Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cake of the Week: More is More Bars

A truely wise person once said, “Less is more.” And for the most part, I agree.

[Fun fact: that wise person was Robert Browning in his poem, "Andrea del Sarto” (aka the "Faultless Painter"), published in 1855.]

Less is more when Tim Gunn is mentoring a designer with “vision” on Project Runway.

Less is more when your enthusiastic karaoke-singing friend can’t hold a pitch.

Less is more in most decorating contexts (picture the interior of Versailles – and agree with me that Rococo is a bad idea for contemporary home decorating).

Less is more when we’re talking media-whores like Tiger Woods (literally), and Sarah Palin (figuratively).

 But sometimes, just sometimes, more is more. You know I’m referring to desserts here.

I see the argument for simple, basic, classic treats. And I enjoy those, I really do. But I often can’t resist adding more and more stuff to my baking adventures. (Remember my Caramel Apple Eggnog Cheesecake? Or my Maple Walnut Cranberry Cupcakes?)

I like to start with a base recipe, and then think…hmmm…what would make this better?

So this week, as I prepared for a few holiday parties, I started with a good-looking Snickerdoodle Blondie Bar recipe from Beantown Baker (Sidenote, in my mind, snickerdoodle = cream of tarter, which these bars don’t have, fyi).

And so I asked myself, what would make these more exciting?

The cranberries in my freezer. Yes.

And what goes well with cranberries?

Dark chocolate.

What else do I have in my fridge?

Cream Cheese. Egg.

A cheesecake layer on top?

Yes. Done. Genius.

(I'm not even kidding, that's how most of my interior dialogues actually go.)

 So here they are, Sinckerdoodle Cranberry Chocolate Cheesecake Blondie Bars (for simplicity's sake, let's just call them More is More Bars).

Here is the recipe for exactly what I did. But if you're going to make them, I think you should double the cheesecake topping.


2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh/frozen cranberries

1 3.5-4 oz bar dark chocolate, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch pan.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. In large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth.

Stir in the flour mixture until well blended. Add the chopped cranberries. Spread evenly in prepared pan (mixture will be somewhat cookiebatter-ish.)  Sprinkle dark chocolate over the top.

Cheesecake Topping:

1 package cream cheese

1 egg

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 Tablespoons milk

Beat with a mixer until smooth. Pour over unbaked blondies.

Bake 35-40 minutes or until cheesecake looks solid. Cool and then cut into bars.