Super Bowl Bars

Bars | ZoeBakes

I can’t wait to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday. I don’t want you to get the false impression that I follow any team in particular, or even the sport as a whole. I can safely avoid upsetting anyone by picking a side, since I have no idea who’s even in the game this year. I do love the clever ads and I’m a big fan of Bruno Mars. As is the case with most occasions like this, I’m totally in it for the food. My husband  will make buffalo and “mahogany” chicken wings (recipes he only whips out for this event). My sons explained to me, in no uncertain terms, that I need to make bars, and they are not to be “too fancy.” They Fear I’ll show up with some girly, frilly, lacy dessert and be a humiliation to their dude-ness. Granted they are teens, so I am almost always an embarrassment. So, I layered up all the things I could think might be appropriate at a party dedicated to football, including potato chips, coffee, peanuts, and much, much more. Everything but beer. These treats are a bit inspired by the Momofuko Milk Bar Compost Cookies, but I took it to a whole new level with a rich chocolate topping. When my youngest son taste tested them he asked, suspiciously and with a full mouth, if I’d put a layer of mousse on top, which would have placed them in the realm of “fancy.” I did not, but the nutella ganache is very mousse-like and completely awesome. He had another one just to make sure.

A fact about me that not many people know, until now…I was a cheerleader in highschool (and middle school) for the football team. I had two qualifications that made this a more obvious fit than you might think, given my indifference to the game. I was a loud mouth and I was pretty coordinated, having grown up with a mom who owns a dance studio. I had no idea what was going on behind on the field and quite frankly I never really cared. But, when it came to the bake sale to raise money for the team, I was all about it.

Here are my “Not Too Fancy for the Super Bowl, but just fancy enough to make ME happy, Bars”. They are really simple to make, so if you need a last minute treat to bring to your Super Bowl Fête, these are perfect and decadent. Go Bars! (more…)

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Blueberry Bars for Back to School! (and a MNFoodBloggers Bar Bake-off)

Yesterday was the official end of summer in my house. Back to school for both boys, and I spent the day wishing they were home again. “Seriously?”  You may ask. I spent the past several weeks anticipating the beginning of school with a certain glee, which may have bordered on unhealthy. I couldn’t wait to have peace and quiet in my house, for hours at a time. I looked forward to doing my work without interruption, sans little fingers dipping into the bowl. But, when it came to the actual day, I missed them and couldn’t wait for them to get off the bus.* Instead of pathetically staring out the window waiting, I decided to bake them some bars. Every MN kid loves bars.

For those of you from the coasts, I am referring to a layered dessert baked in a pan resembling a brownie/cookie/pie, but can be made with fruit, caramel, chocolate or anything else your pantry contains. Then they are cut into neat bars. I was first introduced to this concept when I moved to Minneapolis 18 years ago. Bars are generally served on a buffet table with lots of crock pots filled with “hot dish.” Every family has their own recipe, usually a tightly held secret, mostly kept from the neighbors.

Just a couple of weeks ago Stephanie Meyer asked me to judge a MNFoodBloggers Bar Bake-Off. It seems the quintessential task of any MN food blogger, baker or non-baking type, to create the perfect bar. What I forgot when I took on this responsibility is how many members the MNFoodBloggers has and how many bars I would have to eat in one sitting. Luckily, I was not alone in my task, Stephanie March from Mpls/St.Paul Magazine and Joy Estelle Summers from City Pages joined me. We consumed 13, or was it 16, different MN Bars. Some were traditional recipes from grandma’s kitchen and others were a daringly new take on the MN dessert. The winner was Kelli Abrahamian from IHadaDelicousTime.com with her Rosemary Apricot Bars (picture below). Her fantastic herby crust and fruit filling were my inspiration for my Blueberry Bar recipe.  (more…)

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Chocolate-Ginger Marbled Cheesecake “Bars”

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

Here I am, screeching in at the very last moment, with the Daring Baker’s Challenge. I adore cheesecake and this was a great challenge presented by Jenny. Basically she told us to come up with any variety of cheesecake we wanted. I have to admit that I went to my culinary muses and asked them what they thought. My husband came up with a combination of ginger and chocolate, he was also very insistent that they be bars and not a big cake. Here, in the Midwest, any sweet cut into a square is called a “bar.” It changes this rather sophisticated flavor combination into an after school treat instead of a plated dessert. My sons Henri and Charlie whole-heartedly agreed, and then ran outside to skateboard as quickly as possible. It is very helpful to have opinionated muses.

I have to say he came up with a real winner! The rich chocolate ganache mixed with the ginger cheesecake batter sits on top of a dark chocolate and crystallized ginger crust. Marbling the two flavors and cutting them into bars makes them pure fun! I shared them with several neighbors to keep me from eating the entire batch.

The winner of the Le Creuset baking dish is announced below.

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