Quick & Easy
By Beverly Barbour
How amazing! It's autumn
Summer went by-by and left us with a need for cookies.
Baking cookies from a mix is okay in a pinch but no matter how good they are (and some are pretty darned tasty), the ones you scratch together seem to taste better and generally cost you less.
Bar cookies are the easiest, of course, because you just bake all of the ingredients in a pan without shaping them individually. That makes them the quickest to make and the fastest. So let's ease into the cookie making season the least painful way.
You may want to play Tom Sawyer and have someone unwrap the caramel candies that make these so very much better than the Caramel Brownies that come from a mix.
3 sticks (3/4 lb) butter
Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a 9- by 13-inch pan with foil allowing extra foil to hang over pan ends. Butter foil in the pan. Melt butter in a saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in sugar, then eggs and vanilla, until blended. Stir in salt and baking powder. Add flour and cocoa and stir until batter is smooth. Scrape batter into pan and evenly space caramels over batter. Bake 55 to 60 minutes, just until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (beware of the caramels, of course). Using the foil ends lift brownies with foil from pan to counter. Peel back sides of foil. With a long, hot knife, cut into squares. You will need to rinse knife in very hot water and wipe clean as you cut. Makes 36 squares.
Luscious Apricot Bars
Don't use a nonstick pan as the bottom crust can easily overbrown.
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
2/3 cup dried apricots
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 8-inch square baking pan. Crust: Beat together butter, sugar and 1 cup flour until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press evenly over bottom of pan and bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Topping: Place apricots in small saucepan and cover with hot water. Cover pan and simmer 15 minutes. Drain and cool; finely chop. Beat together until well combined the chopped apricots, brown sugar, eggs, walnuts, baking powder, vanilla, salt and remaining 1/3 cup flour. Pour topping over crust and bake until topping is set and golden, 25 to 30 minutes more. Cool pan rack and dust with confectioners sugar if you wish. Makes 12 bars.
Raspberry Cream Cheese Bars
The swirled raspberry preserves make these very pretty as well as very tasty.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup raspberry preserves
Crust: Heat oven to 375 F. Butter a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Whisk together flour and sugar. Add butter and cream cheese; blend with mixer until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add egg and almond extract; mix until dough forms. Lightly flour hands and press dough into pan bottom. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until edges are light brown. Remove from oven. Topping: Spread raspberry preserves evenly over crust. Combine remaining ingredients until well blended. Drop cream cheese mixture by the teaspoon over raspberry preserves. Run knife lightly through topping to swirl. Return to oven and bake 10 to 12 minutes or until topping is set. Cool completely and cut into 30 bars.