Chocolate Chai Cheesecake Bars

Indulge in a square of lightly spiced and deeply chocolate cheesecake, with distinct layers of chocolate cookie crust, silky smooth chocolate cheesecake infused with chai spices, and a decadent chocolate ganache to finish it all off. Sugar and spice and everything nice… that’s definitely what these cheesecake bars are made of. Simple to prepare and […]

The post Chocolate Chai Cheesecake Bars first appeared on Love and Olive Oil.

Indulge in a square of lightly spiced and deeply chocolate cheesecake, with distinct layers of chocolate cookie crust, silky smooth chocolate cheesecake infused with chai spices, and a decadent chocolate ganache to finish it all off.

Sugar and spice and everything nice… that’s definitely what these cheesecake bars are made of. Simple to prepare and even easier to eat (no fork required), you’ll love everything about this decadent treat.

Chocolate Chai Cheesecake Bars cut into squares, on natural parchment and a wood background

If you haven’t already noticed, I love bar-ifying recipes that aren’t typically served as squares. From cookies to coffee cake and even pumpkin pie, squares are quickly becoming my favorite serving shape. Needless to say I’ve definitely been getting my money’s worth out of my trusty 8-by-8 pan.

These chocolate chai cheesecake bars (or, as they’re known colloquially, Ch³ Bars) are adapted from my triple chocolate cheesecake recipe, scaled down and infused with sultry chai spices and transformed into easy-to-eat bars.

Overhead, cut squares of Chocolate Chai Cheesecake Bars, one sitting on its side to show the layers

What is Chai?

Originating from India, chai literally means tea (derived from ‘cha’, the Chinese word for tea, so when you go around saying ‘chai tea’ you’re actually saying ‘tea tea’ FYI). Chai has become a word that is used on its own to describe what is more technically known as masala chai, a fragrant blend of spices infused into a tea-like beverage (often with black tea, but that’s not always the case).

The actual spices that you’ll find in masala chai varies greatly depending on the maker. Most include cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and cloves, with some blends containing coriander, star anise, and even black pepper.

In this recipe, the fragrant chai spices meet with dark, bittersweet chocolate in multiple forms for a unique, multi-faceted flavor. Cardamom isn’t a spice you usually see paired with chocolate, which is a shame, as it proves to be a truly transcendent pairing (and considering I’m not usually a huge fan of cardamom, that’s saying something).

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Monster Cookie Bars

Do you ever feel like your dessert is… watching you? Your favorite monster cookies are now in bar form! Packed with peanut butter, oatmeal, m&ms and chocolate chips, these monstrous cookie bars are most certainly eyeing your Halloween celebrations. Monster Cookies are a combination of peanut butter, oatmeal, and m&m candies. Invented in the 1970s […]

The post Monster Cookie Bars first appeared on Love and Olive Oil.

Do you ever feel like your dessert is… watching you?

Your favorite monster cookies are now in bar form! Packed with peanut butter, oatmeal, m&ms and chocolate chips, these monstrous cookie bars are most certainly eyeing your Halloween celebrations.

Monster Cookie Bars, topped with M&Ms and candy eyeballs cut into squares on a dark background

Monster Cookies are a combination of peanut butter, oatmeal, and m&m candies. Invented in the 1970s by a midwestern photographer and cub-scout leader named Dick Wesley, they were dubbed monster cookies because they are a Frankenstein-like mashup of various other cookie components, cobbled together by what happened to be on hand (in this case, peanut butter, oats and m&ms)

They don’t usually have eyes, but, we may as well go all-in on the monster theme, right?

Especially with Halloween just around the corner.

Square grid of cut Monster Cookie Bars, one tilted on its side to show cross-section

These are more than just basic chocolate chip cookies baked in a pan.

Old fashioned oats give the bars a hearty texture that, paired with the perfect amount of peanut butter, is really, really satisfying to eat. And you may not think that a mere teaspoon of honey would make a difference, but let me tell you: it certainly does (if you love peanut butter and honey sandwiches like I do, these bars will seriously satisfy).

If that wasn’t enough, they’re packed with a heaping cup of m&m candies and dark chocolate chips studded throughout, plus more on top for good measure.

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Sprinkle Party Blondies

These blondies are ready to party, chock full of all the fun stuff: chocolate sandwich cookies, both white and dark chocolate chips, and a bevy of colorful rainbow sprinkles. The saying is true… blondes really do have more fun (when it comes to baked goods at least), and these sprinkle party blondies are quite possibly […]

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These blondies are ready to party, chock full of all the fun stuff: chocolate sandwich cookies, both white and dark chocolate chips, and a bevy of colorful rainbow sprinkles.

The saying is true… blondes really do have more fun (when it comes to baked goods at least), and these sprinkle party blondies are quite possibly the funnest.

Squares of sprinkle cookie party blondies on a pink background, with bowl of sprinkles on the side

Talk about cheerful, I dare you to take one look (let alone one bite) of these fun-filled blondies without smiling.

I was torn at what to call these celebratory treats. Double chocolate chip cookies ‘n cream confetti blondies is a mouthful even before you take a bite. They’re definitely more fun than funfetti, more colorful than cookies and cream. Party-something seemed appropriate, but I couldn’t decide between sprinkle party blondies, cookie party blondies, or house party blondies.

These blondies have so much going on you think it would be too much, but in this case… too much of a good thing? Even better.

They truly are a party in every bite.

Stack of three sprinkle party blondies with sandwich cookies, on a pink plate and pink background

The blondie base is very similar to my stuffed nutella blondies, though I reduced the scale since the mix-ins bump up the volume by quite a bit (the first batch I made was downright THICK), and skipped the brown butter since the focus of these blondies is on the flavorful mix-ins more than anything.

That said, you could easily substitute different mix-ins to suit your current cravings; the basic blondie recipe used here is a great foundation for just about any mix-in you can think of, from nuts to dried fruit to bits of chocolate or even toffee.

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Blackberry Lavender Lemon Bars

Tart and sweet, fruity and floral, these blackberry lavender lemon bars are the perfect summery treat for lemon lovers everywhere! The classic lemon bar gets leveled up with ripe summer blackberries and a hint of lavender for a uniquely floral twist and gorgeous pink color. I’ve gotten into the habit of offloading my leftover sweets […]

The post Blackberry Lavender Lemon Bars first appeared on Love and Olive Oil.

Tart and sweet, fruity and floral, these blackberry lavender lemon bars are the perfect summery treat for lemon lovers everywhere!

The classic lemon bar gets leveled up with ripe summer blackberries and a hint of lavender for a uniquely floral twist and gorgeous pink color.

Blackberry Lavender Lemon Bars cut into triangles and dusted with sugar

I’ve gotten into the habit of offloading my leftover sweets on my fellow students at my weekly Wednesday night ceramic class. Contrary to what you may think, excess sweets are a constant problem I have to deal with. The two of us can hardly consume everything I bake (recipes often requiring multiple tests before the final iteration), and ​it’s not like I have an office to bring them to. Usually it’s my neighbors who get saddled with the bulk of my leftovers (not that they’re complaining or anything).

But now that I’m back at my ceramics class after a year-long break, it’s proven the perfect opportunity for me to both offload my recipe tests and gather useful feedback, while at the same time spreading sweet happiness around the studio.

When I heard that our teacher was a huge fan of lemon desserts, I decided to revisit my classic Meyer lemon bars and give them a fruity and floral new twist. And even I, the lackluster lemon lover that I am (I’ll choose chocolate over lemon any day), had to admit the result is pretty darn fabulous.

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Chocolate Covered Strawberry Mousse Cakes

There are few things as perfect as a simple chocolate dipped strawberry, and these impressive little entremet cakes transform that classic pairing into a chocolate covered dome of delight, with a luscious strawberry mousse and rich chocolate brownie core. Featuring a cloud-like strawberry mousse and a square of fudgy chocolate brownie, all covered with a […]

The post Chocolate Covered Strawberry Mousse Cakes first appeared on Love and Olive Oil.

There are few things as perfect as a simple chocolate dipped strawberry, and these impressive little entremet cakes transform that classic pairing into a chocolate covered dome of delight, with a luscious strawberry mousse and rich chocolate brownie core.

Featuring a cloud-like strawberry mousse and a square of fudgy chocolate brownie, all covered with a glossy chocolate ganache glaze, these little mousse cakes are as stunning as they are delicious. While entremet-style desserts do require a bit of effort and planning, the work is easily manageable when split over a few days.

Three domes covered in ganache, on a white plate, pink background

My blueberry mousse cake recipe is surprisingly popular given its complexity; and I’m giddy with delight every time I’m tagged in a photo by someone who’s made them.

This recipe is a similar entremet-style dessert, but with different components: a rich chocolate brownie instead of the almond sponge, a light strawberry Bavarian mousse (distinctive in its use of egg yolks in the base), and then a chocolate ganache coating instead of the mirror glaze.

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Milk Chocolate & Peanut Butter Ganache Brownies

Chocolate and peanut butter lovers: delight! This one’s for you, with a rich milk chocolate brownie topped with layers of creamy peanut butter frosting and a luxurious chocolate ganache. Given the choice between chocolate cake or brownies, I’ll choose the brownie every time, especially when it’s loaded and layered with more chocolate and sweet and […]

The post Milk Chocolate & Peanut Butter Ganache Brownies first appeared on Love and Olive Oil.

Chocolate and peanut butter lovers: delight! This one’s for you, with a rich milk chocolate brownie topped with layers of creamy peanut butter frosting and a luxurious chocolate ganache.

Given the choice between chocolate cake or brownies, I’ll choose the brownie every time, especially when it’s loaded and layered with more chocolate and sweet and salty peanut butter like this one.

Sliced peanut butter ganache brownies on parchment, bowl of peanut butter on the side

I recently had the urge to re-make, re-test, and re-shoot my old Cream Egg brownie recipe from way back in 2012. It’s a great recipe that always sees a little bit of a boost this time of year, but the photos don’t really do it justice. They’re not horrible (I had almost 5 years of experience at that point, if you can believe it… man I’ve been doing this blogging thing for way longer than I realized), but they are definitely not quite the same caliber of images I’m able to capture now. I also wanted to play with the ratios of brownie-filling-topping, and explore swapping the milk chocolate topping with a silky smooth milk chocolate ganache (basically, I can’t leave well enough alone).

A combination of factors, including crummy light and less-than-clean cuts (as a result of my impatience to get it done undoubtedly) failed to please my perfectionist self, and I didn’t end up reshooting the recipe after all. But that’s not to say we didn’t enjoy the spoils of the endeavor nonetheless. As Taylor was shoving the results of my test batch into his mouth, he remarked that his idea of a perfect brownie would be that same fudgy brownie base, a layer of sweet and salty peanut butter in place of the fondant, and a rich ganache topping.

So I made it happen.

Stack of 3 Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache Brownies, top one with a bite out of it

The peanut butter layer turned out a bit more buttercream-y than I envisioned (I was shooting for something Reese’s like), but we both decided that it was quite lovely, light and fluffy and perfectly peanut buttery. The hint of salt, in both the brownie layer and the peanut butter layer, cuts the richness of the chocolate beautifully and also amplifies the flavors.

The brownie itself is dense and fudgy (just how I like them), even more so if you let it chill overnight (as hard as that may be, trust me when I say you’ll get much cleaner looking cuts if you wait until the next day).

I used a mix of chocolates, both dark and milk chocolate in both the brownie and the ganache, since, while I love me an ultra-dark chocolate brownie, I couldn’t ignore the fact that milk chocolate pairs so well with peanut butter. I wanted the best of both worlds.

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Peach Swirl Cheesecake Bars

Luscious, creamy vanilla cheesecake bars with a swirl of fresh peach puree and a sweet and salty pecan-infused cookie crust are just what you need to top off the summer! Baking cheesecake in bar form transforms a fussy, formal dessert into a casual, everyday delight—this summery version pairs a delicate vanilla bean cheesecake with a […]

Luscious, creamy vanilla cheesecake bars with a swirl of fresh peach puree and a sweet and salty pecan-infused cookie crust are just what you need to top off the summer!

Baking cheesecake in bar form transforms a fussy, formal dessert into a casual, everyday delight—this summery version pairs a delicate vanilla bean cheesecake with a swirl of vibrant peach.

Peach cheescake bars cut into squares, arranged on a piece of crinkled parchment with a bowl of peach puree and a few peach slices scattered around.

Peach season is sadly coming to an end. I still had a few peaches left from that box of seconds I bought that needed to be used. And after toying with the idea of some sort of pie or cobbler bar, I ultimately decided to make a cheesecake since I feel like cheescakes are lacking representation on this here blog (I admit to being slightly biased towards other desserts… cream cheese just isn’t my favorite thing in the world). That said, I can totally get behind a really good cheesecake, and these peachy squares are just that.

The delicate vanilla bean cheesecake and the sweet and salty pecan and vanilla wafer crust combined with the bright and fruity peach swirl on top makes for a truly wonderful (and gorgeous) combination.

Silver baking pan lined with parchment, baked with cheesecake filling and a bright orange swirl of peach

This recipe is loosely based on my blueberry crème fraîche cheesecake, minus the blueberries and the top glaze (because why cover up that beautiful swirl?) It’s my favorite cheesecake base, light and silky smooth with a bit of tang from the crème fraîche that cuts the sweetness perfectly.

Obviously I had to make some adjustments in addition to the peach swirl (namely halving the recipe, removing the blueberry, and adding vanilla bean paste for a subtle vanilla flavor and precious vanilla bean specks throughout). I was optimistic that it would translate into bars, and was pleasantly surprised that these turned out so well on the first try. That’s the sign of a solid recipe, when it can be adapted into different shapes and sizes without any hassle whatsoever.

I was especially pleased with how defined the peach swirl turned out; I was worried about it sinking or bubbling but it stayed pretty much pristine throughout the entire baking process!

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Meyer Lemon Bars

Meyer lemon bars are the perfect springtime treat: with a tart and sweet Meyer lemon custard baked on top of a layer of buttery shortbread. These sunny Meyer lemon bars are as delicious as they are easy, with a layer of tender shortbread topped with an easy, shortcut lemon curd: no stovetop required! Dust with […]

Meyer lemon bars are the perfect springtime treat: with a tart and sweet Meyer lemon custard baked on top of a layer of buttery shortbread.

These sunny Meyer lemon bars are as delicious as they are easy, with a layer of tender shortbread topped with an easy, shortcut lemon curd: no stovetop required! Dust with a generous flurry of powdered sugar for the perfect springtime treat!

Stacks of sliced Meyer Lemon Bars on a turquoise background, with whole and half Meyer lemons

There seem to be two kinds of lemon bar recipes floating around the internets.

Both have shortbread bases, but one has a thicker layer of what is essentially egg yolk-heavy lemon curd, usually cooked on a stovetop and then poured on top of the fully baked shortbread.

The second features a thinner layer of lemon custard that’s simply mixed together and poured on top of the semi-baked shortbread, then finished off in the oven together.

As pretty as that ultra thick layer of lemon curd is, that kind of recipe uses upwards of 8 or 9 eggs for a small 8-inch pan. And with the grocery situation as it stands now, I just couldn’t bare to sacrifice so many eggs, even for a cause as delicious as lemon bars. Thus my decision to go with the later style.

Stack of three triangular-sliced Meyer Lemon Bars on a turquoise plate

This recipe only uses 3 eggs (actually 2 eggs and 1 egg yolk – save that leftover egg white for a cocktail or something), and when you’ve only got 15 odd eggs left, 3 is a much more reasonable amount.

Granted, you don’t end up with the perfectly defined, perfectly smooth-topped, rich yolky yellow layer of lemon curd. Instead, the curd and the shortbread sort of melt together in the oven, and the top takes on a bit of a crispy, bubbly appearance, which I actually find quite delightful (the crispiness will soften as the bars sit, so it’s more aesthetic than anything). And besides, with a hearty sprinkle of powdered sugar you can’t really see it anyway.

But honestly, I feel like the ratio of lemon to shortbread is better with this simpler method, with the buttery shortbread balancing out the tart sweetness of the lemon, so it’s a win-win-win in my mind (those wins being fewer eggs, easier process, and better proportions in the final product).

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Nutella-Stuffed Brown Butter Blondies

Talk about delightful—these soft and chewy brown butter chocolate chunk blondies have a layer of gooey nutella hidden inside. One good thing stuffed inside another good thing: does it get any better? In this case you have a layer of molten hazelnut spread inside a chewy brown butter blondie, studded with chocolate chunks and crunchy […]

Talk about delightful—these soft and chewy brown butter chocolate chunk blondies have a layer of gooey nutella hidden inside.

One good thing stuffed inside another good thing: does it get any better? In this case you have a layer of molten hazelnut spread inside a chewy brown butter blondie, studded with chocolate chunks and crunchy hazelnuts.

Overhead shot of Nutella-Stuffed Brown Butter Blondies cut into squares with a bowl of chocolate chunks and hazelnuts on the side.

Blondies are tricky little buggers. They seem simple, but so often they come out greasy and underdone despite ample baking times; in fact this result is so common that most people think blondies are supposed to be dense, gooey and almost cookie dough-like in the middle.

Don’t get me wrong, I love me some cookie dough, but that’s not quite what I was going for here.

Most blondie recipes call for you to stir the sugar into melted butter, then whisk in the eggs followed by the dry ingredients. Basically a chocolate-less version of your typical brownie, like my favorite espresso brownie recipe.

Unfortunately, this method often leads to greasy blondies with dry, crispy edges that seem undercooked even after baking for far longer than the recipe states. Not ideal.

Close up showing the layer of nutella in the middle of the brown butter blondies.

With a bit of testing and lot of research (aka intense googling that ultimately led me to Stella Parks’ thoughts on the subject), it turns out the difference between undercooked, greasy blondies and perfectly chewy, cookie-like blondies is… air.

So instead of mixing the sugar into the butter and then adding the eggs, instead we beat the sugar and the eggs together first, until they are light in color and thick but not stiff. Then add the melted butter (browned butter, in this case) followed by the dry ingredients and the mix ins.

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