Strawberry Sweetheart Bars

 

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Roses are red, violets are blue.

I love food, and so do you.

And that, my friends, is why food is the best Valentine’s Day gift I could give you. We share a mutual love for food, you and I, and that’s an incomparable bond. I don’t even have to know anything else about you to know that you’re worthy of being my Valentine. If you’re on this site, that means you like food. And if you like food, that means I like you.

So here’s something sweet for all you Smart Cookie readers: My Strawberry Sweetheart Bars. They are chewy, moist…and sweet like me! I Sorry, I had to. I guarantee you Mother Cookie is rolling her eyes right now and saying, “Oh god.”DSC_0384

I absolutely love these bars because they’re so darn simple, but they make one heavenly treat. It’s a one-bowl recipe, and you just need a few ingredients. This is stress-free baking, giving you soft and chewy strawberry bliss in no time at all.

We use a boxed cake mix as the base then added eggs and butter to yield a texture that’s sturdy, but very moist and rich, like a strawberry blondie. Then, each bar is speckled with creamy white chocolate chips and chunks of Nilla Wafers that soften like cake when you bake the bars. The end product is like strawberry shortcake, but even better.

Festive pink and red V-Day sprinkles are the perfect finishing touch to these simple but scrumptious bars. Be cautioned: you will want to eat the whole pan before ever sharing with you sweetheart. Hence why I’m giving you guys a recipe for V-Day, instead of the actual bars…DSC_0380

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. I tried making this in an 8×8 pan, and the bars burned around the edges before cooking in the middle, so stick to the 9×13.
  2. Easily double or triple and bring these babies to a party!
  3. Leave out the sprinkles or sub with rainbow ones, and these delicious bars are perfect all year-round.
  4. Don’t overbake these, or they’ll dry right out. I recommend pulling them just before you think they’re done, rather than after.DSC_0313

Strawberry Sweetheart Bars
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Ingredients:

  • 1 box strawberry cake mix (I used Pillsbury Super Moist)
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup crumbled Nilla Wafers
  • ¼ cup Valentine sprinkles, plus 2 tbsp. more for topping

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the cake mix, eggs, and butter on low speed just until well-combined. Mix in the chips, Nilla Wafers, and 1/4 cup sprinkles.
  3. Transfer batter to the prepared pan and press into an even layer. Cover with remaining sprinkles. Bake 20-25 minutes, checking after 15, or until puffed and set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs. Let cool completely then slice and enjoy.

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Pumpkin Cream Pie w/ a Ginger Cookie Crust

If you’re one of those people who only eats pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, then this post may upset you. I have three words of condolence: get over it! Sorry to be brash, but for me, pumpkin season is from October (possibly September as well) until the end of December. Moreover, there are many folks who enjoy pumpkin pie on both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Pumpkin-palooza is far from over. If I had it my way, we’d be eating pumpkin all year-long! For now, 3-4 months a year will have to do.

Pumpkin pie is good. Is it amazing? Eh, not in my book at least. I love a good slice on Thanksgiving, but it’s not my favorite pumpkin product. And I know there are a lot of folks who don’t like pumpkin pie at all. The texture can be a bit off-putting for some. The possibility that holiday dinner guests may have a distaste for pumpkin leads many people to make multiple pies to please multiple palates. But what if there was a light, fluffy, creamy pumpkin pie to please even the pickiest pumpkin pie haters?

Good news, my little cookies: there is.

Allow me to introduce you to Pumpkin Cream Pie with a Ginger Cookie Crust.

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Nutty Coconut Fudge

I always though fudge was one of those things that everybody likes. It’s sweet, decadent, chocolatey, and generally unoffensive. Of course, when you have preconceived notions like this, it’s not uncommon that someone comes along and proves you wrong.

Enter: my mother.

As you may have heard when reading about my White Chocolate-Walnut Blondies with Maple Butter Sauce, my mother is not a big fan of sweets. It took those delicious blondies to truly thrill her. And when it comes to fudge, she finds it repulsive. “It’s too sweet,” she says. I say she’s nuts. Nuts like this fudge. (Get it? It’s Nutty Coconut Fudge!…yeah, sorry).

Now, when you come across disagreements such as this, my little cookies, there is good news. So-and-so doesn’t like a food you find to be delicious? That’s totally okay, and I can give you three words that explain why:

More for me.

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White Chocolate-Walnut Blondies w/ Maple Butter Sauce

There are two kinds of people in this world: the ones with an insatiable sweet tooth, and the ones who could care less about dessert. If you’re a dessert junky like myself, then you’ve often pondered how the latter category can exist. How can anyone not be obsessed with sweets??? They’re so delicious and…sweet! But those people are out there, my little cookies, and, chances are, you know a couple of them. You might even be one yourself.

In most cases, it’s not that those people are dessert-haters; it’s just that they can live without it (although, there are some people who really just don’t like sweets, and they are a complete and utter mystery to me). If you’re like me, then you can’t imagine a life without dessert; it’d be like a life without love. But we must be respectful of each other’s eating preferences and, therefore, not force sweets upon those who do not have the sweet tooth.

My sweet tooth took some time to grow in. I would eat dessert from time to time when I was younger, and I would enjoy it, but my ability to go to sleep at night didn’t rely on whether or not I’d eaten dessert. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment at which this changed; all I know is that dessert gets me through the day. And, as much I LOVE cooking, I will always love baking a little bit more.

Ever since my sweet tooth came in, I’ve been participating in an ongoing battle with my mother. You see, she’s one of those people, the kind who doesn’t care much for sweets. She’s just not a dessert person (her words, not mine). It always disappoints me a little when I bake and she doesn’t get as excited as I do. She always loves my sweet treats, don’t get me wrong. But it doesn’t elicit the same reaction as it would’ve if I’d made her a cheeseburger instead.

With the exception of when I made my Soft Pumpkin Cookies, I’ve always found it hard to excite my mother when it came to desserts. I’d pretty much given up on her and just accepted that she would never care for dessert, that is, until I made these blondies.

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Apple Cider Pound Cake w/ Sweet Cinnamon Glaze

There are many kinds of cakes in this world. I’m not talking about vanilla, chocolate, sponge cake, pound cake, birthday cake and the like; I’m talking about the overall demeanor that a cake possesses: mighty, intimidating, tall, enormous, elegant, petite, dainty, light, dense, sophisticated…you get the picture. It’s that feeling that halos a cake when it’s sitting atop a cake stand, tucked inside its paper lining, or perched upon a dessert plate.

Of all these descriptions, only one is befitting of this Apple Cider Pound Cake w/ Sweet Cinnamon Glaze: glorious. This cake is glorious.

With just one look, a beam of sunlight shines directly onto the cake just as an angelic chorus swells in the background. What can I say? It’s a beautiful cake.

But it’s not just on the outside that this cake shines. There is one reason, and one reason only, that I make this Apple Cider Pound Cake every year around this time: it is darn good. It is so moist and delicious, just as a pound cake should be. Moreover, the apple cider provides a heavenly apple accent that’s subtle, but unmistakably present. The cider is further complimented by a beautiful blend of spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and clove. This creates a warm, sweet, and spicy harmony. The taste of these comforting spices reminds you of Fall time, the holidays, and treats your grandma used to make.

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