Bar cookies make holiday baking a snap

The holidays are hog heaven for people who love to eat cookies. Which in this cookie table-loving town is just about everyone.

But it can be something of a pain for those who are tasked with making them.

Much as we love spreading holiday cheer with tins and platters of homemade cookies, all that mixing, rolling, dusting, cutting, sprinkling and baking -- no more than two cookie sheets at a time, if you want them to cook evenly -- can be exhausting. Talk about your sweet-tasting labors of love.

Not that most of us are complaining. The smell of cookies coming to life in the oven is so intoxicating, and if you've got kids, spending an afternoon with them in the kitchen getting your hands dirty with flour and colored sugar makes for some pretty terrific childhood memories. To this day, whenever I think of Christmas baking, I remember (with equal amounts of awe and admiration) how my mom so expertly rolled hundreds of cut-out cookies (I'm one of seven cookie-devouring kids) by using a clean, floured pillowcase as her surface.

But still.

Homemade cookies take time and effort.

Not to mention decent cookie sheets and/or reams of expensive parchment paper.

So this year, we've got a plan to help you save on all of the above and in the process also some of your sanity, which can be in short supply this time of year. It's called bar cookies.

Unlike many traditional holiday treats that must be individually portioned and baked in batches, bar cookies -- chunky, sometimes layered squares that are a cross between a cookie and a cake -- are a one-stop deal. You'd be surprised at how easy many bars are to assemble: Typically, all you have to do it spread or press the batter into a prepared pan (no scooping!), add a filling or topping and pop it into the oven. Voila! A few slices with a sharp knife this way and a couple more the other, and you've got two dozen cookies in one fell swoop. More if you're industrious and bake two or three pans at the same time.

How's that for no-fuss cooking? You even can serve and store the bar cookies right in the pan, if you really want to go easy.

We're not the only ones who think bars are a great idea for holiday baking and gift-giving. Virtually all of the new baking cookbooks that landed on the PG's food desk this year include recipes for bar cookies. Many even have entire chapters devoted to the squares, many of which can be made in advance and frozen. Bars also tend to travel well, depending on the filling and texture, and are great candidates for boxing up and mailing to out-of-town family and friends.

Classic brownies are among the most popular bar cookies -- or anything dipped, dusted or rolled in chocolate, for that matter -- and boy, do we have instructions for some really great chocolate-centric bars in the recipes offered below. We've also included a few bars for the fruit, oatmeal and shortbread lovers in your life, along with a killer recipe for an easy-as-pie caramel-topped cookie called the Carmelita. My advice: Double the ingredients so you can keep a dozen or two for yourself, they're that good.

Some tips for baking bar cookies:

* Note the size of the recommended pan. If you use one that's too small, the bars could end up doughy in the center; if it's too big, they'll overbake and get hard.

* Make sure the batter is spread/pressed evenly into the pan, and tucked into the corners. Lay a sheet of wax paper over your dough, and then use a square loaf pan or heavy block of butter to smooth the surface.

* Unless the recipe calls for cutting the bars while they're still warm, cool completely before slicing into squares. Otherwise, they might crumble at the edges.

* Try this trick for easy removal. Line the pan with nonstick aluminum foil or parchment, making sure that it extends over the sides. (Grease the pan with butter first.) After baking and cooling, you'll be able to lift the entire bar out of the pan and then slice it into perfect squares/rectangles on a cutting board. A large chef's knife works great.

* For perfect edges, wipe the blade of the knife clean with a damp paper towel after each cut. And remember to remove the corner piece first. If you're worried about the knife tip damaging your nonstick pan, make the initial deep cuts with a sharp paring knife and then finish cutting with a heavy-duty plastic knife.

* For added interest, cut the bars into different sizes or on the diagonal to create diamonds or triangles. Or use shaped cookie cutters -- scraps can be served as a topping for ice cream or another soft dessert.

Some suggestions for packing and presenting holiday bar cookies:

* Arrange the cookies in festive cupcake liners and place them with a few Christmas balls in a shallow gift box decorated with ribbons and wrapping paper.

* The dollar store (my favorite is Dollar General) is chock full of inexpensive holiday tins, wooden boxes and plastic platters. I also found inexpensive Wilton cookie tray kits at Pat Catan's. Line them with colorful tissue paper or wax paper to cushion the cookies.

* Make a cookie "cradle" out of a foil pie pan or bread pan tied up with ribbon and ornaments.

* Include the recipe (handwritten, if possible) so friends can recreate the cookies at home.

Peach almond bars

This is a sweet, gooey cookie that goes perfectly with tea.

2/3 cup (about 11 tablespoons) chilled unsalted butter

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

Pinch of salt

For filling

13-ounce jar high-quality peach preserves

4 cups thinly sliced peaches, thawed and well drained, if frozen

For topping

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter

8-ounce can almond paste

1 cup sliced almonds

Make crust and filling: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with butter or cooking spray. In work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse 2/3 cup butter, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 cups flour and salt until crumbly. Press into the bottom of prepared baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes (the crust may not look browned; remove it from oven anyway.) Spread peach jam evenly over the warm crust. Arrange peaches evenly on top.

Make topping: Stir together 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 cup sugar in a bowl until evenly combined. Using your hands, work the 1/4 cup butter and almond paste into the flour-sugar mixture until it is crumbly. (Or pulse the flour, sugar, butter and almond paste until crumbly in food processor -- no need to wash it -- used to make the crust.) Spread the topping evenly over peaches and sprinkle with almonds.

Bake until top is lightly browned, 35 to 40 minutes. Let bars cool completely before cutting into squares.

Makes about 20 bars.

-- "Pastry Queen Parties" by Rebecca Rather and Alison Oresman (Ten Speed, 2009)

Florentine Bars

These crispy, gluten-free bars taste slightly of orange. I used semi-sweet chocolate.

Vegetable oil for greasing pan

1 cup confectioners' sugar

3 large egg whites

Zest of 1 large orange, or 2 teaspoons juice

1½ cups sliced almonds, blanched or with skin

1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces

1 cup dark or white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan with vegetable oil. Press in a piece of parchment paper large enough to cover the bottom and go an inch up the sides of the pan, making sure you press it into the corners. Grease the top of the parchment.

In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioners' sugar, egg whites and orange zest or juice. Use a silicone spatula to gently mix in the nuts and chopped cranberries, being careful not to crush nuts. Spoon mixture into pan spreading it evenly in the bottom of the pan. The easiest way to do this is to push the batter into the edges and corners first and then fill in the middle. You will have a thin nut layer.

Bake the bar for 25 minutes, or until nuts on top are golden. Cool for 1 hour. To lift the bar out of the pan, gently pull up the parchment paper. Put another piece of parchment on top of the bar and then turn it over onto the new parchment. Peel off the bottom parchment.

Melt the chocolate chips, either over a double boiler or in a microwave oven. Use a spatula to spread chocolate on bottom of the bar. If you like, use a serrated knife to make decorative lines or any other pattern you like in the chocolate.

Slide parchment onto a cookie sheet and refrigerate the bar for 30 minutes. When it has firmed up, cut the bars into squares, triangles or rectangles. Store in an airtight container in fridge for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Makes 20 bars.

-- "The Holiday Kosher Baker" by Paula Shoyer (Sterling, Nov. 2013, $35)

Cranberry Cinnamon-Oat Bars

PG tested

Good grief are these easy! Not to mention a delicious way to use up any leftover cranberry sauce.

2½ cups rolled oats

2 cups all-purpose flour

1¼ cups light-brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, melted

1/2 cup canola oil

2 cups cranberry sauce, homemade or canned

Pulse oats, flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a food processor to blend. Add melted butter and oil and pulse until well mixed.

Spread two-thirds of crust mixture into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Top with cranberry sauce. Spread remaining crust mixture on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Makes 20 bar cookies.

-- Adapted from Parade magazine

Nanaimo Bars

You may not be able to pronounce it, but you'll love these three-layer, no-bake cookies.

For bottom layer

1/2 cup butter

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 granulated sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1 cup shredded coconut (1 used 1/2 cup)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For middle layer

1/4 cup butter, softened

2 cups icing sugar

3 tablespoons milk or cream

2 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For topping

4 1-ounce squares semisweet chocolate

1 tablespoon butter

Lightly grease baking pan. Make bottom layer: Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Remove pan from heat and stir in cocoa powder and sugar, mixing until smooth. Return pan to heat and add the egg, whisking until mixture thickens slightly. Remove from heat and stir in graham cracker crumbs, coconut, walnuts and vanilla. Mix well. Dump mixture into prepared pan and press it evenly in a layer on the bottom of the pan. Refrigerate until firm.

Make middle layer: In large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until creamy. Add icing sugar, milk or cream, pudding powder and vanilla, and beat until mixture is very smooth and creamy. (I had to add a little extra milk to get the right consistency.) Spread over chilled bottom layer, smoothing as much as possible. Return to refrigerator until firm, 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Make topping: Chop chocolate into pieces and place in a small saucepan with butter. Place over low heat, stirring just until smooth and melted. Working quickly, pour melted chocolate over the creamy layer and spread it out as evenly and smoothly as possible. You don't want the warm chocolate to melt the icing mixture, so you'll have to be a little careful here. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate just until the chocolate is set.

Cut into small squares with a sharp knife. Once cut, allow to chill in the pan until completely firm before moving to a plate.

Makes 25 to 36 squares.

-- "The Clueless Baker" by Evelyn Raab (Firefly, Sept. 2013, $16.95)

Carmelita Bars

Homemade caramel sauce makes these ooey-gooey, crumb-topped bars absolutely irresistible. Or as my daughter's Spanish teacher declared, "Son galletas muy Ricas!" These are very rich cookies!

For caramel

2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup water

2 teaspoons corn syrup

1 cup heavy cream

For crust

Butter for the pan, at room temperature

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

12/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for pan

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoon water

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped walnuts

Make caramel: Stir granulated sugar, water and corn syrup together in a heavy saucepan over high heat until sugar has dissolved. Boil, without stirring, occasionally rotating the pan by the handle to swirl the syrup and washing down any crystals that form on the sides of pan with a natural bristle brush dipped in cold water, until syrup is smoking and the color of old copper, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low.

Add cream (it will bubble up, so be careful!) and stir until caramel is smooth. Remove from heat and let cool until tepid and thickened, about 1 hour.

Make crust: Position a rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 13-by-9-inch baking pan.

Whisk the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl, Stir in the melted butter and water until the oat mixture is moistened. Transfer about one-fourth of the mixture to a bowl; set aside. Transfer the remainder into the prepared pan and press it firmly and evenly into the bottom.

Bake until crust is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven. Spread the caramel over the crust. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and walnuts evenly over the caramel. Crumble the reserved oat mixture, as evenly as possible, over the top. Return to the oven and bake until the topping is barely golden brown, about 15 minutes. The chocolate chips should not be completely melted.

Let cool completely in the pan on a wire cooling rack. Run a dinner knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the bars. Using a sharp knife, cut into 18 bars. The cookies can be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Makes 18 bars.

-- "The Model Bakery Cookbook" by Karen Mitchell and Sarah Mitchell Hansen with Rick Rodgers (Chronicle, Oct. 2013, $35)

(Gluten-free) Linzer Bars

This is an intermediate recipe from the new "Sweet Cravings: 50 Seductive Desserts for a Gluten-Free Lifestyle" by Kyra Bussanich, identified right on the cover as "the first gluten-free winner of 'Cupcake Wars.' " This bar form of the famous cookie, besides being much quicker to make, have an almond base that "is not overly sweet."

I was able to find most of the ingredients I needed at Giant Eagle Market District, but got the sweet white rice flour from Eden's Market in Mt. Lebanon, which has a lot of gluten-free ingredients and expertise.

-- Bob Batz Jr.

1 cup butter, room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons orange zest

1 cup powdered almonds or 1½ cups whole almonds, finely ground

3/4 cup millet flour

3/4 cup sweet white rice flour

1/2 cup tapioca starch, plus extra for rolling out dough

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup raspberry or apricot preserves

1/3 cup confectioners' sugar

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9-by-11-inch baking pan with gluten-free cooking spray and line with parchment paper.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter on high speed until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and continue beating until pale in color and very fluffy. Blend in the egg yolk, vanilla and orange zest, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl. In a small bowl, combine the almonds, flours, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, cinnamon and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and combine on low speed.

Press two-thirds of the dough into the bottom of the baking pan. Chill until firm, about an hour. Then spread the raspberry preserves evenly across the dough. Roll out the remaining third of the dough to 1/4 inch thick, using tapioca starch to prevent it from sticking. with a knife, pizza cutter or fluted pastry roller, cut even strips of dough about 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide. Gently arrange strips of the dough on the diagonal, about 1/2 inch apart. lat the remaining strips vertically, 1/2 inch apart, to create a lattice pattern.

Bake until the dough is lightly golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely . Then gently sift the confectioners' sugar over the top and cut into bars about 11/2 inches wide by 3 inches long.

-- "Sweet Cravings: 50 Seductive Desserts for a Gluten-Free Lifestyle" by Kyra Bussanich (Ten Speed, Sept. 2013, $18.99)

Rum Raisin Cheesecake Bars

PG tested

"There are three secrets to success for these bars. First, don't over-mix the dough, and press the crumbs very gently into the bottom of the pan. If you put too much muscle into it, the resulting crust will be tough. Second, don't over bake them. Third, eat them completely cold. To make these cookies alcohol free, soak the raisins in water. Replace the 2 tablespoons of rum in the filling with the same amount of milk, and increase the lemon juice to 1 tablespoon."

You can't go wrong with a bar cookie full of nuts, raisins, cream cheese and rum -- they're delicious! This recipe yields 16 bars. I chose to cut the bars in smaller portions.

-- Arlene Burnett

For crust

1/4 cup dark rum

1/2 cup raisins

5 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature

1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

For filling

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (not light)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 to 2 tablespoons dark rum

1 large egg, room temperature

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 by 8-inch baking pan.

Pour rum over raisins in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer; cook, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat, uncover, and let raisins sit to cool and to plump.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and brown sugar on medium speed 1 to 2 minutes. Add flour and mix on low just until fine crumbs form that hold together when pressed, 20 to 30 seconds. Stir in chopped nuts with a spoon. Transfer the raisins from pot to the butter and flour mixture with a slotted spoon, reserving the extra liquid for the filling. Stir in raisins until well distributed. Pour half the mixture onto the bottom of the prepared pan, reserving the rest for the topping. Gently pat the crumbs loosely into the bottom of the pan with about half the force you would usually apply for such a task. Don't worry that the raisins look odd jutting out of the crust. They'll be fine.

Bake crust 8 to 10 minutes, or until it looks dry on top but is not yet golden. Meanwhile, clean the beaters of the mixer and make the filling.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix cream cheese and sugar on medium speed 1 to 2 minutes, or until creamy. Add remaining rum from the raisin pot and any additional dark rum needed to equal 2 tablespoons. Add egg, lemon juice, and vanilla. Blend on low just until smooth. You want minimal air bubbles in the cheesecake mixture.

When the crust comes out of the oven, pour filling evenly on top. Sprinkle remaining crust crumbs loosely on top of the filling, letting the raisins scatter. Bake bars 26 to 30 minutes, or until the center feels set and some of the outer areas have puffed. Remove pan from oven and let cool completely. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before serving. Cut the cheesecake into 16 squares. The bars can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator 3 to 4 days.

-- "Christmas Cookies" by Betty Crocker (Houghton Mifflin Harcout, Oct. 2013, $16.99)

Spiced Prune Bars with Penuche Icing

PG tested

Some people will be turned off by the prune baby food in these bars. But the prunes add flavor and moisture and with the added flavors of cinnamon, allspice and cloves, who knows? They might not even suspect the prunes if you keep it to yourself. The finishing touch for these bars is the fudge-like icing, penuche. Penuche (puh-NOO-chee) is a Mexican candy similar to fudge or caramel.

-- Arlene Burnett

For base

1 cup (4.5 ounce) all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

3/4 cup (6 ounces) prune baby food

For icing

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup whole milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place a rack in the center. Line a 9 by 13-inch pan with nonstick foil or spray with flour-added baking spray.

Make the base. Mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and salt together in a small bowl, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, using a handheld electric mixer on medium speed, beat sugar, oil, and eggs. Beat in baby food. By hand or using the lowest speed of the mixer, stir in flour mixture. Pour batter into prepared pan; bake 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool completely in the pan.

Make the icing. In a medium size saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add brown sugar, and salt. Increase heat slightly and bring to a gently but steady boil, reducing the heat if necessary, and continue boiling for 2 minutes, stirring constantly; remove from heat. Let cool to lukewarm. Stir in vanilla. Gradually add sifted confectioners' sugar, beating with a wooden spoon until the icing is smooth and pourable. Pour over the prune bars and allow the icing to set at room temperature before serving.

Makes 18 bars.

Baker's note: Unlike prune bars with a shortbread crust and stewed prune filling, these are spice cake bars topped with a thick layer of penuche icing. -- "The Daily Cookie" by Anna Ginsberg (Andrews McMeel, 2012, $24.95)

Holiday Eggnog Bars

PG tested

If these bars don't remind us of the holidays I don't know what will. They taste like eggnog but better.

-- Arlene Burnett

1 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

5 egg yolks

1¼ cups whipping cream

1 tablespoon rum or 1 teaspoon rum extract

3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom and sides of 9 inch square pan with foil so foil extends about 2 inches over 2 opposite sides of pan.

In small bowl, mix butter ½ cup of the sugar and the flour. Press in bottom and ½ inch up sides of pan. Bake 20 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. In small bowl, beat egg yolks and remaining ¼ cup sugar with electric mixer on medium-high speed until thick. Gradually beat in whipping cream, rum and 1/4 teaspoon of the nutmeg. Pour over partially baked crust.

Bake 40 to 50 minutes longer or until custard is set and knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on cooling rack, about 1 hour.

Sprinkle tops of bars with remaining 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg. Use foil to lift out of pan. Cut into 6 rows by 6 rows. Store covered in refrigerator.

Makes 36 bars.

-- "Christmas Cookies" by Betty Crocker (Houghton Mifflin Harcout, Oct. 2013, $16.99)

New Classic Brownies

PG tested

I can honestly say that these brownies are some of the best I've ever tasted. They are crusty and cake-like on the outside with a ganache-like center. This recipe may seem more involved than other brownie recipes, but it's well worth it!

-- Arlene Burnett

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

1½ granulated sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cold large eggs

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces, optional

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line bottom and all 4 sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil.

Place chocolate and butter in a medium heatproof bowl set in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir frequently until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test.

Remove bowl from skillet. Stir in sugar, vanilla and salt with a wooden spoon. Add eggs 1 at a time, stirring until the first 1 is incorporated before adding the next. Stir in flour and beat with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula until batter forms a shiny cohesive mass and comes away from the sides of the bowl. It is important that the batter pull together and away from the bowl, so don't stop stirring until it does. Stir in nuts. If using. Scrape batter into lined pan and spread it evenly.

Bake 20 minutes or until the brownies just begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. The surface of the brownies will look dry, but a toothpick inserted in the center will come out quite gooey. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath by filling a roasting pan or large baking pan with ice cubes and about 3/4 inch of water.

When brownies are ready, remove the pan from the oven and immediately set it in the ice bath. Take care not to splash water on the brownies. Let brownies cool. (For cakier brownies, bake at 350 degrees 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with some thick gooey batter still clinging to it. Omit the ice bath and cool on a rack.)

Remove pan from the ice bath, lift up the ends of the parchment paper or foil liner, and transfer brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 to 25 squares. (Brownies can be stored, airtight, 2 to 3 days).

Options: For Classic 70 Percent Brownies: Position a rack in the lower third of oven. Preheat to 400 degrees and prepare an ice bath for the New Classic Brownies, or skip the ice bath and preheat oven to 350 degrees as for classic Brownies. Combine 61/2 ounces, 66 to 72 percent chocolate, 7 tablespoons butter, and 1 cup granulated sugar in a medium heatproof bowl Proceed as directed for either New Classic or Classic Chocolate Brownies.

For Classic 89 Percent Brownies: This recipe produces brownies with a beautifully glossy crackled crust. The batter will be stiffer than you are used to and may require longer and more vigorous stirring to form a smooth, cohesive mass.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven, preheat to 400 degrees and prepare an ice bath for new Classic Brownies, or skip the ice bath and preheat oven to 350 degrees as for classic Brownies. Combine 10 ounces 54 to 62 percent chocolate, 5 tablespoons butter and 2/3 cup granulated sugar in a medium heatproof bowl. Proceed as directed for the New Classic or Classic Chocolate Brownies.

Makes 16 to 25 brownies.

-- "Seriously Bitter Sweet: The Ultimate Dessert Maker's Guide to Chocolate" by Alice Medrich (Artisan, Oct. 22, 2013, $25.95)


Gretchen McKay:, 412-263-1419 or on Twitter @gtmckay.


Hot Topic