Cardamom Date Squares

Cardamom Date Squares

Cardamom Date Squares

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These are no culinary school squares, in fact, Cardamom Date Squares are far from the many cakes and pastries I made while attending culinary school.  Truth is, I don’t remember making many squares like this. The focus was all about pastries, cakes, and classics like Peach Melba and Crepes Suzette.  However, at the time as a young adult, I still had to live in the real world, and happily collected an array of home maker popular books such as Company’s Coming, Best of Bridge and Betty Crocker.   

It’s within these dated books that I find some of the best treats, including my favourite recipe for Date Squares.  Being who I am though, left me no alternative but to give the recipe a tweak in Compelled To Cook fashion, and Cardamom Date Squares emerged, buttery and golden from my kitchen. A splash of orange juice and a sprinkle of cardamom gives my favourite date square a hint of something different and delicious. I’m in no way a hoarder, but there are certain books I refuse to get rid of, no matter how old and out dated they are.  Because in my mind they’re a classic in their own right.  

Recipe for Cardamom Date Squares adapted from:  Company’s Coming Matrimonial Squares

Cardamom Date Squares
Print Recipe
    Servings Prep Time
    36 squares 40 minutes
    Cook Time
    30 minutes
    Servings Prep Time
    36 squares 40 minutes
    Cook Time
    30 minutes
    Cardamom Date Squares
    Print Recipe
      Servings Prep Time
      36 squares 40 minutes
      Cook Time
      30 minutes
      Servings Prep Time
      36 squares 40 minutes
      Cook Time
      30 minutes
      Ingredients
      Servings: squares
      Instructions
      1. Preheat oven to 350℉ and lightly butter a 9"x9" baking pan. Line bottom and two sides with parchment, allowing a slight overhang.
      2. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat combine dates, granulated sugar, orange juice, orange zest and water. Allow to come to a simmer and cook uncovered for 8-10 until soft and jammy. Remove from heat and set aside.
      3. In a large bowl combine oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, cardamom, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter using your fingers or pastry cutter until butter is pea-size and the mixture holds together when lightly squeezed.
      4. Evenly press a generous half of the oat mixture (about 3 cups) into the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread the dates evenly over oats. Add the remaining oat mixture, pressing slightly. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Remove from the pan by lifting the overhanging parchment and cut into desired squares.

      Chocolate Almond Crunch Krispie Treats

      Chocolate Almond Crunch Krispie Treats

      After school treat or with Sunday tea, you’ll love every bit of the almond flavour and crunch in these chewy Chocolate Almond Crunch Krispie Treats. They’re the stuff that’s made as a family, easy, nostalgic and made often. Every bit as easy as your typical marshmallow krispie square but amped up with toasted almonds, almond butter and chocolate. It’s a great twist on an old favourite.

       

      Without a doubt,  almonds would have to be my favourite nut in every dimension. I enjoy snacking on them whole, raw, or toasted & seasoned. I love them in baked goods, especially toasted. They are great slivered in salads, toasted in granola and they are the first thing that I will pick out of trail mix. Almonds are also a good source of fiber, magnesium, and calcium to name a few. There’s so much to love about the almond and that’s why I chose to incorporate them in these delicious Chocolate Almond Crunch Krispie Treats. Enjoy!

      Recipe source for Chocolate Almond Crunch Krispie Treats:

      Compelled To Cook

       

      Chocolate Almond Crunch Krispie Treats
      Print Recipe
        Servings Prep Time
        20 squares 15 minutes
        Cook Time
        20 minutes
        Servings Prep Time
        20 squares 15 minutes
        Cook Time
        20 minutes
        Chocolate Almond Crunch Krispie Treats
        Print Recipe
          Servings Prep Time
          20 squares 15 minutes
          Cook Time
          20 minutes
          Servings Prep Time
          20 squares 15 minutes
          Cook Time
          20 minutes
          Ingredients
          Servings: squares
          Instructions
          1. Prepare a 9"x9" pan by spraying with non stick spray and lining with parchment, allowing the parchment to overhang on two sides only. Giving you something to grab and lift entire unit from pan when set.
          2. Using a large pot, melt marshmallows and butter over medium heat until almost melted. Add 1/2 cup almond butter and almond extract. Stir until smooth, removing from heat when the last of the marshmallows have melted.
          3. Stir in rice krispies and 1 cup toasted almonds. Spread evenly into prepared pan using lightly oiled hands to press out uniformly.
          4. Melt chocolate chips and 1/4 cup almond butter together, stirring until smooth and chocolate is melted. I used the microwave at medium power and 30 second intervals, however a double boiler works well too.
          5. Pour over krispie squares and spread out evenly. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/2 cup toasted almonds. Allow to cool to room temperature prior to cutting. Cut along the edge of the pan to release the two sides that do not have the parchment overhang. Grab the parchment ends and lift entire unit out of the pan onto cutting board. Cut 4x5 into 20 bars.
          Recipe Notes

          Toast almonds by spreading in a single layer on a sheet pan and baking in a preheated 350℉ oven for 8-10 minutes, turning once.

          Holiday Wishes

          While my husband and I have always been modest in our holiday celebrations, holiday baking for family, friends and co-workers is our way of sharing and spreading a little holiday cheer!  A box of homemade squares is not only a delicious delivery but our personal expression of being thankful to have so many wonderful people in our lives.  Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2017 from Compelled To Cook.

          Chocolate Coconut Nut Bars

          Chocolate Coconut Nut Bars

          Let the holiday baking begin with Chocolate Coconut Nut Bars! Slightly sticky, a little chewy, chocolatey and loaded with nuts and coconut. It’s hard not to love this combination! A fantastic square to add to your holiday lineup.

          For me, the holidays represent a time to see family and friends that I may not see more than once or twice a year. So without a doubt it’s a special time for me to visit, laugh and spend quality time with those that I love. It’s also a time when I don’t think about the calories in food, or having that extra glass of wine. It is in a nutshell my time to live, drink and be merry for the lack of a better analogy.

          It’s also my little ritual to bake squares and treats to send off to co-workers, family and friends. Although I have a few that are ALWAYS in the lineup, I do like to add something different each year just to have a little variety. This year’s square creation started out as a nut tart but turned into bars with great results. A chocolate cookie like base topped with a slightly gooey roasted nut and coconut mixture makes this square a definite keeper and a place in my holiday baking tin.

          I love these Chocolate Coconut Nut Bars mostly because I LOVE coconut but also because they’re a great combination of all things delicious. A lovely cookie like base, crunchy nuts and chewy coconut topped off by a generous drizzle of chocolate…….Oh ya, let the holidays begin!

          Recipe Source:  Compelled To Cook

           

          Chocolate Coconut Nut Bars have a chocolate shortbread like base topped with sweet coconut and nuts.
          Chocolate Coconut Nut Bars
          Print Recipe
          A chocolate cookie like bottom topped with sweet and chewy coconut and nuts.
            Servings
            1 9"x13" pan
            Servings
            1 9"x13" pan
            Chocolate Coconut Nut Bars have a chocolate shortbread like base topped with sweet coconut and nuts.
            Chocolate Coconut Nut Bars
            Print Recipe
            A chocolate cookie like bottom topped with sweet and chewy coconut and nuts.
              Servings
              1 9"x13" pan
              Servings
              1 9"x13" pan
              Ingredients
              Base
              Filling
              Servings: 9"x13" pan
              Instructions
              Base
              1. Preheat oven to 350℉. In a food processor bowl pulse together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder and salt. Add butter and pulse until butter has broken down into small bits. About 10 seconds. Add cream and pulse until just combined (mixture will seem dry). Spray a 9"x13" pan with non stick spray. Line the bottom and two sides of the pan with parchment (will help to lift out squares). Press mixture evenly into pan and bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle base with the chocolate chips. Allow to sit for 1-2 minutes then spread melted chips evenly over base. Allow to cool to room temperature.
              Filling
              1. In a medium heavy bottom pot combine brown sugar, cream, and corn syrup. Heat over medium high heat until sugar dissolves, stirring often. Continue to cook until mixture reaches 225℉ on a candy thermometer, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla, nuts and coconut. Allow to cool to thicken slightly, about 30 minutes.
              2. Pour nut mixture over base and spread evenly. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the entire pan is bubbling. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Melt the semi sweet chocolate and drizzle over bars. Allow chocolate to set before cutting. Run a knife along edges to loosen and lift the entire unit out of the pan using the parchment sides. Cut as desired.
              Recipe Notes

              Toast nuts by placing in a single layer on a baking sheet and baking in a 350℉ oven for about 12 minutes, turning once.

              Gluten Free Black Bean Brownies

              Gluten Free Black Bean Brownies

              Surprise! Gluten Free Black Bean Brownies are rich, chocolately and sinful just like traditional brownies, but gluten free. The popularity of gluten free products continues to expand and has become a mainstream dietary consideration. The gluten free product market is a billion dollar industry, has a wide range of products and huge marketing campaigns.   I don’t follow a gluten free diet, but I respect that for some it’s a necessity and for others a way to feel better and eat healthier.  Plus, there are hundreds of wonderful gluten free dishes to make and devour,  like these brownies of course!

              Ever ask what is gluten and why are people eating gluten free?  Gluten is a vegetable protein found in many grains including wheat, rye, and barley.  Twenty five years ago when I studied nutrition it was a mandatory diet for those with Celiac Disease, and people followed it because it was necessary.  Celiac Disease, in short, is a disease where the consumption of gluten damages the surface of the small intestine, affecting how the body absorbs nutrients, fat, protein and carbohydrates.  Today, a gluten free diet is for those with Celiac Disease and for many others a lifestyle choice to eat healthier and feel better.  Some people have a sensitivity to gluten or other substances such as preservatives or additives commonly found in wheat products, therefore eating gluten free generally helps them feel better.  For others it’s seen as a way to lose weight by reducing the overall amount of carbohydrates in their diet.

              I love these Gluten Free Black Bean Brownies because they are much like a regular brownie, but arguably a little healthier as far as brownies go. There’re mixed in one bowl making them quick and easy. The only noticeable difference is a slightly chewier texture.  Enjoy!

              Recipe inspired by:   Spilling The Beans, Black Bean Brownies

               

              Gluten Free Black Bean Brownies will surprise you, so don't let the name fool you. Gluten free and  made with black beans but every bit as rich, chocolately and sinful as a traditional brownie.
              Gluten Free Black Bean Brownies
              Print Recipe
              A decadent, rich and chewy brownie made gluten free.
                Servings Prep Time
                16 squares 15 minutes
                Cook Time
                18 minutes
                Servings Prep Time
                16 squares 15 minutes
                Cook Time
                18 minutes
                Gluten Free Black Bean Brownies will surprise you, so don't let the name fool you. Gluten free and  made with black beans but every bit as rich, chocolately and sinful as a traditional brownie.
                Gluten Free Black Bean Brownies
                Print Recipe
                A decadent, rich and chewy brownie made gluten free.
                  Servings Prep Time
                  16 squares 15 minutes
                  Cook Time
                  18 minutes
                  Servings Prep Time
                  16 squares 15 minutes
                  Cook Time
                  18 minutes
                  Ingredients
                  Servings: squares
                  Instructions
                  1. Preheat oven to 350℉, lightly grease 9"x9" baking pan and line with parchment paper allowing an overhang on two opposing sides.
                  2. In a small sauce pan over low heat melt together unsweetened chocolate and butter until smooth. Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes. Whisk together gluten free flour, salt and espresso powder, set aside.
                  3. In a food processor combine black beans and melted chocolate and blend until smooth, 2-3 minutes, scraping sides once or twice. Add sugar, eggs and vanilla and continue to puree until well combined and smooth. Add flour mixture and pulse until just combined. Stir in pecans and chocolate chips.
                  4. Pour and spread evenly into prepared pan. Bake for 18-20 minutes until center is just set. Remove from oven and allow to cool on wire rack. Remove from pan by grabbing the overhanging parchment and place on cutting board. Cut into 16 squares, dust with icing sugar if desired.
                  Recipe Notes

                  Cloud 9 Gluten Free Flour Blend was the flour used in this recipe.