Monthly Archives: March 2015

Baking Chez Moi: Crispy-Topped Brown Sugar Bars

Final Crispy BarsSometimes you come across a recipe that surprises you. I never thought something so simple as caramelizing cripsy rice could be so delicious. This simple treat had to be re-made several times for me to capture a picture of the end result. Somehow these bars kept disappearing before an image was taken.

Crispy Bar Ingredients

The ingredients are simple enough but it’s how they are put together that makes them special.  The trickiest part was caramelizing the rice but I enjoyed the taste so much that I did it for every batch I made.

Bubbling Sugar for Crispy RiceAdding Crispies

The first time I tried to caramelize the cripsies I threw out the batch thinking I had messed up.  When I went for in for a second attempt I learned I had to just keep going until the rice started looking wet and developed a caramel coating.  Every time I’ve made it since then I get the feeling things are going wrong and I just keep going.  The powdery sugar coating that develops is so unlike any other caramelization process that I find it a little disconcerting every time.  Well worth the effort though-I could munch on this treat all day.

Caramelized Cooling

The cookie base comes next and is about as simple as you can get.  A simple mixture of butter, brown sugar and flour with a little vanilla flavor.  The base was described as “chewy” but I made this several times with varying degrees of doneness and every time the base was more crispy and crunchy than chewy.  However, it was also amazing.  With all the taste testing that we and our friends did it was decided the the most done, almost a little over-baked version was the best.

Bar Base SpreadingCrispy Batter in Pan

The hardest part of the process was getting the batter into the pan.  It’s quite sticky and fights being spread.  I found that keeping a little cup of water nearby to occasionally wet my fingertips helped keep everything in check.

Crispy melting chocolate

Once the base is done chocolate pieces are added to the hot top and it’s all placed back into the turned-off oven for a minute or two.  Once the chocolate is nice and melty it gets spread across the base and you can add the caramelized crispy rice.

Cripsy Chocolate SpreadAdding Crispy Rice

The only problem is that the whole thing now needs to cool to room temp and then go into the fridge to cool.  It’s already warm in Phoenix this time of year so I kept the bars in the fridge even after they had been cut.

Stacked Crispy Bars

Cripsy Close Up

The bars are a wonderful mixture of brown sugar toffee flavor, earthy chocolate and a delicious crispy, caramel topping. The reminded me of the delicious saltine and brown sugar bars that I’ve found called both bravo bars as well as matzah toffee.  These were however elevated to quite another level while still maintaining the simple flavor ideas.



Herbed Biscuits

Herbed Cottage Cheese BiscuitI’ve really been enjoying the EveryDay Dorie column in the Washington Post.  Going through Baking Chez Moi has been a blast but I’ve been baking up a storm lately and having some additional recipes has been great.  The latest recipe is for Herbed Cottage Cheese Biscuits.

Herbed Biscuit IngredientsCut Herbed Biscuits


I was really on the fence about making these since cottage cheese is on my most-hated foods list (it’s a texture issue).  However, I’ve made a few recipes where the cottage cheese was ‘hidden’ in the other ingredients and this fit the bill.  Like most biscuits these were pretty easy to get together and pop in the oven.  They turned out pretty great although I rolled them a little thinner knowing they wouldn’t get quite the height of the pictured end result.

Bright Plate of Herbed Biscuits


These were pretty tasty and I wouldn’t hesitate to make these again if I happened to have some leftover cottage cheese in my fridge.  We picked up some soup at the deli and make a lunch feast with our biscuits.

Herbed Biscuit and Soup


Herbed Biscuit Close Up


These biscuits would be fabulous with a little smoked salmon, particularly with the dill flavor that I made, as Dorie served them.  I’m tempted to try them again for some egg, ham and cheese breakfast sandwiches.

Happy Baking,


Baking Chez Moi: Lemon Madeleines

Lemon Madeleines in the Sun


I’ve seen many recipes for madeleines before but never had the inclination to try them.  My kitchen abounds with a variety of bakeware and it always seemed just a little too fussy to purchase a madeleine pan.  Baking Chez Moi is adding to my collection but really only in the best of ways, a new pan but a great new recipe to go with it.  I really enjoyed the recipe as written with lemon flavor but due to my abundance of grapefruit I decided to make that version as well.

Lemon Madeleine Ingredients



I love recipes that call for ingredients that I almost always have already stocked.  It makes weekend whims easy to indulge.

Lemon Madeleine Sugar


I love the feeling that sugar gets after rubbing zest into it.  It reminds me of the Southern California beaches I grew up on.  Damp sand is kind of an odd sensation against your fingertips and this replicates it pretty perfectly.

Lemon Madeleine Egg BeatingLemon Madeleines Adding Vanila


Eggs and sugar are beaten till slightly thickened and honey and vanilla are added in.

Lemon Madeleines Mixed with Dry IngredientsLemon Madeleines Adding Milk

Dry ingredients are gently folded in and some milk and melted butter finish the batter off.  The batter needs to chill at least an hour but I love that this is flexible enough to be made quite a bit ahead of time.  I made these a few times and my lemon batter always seemed to form some interesting chunky crystals in the batter.  We theorized that it had something to do with the lemon’s acidity but interestingly enough my grapefruit batter remained smooth.  I wasn’t too concerned as the final product turned out tasting great.

Cooling Mini Lemon Madeleines


I made both a standard and mini size with a varying degree of ‘bump’ success.  My first batch really looked the prettiest but company was coming for dinner and they were devoured pretty quick.

Glazing Lemon Madeleines

I glazed both batches and the I think this definitely adds a little something special.  I’d probably continue glazing future batches if for no other reason than I hate wasting any fresh juice.

Melty Lemon Madeleines

Thank goodness my neighbors don't mind being tasters for my first attempts at things.
Thank goodness my neighbors don’t mind being tasters for my first attempts at things.

I have a feeling making madeleines is a skill, despite the seemingly simple ingredients, and the more you make them the more perfect they turn out.  The lemon madeleines were pretty great but I thought the grapefruit version really did it for me.  The flavor was so familiar but still really interesting.

Lemon Madeleine Pinwheel


I’m so glad my new pans weren’t wasted and will at least be put to use every citrus season.


Comforting Casserole and the Restless Heart

Cut ParmentierIt’s been a long few weeks.  A lethal combination of allergies, ensuing illness and personal and professional stress has been taking a toll. The chicken parmentier proposed in the latest Every Day Dorie seemed like a perfect remedy for the cold and rainy weather that was going on outside and in my life.

Parmentier Ingredients

I love a good casserole and had always foolishly thought of it as a typical American dish. This dish is heavily scented with spice and appears to be paleo friendly from the little I know about paleo.  It was perfect to invite some neighbors over and unwind.

parmentier insides

I think at heart I’m an escapist.  I need to remove myself from a situation to get perspective and cope.  Sometimes life makes this impossible and I spend an inordinate amount of time day dreaming about hiking on trails and crossing creeks. As if the only stability was the instability of a wandering life. Spring is coming and I know I can sate this craving.  I just have to be patient.  Hold on for another weekend, another month and relief will be there.

For now it appears that one horrible chapter is closing and a new one is may be on the horizon.  The shooter in Scott’s case was sentenced after pleading guilty. Justice is a funny thing.  A concept that exists in our minds but I’m not sure genuinely exists in the tangible world. There isn’t any joy in a mother losing her son or a child being separated from their parent because of the incredibly foolish decisions he made.  Our lives don’t magically revert back to how they were before. It will never really be over for any of us. I do feel the relief of no longer having a potential trial and verdict hanging over our heads.

Sometimes it’s just one day at a time.

Fabulous appetizer brought by our friends and neighbors.
Fabulous appetizer brought by our friends and neighbors.
Couldn't resist adding a sprinkle of paprika to the finished parmentier.
Couldn’t resist adding a sprinkle of paprika to the finished parmentier.

Grapefruit Granita

So I bake and I cook.  One foot in front of the other, one day at a time.

Good things are coming.  They have to be.