I told you we weren't done yet!!! The second part of our baking day we totally threw ourselves into some wild ideas, took some risks, and had some pretty good successes and a slight not-so-success. That's ok though! Not every recipe turns out perfect the first time around but this one was good enough to be shared anyway- flavors were great, just not the perfect bar. You should still try it.
|Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars|
Ok so, besides the day-long baking marathon we had some great conversation about the long discussed bakery that Jessica and I have dreamed about for an eternity. Over cups of coffee, and later an icy cold soda, since we picked one of the hottest days of the season for baking, we broke down exactly what we wanted our business to look like. Everything from what we plan to prepare to how it will be served, local sources and seasonal ideas and recipes and a very unique twist that might even bring The Chef into our plans, we hammered it out. Our passion and fierce determination to make this happen has only grown stronger over the last ten years or so and we both realize the time to do it is NOW.
|Raspberry Peach Crumble Bars|
We found a lot of inspiration in a cookbook Jessica picked up thrift shopping. Breakfast, Lunch, Tea: The Many Little Meals of the Rose Bakery, by Rose Carrarini, laid out in perfect detail almost exactly the same shop we had always envisioned- beautiful baked goods, breads, cookies, pastries, and an ever changing lunch menu of salads and entrees made by hand, every day, in manageable batches, and when it's gone, it's gone. Tea served in the afternoon, real English style high tea with all the accompaniments, then closed in time for an evening spent with family. Just like Rose's delightful bakery in Paris. Could it be any more perfect than that? Up early every day with the sunshine and the birds singing, up to our elbows in flour and yeast. The smell of fresh bread permeating the air. Chopping, dicing and slicing, great old 70s music in the background. Baking bread while listening to Bread? Yes! Whipping up vinaigrettes and dressings and making salads for the lunch crowd and absolutely loving the life we have chosen to live.
Some people think it's too late for us to have these dreams. We are too old. The market isn't good. You'd never be able to compete with the big stores. We don't want to be rich, or famous, or become a national chain. We just want a simple living, something that is rewarding and fulfilling and every day I can crawl in bed beat because I worked for ME, for myself, and I loved every minute of it. That's what she and I want. Simple. Fulfilling. And you better believe, we are going to make it happen. In the coming weeks we will be doing a lot of research on everything from purchasing equipment to small business loans to finding the perfect location. We both have a dream of the perfect building for our bakery cafe, we just need to find it.
In the meantime though, you lovely people get to help us work out recipes and treats that we might or might not decide to include in our menu rotation, or a future cookbook, or just live on in our dreams. Take these two recipes, for example. I know by heart how to make a cheesecake, and everything that goes in it. What I wanted to do was turn that rich dessert into a much more diet friendly and small bite sized bar. Just enough to be satisfying without being a one thousand calorie bomb. If you want to lighten this up, switch the sugar for another sweetener but don't skimp on low fat or non fat cream cheese. It's not the same, it creates a weepy soggy mess. Besides, humans do need some fat in their diets, just choose your foods carefully and you're ok. Our raspberry bars were a take on a similar bar we have purchased at Whole Foods. Theirs was a tighter berry filling, surely a jam, where we used pie filling, so our bars were a little too soft to be bars really but still made a tasty dessert. Just use a fork and plate and you'll love them.
Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake Bars
1 1/2 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup oil
1 tablespoon milk
2 8 ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 lemons, zested
1 cup blueberries*
* We used a can of berries, rinsed and drained well. You can use fresh or frozen if you have them.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x9 pan with cooking spray and line with parchment. Set aside.
In a small bowl combine the flour, sugar, salt, oil and milk. Mix well. Press evenly onto bottom and a little up the sides of the pan. Bake for ten minutes, then set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with a mixer until fluffy. Add the eggs, flour, sugar and zest. Mix well. Carefully fold in the blueberries until evenly distributed. Pour over the crust and smooth the top. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until almost set. Bars will firm up as they cool.
Make sure to keep these guys in the fridge and it's best to chill before cutting. They are rich and cheesecakey and oh so delicious.
Our next bars recipe was a total experiment in using up what we had while trying to incorporate ideas we knew worked in other bar cookies. I'd have to say while delicious as all get-out, this was semi successful, but we now know how to improve this recipe the next time out. I'm going to share what we did today, and like I said earlier, I recommend that you serve this with a fork- it's a little messy for eating out of hand.
Raspberry Peach Granola Crumble (Bars)
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 cups flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granola, large pieces crushed
2 sticks melted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 can raspberry pie filling
1 cup chopped peaches (fresh or well drained canned)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium bowl toss together the oats, flour, brown sugar, granola and salt. Pour the melted butter over. Press a little more than half onto the bottom of a 10x14 baking dish. Set aside. Reserve the rest for later.
Combine the raspberry filling, peaches and extract, spread over the crust in the pan.
Add the almonds to the remaining crumble mixture and sprinkle over the top of the fruit, covering evenly. Press the crumb mixture into the fruit slightly.
Bake for 35-45 minutes until browned and bubbly. Remove from oven and cool, then chill in the fridge before cutting.
With the pie filling, this is really closer to a crumble or cobbler than a bar, but it's still insanely delicious and would be perfect topped with a scoop of ice cream, maybe slightly warmed up first. We are going to give this one another shot, using the jam instead of pie filling so we will get a gooier and more bar-like texture. But hey, sometimes those semi-fails end up delicious anyway!!