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Baked Treats

Baked Treats

Chunky Monkey Muffins (Banana Double-Chocolate Chunk)

June 27, 2017

I love bananas, their shape, color, scent & taste…that they come wrapped in their own packaging & with a handle to boot. I always look for the shapeliest bunch, wait patiently for them to ripen and buy the exotic ones when I can find them. I even did an entire geek-research story on banana varieties once. But banana-love doesn’t mean those beautiful yellow bundles all get eaten when perfectly ripe. There are always, always, one or two left behind, their skins gone past freckled to bruisy black, poor bodies gone slack with waiting. But ugly as they are, I NEVER throw those holdovers away, and you shouldn’t either. Why? Because they are the secret to really good banana muffins. Continue Reading…

Baked Treats

Jam Tart (or, Best Basic Bar Cookies)

December 9, 2016

The bar cookie brings with it the promise of plenty, the memory of family gatherings where people talked long and laughingly and dessert was a reward for kids who cleaned their plates. With all the press about eating in season, it’s nice to remember that the humble bar cookie showcased that long before it was en vogue, featuring whatever came from the garden or farmstand. Fresh, first, and then from preserves that had been “put by.” Continue Reading…

Baked Treats

Coffee & Molasses Dream Bars

November 29, 2016

Richly flavored with molasses, strong coffee and a generous portion of ground cloves, these bars are one of my favorite holiday baking treats. They’re adapted from a recipe originally published 33 years ago in a community cookbook from Ladies Aid at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in South Milwaukee, WI. Slather the coffee icing on while the bars are still warm. Continue Reading…

Baked Treats

The Original Chocolate Fudge Brownie (Palmer House)

September 8, 2016

The Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 was a chocolate-lovers dream: Boston-based chocolatier Walter M. Lowney brought the first American chocolate bars. America’s oldest chocolate maker, Walter Baker & Company, handed out samples and showed visitors how chocolate was made. And the Palmer House introduced the first chocolate brownie, because Bertha Palmer wanted a portable dessert that ladies could have in boxed lunches at the fair.

Unlike other brownie recipes which started appearing in 1904 and specified that butter and sugar were first creamed before being combined with a small amount of melted chocolate, the Palmer House brownie is made with more than a pound of melted chocolate and a pound of melted butter. The finished brownie is also glazed with apricot jelly.  A combination of chocolate fudge and brownie, crispy-chewy on the edges, ultra dense and chocolatey, we think it’s best served frozen, or very cold…otherwise, gooey things happen. (Not sure how this worked in a boxed lunch…) Chef Stephen Henry says for cleanest slices, freeze the brownies for three hours after glazing. Then cut, and serve while very firm and cold.

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Baked Treats

Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins

June 1, 2016

I first ran this recipe story four years ago, when the Chicago Tribune gave me permission to take the Lost Recipes Found column I had launched for them & relaunch it as my own blog. In the years since, this muffin has become a family favorite. According to Michael Lisicky, department-story history expert, Jordan Marsh Continue Reading…

Baked Treats

Ann Sather’s Carrot Bread

May 30, 2016

In 1945, Ann Sather plunked down savings earned at a meat-packing plant to buy an already-existing Swedish diner.  Although of Norwegian heritage, Ann kept the Swedish menu to please loyal guests in the then-heavily-Swedish neighborhood. Continue Reading…