Nature’s Eats: Butterscotch and Almond Cheesecake Bars #NaturesEats #Tryazon

 

 

Lets Begin………….

Butterscotch and Almond Cheesecake Bars

  • Dry Ingredients:
    1 cup of Oats (Instant/Quick cooked)
    1 cup of White Whole Wheat Flour
    1 cup of Blanched Almond Flour by Nature’s Eats
    1/2 cup of All Purpose Flour
    1/4 tsp of Salt
    1/2 tsp of Baking Soda
    1/2 tsp of Baking Powder

 

  • Wet Ingredients:
    7 ounces melted Unsalted Butter (melted)
    1 1/4 cup of Butterscotch Chips
    3/4 cup of Brown Sugar
    1 Large Egg

 

  • Filling:
    16 ounces of Cream Cheese (softened)
    1/8 tsp of Almond Extract
    1/2 tsp of Vanilla Extract
    1/4 cup of White Sugar
    1/8 cup of All Purpose Flour
    1 Large Egg

Drizzle (optional): 1/4 cup of Extra Dark Chocolate melted. Takes about 15 seconds and I use the stove top and I add heat, take the pan off to stir, add pan back and then again stir until just melted. It is my way to avoid burning the chocolate.

You begin by using 3 bowls to mix the above ingredients. You start with the first bowl and incorporate all the flours, baking powder and soda, plus the salt. Set aside. The second bowl, you mix the melted butter, butterscotch chips and the brown sugar. You have the option to melt everything together over a stove top or you can easily microwave the ingredients by using 20 second intervals and mixing in between. The chips may not completely melt (1/4 left intact) and that is perfectly fine. Wait for the wet ingredients to cool off a bit before incorporating the egg. Set aside. The third bowl is for the filling. You incorporate the softened cream cheese with the rest of the ingredients and make sure to whisk until smooth.

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  • Assembly-

Start the oven and I baked the bars at 350 degrees in convection mode. I sprayed a glass pan with nonstick spray and I used a rectangular dish that measures 11 x 7 inches and you can easily use a larger dish for less thicker bars.

You add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix until everything is well incorporated. 3/4 of the mixed bar batter goes on the bottom to create an even layer. I use a spatula to smooth it out and press it down a touch. Next comes the filling. You simply spread out the filling to create an even layer. The top layer is the 1/4 amount of the bar batter that remains. I crumble that on top because I do not want to smash or disrupt the middle cream cheese layer. By now the oven usually has reached temperature and in go the bars until baked. This takes between 28 to 35 minutes. Worried the top is over browning? Just add foil on top until the bars are fully baked and I use a toothpick to make sure the bar batter would not stick. You may get a smear of cream cheese but realize you don’t want to over bake the bars. Allow the bars to cool and then you can put them in the fridge. I gave them 4 hours to fully cool and you can even leave them in overnight. Drizzle time!! I cut the bars and find they cut flawlessly when cooled all the way. I tend to cut the bars in different sizes so guests can pick the size they desire. I then melt chocolate and I melted about 1/4 of a cup of Extra Dark Chocolate (Bittersweet). I like the more stronger notes against the sweeter ones the butterscotch tends to give. You can drizzle whatever you want from caramel, white chocolate or semi-sweet. Drizzling on cold cut bars allows the chocolate to harden quick too. I returned the bars to the fridge (uncovered) and within 20 minutes it was set. I then covered the bars in plastic and put them back in the fridge until serving.

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Options: You can add to the filling anything from nuts to dry cranberries, apricots, blueberries to fit any season/occasion. A fruit medley can even be added to give it that full autumn feel. Even though pumpkin everything is hitting the store shelves, we are set for a heat wave in Southern California. This was a pre-Fall treat that is not fully embracing the season because the weather has not gotten the memo! Let’s say I am easing into Autumn and hopefully the weather will too.

Enjoy!

Connect with Nature’s Eats at:

 

 

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Nature’s Eats and Tryazon. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. I received no other compensation in exchange for my review. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.
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Tryazon: Gourmet du Village Dipping Party #Review #GourmetDuVillage

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Tryazon has been very good to me and when I got to host the Gourmet du Village party…..I even did a happy dance. I love to cook and try new food companies and Gourmet du Village has a site where you can get happily lost looking at everything and your mind, plus tummy will be making a list of all the things you want to try. I spent one late evening looking around and it turned into me going to bed late because I just love everything Gourmet du Village has to offer.  In my book, I call that doing research 🙂 .

You don’t need to host a party to enjoy Gourmet du Village’s products and kitchen essentials. You have items that come in all quantities and even a single person can easily purchase what they want and need, without having to purchase in bulk. I always keep that in mind as it’s usually just Hubby and I at home. Gourmet du Village satisfies your savory tooth by offering dips, mixes, cheese toppings, to potato chips that are not like what you buy at the usual supermarkets. Got a sweet tooth? They have chocolates to candies, dessert toppings and more! You will love the bakers they sent because I love not only using but collecting articles of this kind that tend to not only bake great foods, but they sort of find a way to bake memories into them too. I can pick-up a baker and clearly think back to a time I made such and such, for this event and what a great memory of the people that were there. It’s nice when things serve more than a purpose than cooking with them, so join me while I share a little of our Memorial Day weekend with you!

The Dips:

Let’s start with the dips.  Each dip has a beautiful illustration of the kind of dip it holds.  I love the pictures and artwork so much, I kept the front cover of each dip packet and decorated the back of my pantry and the cabinet that holds my baking dishes with them.  I told you I collected bakers and the such!  The dips are easy to make and most require dairy products like cream cheese, mayo, to sour cream.  What is needed to complete the dip varies by type, like the artichoke one requires the vegetable in can form but what I like best, are what I call “off-road” uses.  Using products beyond what they were made for and Gourmet du Village provides just for that to happen.  They not only give you ideas but I was able to create a stuffed scallop cake using the Gourmet du Village Crab mix.  I simply took homemade country bread and used it as a base for my stuffing.  I added Bay scallops and scooped them into gorgeous shells.  It makes the plating look expensive but Bay scallops are those smaller ones that are also called “baby scallops”.  They sell at a lower price point and you get the scallop craving satisfied and pay less.  A little parsley and chive topping and you are done.  It was so simple just using the entire seasoning packet from Gourmet du Village and it provided a full amount of flavor that kicks out any bay seasoning that comes out of a shaker any day!  Flavorful and not salty is what I look for and that is what you get with these dips packet.

Retail Price Point: $3.99 each but you do save when you purchase more and they have trios to collections.

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The Bakers:

Gourmet du Village has beautiful bakers that are perfect for Brie to any cheese that plays well with melting.  You can use those grilled cheeses for added texture and flavor to even blends.  The bakers I received are a beautiful Cranberry red and easy to wash and clean after use.  I love adding these to my collection and the larger size does not limit me as much when it comes to serving and uses like my previous bakers. I got my hands on a beautifully aged Manchego cheese and you bet I added it to the Brie.  These dishes allow your guests to add what they want and make it their own way and that is sure to please everyone on any day.  The bakers also come with recipes, so it’s a great value.  They are oven and dishwasher safe too!

Retail Price Point: $19.99 per baker and you have gorgeous colors to choose from.

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The Chips:

Next, comes the chips for the dips.  These babies are just simple russet potatoes and some salt.  Simple foods make for the best eats!  The chip has heft where it can withstand dipping without breaking.  I found myself munching on these on their own and because they are not salty, the don’t interfere or ruin the flavor of anything you combine them with.  As odd as it may sound, we also enjoyed the “real tater” taste.  These are real slices and not just a mash of potatoes to resemble a chip.  The crunch of the potato is just as you desire and they are not oily.  Many of the kettle type chips are an oily mess that even if they are natural, who wants pools of oil?  Gourmet du Village makes a chip that is not ordinary and very crave-able.

Retail Price Point: $4.00 per 5 ounce bag

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This was not only an enjoyable an event but a time to spend with those we care.  Friends enjoyed the food, Gourmet du Village made it simple to create and everyone was left with a full and satisfied tummy.  Good memories and make your own by visiting Gourmet du Village and seeing what catches your eye.  You won’t be disappointed! Also, save while you are there and that just makes the deal even sweeter.

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Connect with Gourmet du Village at:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Tryazon and Gourmet du Village. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Smiley360: Boursin® Cheese #Review #BoursinCheese

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Who doesn’t love cheese? I think everyone at least likes one type. In my house when we go grocery shopping, we need to narrow down what we have from the cheese aisle! We bake with cream cheeses, enjoy spreads on crackers, to just munching on them as they are. Goat cheeses to raw milk cheeses, we have tried and/or been gifted most. I was so thrilled when Smiley had the Boursin Cheese campaign because it was a perfect fit.

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Boursin Cheese has been making cheeses and spreads since 1957. Francois Boursin, created the first variety (fromage frais/fresh cheese), which was a cheese base that guests then customized by adding their own seasonings and herbs. You can imagine the varieties and blends created and why Boursin still continues to delight us with their cheeses. Boursin has now made things easier by pre-blending their herbs, spices, and seasonings for easier enjoyment.

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You have Boursin Cheeses and Boursin Gourmet Spreads made with a French-style cream cheeses to choose from:

Boursin Cheeses-

  • Original
  • Pepper
  • Red Chili Pepper
  • Garlic and Fine Herbs
  • Shallot and Chive
  • Boursin Light
  • Cranberry & Spice (Seasonal flavor)
  • and many from fruit blends to savory ones too!

 

Boursin Gourmet Spreadable-

  • Garlic & Fine Herbs
  • Light Garlic & Fine Herbs
  • Red Chili Pepper
  • Spinach & Artichoke
  • Sundried Tomato & Basil
  • Creamy Asiago & Roasted Red Pepper
  • Vermont White Cheddar & Sage
  • and many more with seasonal flavors too!

 

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There is something for everyone and one is sure to make your cheese platter pop. What I like best is that you don’t need a special occasion to enjoy Boursin cheeses, as we many times pick-up one or two versions to just enjoy before meals.  Boursin cheeses are also made with simple ingredients and look for yourself at their ingredients list, you will be pleasantly surprised.  Their new Creamy Asiago and Roasted Red Pepper spread captures that red bell pepper sweetness and spice, which goes so well with the nuttier notes from the Asiago cheese.  The french style cream cheese base has a nice tang that just makes everything meld together perfectly. I will hunt to find this new version alone!

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Find your favorite(s) with Boursin because you don’t need a holiday to celebrate when it comes to enjoying Cheese:

I received the above product(s) free of charge from Simley(360) and Boursin Cheeses.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

 

The Spice Lab: Fourth of July Blueberry & Pomegranate Sugar Lab Cookies #Baking #Recipe

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I wanted a cookie that could be used in several applications. This cookie has a muffin texture when you add the baking soda, which is great for drop style cookies to even making Cake Pops or fritters with. Omit the Baking Soda and you will get a crisper cookie texture, that can be eaten as-is or enjoyed with ice cream. I have even enjoyed the muffin style version with ice cream because it plays well as a blueberry and pomegranate shortcake. 🙂

Let’s Begin….

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup Unsalted Butter (4 tablespoons)
  • 4 ounces of Cream Cheese
  • 1/4 cup of dried unsweetened Blueberries
  • 1/4 of warm water to soak blueberries in. Juice (i.e. Blueberry, Pomegranate or even a Tart Cherry) may also be used if not too sweet.
  • 1 tablespoon of Maple Syrup
  • 1 tablespoon of Sour Cream
  • 50 grams of Powdered Sugar
  • 50 grams of Rice Flour
  • 50 grams of All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 drops of Lemon Extract
  • 1 teaspoon of Baking Soda (use for a muffin/shortbread texture)
  • Pomegranate Sugar from the Spice Lab/Sugar Lab

 

Soak the blueberries in the 1/4 cup of warm water and add 1 tablespoon of Maple Syrup to the soak.

You then start by creaming the butter, cream cheese, sour cream, powdered sugar and the soaked berries with water and all. You want a nice smooth texture.

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You want to break the berries apart a bit so they release their flavor and color through out the dough.

Then add the flours and the lemon extract. Add the Baking soda if you desire a more cake like product.

1 to 2 hours for a stiff dough you can work with.

1 to 2 hours for a stiff dough you can work with.

 

Take dough out and allow for it to cool and stiffen up in the fridge. I always locate mine at the back of the fridge and it takes between 1 to 2 hours. You can also make it the evening before and allow it to cool overnight.

Once the dough has cooled and absorbed all the dry ingredients well, we have options!  

Start by heating your oven to 350 degrees.  My cookies depending on size took 12 to 15 minutes to bake.  They will feel soft and moist, but don’t be fooled because they will stiffen up nicely (careful over baking) after just 1 minute of resting on the pan.  Then remove and allow to cool.

  • You can cut the cookie outs by using shapes

I used stars of different shapes and sizes to go with a 4th of July look.

 

  • Drop Cookies

You can make drop cookies by making balls, rolling in sugar and just placing them on parchment paper and a baking sheet.  I stud each cookie with a defrosted blueberry for that little extra touch!

  • Cake Pops using a fried method for a crispy outside……sort of like a fritter!

You can make cake pops by frying the dough in Peanut oil.  I used a toothpick and then made a ball.  I put the dough in the freezer to set for 15 minutes and then took the pops out.  Gave them a final shaping and in they went into the oil.  Takes less than a minute at the size I created to cook and fry up.  Roll in the Pom sugar and you are set!

 

  • Last but not least, you can make Vintage Flags 

The options are endless and the flavor from the Pomegranate Sugar by the Sugar Lab is wonderful.  Not super sugar and you taste the fruit versus just sugar crystals.  They gave my baked goods a beautiful look but also taste wonderful.  Get creative this 4th of July! Enjoy!

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Get your Sugar and Spices Fix at:

  • The Spice Lab on-line– http://shop.thespicelab.com/index.php/peppers-spices/sugars/gourmet-sugar.html
  • Facebook– https://www.facebook.com/TheSpiceLabInc
  • Twitter– https://twitter.com/TheSpiceLab

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I received the above product free of charge from The Spice Lab.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

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Bob’s Red Mill: Crake! a Fusion Dessert made of a Cinnamon Roll and caKE all-in-one

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With all the fusion of desserts going on today, I thought I would enter into that playground and have a go at it.  I present to you what I call a Crake!  It’s actually pastry dough that I made using a blend of flours and a cake that engulfs each roll.  Being that Valentine’s Day is around the corner, we all need a hug and this moist buttermilk-based cake does just that to each roll.  So let’s get started creating and let me add, this has a sticky bun topping so I made sure to splurge!

We start by getting our starter going:

Starter-
3 ounces of Warm Water (105 to 110 degrees)
1 teaspoon of White Sugar
1/2 tablespoon of Yeast
1 ounce of Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Flour

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I have a proofing option with my oven that I set at 110 degrees.  No need to have one, so you can also place the starter to bloom in a dark warm corner in your kitchen.  I gently mix everything in a small bowl, but one with enough room for the rise. Then cover with plastic and give it about 15 minutes.

While that starter get’s….well started, I begin with the Sweet Dough Mix for the Rolls:

Dough-
3 ounces of Yogurt (or you can use 3 ounces of cream cheese, plus 1 tablespoon of milk)
2 ounces of Unsalted Butter (softened)
1 egg at room temperature
1 3/4 ounces of White Sugar
1 teaspoon of Salt
1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
6 1/2 ounces of Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Flour
4 Ounces Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour

Between a 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of All Purpose Flour (separate from above measurements) will be needed while the dough kneads.

I cream the sugar and butter together with a mixer (stand or hand will do, use your whisk attachment).  I then add the Yogurt but in this case I went with the 3 ounces of cream cheese (with 1 tablespoon of milk).  Add the egg and vanilla.  I then add the starter and incorporate everything, being careful not to over mix.   In another bowl, I mix the salt and both flours with a whisk.  I add the mix to the wet ingredients, still with the whisk attachment on.  Things will look a little shaggy at this point; that’s okay. I then change over to the dough hook.  I find using a little butter on my dough hook makes it easier in preventing the dough from sticking to it.  I begin to knead and add All Purpose Flour as needed.  Sometimes I need a 1/4 cup and other times I need up to a 1/2 a cup, it all depends on the elasticity it builds.  I knead for about 10 minutes using the mixer.

After the dough is a nice texture, I place it in a buttered bowl and cover it with plastic. In it goes to the proofer for a hour to an hour and 20 minutes. You want the dough to grow almost double in size.

I then begin on the “sticky bun” topping that I call “The Glaze”:

Glaze-
4 tablespoons of Butter (salted)
3 tablespoons of Maple Syrup
1/2 a cup of Brown Sugar

I melt the above items down and I find my little “gravy” pan works great as it has a notch for pouring.  Stir frequently and don’t hurry it up by turning up the heat.  Use low heat until things melt and just begin to bubble.  You want no sugar crystals (grains), just a smooth glaze.

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While the glaze melts, I get 1/2 a cup of pecans and throw them on some parchment paper to toast.  This intensifies the flavor profile and also adds a nice texture to the glaze.  The glaze will actually almost create a butter nut toffee texture over the pecans, so it is really delicious and beautiful looking at the same time.  I use my toaster oven because my dough is proofing in my oven.  Just place them at 350 degrees and then watch them so they do not burn.  It may take 5 minutes or 10 to be done, so the time is never exact but keep an eye on them until the color changes (darkens slightly).

Nuts-
1/2 cup of toasted Pecans (or any nut of your choice)

I then get a glass pan that I will use to bake this entire concoction in.  I use a “lasagna” pan that is the size of 9 x 13 inches (3 quart).  This allows enough room for the rolls to rise and for the cake batter to fit.  I use cooking spray on the glass and then place parchment.  The spray allows my parchment paper to stick and stay put better so I don’t have to fuss with it.  I also find that it’s easier to first cut and shape the paper to your liking BEFORE spraying so you don’t then end up with baking spray on your hands too.  Yes, it has happened where I forget and then end up with slippery hands!

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Pour the glaze onto the paper and make sure to help it spread evenly.  Once it spreads out, add the Pecans.

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I get started in making the filling for the Rolls:
Roll Filling-
You can use the standard cinnamon roll filling of 1/2 tablespoons of melted Butter, 1 cup of Brown Sugar, 1/2 to 3/4 tablespoon of ground Cinnamon, with a dash of Nutmeg.
Roll Filling Variations-
With Strawberries being in season and I am going for a Valentine’s Day dessert, I picked Strawberries.  You can go with any berry you wish like Blackberries or even a mix.  I used 6 ounces of fresh Strawberries that I sliced up and because they were already sweet, I used less than a teaspoon of White Sugar and just tossed them.  Take note the glaze is sweet and you don’t want an overly sweet filing too but do sugar the fruit by taste.
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By now the dough has “poofed” to my liking and close enough to being double the size so I get it out of the proofer and just flip it on to a floured surface.  Have a 1/2 cup of flour ready if needed when it comes to rolling the dough out.  I roll the dough out to about 14 inches (length wise).  I then spread the filling and in this case the fruit, and then I begin to roll like I would any cinnamon roll.
You want 8 rolls in total and this is my method:
Cut the ends off and then cut the roll in half.
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You now have 2 small rolls and you will cut each on in half again.
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You now have 4 pieces and you then simply cut each piece in half and you end up with 8 (close enough) equally sized rolls.
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Place the rolls in the pan that has the glaze and in it goes back in the oven to proof for about 30 to 45 minutes.  You want expansion but not so much that you won’t have room for cake batter.
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While the rolls proof, off we go to make the cake batter.  Start making the batter when you are about 10 minutes away from the rolls finish proofing:
Buttermilk Cake Batter-
3/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Flour
1/4 cup of Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 cup of White Sugar
1/2 teaspoon of Salt
1/3 cup of Unsalted Butter
1 Egg (room temperature)
1/2 teaspoon of Maple Syrup
1/2 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
1/4 teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon
3/4 cup of Buttermilk
Cream the sugar and butter together.  While that incorporates nicely, get the 3/4 cup of buttermilk and add the egg, vanilla, maple syrup to it until well blended.  Then in a separate bowl blend the dry ingredients, the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Once the butter and sugar are nice and creamy, add 1/2 of the “wet” buttermilk mixture and 1/2 of the “dry” flour mixture to the mixing bowl.  Make sure to not over mix as this results in a tough textured cake.  Scrape the sides and bottom, then add the rest of the wet and dry ingredients.
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
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Take the rolls out of the proofer and then add the cake batter to the areas around each roll.  Make sure to not get cake batter on the top of the rolls since you do not want a soggy roll.  A couple of drips is okay but do not spread the cake batter on top of the rolls.  I used all my cake batter because the point here is for the cake to rise to the height of the rolls.  You do not want when you flip these over to collapse.
By now my bossy oven has beeped at me that it is ready for the Crake to go in.  I then bake it between 30 to 40 minutes.  If you see it start to over brown, just place foil on top and make sure to not over bake.  Take it out when the cake is set and a toothpick comes out clean.  Mine was ready at 37 minutes.
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I allow the pan to cool for 8 to 10 minutes and carefully place a dish that accommodates the size of the pan you used over the Crake.  I use a glass cutting board so that I just dirty one thing and I can just slice when needed.  Use oven mitts to keep a nice grip and also in case it’s too hot.  Flip and this is where you will thank the parchment paper….just carefully peel and I use a small spatula in case a pecan here or there tries to escape.
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Viola, you made a Crake!
I then heated up dinner and allowed the Crake to cool.  It won’t get soggy on the bottom as the glaze stays on top.  After dinner I cut into it and served it with a whipped topping made of Heavy Cream, Mascarpone Cheese, and Powdered Sugar.  You just whip until you get nice stiff peaks but don’t over-whip as you will make butter.  To let my guest know the pastry had a Strawberry filling, I added a cut Fresh Strawberry on top and also a whole one to a dollop of whipped cream I placed on the plate.  This allows anyone to get more topping in case I went light on it.  Enjoy!
You can do this any way you desire.  What I mean is this is a dessert that is really two-in-one.  Want to just make the glaze and the cake, you can.  Stop at the glaze and the rolls….go for it.  I write my recipes as I go on a note pad and the above was created on my first try, so if I can do it, so can you…..so make it any way you want 🙂
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I received some of the above products free of charge from Bob’s Red Mill, an employee-owned company.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.
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Strawberries~N~Cream Squares

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Strawberries~N~Cream Squares

Being that Easter is approaching and we are embracing Spring, I wanted something light that would showcase the fruit.  I also wanted something that was quick because I again purchased strawberries and picked for the perfect case, to then just forget them in fridge for 3 days!

My crust is identical to the one I made for the Key Lemon bars and since it was a hit, not changing it!  It’s a shortbread crust and please view that recipe here https://samplesandfreebiesgallery.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/welcome-the-first-day-of-spring-with-key-lemon-cream-bars/ for details on preparation but I will note the ingredients needed.
Crust: 
1 stick of Salted Butter (softened)
1 stick of Unsalted Butter (softened)
110 grams of Powder Sugar
2 teaspoons of Vanilla Extract
3 drops of Almond Extract
300 grams of All-Purpose Flour
Vanilla Bean Cream Filling:
3 5/8 ounces of Mascarpone cheese (softened)
8 ounces of Cream Cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons of White Sugar
3/4 ounces of Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
1/4 Vanilla Bean
2 tablespoons of All-Purpose Flour
You soften both cheeses by leaving out until soft or like me, I use the microwave in the defrost setting.
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With a mixer or by hand with a whisk, you blend until combined.  You add the white sugar and sweetened condensed milk and again whip, making sure you are mostly lump free.  Then you add both the vanilla extract, and 1/4 of the scrapings from a Vanilla Bean.
Again, whisk until combined.  Last comes the flour and I usually do one tablespoon at a time in order to keep everything nice and smooth.
Fruit Filling:
5 1/2 ounces of Strawberry preserves
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I made my own using the strawberries I purchased before they went bad.  I just cook them down on the stove with some water, a teaspoon of sugar (more or less depending how sweet the berries are), and a teaspoon of fruit pectin.  I add a used Vanilla Bean and cook about 15 minutes or when the product reached the thickness I desire.
Topping:
2/3 cup of All-Purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon of ground Ginger
1/4 teaspoon of Cinnamon
A couple gratings of fresh Nutmeg
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon of White Sugar
3 tablespoons of Unsalted Butter (cold)
To make topping, you combine all the dry ingredients and when incorporated, you then start to add the cold butter until you get crumbles.  Very easy to do by hand or even with a fork….whatever works best for you.  You can also add less or more of the spices to fit your taste.
Once you have pre-baked the crust, you allow for it to cool down just a bit (10 minutes).
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You add the Vanilla Bean cream filling and just spread out evenly.
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I then add the Strawberry Filling and make swirls so everyone gets a good helping of fruit and cream filling, it also looks pretty.  Short on time….you can stop here and bake and still have a great final product!
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If you have a little time, you then make your topping and sprinkle over before baking.
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Once everything is assembled, you simply put it in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes and then at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.  Test for doneness by simply measuring the jiggle but keep in mind like brownies, you do not want to wait until firm.  This is sort of like a cheesecake and will continue to cook when you take it out.  I cooled it down 2 hours outside and 2 hours in the fridge.
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I then cut different sized squares because sometimes we want to eat more or less.
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You can serve as-is or with vanilla bean ice cream.  Enjoy!
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Triple Berry Lattice & Crumble bars

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I made these bars after making preserves, since I figured it would showcase the berries perfectly…..let’s begin.

You start with your crust recipe and double it, as you would when making a double crust pie. I use a William’s Sonoma one that has both butter and shortening. I know there is a debate on which one makes a better crust over the other, so I figure both make a phenomenal crust then :). Use whatever recipe you commonly use, I have no rules!

Once your crust has rested in the fridge for an hour or so, it’s time to get you to work. I used a lasagna pan because I was making squares. I sprayed the pan with PAM (with flour), then placed two “lifters” made of foil. This makes removing your masterpiece easier when it has cooled in the fridge. I then spray a little more PAM and add a layer of parchment, cut and shaped like the pan. In case you are wondering, I do make sure the parchment sticks up a little on the sides, because I want nothing sticking or oozing where it shouldn’t. The PAM helps keep things in place while you assemble and also serves for the purpose of helping things release when needed. It’s my little insurance for my projects. After I complete my craft project above, I roll out the pie dough that will serve as the bottom of my squares. I then make the cream cheese filling.

Cream Cheese Filling:
8 ounces of Cream Cheese (softened)
2 tablespoons of All-Purpose flour
1 teaspoon of Vanilla
Plus, 1 tablespoon of All-Purpose Flour (to be added before filling)

Before adding the Cream Cheese filling, take a tablespoon of flour and just sprinkle it on the pie dough.

To make the Cream Cheese Filling, you just combine ingredients until they are smooth and then spread evenly, as this is the first layer. After comes the fruit!

Triple Berry Fruit Filling:
1/4 cup of Blackberry Preserves
1/4 cup of Strawberry Preserves
1/4 cup of Blueberry Preserves

I wanted each bite to have all three berries, so I plopped spoonfuls of each in segments. It was my way to not lose track and to make sure I spread everything evenly without disturbing the cream cheese bottom. I then lightly smoothed out the filling with a spoon.

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Before Baking (all assembled)

As you see the picture shows a crumble and lattice top, I figure like the pie dough debate, I nip this one by making both. I added my lattice top and this I just used a dough cutter to make strips. As you can see, it is not perfect but has that “made at home” appeal. After I did the lattice top, then comes the crumb topping.

Crumble Topping:
2 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter (cold)
2/3 cup of All-Purpose flour
1 Tablespoon of Sugar

I whisk the flour and sugar until incorporated and then used a fork to add the butter. I literally just start pushing down on the butter until everything mixes and sometimes I even use my hands when the butter starts giving me an attitude! You want about pea-sized crumbles, since you add them to the “open squares” in your lattice top. If a crumble rebels and gets on the lattice, no worries as you will be fine.

I then place the pan in the oven, at 400 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes. If your top starts browning too quickly, just cover lightly with foil.  From my experience, I only covered for the last 15 minutes in case I got distracted.

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Right out of the oven (after baking)

Once done, I then left the pan out for about 2 hours and then placed it in the fridge for about 2 more hours, while I fixed dinner. Once cooled nicely, I use the foil lifters to lift the entire thing out and begin to cut into squares. You may sprinkle with powder sugar if you desire and these go great with ice cream! Enjoy!

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Welcome the First Day of Spring with Key Lemon Cream Bars

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With Spring right around the corner, I wanted something that would welcome the flavors. My creation, Key Lemon Cream Bars! You have a shortbread crust and a Key Lime, lemon, and cream cheese filling to wake up your taste buds! Very easy to make and I hope you enjoy them too.  These would also be great for St. Patrick’s day because they are quick to make.

Crust:
1 Salted stick of butter and 1 Unsalted stick of butter (softened)
110 grams of Powder Sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
3 drops of Almond extract
300 grams of all-purpose Flour

I used a mixer and blended the butters, powder sugar, and extracts until smooth and creamy. I then incorporate the flour until just blended. I used a lasagna dish, sprayed with cooking spray (I use Pam with flour) and pressed the shortbread to create a crust. I then used a fork to dock before baking at 350 degrees.

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I pre-baked the crust for 20 minutes and then took the crust out. With a spoon, I then pressed down on the crust so it could retain it’s shape and baked an additional 10 minutes.

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I took the crust out and just to make sure things stayed flat as much as I wanted, I again smashed softly with a spoon. Just in case the crust tries to misbehave! While my crust slightly cooled, I started with the filling.

Cream Filling:
One 8 ounce bar of Cream Cheese (softened)
1 ounce of Nellie & Joe’s Key Lime juice
1 ounce of Condensed Milk
1/2 teaspoon of Vanilla extract
5 teaspoons of Powdered Sugar
2 ounces of all-purpose Flour

Lemon Top: 4.5 ounces of Lemon Curd

I softened the cream cheese in the microwave on the defrost setting because this girl is short on time. I then blend in the Key lime juice. If you don’t have key lime juice, a good substitute is lemon juice and you can try anything from lime to even juice from a fresh Key Lime. You can even add zest from a citrus fruit, so do what you want to make it your own.

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1 ounce of Condensed Milk.

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I then add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla.

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5 teaspoons of powdered sugar and I moved up to a small whisk because I want to keep the batter smooth.  I blended a teaspoon at a time to make sure everything would incorporate easier.

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Next comes the 2 ounces of flour and I whisked until smooth.

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I put that aside and then in a small separate bowl, you add 4.5 ounces of Lemon Curd.

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Assembly is a cinch!

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I spread out the cream filling first as evenly as time can allow.  I was getting close to dinner time and knew these needed to be done and cooled within a couple hours.

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Next the 4.5 ounces of Lemon Curd and I tried to be cute and make swirls!

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I then just finish baking at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Mine were ready in 27 minutes and I did add foil on top for the last 10 minutes because I had to step outside and needed I prefer to be safe than sorry.

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I cooled for an hour outside the fridge and then for 45 minutes in the fridge.  I then set the pan outside for 10 minutes before cutting.  I did this because the butter in the shortbread is easier to cut when it comes down in temperature.  This avoids cracks and I can make nicer looking squares.

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The final product I dusted lightly with powdered sugar for presentation.  These taste great and what I like best, the Lemon and Key Lime is present but does not force you to engage your pucker power abilities.  I love lemon but my Hubby not as much so this satisfied both of us!

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Valentine’s Day Lovey Dovey Heart Buns

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The above is made twisting both doughs and filling the heart openings with the plain cream cheese filling.  I then dotted the center with the chocolate filling.

As promised, my revision!

The recipe is here: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/lemon-love-buns-recipe

My revision:

3/4 cup of water (170 grams)
30 grams of butter and 35 cream cheese
1 large egg, plus the egg yolk of another egg (save the egg white of the second egg as it will serve as your wash)
3 small drops (I use a dropper) of almond extract and one teaspoon of vanilla
1/4 teaspoon of salt
30 grams of sugar
2 teaspoons of Buttermilk powder
363 grams of flour (if making the chocolate* version add 1/2 to 2/3 of a cup of dutch cocoa powder to your flour)
2 teaspoons of instant yeast

*when the dough is starting to knead, I added 1/2 a cup of mini chocolate chips (semi-sweet) to the chocolate batch to give it that extra chocolate flavor.

Fillings:
Make chocolate ganache: half chocolate, I use a mix of semi-sweet and bittersweet and you then add the same amount of Heavy Cream. For example- you mix 1/2 a cup of chocolate chips to 1/2 a cup of heavy cream and melt on the stove. Do not simmer or boil! I do the game of adding heat and then move my pot away to stir and if I see it needs more heat, I go back to the flame.

I then add 1/4 cup of ganache to 5 ounces of softened cream cheese and mix. Then I add a tablespoon of flour and mix again until smooth That is my simple filling. You can play with the ratios to suit your taste and add chocolate chips if you wish. Just remember you may need to up the flour amount to get the consistency desired.

For the plain cream cheese filling, I take 8 ounces of softened cream cheese (usually one package) and add 1/2 a vanilla bean, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of flour. Again, just mix until smooth.

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The above is the chocolate dough with chocolate filling

The big difference comes when assembly. I did just like the recipe but left the heart shape open more once I twisted the dough. Plop the fillings of your choice and then let it rise. That simple! You can see that both my plain dough and chocolate dough yielded many possibilities! I believe in playing and making it your own, as you can see I even added Boysenberry Preserves to some hearts because that is my husband’s favorite fruit. Some even have no filling because I crave plain sometimes. Again, just have as good time creating!

Wishing everyone a very Happy Valentine’s Day!! I believe hearts and love is year round, so I will be making these again soon!

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The above is plain cream cheese filling with Boysenberry Preserves 

Other Varieties: 

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I made a braid as I had to little dough left to make hearts.  I also made a chocolate dough heart with the plain cream cheese filling

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Plain dough hearts with no filling

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Playing around and making normal buns with a dot of filling

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