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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Desserts for the Beach Cooler

Happy Tuesday everyone! I'll be taking a relaxing trip to the beach this weekend (weather permitting!), and it got me thinking about what to pack in the cooler. Think individually packed, easy to eat, and all-around delicious. Dream with me, as we make our way to the weekend.

Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies
Melissa Clark


  • 80 grams shredded sweetened coconut flakes (3/4 cup)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 330 grams packed dark brown sugar (1 3/4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 190 grams all-purpose flour (1 1/2 cups)
  • 7 grams fine sea salt (1 teaspoon)
  • 3 grams baking powder (1 teaspoon)
  • 8 grams ground cinnamon (4 teaspoons)
  • 260 grams rolled oats (3 cups)
  • 100 grams dates, pitted and chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 65 grams granulated sugar (5 tablespoons)

  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 6 tablespoons mascarpone
  • 25 grams confectioner's sugar (3 tablespoons)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread coconut flakes on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast, stirring occasionally, until lightly colored and fragrant, 7 to 10 minutes. Cool. Raise oven temperature to 375 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until light. Beat in brown sugar and honey, then beat until very fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla.
  3. In another large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and 1 teaspoon (2 grams) cinnamon. With the mixer set on low, beat flour mixture into butter mixture until combined. Beat in oats, dates and toasted coconut.
  4. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, stir together granulated sugar and remaining 3 teaspoons (6 grams) cinnamon. Roll heaping tablespoonsful of dough into balls, then roll balls in cinnamon sugar; transfer to baking sheet, leaving about 1 1/2 inches of space between dough balls. Bake until cookies are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Make the filling: Using the electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in mascarpone, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla. Scrape down sides of bowl. Sandwich about 1 tablespoon of filling between two cookies; repeat with the remaining filling and cookies.
Yield: About 36 cookies, for 18 sandwiches

Chewy Fig and Almond Cookie Bars
Giada De Laurentiis


  • Butter, for greasing the baking dish
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups dried Mission figs, stemmed (14 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 medium orange
  • 1 cup unsalted chunky almond butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted, see Cook's Note
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting


  1. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
  2. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Line the bottom with an 8-by-20-inch piece of parchment paper, allowing the excess paper to hang over the sides.
  3. For the crust: Whisk the all-purpose flour, almond flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl.
  4. Beat the sugar and butter using an electric hand mixer until combined in a large bowl. Beat in the egg, cream and vanilla until smooth. Add the dry ingredients and beat until the mixture forms into clumps. Press the clumps together to form a dough. Knead the dough for 30 seconds and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  5. For the filling: Place 1/4 cup water, the figs, orange juice, vanilla extract and orange zest in a food processor. Blend until the figs are finely ground, about 2 minutes. Add the almond butter and blend until incorporated. Add the almonds and pulse until combined.
  6. Remove the plastic from the dough and cut in half. Roll out 1 piece of dough into an 8-by-12-inch rectangle on a well-floured work surface. Cut the dough in half lengthwise and then in half crosswise to make 4 equal-size pieces of dough. Transfer the dough pieces to the prepared baking dish using a spatula, and arrange in a single layer. Pinch the edges of the dough together to seal. Spoon the filling onto the dough. Spread the filling evenly over the dough using damp hands. Smooth the top of the filling using a rubber spatula. Roll out the remaining dough into an 8-by-12-inch rectangle. Cut into 4 equal pieces and place on top of the filling, pinching the edges of the dough together to seal. Bake until golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Place the baking dish on a wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.
  7. Using the excess parchment paper as handles, remove and place on a cutting board. Cut the cookie into twenty-four 1 1/2-inch-square pieces and serve.
  8. Cook's Note: To toast the almonds, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake until lightly toasted, 6 to 8 minutes. Cool completely before using.

M&M Bars
Deb Lindsey


  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • Rounded 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 slightly rounded tablespoons sour cream (do not use low-fat or nonfat)
  • 12 ounces plain M&M candies (about 2 cups)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use nonstick cooking oil spray to grease a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan, then line the bottom of it with enough parchment paper so that some of it sticks up/out beyond the two short sides of the pan.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Combine the butter and shortening in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer; beat on low speed until smooth. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add both sugars; beat on low, then on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one a time, beating to incorporate after each addition. Stop to scrape down the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and sour cream; beat on low speed to incorporate.
  4. Gradually add the sifted ingredients, beating (on low) to form a soft dough. Stir in the M&Ms. Transfer the dough to the pan, patting it in evenly and smoothing the surface. Bake for 25 minutes; the cookie slab should be puffed and slightly golden.
  5. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until just set at the center. Cool completely in the pan. Use a round-edged knife to loosen the edges of the cookie slab, then use the parchment paper to lift and transfer the cookie slab to a cutting board before cutting it into 24 bars.

Happy baking!

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