And together we learn

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Getting ready for the party

We're blessing my sweet baby Samuel tomorrow (Blessing = christening for the non-LDS among us). All the other kids have been much littler than his 3 month self, but we've been busy this summer! We were out of town every possible Sunday until now.

Everyone is coming over after the blessing for dinner and a party. I've been busy baking all kinds of delicious treats for it. I made Key Lime Cheesecake Bars--oh these are good!! Usually I NEVER repeat recipes, but this is the 3rd time I've made these this summer. Very very worthwhile recipe.

Key Lime Cheesecake Bars--recipe originally from Cooks Illustrated

5 ounces animal crackers (about 1 1/4 C crumbs)
3 tbs light or dark brown sugar packed
pinch salt
4 tbsp butter melted and cooled slightly

2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 tbsp grated lime zest
1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 large egg yolk
1/2 C key lime juice or regular juice (do not use bottled juice)

Garnish (optional)
3/4 C shredded coconut toasted until crisp

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut about 12-inch length extra-wide heavy duty foil; fold cut edges back to form 7 1/2-inch width. With folded sides facing down, fit foil securely into bottom and up sides of 8-inch square baking pan, allowing excess to overhang pan sides. Spray foil with non-stick cooking spray.

2. To Make Crust. In workbowl of food processor, pulse animal crackers until broken down, about ten 1-second pulses; process crumbs until evenly fine, about 10 seconds. Add brown sugar and salt; process to combine, ten to twelve 1-second pulses. Drizzle butter over crumbs and pulse until crumbs are evenly moistened with butter, about ten 1-second pulses. Press crumbs evenly and firmly into bottom of prepared pan. Bake until deep golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack while making filling. Do not turn off oven.

3. To Make Filling: While crust cools, in medium bowl, stir cream cheese, zest and salt with rubber spatula until softened, creamy and thoroughly combined. Add sweetened condensed milk and whisk vigorously until incorporated and no lumps of cream cheese remain; whisk in egg yolk. Add lime juice and whisk gently until incorporated (mixture will thicken slightly).

4. To Assemble and Bake: Pour filling into crust; spread to corners and smooth surface with rubber spatula. Bake until set and edges begin to pull away slightly from sides, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Cover with foil and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled at least 2 hours.

5. Loosen edges with pairing knife and lift bars from baking pan using foil extensions; cut bars into 16 squares. Sprinkle with toasted coconut if using, and serve. (Leftovers can be refrigerated up to two days; crust will soften slightly. Let stand at room temperature, about 15 minutes before serving.)

If you make these, be sure to include the toasted coconut. It takes them from yummy to over the top fabulous.

I've mentioned before my very bad habit of making brand new recipes for large groups of people. Of course I had to continue in that tradition, so I tried blondies with white chocolate chunks, dried cranberries and pecans. Even though I haven't tried them before, how could you go wrong with this set of ingredients?

Basic Blondies
6-7 TBS butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder (optional, creates lighter blondie texture)

“Add in” (see below)

Preheat oven to 350.
Line an 8×8 pan with foil and lightly spray with PAM.
In a large microwave safe mixing bowl melt the butter. Allow to cool for 5 mintues. Mix the brown sugar with the melted butter and beat until smooth. Beat in egg and then vanilla. Add salt, stir in flour and baking powder (if using). Mix in any additions (some ideas below).

Pour into prepared pan and use a greased spatula to evenly spread mixture in pan and level the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until set in the middle. (I baked for 22 minutes)Cool on rack before cutting.

Add in ideas:
1/2 to 1 cup chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, white chocolate or butterscotch chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans, walnuts, almonds
1/2 cup M&M candies1/2 chopped Reese’s PB cups
1/4 cup toffee pieces
1/2 tsp mint extract in addition to, or in the place of vanilla extract


3 comment(s):

The key lime bars look awesome. Is it two ounces of cream cheese or two packages?
We'll be thinking of you today - congratulations!

By Anonymous Jennifer, at 5:38 AM  

It's 2 ounces, but I usually use a bit more than that--more like 4.

By Blogger Becca, at 8:11 AM  

Not to be a broken record, but I still stand in awe of your ability to throw (and cater) these parties with a newborn and three young ones underfoot! You must be made of strong stuff. :-) And of course the desserts sound delish.

We LOVED the mango chicken curry, BTW.

By Blogger Hannah, at 6:16 PM  

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