Thursday, October 27, 2011

Shortbread Candy Bars

In the days following Halloween, it’s not unusual to work through the candy overflow by having a candy bar with every meal.  But after the initial euphoria and sugar high fade you’re still left with piles of leftover candy.  One way to ensure the candy isn’t still lying around by next Halloween is to make a batch of these shortbread bars.  The buttery shortbread crust is first baked, then topped with chocolate chips and the candy of your choice.  We tried it out with dark chocolate peanut butter cups, but any chocolate candy would work.  I asked Dennis for feedback and, in his words, you can’t go wrong with shortbread covered in chocolate and peanut butter.  It’s like adding bacon to anything.  Hmm, maybe that’s an idea for a future treat…

Shortbread Candy Bars (from Everyday Food)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 cups all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups assorted chocolate candies or roughly chopped candy bars (12 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, and salt on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. With mixer on low, add flour in three additions and beat until combined (dough will be crumbly). Press dough evenly into a 9x9 baking dish (a great way to do this is to press down through saran wrap so the dough doesn’t stick). Bake until golden brown and firm, 25-30 minutes.

Scatter chocolate chips on top of shortbread. Bake until soft, 1 minute. With the back of a spoon, spread chocolate evenly over shortbread. Scatter candies over top. Let cool on a wire rack 30 minutes. Refrigerate briefly to set chocolate, then cut into 16 bars.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Honey Corn Muffins

I apologize for my absence but Dennis and I took a much-needed trip to Europe where we traveled around Italy, Barcelona, and some other spots along the way.  We ate a lot of great food; I can’t understand why there’s not a gelato shop on every NYC corner.  The U.S. is really missing out!

Anyway, on to these muffins.  I grew up with Jiffy mix corn muffins, usually slathered with grape jelly and eaten for breakfast.  It wasn’t until I grew to love barbeque that I began to appreciate corn muffins as an essential part of a savory meal.  Eaten with a spicy chili they cut the heat and really help balance the meal.  I personally like sweet corn muffins – apparently that’s a Northern thing as Southerners don’t like theirs as sweet.  I won’t take sides on the debate, but I’ll just say that these were exactly what we were looking for.  Not only were they sweet and moist, but they were sturdy enough so they didn’t fall apart when dipped in chili.  I love it when I find a go-to recipe, and that’s exactly what this is.

Honey Corn Muffins (adapted from The Food Network)


1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 large eggs
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup honey (The best way to measure honey or any other sticky substance is to spray the measuring cup with cooking spray first.  Not only does it make it easier to clean the measuring cup but you’ll also get the full amount without any sticking to the cup.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Into a large bowl, mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the whole milk, eggs, butter, and honey. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed.

Spray a 12-cup muffin tin and evenly divide the cornbread mixture. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden. 

If you’re looking for something a bit different, cut the muffins in half, spread some butter on each side, then grill, butter side down, in a skillet.  Once they’re nice and brown they’re good to go.