Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bars bars bars.

Apricot Crumb Bars.

Apricot bars, that is. I like making bars. They're easy and they make a lot (or a little) depending on how small YOU want to cut them. Plus you can basically incorporate any flavours, crusts, and toppings you want to.

To be honest when I get a recipe online or any recipe really, I hardly ever follow it to a T. I like to adapt to my tastes, to the things I already have, and improve the recipe so I absolutely know I'll like the outcome. For example, the original recipe for these bars included no salt. When you bake, you NEED SALT. Yes. It brings out the flavour of everything! Also, the original said to bake/prepare in a 9x13-inch pan, which is great, but the ingredients listed for the filling and crumb topping would never have covered the entire surface of the crust. So this recipe, although I found it online somewhere, I don't feel credit is really necessary because of how much I changed it. I literally changed every single part of it, and I will put THAT recipe here instead of the one I originally found, since that's what gave me the delicious results.

Apricot Crumb Bars.

Apricot Crumb Bars

Shortbread Crust:
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
2 cups AP flour
Pinch kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and line a 9x13-inch baking pan with foil. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add the vanilla to combine. Add the flour and salt and mix just until a nice ball of dough forms. Press this into the bottom of the pan, and bake for 15 minutes, until golden brown around the edges and in spots in the middle. Cool completely.

Apricot Filling:
3 cups dried apricots
3 cups water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup Amaretto
Pinch kosher salt

Place the apricots and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and cover. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 20 minutes. At this point I used a stick blender to puree the apricots, but you could transfer to a blender or a food processor also. Stir in the sugar, Amaretto and salt. Let cool slightly.

Crumb Topping:
1 cup packed light brown sugar
Pinch kosher salt
3/4 cup AP flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter
(You could really add anything you want to this, cinnamon, almonds, nuts of any kind, oatmeal. Have fun imo.)

Combine the flour, salt and sugar until well-mixed. Cut in the butter until large clumps form.

Finishing the bars:
After the crust has cooled completely, spread the apricot filling over it to cover. Then crumble the topping on evenly and bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes, or until the crumbs are set. Let cool completely before cutting into squares.

Apricot Crumb Bars.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Buttermilk Cupcakes.

Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes.

The origin for these cupcakes actually comes from the fact that I asked my mom to buy buttermilk for something I was making for brunch but never found the recipe I intended to make. Therefore come Monday, I had an entire quart of buttermilk in the fridge begging to be used. I hadn't made cupcakes in a while so I searched Google for "buttermilk cupcakes" and I came up with a GREAT recipe. These cupcakes are really perfect. They didn't sink, explode, go over the cups, nothing. They rise just above the liners, no more and they don't dip down in the middle after you take them out of the oven.

Here I give you the recipe for these perfect cupcakes. Any frosting would be divine on them - I used up some leftover chocolate cream cheese frosting and caramel espresso buttercream. Have fun with them and be creative!

Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes.

Buttermilk Cupcakes recipe from Recipezaar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla (I used vanilla bean paste)
2 cups AP flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and line a cupcake pan with papers or grease the cups.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt on a piece of wax paper and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar together until combined, then add the eggs one at a time and beat for 3 minutes on medium-high speed, and then incorporate the vanilla. Beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, add to the butter-egg mixture alternating with the buttermilk. Portion the batter into the baking cups, and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly golden brown around the edges and set on top. Let cool completely on a rack before frosting.

Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes.