Fake out baking

    I have a gigantic sweet tooth. While I’m the first to try baked goods others prepare, I tend to avoid baking at all costs. I’m not a fan of precise measuring and have a history of severely burning myself when checking on brownies or cupcakes.

    However, I’ve found that when having to prepare something for a meeting or for class, baked goods generally work a lot better than savory dishes. So I’ve found some ways to take a lot of help from the grocery store and still give myself some credit. I guess this is my baking version of Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee.

    Raspberry-Chocolate Blondie Bar. Photo by QuintanaRoo on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons.

    Raspberry Chocolate Bars

    Even though the base is sugar cookie dough, your guests will never know unless you tell them. The raspberry offsets some of the dough’s sweetness and the chocolate drizzle adds a fancy touch and a lovely crunch.

    What You’ll Need:

    • 1 16.5 oz. tube store bought cookie dough
    • 1 cup raspberry preserves
    • 1 cup toasted shredded coconut
    • ½ cup chopped toasted almonds
    • 10 oz. dark chocolate chip

    1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
    2. Spread the cookie dough out across a greased rectangular baking pan until the dough is about a ¼ inch thick.
    3. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until your dough is golden brown in color.
    4. Allow to cool.
    5. While you dough is cooling, place your chocolate chips in a bowl over about a ½ cup of simmering water.
    6. Stir your chips until the chocolate mixture is completely melted.
    7. Spread a thin layer of chocolate over the entire pan of dough, making sure to reserve some of the melted chocolate.
    8. Place the dough in the refrigerator for about 5 minutes, or until the chocolate hardens.
    9. Remove the pan from the fridge and spread the raspberry preserves over the chocolate.
    10. Sprinkle the coconut and almonds on top of the raspberry and then drizzle the remaining chocolate over the entire mixture.
    11. Allow to cool and then cut into squares.

    Kicked Up Ice Cream Sandwiches

    This recipe is based on the same technique as the raspberry bars, but is even easier. Perfect for a summer barbecue or an easy alternative to birthday cake.

    What You’ll Need:

    • 2 16.5 oz. tubes store bough chocolate chip cookie dough
    • 1 pint mint chocolate chip ice cream, softened
    • 15 chocolate sandwich cookies

    1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
    2. Spread each tube of cookie dough on a large greased baking pan until each sheet of dough is about ¼ inch thick.
    3. Bake for approximately 25 to 30 minutes, until the chocolate chip dough is golden brown all over, making sure to rotate and switch the levels of the baking pans after 15 minutes.
    4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
    5. Once cool, place both sheet pans in the freezer for about 30 minutes.
    6. About 15 minutes into that process, remove your ice cream from the freezer and allow to soften.
    7. Remove the sheet pans from the freezer and spread the entire pint of ice cream evenly over one pan of dough.
    8. Remove the other dough sheet from the baking pan and place on top of the ice cream layer.
    9. Push down on the dough to set the mixture. Cover with plastic wrap, and freeze for at least another two hours.
    10. Place your cookies into a seal-able plastic bag and use either a rolling pin or heavy pan to crush your cookies into crumbles.
    11. Slice your cookie mixture into equally sized sandwich squares and roll the sides of each sandwich in the cookie crumbles.
    12. Serve immediately or place back into the freezer until you are ready to eat them.

    Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake Tart

    This recipe couldn’t be easier. The brownie base requires just two ingredients, and the combination of the chewy brownies, smooth and light whipped cream mixture, and tart and fresh strawberries is absolutely delicious. Who says making fancy food takes a lot of effort?

    What You’ll Need:

    • 1-13.7 oz. package of No Pudge! Original Fat Free Fudge Brownie Mix
    • 2/3 cup non-fat vanilla yogurt
    • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
    • ½ cup fat free ricotta cheese
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
    • 1 small box of strawberries, cut into thin slices

    1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
    2. Fully combine the brownie mixture with the yogurt and spread out evenly over a greased baking pan, until the brownie mixture is about a 1/3 inch thick.
    3. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, until the brownies are fully cooked and a toothpick or knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
    4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
    5. In a large chilled bowl whip the cream until soft peaks have formed.
    6. Add in the vanilla and sugar and continue to whip until you have stiff peaks.
    7. Whisk the ricotta cheese for about a minute in another bowl to incorporate some lightness and then fold the whipped cream into the cheese mixture until the two are fully incorporated.
    8. Spread the cream mixture over the brownies and artfully arrange the strawberries on top.
    9. Serve immediately or chill in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat.


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