Dessert Rox!

Tart to Tart

A true friend is one who thinks you are a good egg even if you are half-cracked. ~Author Unknown

Taking one for the team; Connie is a true friend!

That’s my friend Connie Davila. We’ve grown-up together. We met in our twenties and have shared a thirty-seven year friendship. Rain or shine, Connie has always been in my corner. She has been my sounding board, she asks questions that shows she’s interested in what I’m doing, and gives me praise for taking the initiative to do something new. For sure, I’ve come up with some hair-brained ideas, but she’s stuck with me with the same attitude that reads like the bumper sticker, “Friends help you move. Real friends help you move bodies!”

We don’t keep track of who did what for whom last. If we don’t talk for several weeks, nobody gets bent out of shape. Connie and I are low-maintenance friends in each other’s lives. We just pick up where we left off. So it was no surprise when I called her to inquire if she would be willing to “take one for the team” and be a taste-tester for my Apple Crumb Tart. She didn’t hesitate, “Yes! When are you coming over?”

I arrived at her house, tart in hand, and she began the tedious task of eating the apple tart. What I learned that day is that Connie really savors her food. She takes a bite, closes her eyes, and seems to go into a food-induced coma! We laughed so hard and chatted so much and 32 snapshots later, I finally had the perfect, eyes-open, picture.  When that happened, the clouds parted, and the angels sang “Ahhhh!”

The Apple Crumb Tart morphed from a pie recipe.  The recipe was given to me by my late, dear friend, Patricia Lee Thompson who made the best Apple Crumb Pie!

Apple Crumb Tart

8-10 pared, cored and sliced apples (a mix of two types of apples)
(I use a mix of any type of apple as my first choice, but I always use McIntosh as my second apple)
2 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
¾ cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter

Combine sugar, flour, spices. Mix with apples. Line your tart pans with pastry. Fill with apple mixture. Dot with small dabs of butter. Sprinkle crumb mixture over the top of the apples. Bake at 350F for 40-45 minutes or until done.

Basic Flaky Pie Pastry (a double batch)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces
½ cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
½ cup cold water

Apple Crumb Tart, as delicious as it looks and easy to make!

To make with an electric mixer: Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter, tossing it with the flour. With the mixer on low speed, blend the butter into the flour until you have what looks like coarse, damp meal, with both large and small clumps. Add the shortening and repeat. Turning the mixer on and off, add half of the water. Mix briefly on low speed. Add the remaining water, mixing slowly until the dough starts to form large clumps. If you’re using a stand mixer, stop periodically to stir the mixture up from the bottom of the bowl. Do not over mix. I make the pastry in my stand mixer, or you can also even make it in your food processor.

Using your hands, pack the pastry into a ball (or 2 balls for a double batch) as you would pack a snowball. Knead each ball once or twice, then flatten the balls into 3/4-inch-thick disks on a floured work surface. Wrap the disks in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight before rolling into your tart pans.

TIP: This dough freezes well for up to a month. If you have leftover dough, or if you plan to use the dough in the future just wrap each disk in plastic, then in aluminum foil. Take the dough out of the freezer the day before you plan to use it and let it thaw in the fridge.

Crumb Topping
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup butter

Combine all ingredients, mix in butter until mixture is crumbly (fork can be used for mixing mixture). Sprinkle over apple tarts before baking.

Posted by Roxy in Pies and Tarts

Sugar Saucers for my favorite Cookie Monster!


Luke is my favorite Cookie Monster.

My grandson, Luke, loves to eat cookies.  His eyes light up when he sees a cookie.  I can hear Cookie Monster’s low-pitched, gravelly voice yelling, “Me want cookie!”  “Me eat cookie!”  and “Om nom nom nom,” (said through a mouth full of cookies).  Give Luke a cookie and he’s a happy boy.  However, oatmeal cookies are Luke’s favorite kind, and chocolate chip are his second favorite.  I’m actually a lucky Grammy that Luke consented to be a taste-tester for the Sugar Saucers.  The only information Luke needed was…that it looked like a cookie, it smelled good like a cookie, and then I heard, “Om nom nom nom, I like this cookie!” And just like Cookie Monster, Luke cannot quite control the way he spews forth crumbs, but hey, that’s the sign of a good cookie, right?

Cookie-crumb face. A boy who enjoys his cookies.

The Sugar Saucers recipe is a variation on the traditional sugar cookie, these are crisp on the outside but real softies on the inside. You decide how big you want them, two-inch dainties, perfect for a ladies’ brunch, or saucer-size monsters for the bottomless-pit stomachs of teens, and Cookie Monster grandkids, who might be hanging around.  Just remember, the bigger they are, the longer they bake.

The recipe for Sugar Saucers is from The Pastry Queen cookbook by Rebecca Rather with Alison Oresman.  Virginia Wood, food editor and columnist for the Austin Chronicle, gave Rather this recipe.  It has become a Rather Sweet Bakery standard.

Sugar Saucers:  Yield:  1 dozen 4-inch cookies or 2 dozen 2-inch cookies

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup vegetable oil, such as canola or sunflower
½ cup granulated sugar, plus additional for sugaring tops
½ cup powdered sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt


Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper, or silicone mats, or grease generously with butter or cooking spray.  Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter in a large bowl on medium speed about 1 minute.  One ingredient at a time, add the vegetable oil, granulated sugar, powdered sugar, egg, and vanilla, beating on medium speed after each addition until completely incorporated.  Stir in the flour, baking soda, and salt all at once, using a wooden spoon or the mixer set on low.  (The dough will be soft.)  Refrigerate the dough about 1 hour or freeze for 15 minutes to make it easier to handle.

Crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside, these cookies really deliver texture and taste!

Using a standard-size ice cream scoop for giant cookies or a tablespoon-size scoop for 2-inchers, drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets.  The cookies should be spaced about 2 inches apart.  Press the dough evenly with your fingers or palm to flatten the cookies to 1/4-inch thickness.  Sprinkle sugar over the tops of the cookies.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes for small cookies or 12 to 14 minutes for large ones, until the edges turn golden.  If you like your cookies on the crisp side, bake them 1 or 2 minutes longer.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets at least 10 minutes before transferring to racks to cool completely.  The cookies will keep for up to 3 days if stored in an airtight container, or they can be frozen for up to 1 month.

Rather Sweet Variation

To make lemon saucers, add a little class to this simple cookie by adding the juice and grated zest of 1 lemon to the dough in place of the vanilla.  Then ice with lemon icing:  combine 1 cup powdered sugar with the juice and grated zest of 1 lemon.  Stir until smooth and spread over the cooled cookies.  Or dip the baked, cooled cookies into melted bittersweet chocolate, covering half the cookie in chocolate.  Place the cookies on waxed paper in a single layer and let sit until the chocolate sets, about 30 minutes.

Posted by Roxy in Cookies, Brownies and Bars

White Chocolate-Dipped Oatmeal-Cranberry Cookies get the thumbs up!

“Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Stephanie Breslin sampling a White Chocolate-Dipped Oatmeal-Cranberry cookie.

Have you ever met someone whose happiness is infectious?  A few weeks ago I met that person.  Stephanie Breslin lights up a room with her smile and engaging personality.  I met her and I instantly liked her.  The smile never left her face, but most importantly, she smiled with her eyes.

Stephanie is a special education teacher who works with moderate cognitively impaired students at the Elmer A. Knopf Learning Center in Flint, Michigan.  Her happiness perfume spilled over onto me and elevated my mood and as I looked around, it was evident that her students were also enjoying the moment as they watched their teacher get ready for her close-up!  The happiness ripple-effect touched us all.  Stephanie’s happiness was definitely contagious.

Stephanie gives the cookies a thumbs-up!

I met Stephanie through a mutual attraction to cookies…I like to bake them and she likes to eat them and White Chocolate-Dipped Oatmeal-Cranberry Cookies introduced us.  Stephanie took one bite and gave the cookies a thumbs-up!


White Chocolate-Dipped Oatmeal-Cranberry Cookies

Prep: 46 min.  Bake:  9-11 minutes per batch

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups sweetened dried cranberries (I used Craisins)
1 ½ cups pecan pieces, toasted
1 ¼ cups uncooked quick-cooking oats
3  4 oz. white chocolate baking bars, coarsely chopped (I used Ghirardelli)
3 tablespoons shortening
White Chocolate-Dipped Oatmeal-Cranberry Cookies. These cookies are delicious and easy to make.

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer (I used a stand mixer) until creamy, gradually add sugars, beating well.  Add egg and vanilla, beating until blended.

Combine flour and next 3 ingredients, gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended.  Stir in cranberries, pecans, and oats.  Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls 2” apart onto lightly greased baking sheets.  Bake at 375F for 9 to 11 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool on baking sheets 2 minutes.  Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Microwave white chocolate and shortening in a medium-size microwave-safe bowl on HIGH 1 minute or until chocolate melts, stirring once. Dip half of each cookie in melted chocolate, letting excess drip back into bowl. Place dipped cookies on wax paper; let stand until firm. Yield: about 4 dozen.

TIP: Dipping these chunky cookies into white chocolate adds a special holilday touch, but they’re great plain, too.

Recipe featured in Southern Living Big Book of Christmas, edited by Rebecca Brennan; 2010 by Time Home Entertainment, Inc.


Posted by Roxy in Cookies, Brownies and Bars

Sweethearts like Sour Cream Apple Squares

Luke, Grammy and Lily enjoying the fall festival at Mueller's Orchard in Linden, MI

You just can’t beat autumn in Michigan for its cool, crisp fresh air, the beautiful red and gold foliage, and the annual fall trek to the cider mill for homemade donuts, tart apples, and the sweet taste of freshly pressed apple cider.  I love autumn and it’s one the many great reasons why I love living in Michigan.

I took my two grandkids to Mueller’s Orchard in Linden, Michigan on a beautiful autumn October day. We had a great time at the annual apple festival where we munched on, you guessed it… apples, drank apple cider, ate warm, sweet donuts, listened to lively music, visited the petting zoo, oohed and ahhed at the beautiful classic cars, picked out the perfect pumpkin, found our way out of the hay maze, lugged two bags of apples to the car…and a pumpkin, and finally headed home totally exhausted!  Me, definately not the kids.

McIntosh apples from Mueller's Orchard

The following weekend I baked Sour Cream Apple Squares using the crisp McIntosh apples I brought home from Mueller’s Orchard.  As luck would have it, my brother, Tony, and his wife, Kathy came to visit.  Hmmm…my next taste-testers…as I welcomed them into my home with a gleam in my eye…I opened the door wide…”Come in my Pretties.”

Kathy's big smile tells me all I need to know...the Sour Cream Apple Squares are a winner!

Their love story is pretty remarkable. They met through an online game called Everquest and they both were in the same “guild” for two years as gaming friends.  The gamers in this guild were from all over the United States and the guild group hatched a plan to meet face-to-face in Indianapolis for a picnic weekend.  They finally met and they were smitten.  Both were rebounding from heartbreak and neither was looking for love, but love magically found them.  Over the course of the next year, they fell in love, managed a long-distance relationship while Kathy resided in North Carolina and hurried to graduate from college and Tony lived here in Michigan.

Living on love and holding fast to blind faith, Kathy moved herself and her teenage son to be with Tony.  When Tony proudly introduced her to the family, we all knew why he fell in love with her.  A few months later, she became his bride and my newest “sister.”  She’s a lovely woman, inside and out, has a wonderful sense of humor, a heart of gold, is smart as a tack, and she won me and the rest of the family over with that charming North Carolina, southern drawl.  She dazzled us and we couldn’t help but fall in love with her too.  Whenever I think of their love story it brings to mind the song by Rascal Flatts, “Bless the Broken Road,” the chorus says it all:

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like Northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

Tony taking his first bite.

At the end of their visit they gave the Sour Cream Apple Squares a perfect 10 and headed back home to Saginaw, Michigan where they are living happily ever after and enjoying married life.

Sour Cream Apple Squares is a recipe from the Pillsbury 100 Prize Winning Recipes from 1949 to 1986 cookbook.  The apples and sour cream make it really moist and it has a nice crunch from the pecans. Top it off with a dollop of whipped cream and it’s a winner!

Sour Cream Apple Squares (makes 12 squares)

2 cups Pillsbury’s Best All Purpose or Unbleached Flour
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup chopped nuts (I always use pecans)
1 to 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup dairy sour cream
1 egg
2 cups finely chopped, peeled apples (my favorite apple is McIntosh)

Heat oven to 350F. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cups; level off. In large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar and butter; blend at low speed until crumbly. Stir in nuts. Press 2¾ cups of crumb mixture into ungreased 13×9-inch pan. For remaining mixture, add cinnamon, baking soda, salt, sour cream, vanilla and egg; blend well. Bake at 350F for 30 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cut into squares. If desired, serve with whipped cream or ice cream and toppings. 12 servings.

Posted by Roxy in Cookies, Brownies and Bars

Shhh…quiet in the library! We’re eating PB&J Cookies with Honey Roasted Peanuts!

The Davison Area Public Library is in the heart of Davison, Michigan.

In my humble opinion, libraries are the heart of a community. Maybe I think this way because I’m a frequent user, but every time I visit the small library in Davison, Michigan, it is bustling with activity. On any given day, you can find a storyteller surrounded by kids, folks at the computer terminals surfing the internet, others are in a quiet corner reading a book, and still more are combing the shelves for no-cost-to-check-out dvd’s. The Davison Area Public Library is a relaxing place to pass the time, with super, friendly staff where I’m always greeted with a smile and a warm “hello.”

A few weeks ago, I was checking out my latest stash of cookbooks, including the cookbook, Just Desserts, by Paula Deen. The young man working the counter commented, “I wish Paula Deen was my grandma.” We chuckled and agreed that she is undoubtedly a fantastic baker and an awesome Southern cook. Then and there, I made a promise to myself to bake a dessert for the library staff.

I’m no Paula Deen, but I’m pretty good at putting a dessert together. I told the young man about my dessert blog and warned him I would be back with a dessert…all he had to do was let me take a picture of him eating the first bite. I could see the skepticism on his face, but he warily agreed to my terms.

Armed with a basket of PB&J Cookies with Honey-Roasted Peanuts and my camera, I returned a week later. Paula Deen’s-wanna-be-grandson was behind the counter, as was the librarian who orders the cookbooks for the library, plus another young man who was waiting on patrons. This was my lucky day! I had plenty of cookies, I just hoped the cookies would be so delicious that they’d want to have seconds!

(l-r) Jonathan, Zack, and Mary taste-testing PB&J Cookies with Honey-Roasted Peanuts. The verdict: the best cookie Jonathan has ever eaten!

I heard crunching, I heard “yums”…the cookies were getting good reviews! Jonathan, Paula Deen’s wanna-be-grandson, told me they were delicious, between bites. Zack was eating a cookie, while checking out patrons, and Mary said that she hadn’t eaten any dessert since she was twenty years old. A moment later, she was munching on a cookie “it is soooo good!” I was pleased, not only did they like the cookies, but they seemed to like the jam in the center. It was my homemade jam that I made a month earlier. The cookies were a hit!

PB&J Cookies with Honey-Roasted Peanuts. "Raspberry Beauty Jam" made by Roxy.

It was nice to finally put names to faces and I made three new friends that day. I’m sure there are crazy days, boring days, and days that make it worthwhile to work in a library and I’m sure that Mary, Jonathan, and Zack have a hundred stories about the neighborhood characters that frequent the library. Now they can add me, number 101. Libraries are about community. Visit your library and help make it the hub of your community and make friends with the staff, they’re there to help you, even to taste-test PB&J Cookies with Honey-Roasted Peanuts!

PB&J Cookies with Honey-Roasted Peanuts is another delicious recipe from Rebecca Rather’s, The Pastry Queen cookbook. Rebecca uses a thick jam on these cookies because it is less likely to melt into the cookie. Any flavor you like is fine. (I used raspberry jam that I made myself. The recipe is on the November 4th post of my blog).

PB&J Cookies with Honey-Roasted Peanuts
This cookie recipe yields 6 ½ dozen cookies.

1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups smooth peanut butter
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 ½ cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 cup honey-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
¾ cup jam, jelly, or fruit spread

Preheat the oven to 375F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats, or grease generously with butter or cooking spray. Using a micxer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and peanut butter in a large bowl on medium speed about 1 minute, until fluffy. Add both sugars and beat about 30 seconds, until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth. Stir in the flour, baking soda, and salt on low speed until thoroughly combined. Stir in the peanuts. (The dough will be soft.)

Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week. They’ll keep for 1 month in the freezer if tightly wrapped in foil or plastic wrap.

Tip: To make giant cookies, use a scoop with a 2 ½-inch diameter. Use a small scoop or tablespoon to make an indentation and fill it with about 1 tablespoon of jam per cookie. Bake the cookies 3 to 4 minutes longer than recommended for the standard size. You’ll end up with about 4 dozen cookies.

Posted by Roxy in Cookies, Brownies and Bars

Fond memories in Grandma’s raspberry patch*

Raspberries picked at Symanzik's Berry Farm...real beauties!

My favorite area of my grandma’s garden was along the fence line where the raspberry bushes grew. Her vegetable garden was award-winning, but the raspberry patch took the Oscar. Her raspberries were always sweet, plump, and a treat to eat. I don’t know what she did to make those bushes flourish, but they produced some awesome, succulent raspberries.

Grandma said that a ripe raspberry would fall into your hand without too much tugging on it. If it didn’t pull off easily, it wasn’t ripe for the picking. Ripe berries also need to be a deep red color. If they are still a pinky-orange color, they aren’t ripe yet. Grandma and I had one thing in common: she liked to pick them when they were a deep red color and I liked to eat them when they were a deep red color. She also told me that the really good berries were in the middle of the bush and to move the prickly branches and find the hidden berries. I remember my arms getting scratched up, but it was worth a few scratches to get the best berries.

As I got older, I did less eating and did more picking to help grandma sell her beautiful raspberries at her fruit and vegetable stand in front of her house. She had people come from near and far, year-after-year, just to buy her delicious raspberries, cantaloupes, tomatoes, peppers and all the other vegetables that she grew in her garden. Those were the good old days when life was simple and picking raspberries without getting scratched was the least of my worries.

In mid-September my neighbor, Jane, invited me to join her to go raspberry picking. As an adult, I’d never picked raspberries. I’d never even been to a raspberry farm. It all seemed more like work than fun to me. It was fun picking raspberries with grandma, but would it be fun now?

The fruits of my labor...Raspberry Beauty Jam

We arrived at Symanzik’s Berry Farm in Goodrich, Michigan on a beautiful, sunny morning. We checked in, got our bucket, tied it around our waist, and walked to the row we were assigned. What fun! It wasn’t work at all. I practically whistled while I worked because all I could think about was the beautiful jam I was going to make. I didn’t have a clue how to make jam, but these berries were going to morph into jam come hell or high water! Picking those raspberries brought back fond memories of my time with Grandma in her raspberry patch and I can say for certain that picking raspberries on that sunny September morning was one of the best days I’ve had this year!

*Even though this is not a dessert, I used the raspberry jam I made in the center of the PB&J Honey Roasted Peanut Cookie recipe. Below I’ve included the raspberry jam recipe. It’s easy to make and very, very delicious! Just ask Jane, she has dipped pecan tassies in it and slathered it all over cheesecake! That girl knows how to multitask her food!

Raspberry Jam
4 cups mashed raspberries
4 cups sugar

Use a very large pot to sterilize jam jars and lids.
Place berries in large dutch oven and cook until the berries reach a full rolling boil. Berries will double in volume.
Boil 2 minutes.
Add sugar.
Stir well.
Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, boil for 2 minutes.
Remove from heat.
Beat with rotary beater for 4 minutes
Pour in sterilized jars and seal.

Posted by Roxy in Jellies, Jams, Curds

Peanut butter cookies for a people-lovin’ guy

Peanut butter cookies are George's favorite and he's ready to take a bite!

One of my dear friends, George, is an airline pilot.  He chose the perfect profession for his life’s work.  He loves people and puts his airline’s customers first.  I’ve seen how he interacts with every Tom, Dick, and Harriet in his everyday life.  Cordial, respectful, friendly, funny, are just a few words that describe George.  Meeting and greeting people and working as an airline pilot is the perfect job for his outgoing personality.

He has two “crash pads” (that’s pilot lingo) a condo in Davison, Michigan, and a place in Orlando, Florida.  When he told me that he was going to spend all winter in Orlando I was sad that I wouldn’t see his smiling face as often, but also happy that he would spend September-May in sunny Florida away from the cold Michigan winter.  To send him off on his flight back to Florida I made him some Classic Crosshatch Peanut Butter Cookies, which are his favorite.

Classic Crosshatch Peanut Butter Cookies

I’ve made this peanut butter cookie recipe a lot of times and it has good flavor and texture and it’s super simple to make. This recipe can be found in Sur la Table’s edition of Simple Comforts: 50 Heartwarming Recipes. The book is chock-full of great comfort food recipes, but also includes a section on desserts that we remember Mom making us when we were kids:  mile-high apple pie, strawberry shortcake, chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal cookies, fudgy brownies, vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting, and George’s favorite:  peanut butter cookies.

The evening before he left, he came over to pay me a visit to say goodbye and he left with a bag of peanut butter cookies that I baked just for him.  He called me after he arrived home in Florida to tell me the cookies were delicious and they hit-the-spot on his flight back to Florida.  George’s airline is fortunate to have him as a representative of the company.  He loves his job and enjoys meeting the folks flying with him as he delivers them safely to their destinations.

Classic Crosshatch Peanut Butter Cookies (makes about 50 cookies)

Whether you like your peanut butter cookies made with chunky peanut butter or smooth, these classic cookies are rich and crumbly, perfect with a glass of milk.  The peanut is actually a legume that grows underground.  It made its debut at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904 and has remained a beloved American food since then.

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup tightly packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¾ cup creamy or chunky peanut butter, at room temperature
1 ¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt

Position an oven rack in the top third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 

Put the butter, the brown sugar, and the ½ cup granulated sugar in a large bowl.  Using a mixer, beat on low speed for 1 minute.  Turn up the speed to medium and beat for another minute.  The mixture should be blended and smooth.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat on low speed until well-blended.  Add the peanut butter and beat until well blended.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Put the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk until blended.  Add the dry ingredients to the batter and beat on low speed just until the dough is smooth and no patches of flour are visible.  Scrape down the bowl one last time, and make sure no clumps of flour are hiding in the bottom.

Use an ice cream scoop to shape the dough into cookies.  You can also shape the dough by measuring out 1 level tablespoon for each cookie, and then rolling the dough between your palms into a ball.  Space the balls about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.

Use a fork to press down firmly on top of each ball once in each direction, to form a crisscross pattern.  Place a baking sheet on each oven rack. Bake for 5 minutes, then switch the pans between the oven racks.  Bake for another 6 to 7 minutes, until the cookies are golden brown around the edges.  Transfer the pans to the cooling racks and let the cookies cool completely.  You may need to reuse the pans to finish baking all the cookies.  Let the pans cool before you put more dough on them for baking.  Store the cookies in an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag for up to 5 days

Posted by Roxy in Cookies, Brownies and Bars

Pecan Tassies tee-off for Special Olympics


Lapeer Country Club in Lapeer, Michigan

Besides baking desserts and taking photographs, golfing is right up there as another one of my favorite things to do. The chance to get away and golf with my girlfriends is a treat and I was really excited to golf in a fundraiser outing for Special Olympics at the Lapeer Country Club on a beautiful September Sunday.  Any way to stretch out the golf season and play for a good cause is a win-win in my book.  It was a perfect day for golfing, on a beautiful golf course, and I got a chance to meet about twenty-five Special Olympics athletes who were there to meet and greet the golfers.

Jane taking the first bite of a Pecan Tassie. Yum!

Golf outings are always a day of fun.  Instead of making the usual Jell-O pucker-shot, golf outing treat, I made a batch of Pecan Tassies. I know, I know, like Huey Lewis and the News sing, “there’s no denying that, it’s hip to be square.” I was thinking out of the box and I’m a big square = nerd.
I’ve made Pecan Tassies many, many times and I’ve always thought they were pretty tasty. I usually make a basic pecan filling, but this time I used some leftover Texas Pecan Pie Bar filling and decided to pair the filling with some mini cream cheese tarts. I thought it would be a perfect snack on the golf course and besides, I’ve never been able to suck out all the Jell-O shot in one slurp from the tiny plastic cup.  A Pecan Tassie just pops in your mouth…no muss, no fuss. My golf partner, Jane, was the first to pop one in her mouth, and then she had another one. I knew right then that they were good.  Before long, I was offering Pecan Tassies to other golfers we met along the way and they all said “thank you,” with a big smile on their face.  It made my day that everyone enjoyed the perfect sweet bite.

Pecan Tassies

At the end of the day, I had a wonderful time playing a sport I love, spending the day with nice people, sharing one of my all-time favorite desserts with friends, and supporting a worthwhile organization.  Our team won first place from among the women’s teams, but the big winner that day was Special Olympics and the athletes whose oath  is:  “Let me win.  But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Pecan Tassies* (makes 4 dozen)

1 8-oz. pkg. Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 ½ cups packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 ½ cups chopped pecans

Combine cream cheese and butter, mixing well until well blended. Add flour; mix well. Chill. Divide dough into quarters; divide each quarter into 12 balls. Press each ball onto bottom and sides of miniature muffin pans. Combine eggs, brown sugar and vanilla; stir in pecans. Spoon into pastry shells, filling each cup. Bake at 325 for 30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Cool 5 minutes; remove from pans. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

*I filled the mini tarts with leftover Texas Pecan Pie Bar filling from a recipe I made on the October 1st post.  The pecan tassie filling in this recipe is equally delicious, but omits the coconut and melted butter and the optional bourbon; it cuts down on the calorie consumption.  Enjoy!   Recipe credit: Favorite Recipes, Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese

Posted by Roxy in Pies and Tarts

Cookbook junkie bakes Texas Pecan Pie Bars

I go to the local library to feed my cookbook addiction. Yes, I’m a cookbook junkie. I have my own stash of cookbooks, but when I walk into the library it’s a heady experience as I greedily eye the shelves trying to decide which cookbooks are coming home with me. Dessert cookbooks are my weakness and pictures are mandetory. Luckily, the librarian also enjoys reading cookbooks with pictures and orders more picture cookbooks instead of the pictureless kind. It’s an adrenaline rush flipping through the pages and devouring the pictures. I grab my stash and head for the check-out. The library staff and I have made a little game out of this. ”We take donations,” says the smiling staffer. I snatch the cookbooks from the counter, my arms loaded. I flash him a smile, and make a mental note to bring sweet treats on my next visit.

Phyllis says the Texas Pecan Pie Bars are "delicious!"

I just found my new favorite cookbook, The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather with Alison Oresman. Rebecca Rather, owns Rather Sweet Bakery & Cafe in Fredricksburg, Texas. In January 2002 I visited Fredricksburg, Texas while on a two-week vacation with my Mom and Dad. Fredricksburg is a German tourist town very similar to Frankenmuth, Michigan, another very famous German tourist town near my home. We ate lunch at a German restaurant…when in Rome do as the Romans…and the last thing I bought before I left Fredricksburg was a Texas mobile to remember my visit to the little German town in the Texas Hill Country.

Rather’s cookbook is filled cover-to-cover with pictures of her mouth-watering desserts and the prettiest dessert is on the front cover of
her cookbook. A beautiful lemon tart with spiky meringue topping.  I knew it was a cookbook I had to take home and devour.  When I flipped through The Pastry Queen cookbook, the first recipe that caught my eye was the Texas Pecan Pie Bars. I could almost smell the cookie crust sweetness, and taste the ooey, gooey brown sugar goodness, and hear the crunch of pecans as I bit into the first pecan pie bar. It looked like pecan pie, shared some of the same ingredients as pecan pie, but wait! Forget the fork…fast-food dessert…slice, grab, and go…can it get any better than that?

Making the Texas Pecan Pie Bars was easy as…well, pie! However, be prepared for lots of bars! That isn’t a bad thing, but as a single gal, eating a 12 by 17-inch pan of Texas Pecan Pie Bars would pack on the calories and give me a heck-of-a sugar buzz. I decided to put out an APB for a taste-tester. Luckily, I have the best friends in the world and my dear friend Phyllis volunteered  for the job…someone’s gotta do it, right? Phyllis and I live by the motto, “Life is uncertain; always eat dessert first.” You can see how I had to literally force Phyllis to eat one. After the first bite she said, “I can really taste the butter and the brown sugar. This is really good Roxy!”

The most important ingredient in finishing every last crumb of this dessert is remembering the moment with a snapshot. The afternoon I spent with Phyllis was filled with laughter and girl-talk. We go back a lot of years. She’s been my travel buddy, my golf buddy, my card club buddy, my confidante, and now she’s helping me launch my Dessert Rox! blog. Thank you Phyllis, you are a true friend. Her reward was a plate of Texas Pecan Pie Bars to share with her husband, Gary. As for the rest of those sweet-bars-of-goodness, I wrapped them up and put them in the freezer to take to my card club a few nights later. They freeze really well and unthaw just as fresh as if they had been baked that afternoon. They were a big hit and I came home with a crumbless plate!

This recipe is a winner and will be a hit at a potluck, family gathering, school picnic, or just to make and freeze and snack on when you have a sweet tooth attack!

Texas Pecan Pie Bars

This recipe makes a lot of bars, however, it depends on what size you cut them.  I cut the bars on the larger side and the recipe yields about 24 bars.  I used a 12 by 17-inch baking pan and found that the recipe made too much filling for the baking pan to hold. (I used the extra filling and made small pecan pie tassies the next day.) This recipe looks difficult, but it’s actually very easy to make.  Everyone who tasted the bars raved about how delicious they were. I definately will be making this recipe again. 


1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed golden brown sugar
4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt


8 large eggs
6 cups firmly packed golden brown sugar
1/4 cup bourbon (optional)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
2 cups pecan halves

To Make the Crust: Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 12 by 17-inch baking pan with butter or cooking spray. Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (a hand mixer works just as well), beat the butter in a large bowl on medium speed about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat about 1 minute, until fluffy. Add the flour and salt; mix on low speed until evenly incorporated but still crumbly. Press the mixture evenly over the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until it has darkened to a deep golden brown. Leave the oven at 350F.

To Make the Filling: Whisk the eggs and sugar in a large bowl until blended.  Stir in the bourbon, butter, vanilla, flour, and salt, then the coconut and pecans. Pour the filling over the crust, spreading evenly. Bake until set, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool thoroughly, at least 30 minutes, before cutting into 3-inch squares.

Posted by Roxy in Cookies, Brownies and Bars