Category Archives: brown sugar

Island Dream Bars

These bars are plain looking and maybe with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and an orchid on the plate to dress them up they might look a little more tempting but one bite of the buttery cookie crust with a gooey rich topping full of macadamia nuts and coconut will convince you that these are heavenly island dream bars just the thing to bake at home after a memorable trip to Hawaii.

While driving to Punalu’u Black Sand beach to see the green sea turtles we passed acres of macadamia nut trees, ML Macadamia Orchards, I think it’s interesting that macadamia nuts were introduced to Hawaii from Australia in 1882. I just assumed macadamia nuts were always in Hawaii. I love the sign we saw in one of the orchards that said, Macnuts, I wonder if MacDonald’s knows about that! Anyway I love macnuts and I like to buy them raw and unsalted. They contain palmitoleic acid, which may aid in fat metabolism and possibly reduce stored body fat. I hope that bit of info makes you feel better about trying this recipe. This time I’m going to give you the recipe first and show you the turtle later.

Ingredients and Directions for Island Dream Bars
adapted from King Arthur Flour ‘ All-Purpose Baking Cookbook’

Cookie Layer

1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt


2 cups dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs, well beaten
1 cup medium shredded unsweetened coconut
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1/2 lime, zested

Preheat the oven to 300°F

To make the cookie layer

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until smooth. Stir in the flour and salt, the mixture will be crumbly. Pat the crumbs into a foil lined and greased 9×13 pan. Bake the cookie layer for 10 minutes, while you prepare the topping. Turn the oven up to 325°F.

To make the topping

In a medium size bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, and baking powder. Stir in the eggs, mixing until smooth, then add the coconut, macadamia nuts and lime zest, mix until well combined. Transfer the topping mixture to the cookie crust in the pan and spread it out as evenly as possible. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar, if you like mix confectioners’ sugar with coconut flakes before sprinkling.
Cool and remove from pan, using aluminum foil, before cutting into bars.

Makes 2 dozen 2 & 1/2″ bars

I just have to include the green sea turtle because he is so cute!


Ginger Spice Cranberry Apple Streusel Pie

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The pie crust recipe is from Simply Recipes and the recipe for the pie from Fine Cooking magazine. I made a few minor changes to the recipes. I usually make pumpkin and apple pies at Thanksgiving. I like to try new pie recipes and I think this one is excellent. The tartness of the cranberries is a delicious contrast with the sweet, nutty streusel topping. I also like the addition of crystallized ginger, apple pie spices and cardamom to the apples.

For the pie crust (yields 2 9″ pie crusts, freeze one for later)

2 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small pieces and place in freezer for 15 minutes.
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
4-8 tablespoon ice water

1. Combine flour, salt and sugar in a food processor and pulse to mix. Add the cold butter pieces and pulse, about 8-10 times, until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing until mixture begins to clump together. Dough should hold together but still be a bit crumbly.

2. Remove the dough, divide and knead into 2 disks. Sprinkle with flour, wrap the dough and let rest in fridge for 1 hour. Freeze one for later.

3. Remove dough from the fridge and let it rest for 10-15 minutes to soften before rolling out.

4. Lightly flour the counter before rolling out the pie crust. Position the rolling pin on the middle of the dough and roll away from yourself. Ease up on the pressure as you get near the edge to keep it from getting too thin. Lift up the dough and make 3/4 quarter turns as you continue to roll out the dough to about 13-14″ diameter for a 9″ pie pan. Try rubbing flour on the rolling pin to help with the dough if it becomes sticky.

5. Transfer the pie dough to the plate by gently folding it in half and unfolding it on the plate. Trim the overhanging dough to about 1″ and fold it under itself. Crimp the edge and prick the bottom of the crust all over with a fork. Refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.

6. Blind bake the crust in a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 375 and bake for 15 minutes longer. Line the pie crust with foil and fill it with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until the bottom looks dry but is not quite done and the edges are light golden. Let cool on rack while you prepare the streusel and filling.

For the streusel

1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup chopped lightly toasted pecans and walnuts
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling

4 Granny Smith apples
6 ounces fresh cranberries
3/4 cup sugar plus 6 tablespoons
3 & 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon apple pie spice(Penzey’s)
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon finely chopped crystallized ginger chips(The Ginger People)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Position a rack in the center of the oven.

1. Make the streusel. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, walnuts and salt. Using your fingers blend the butter into the flour mixture and set aside.

2. Make the filling. Peel, core and quarter each apple. Cut each quarter lengthwise into 1/4″ slices and then cut each slice crosswise into 4 pieces.
In a food processor pulse the cranberries with 3/4 cup of the sugar until coarsely chopped. In a large bowl combine the remaining 6 tablespoons of sugar with the flour, ginger, apple pie spice and cardamom, breaking up the clumps with with your fingers. Toss in the cranberry mixture and apples.

3. Mound the filling into the pie crust. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the apple mixture. You can press the streusel between your fingers to make small lumps as you sprinkle.

4. Put the pie on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake until the streusel is deeply browned and the filling is bubbling at the edges of the pie, 65 to 75 minutes. Check the pie every 20 minutes, if it is browning too quickly cover with piece of aluminum foil.

5. Transfer to a rack and cool before serving. This pie can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Fresh Apple Cake

This is an old fashioned cake baked in a 9×13 pan and perfect for tailgate picnics. I made this cake so I can show off my 49er pan cozy, actually it’s a carrier but it’s kind of a cozy pan carrier. This recipe is from ‘Southern Cakes’, a cookbook in my collection filled with decadent recipes. This cake is moist, rich, delicious and loaded with fresh apples and walnuts.

Fresh Apple Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 eggs
1& 1/2 cups spectrum canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups finely chopped apples, pink lady or granny smith
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Brown Sugar Glaze

1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9X13 pan.

1. In a medium bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. I like to use a whisk to mix the ingredients together.

2. In a large bowl beat the eggs with a whisk until pale yellow and foamy. Add the oil and vanilla and beat well. Stir in the flour mixture, mix just until the flour disappears, don’t over mix. The batter will be stiff. Stir in the apples and the nuts. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 4o-45 minutes or until cake is golden brown and springs back when touched lightly in the middle. Cool the cake on a rack.

3. Make the glaze while the cake is still hot. Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture comes to a gentle boil, and cook for 3-5 minutes.

4. Spoon the glaze over the hot from the oven cake. Let the cake cool completely before cutting into squares and serving.