Mom’s Lemon Bars, v. 2.0

I fully intended to post this recipe in August. But it’s now September. So I’m bidding adieu to the warmest (and most humid) season with these bright and tart lemon bars.

The original recipe belongs to my mom, who requested more filling. Unlike me, she doesn’t tinker with recipes, so if something needs an update, mom knows who to call. (Me, not the Ghostbusters.)

Being both confident and a risk-taker, I brought my first ‘now with double the filling’ lemon bars to a Fourth of July picnic. “Who made these bars?” was uttered multiple times. Success.

With that I say goodbye summer, and hello autumn. (The crystal ball shows a glazed sweet potato Bundt cake in our near future. I promise that will be posted early in autumn, and not as a farewell fall post.)

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Lemon bars | Cred: Melanie Cohen

Mom’s Lemon Bars, v. 2.0

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 1/2 pound (two sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, preferably unbleached
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

For the filling:

  • 8 large eggs at room temperature
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons), optional
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup all-purpose flour, preferably unbleached
  • ¾ tsp baking powder

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. For the crust, mix the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter to the flour mixture. Using a food processor, pastry blender (I have this one from Pampered Chef) or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles course sand. Press into a 9 x 13 by 2-inch baking sheet or glass pan, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides.
    (If using a glass pan, reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees for the crust-only baking and once the filling is added. Baking time remains about the same. You might want to check a minute or two earlier. Why? Science. Glass doesn’t heat quickly, but once a glass pan is hot, it retains heat much longer.)
  3. Chill crust in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. (You can skip this step if you’re running short on time.)
  4. Bake the crust for 15 to 18 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.
  5. While the crust is cooling, make the filling. Whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest, if using. Mix the flour and baking powder together, then add this to the egg mixture. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.
  6. Cut into 24 or 36 squares and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

(The cooked lemon squares freeze well, that is, if you have any remaining.)

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Lemon bars, now with double the filling. | Cred: Melanie Cohen

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Chewy Double Chocolate, Double Peanut Brownies

If there is a birthday party, I bringing a baked good to it. A few months ago, I asked my friend what he’d like for his birthday. “Any peanut butter and chocolate combo,” was the reply. Now, what I didn’t realize (and what he thought I knew) was that he doesn’t have a sweet tooth.

This could have been one of those birthday gifts you don’t want to receive again. Fortunately, the fudgy brownies—dotted with peanut butter and chocolate chips, plus peanuts topped with flaky sea salt—were an ace.

Now these can be in your kitchen. Or, share the deliciousness and take them to a birthday celebration.

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Double Chocolate, Double Peanut Brownies | Credit: Melanie Cohen

Chewy Double Peanut, Double Chocolate Brownies

slightly adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup Dutch-processed cocoa
  • ½ cup, plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup peanut butter chips
  • Sea salt

Instructions

  1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving about a one-inch overhang on all sides. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. (If using a glass pan, reduce oven temperature by 25 degrees F and bake for the same amount of time.)
  2. Whisk cocoa powder and boiling water together in a large bowl until smooth. Add the unsweetened chocolate and whisk until the chocolate is melted. Whisk in the melted butter and oil (mixture may look curdled—don’t worry, you’re good). Add the eggs, yolks and vanilla extract, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the sugar until fully incorporated. Add the flour and salt and mix with a rubber spatula until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and the peanut butter chips.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Coat batter evenly with crushed peanuts. Sprinkle sea salt over peanuts. Bake until a toothpick inserted halfway between edge and center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool for 1½ hours.
  4. Using the foil overhang, lift the brownies from pan. Place the brownies on the wire rack and cool completely, about 1 additional hour. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve. Brownies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to four days.
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Double Chocolate, Double Peanut Brownies | Credit: Melanie Cohen

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Connie’s Mom’s Mint Bars

Sometimes, even bakers do not want to turn the oven on. Maybe it’s because you baked 22 dozen cookies the weekend before and gave away your half, forgetting you had a cookie swap in seven days. (Guilty.)

This no bake mint bars recipe is for those times. Or, really, any time you have a mint craving.

The bottom layer is a mixture of chocolate, coconut, nuts and sweetened condensed milk. The cool minty part (my favorite) makes up the middle. It’s topped with chocolate mixture that’s as intense as ganache, but not as firm.

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Layered mint bars, aerial shot

The first time I ate these, I was smitten. Sorry peppermint patties, we need to take a break.

This recipe is courtesy of my friend Connie’s mom. Connie tucked them into my goody bag after the aforementioned cookie-making marathon. I ate one and immediately wanted the recipe. They’re a welcome addition to this baking blog.

Thanks, Connie’s mom!

Connie’s Mom’s Mint Bars

Ingredients

Crust

  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Mint Layer

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons margarine or butter
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • red or green food coloring (optional)

Ganache

  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • remainder of can of sweetened condensed milk

 Instructions

  1. For the crust: melt unsweetened chocolate, sweetened condensed milk and butter together. Stir in graham cracker crumbs, coconut and chopped walnuts or pecans. Press firmly in bottom of a 9-inch square baking dish. Chill 15 minutes.
  2. For the mint layer: beat powdered sugar, cream cheese and butter together until smooth; stir in peppermint extract and a few drops of food coloring (optional). Spread over chilled crust and chill 45 minutes.
  3. For the ganache: melt chocolate with remainder of the 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk. Spread over chilled mint layer and chill 1-2 hours. Cut into small bars and keep refrigerated.
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All the pretty layers of mint bars