25 minutes as these can over bake quickly.

3.  In a small bowl combine the milk, tbsp of melted butter, icing sugar and vanilla.  Whisk any lumps out and spread over cookies while still warm.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Bars, Cookies

Brownie Bottom Frozen Vanilla Mousse

Remember last week when I told you my vanilla extract was celebrating it’s birthday?

frozenmousse2

 

I used some of that intense vanilla to make a Frozen Mousse dessert that was out of this world!  It’s a combination of two of my favourite things: a sweet frozen mousse and a rich brownie layer.  This is a fancier version of an ice cream sandwich, an indulgent, airy version of an old classic all dressed up for a party.  Literally, I’ve left off the top layer and added some farm fresh berries and shaved dark chocolate.

frozenmousse4

 

The beauty of this dessert is that it can be made in a large 11 x 15 pan to serve a big crowd.  I made it in the morning and left it in the freezer until our company arrived later in the day.  It was the perfect surprise to bring out on a hot July day, everyone eager for a cold treat.  For the toppings use whatever fruit is in season and some premium chocolate or toasted nuts.

frozenmousse1

 

The brownie layer is a recipe taken from here, the Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches I made a few years ago for my twin boys birthday.  Now both towering well above me, they are still ice cream, mousse loving guys over a layered birthday cake any day.  It’s a small but mighty chocolate-y layer that gives each bite rich brownie flavor.

frozenmousse3

The mousse layer is smooth and light.  It’s full of vanilla bean seeds, fresh whipped cream and whipped egg whites.  All of the whipping creates a mousse that is airy and fluffy.  Even when frozen, the mousse is still light and creamy.

Have you got a favourite cold and sweet frozen summer treat?  Tell me what it is!

Happy summer everyone!  Enjoy!

Renee

Brownie Bottom Frozen Vanilla Bean Mousse

  • 1/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 84 g  unsweetened chocolate, about 3 squares,  coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup  granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp  salt
  • 1/4 tsp  vanilla
  • 2   eggs
  • 1/4 cup  all-purpose flour
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • whole vanilla bean, split and seeded
  • grated premium dark chocolate and fresh raspberries for serving

Brownie Layer:

1.  Spray an 11 × 15 in. pan with non-stick spray then line with parchment paper. Place chocolate and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave on medium until chocolate melted, about 2 min. Stir halfway through.

2.  Stir sugar, salt and vanilla into warm chocolate mixture. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, until blended. Stir in flour just until mixed. Scrape into prepared pan. Spread batter over parchment using an offset spatula to create a smooth, even, very thin layer.

3.  Bake in centre of oven until brownie appears shiny and is firm but slightly undercooked, no more than 8 min. Remove from oven and cool completely in pan, about 30 min.

Mousse Layer:

*adapted from the Food Network

1.  Set a stainless steel mixing bowl set over a pot of simmering water (do not let the water touch the bottom of the bowl, about an inch of water), whisk together the egg whites and sugar. Continue to whisk gently until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch (there should be no sugar grit left when rubbed between your fingers). Remove from the heat and, with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the mixture with the whip attachment until white and fluffy and completely cool.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the cream, vanilla and vanilla seeds, and whip until soft peaks form.  Gently fold the whipped cream into the beaten egg whites until completely mixed in. Spread the mousse over the cooled brownie layer and freeze for at least 3 hours.  Cut  and serve with grated chocolate and fresh berries.

 

 

 

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Filed under Bars, Ice Cream