CHEW THIS! New Favorite Lemon Bars

New Favorite Lemon Bars

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, April 21st 2019 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

My new favorite lemon bars, updated!
Blaise Doubman

When developing recipes, I love creating something that becomes a new favorite, such as these lemon bars. Sometimes I take a favorite recipe and see if I can somehow make it even easier or tastier. Take for instance my chocolate mayonniase cake. I replaced the water in the recipe with freshly brewed coffee and the recipe instantly transformed into something even better than before! It is amazing what a little change here or there does to transform a recipe! People ask me all the time what they can do to make their baked goods taste better. My first question back to them is if they use salt in their baked good recipes. Most of the time they look at me puzzled and tell me no, salt is for savory items only! No! This is not true! Salt is very important in baked products and makes the final result taste so much better than something with no salt added. Sometimes I even sprinkle a little finishing salt on my final dessert.

I have shared a couple of lemon bar recipes in my cookbooks as well as a lemon bar recipe in a previous column that I shared here with everyone, but these lemon bars are my new favorites! I love the easy shortbread crust and the easy filling. These lemon bars are sweet and tangy without being overbearing in taste or texture. I could go on and on about how fabulous these are but I really think you need to make them so you can see for yourselves! These are also the perfect make ahead dessert bars because when left at room temperature, or even chilled in the refrigerator, the filling firms up and transforms into almost like a thicker pudding texture. Dust the final bars with powdered sugar if desired or even sprinkle a little powdered sugar and lemon zest combination on top for a little extra punch! These are perfect for the spring time!

New Favorite Lemon Bars

Feel free to dust as much, or as little, powdered sugar on top of these as you desire. I personally love them with a mountain of powdered sugar sprinkled on top but not everybody likes the taste or texture.

For the crust…
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups white all-purpose flour
½ cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon salt

For the filling…
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 ¾ cups white granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons white all-purpose flour
½ cup fresh lemon juice

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray containing flour.

In a large bowl combine the softened unsalted butter, white all-purpose flour, powdered sugar and salt with a fork. You may even want to use your hands for this. Once the mixture is combined, press lightly and evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.

Place into preheated oven and bake for 33 minutes.

Once baked remove from oven. In a large bowl whisk together the lightly beaten large eggs, white granulated sugar, lemon zest and white all-purpose flour. Whisk in the lemon juice last and immediately pour the filling over the prebaked crust.

Place back into preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes.

The filling should be slightly giggly but still rather firm. The lemon bars will slightly thicken and firm up as they cool to room temperature.

Once cooled, dust with powdered sugar, if desired and cut into squares. Leftovers should be kept refrigerated and will last 4 days if chilled.

Ask and Answer: I have been getting a few questions about a previous column and recipe for orange bars. People have been curious if they can freeze them in advance and then bring them to room temperature before serving. Yes! You absolutely can. What I would do, is bake the bars, cool and precut them. Wrap them well in aluminum foil and freeze them either in the pan or individually. Bring them to room temperature and then dust them with powdered sugar.

CHEW THIS! Winnie Roland’s Lemonade Party Cake

Winnie Roland’s Lemonade Party Cake

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, January 20th 2019 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

Winnie’s Lemonade Party Cake Brings Back Memories
Blaise Doubman

Years and years ago my brother, Damon, played high school soccer. My parents would travel all over for his games and just so happened one year, there was a soccer game on my Mom’s birthday. One of my brothers’ teammates, Shane Roland, found out that one of the away games were going to be on my Mom’s birthday and word spread to his Grandma, Winnie Roland. When we arrived for the away game, we really didn’t think much about it and had planned to have the birthday celebration later that evening, after the game. Low and behold, we noticed Winnie coming across the field holding something. She gave it to my Mom, Darla, and wished her Happy Birthday! It was a cake! We thought that was the sweetest thing ever! I remember looking at it and seeing the white frosting and yellow sugar sprinkled across the top and thinking, “I wonder if that is lemon”! And it was! My Mom and mine favorite! Ha! We took it home and ate on it for three days. It was the absolute best cake I had ever had in my life! We must have talked about that cake for months. It was outstanding. My mouth is watering just thinking and writing about it. It had fabulous flavor and was super moist and tasted so fresh!

Skip ahead several years later and I am still thinking about that cake! Ha! Every time I have a lemon cake, no matter where it is from, I compared it to Winnie’s lemon cake she had made my Mom for her birthday. My family and friends had to get tired of hearing me go on and on about this cake, which remember I have thought about for years! Over the years I tried everything to duplicate the cake, even searched out cookbooks and Google and found nothing even close. Looking back, I should have just asked for the recipe! Why didn’t I? I have no idea and I can’t remember. Maybe the soccer season ended soon after and everyone parted ways – it was my brother’s senior year of high school after all. Anyways, life happened, and I never asked for the recipe. Years passed and somehow, I came across a Facebook friend of mine, Nikki Keith. We started talking and I told her about the cake. She wrote back saying she was sure she could get the recipe from her Grandma and I literally about cried! Ha! A couple days later, sitting there in my inbox, was the recipe! THE RECIPE! I couldn’t contain my excitement. I went to Meijer, bought the ingredients and made the cake that night. It was fabulous! It tasted exactly like how I had remembered all those years ago. My family agreed – this was it! From that very first bite, that familiar flavor came straight back to me. Huge shout out to Nikki Keith for tracking down a recipe I have been craving for years and an even bigger shout out and thank you to Winnie Roland for sharing this delicious recipe with me and for becoming one of my new best friends. Thank you, Winnie, for your thoughtfulness then and your thoughtfulness now.

Winnie Roland’s Lemonade Party Cake

This cake is best made ahead and served chilled so plan accordingly.

1 Betty Crocker Super Moist Lemon Cake Mix
1 cup water
3 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
½ can (12 oz size) frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
¾ cup powdered sugar
1 tub Betty Crocker white fluffy frosting
Yellow colored sugar

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray containing flour.

In a large bowl whisk together the cake mix, water, large eggs and vegetable oil until smooth.

Pour into prepared baking pan and smooth out the top. Bake in preheated oven for the time listed on the box for the appropriate pan you are using. Inserting a toothpick into the cake when finished baking, will contain just a few moist crumbs.

While the cake is still warm, using a fork, poke holes all over the top of the cake.

In a large bowl whisk together, the thawed lemonade concentrate and powdered sugar. Pour this mixture evenly over the warm cake.

Cover with aluminum foil and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Remove, spread frosting evenly over the top of the cake and sprinkle on the colored sugar.

Store loosely covered in the refrigerator. This cake is best served chilled.

Ask and Answer: I lot of people have been asking if my recipes can be used in an air fryer. The answer is, yes! I recently got an air fryer myself and have been trying and testing recipes. The machine is really nice and requires little to no oil! I will have more information in the coming weeks on my blog addressing my air fryer and some of my recipes. Stay tuned!

CHEW THIS! Lemon and Garlic Baked Chicken Legs

Lemon and Garlic Baked Chicken Legs

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, October 7th 2018 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

TRAIL “blazing” onto a new and different website…
Blaise Doubman

Loyal readers, I am thrilled to announce that my social media problems are over! Now, someone run and knock wood for me! Ha! Seriously though, I am hoping that the problems I had in the past with my accounts being hacked are far behind me. I basically had to completely start over all of my social media accounts, change my phone number, change my email and transfer five years’ worth of work and recipes over to a new website. Talk about stressful! It was a challenging time, not to mention emotional but I did learn some lessons along the way. So, if you would like to follow my new website, called TRAIL BLAISE, please do so at http://trailblaise.com Also follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all under the username: btrailblaise As always, I thank you for your continued dedication and support.

When I was thinking up a name, I said a silent prayer and told myself that whatever would come into my mind I would use. I had about forty minutes to decide on something, so it had to be fast. I closed my eyes, opened them and typed out “TRAIL BLAISE”. I knew this was it! I looked online to make sure it was not copywritten, it was not, and I immediately registered and bought the name. Some people may wonder where “Blaise the Baker” went and I always tell them that there will always be “Blaise the Baker”! There will always be “Blaise the Baker” cookbooks and recipes. For some people I will always be “Blaise the Baker” and that is fine! I am just no longer using the name in my social media life, but it will always be a part of me, partially because I have bought and owned the name since 2014! Ha!

My new website “TRAIL BLAISE” will combine all my worlds. “Blaise the Baker”, “CHEW THIS!”, along with many other new and exciting things! Speaking of new and exciting things let me tell you about my newest recipe! Lemon and Garlic Baked Chicken Legs are fabulously easy and extremely scrumptious! With only four ingredients, not counting salt and pepper, you are on your way to a healthy and delicious meal that the whole family will love! Try it tonight!

Lemon and Garlic Baked Chicken Legs

This dish needs to marinate for at least an hour but no longer than 6 hours. You can substitute the chicken legs for chicken thighs if you wish but be sure to adjust the cooking time. Do not worry about the lemon seeds falling into the marinate, they will slide right off the chicken when you move it from the dish to the baking sheet. This recipe can also be made using oranges in place of lemon for my recipe for “Orange and Garlic Baked Chicken Legs”.

13-16 chicken legs
6 lemons, cut in half
½ cup pure olive oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper

Place the chicken legs into a 9×13-inch baking dish.

Squeeze the prepared lemons all over the chicken, not worrying about the seeds and placing in the lemon rind in between the chicken legs.

Drizzle over the olive oil and sprinkle with the minced garlic.

Sprinkle on the salt and black pepper. Remember, we are using a lot of salt and black pepper because this is a lot of meat to season. Be sure to season generously.

Using clean hands, move, roll and rub the chicken legs so that all of the meat gets covered by the marinate. Press everything down, arrange the lemon wedges between the chicken legs and cover with aluminum foil or plastic wrap.

Place into the refrigerator for at least an hour but no longer than 6 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.

Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.

Remove the chicken legs from the marinate and place on baking sheet. Place into preheated oven and bake for 50 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked all the way through. I prefer these a little overbaked, it does something I like to the skin, so feel free to bake an additional 10-15 minutes longer than you may think you need.

Remove and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving. Leftovers can be kept, covered and chilled in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. This is delicious served cold as well.

Ask and Answer: I heard from a few people who made my “Fluffernutter Fudge” and said they loved it but wanted to know more about the marshmallows and how they were supposed to be in the fudge. If you go back and read my column I clearly state that the marshmallows are not to be melted. They are to stay whole. Melting the marshmallows into the fudge will not only ruin the looks of the overall finished product but ruin the taste and texture as well. It is important that the marshmallows stay whole. The fudge can also easily be doubled.

Lemonade Rolls

I love cinnamon rolls but these cinnamon rolls have been transformed into a lemon version! How? The typical cinnamon and sugar mixture has been replaced with a powdered lemonade drink mix, fresh lemon juice and fresh lemon zest. These are beyond delicious and I am recommending these to all the lemon lovers out there! Fabulously lemony!

Lemonade Rolls

For the rolls…
2 packages dry active yeast (each 1/4 oz)
2 1/2 cups warm water
5 cups white all-purpose flour
1 box lemon cake mix
2 teaspoons salt
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup lemonade drink mix powder

For the frosting…
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
2-4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Pinch of salt

In a medium sized bowl combine the dry active yeast and warm water. Let stand. Be sure the mixture is bubbly. If the mixture is not bubbly, throw it out and start over.

In a large bowl combine the white all-purpose flour, lemon cake mix and salt. Whisk together. Carefully add the yeast and water mixture. Stir together well. Once the dough has formed, form into a ball and place a clean kitchen towel over the top. Place in a warm spot to double in size for at least an hour.

After an hour, remove the dough and place onto a lightly floured surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out into a large rectangle. Brush the entire surface with the melted unsalted butter. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the dough the lemonade drink mix powder.

Roll up the dough, starting with the corner closest to you. Cut off the ends with a sharp knife and cut the remaining dough into 10 large size pieces. Place them cut side up into a greased 9×13-inch baking pan.

Cover with a clean kitchen towel. Place in a warm spot to double in size for at least an hour.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Place pan into oven and bake 25 minutes.

Meanwhile make the frosting by combining the melted unsalted butter with the powdered sugar, fresh lemon zest, fresh lemon juice and salt. Beat until smooth and creamy.

Remove rolls from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Frost the rolls while still warm. Allow to cool slightly before enjoying.

CHEW THIS! Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Icing

 

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Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Icing

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, May 6th 2018 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Lemon Cupcakes Perfect for Spring
Blaise Doubman

I know that the weather for the past several weeks has been very unspring like, but spring is here, and we need to enjoy it before the heat and humidity of the summer lurks in. I have always been someone who loves all four seasons, but spring has always been my favorite, followed by the fall. Spring is a time where, after a long winter, trees and flowers start to bloom and the weather starts warming up, without the humidity, and it feels like Mother Nature is offering everyone everywhere a “rebirth” of sorts. When I think of spring flavors I think of citrus flavors like lemon, orange, lime and pineapple. I also think about lighter feeling meals and lighter desserts that are deliciously tasty but do not weight down your body or stomach. When developing recipes, I often think of the season they will be enjoyed in and some of the seasonal aspects of what is fresh for that time of year. That is where this recipe started.

In the past I have experimented with all types of “fruit brownies” such as orange brownies, lemon brownies, lime brownies, strawberry brownies and even tropical pineapple brownies but this time I wanted to change things up and create a light, but flavorful, cupcake. I also wanted to create a glaze, or an icing, instead of a thick heavy frosting for the top. The cupcakes call for fresh lemon zest and fresh lemon juice, which is very important for the overall fresh flavor. Fresh lemon juice is also called for in my icing. You can decorate the tops of these with a piece of candied lemon, a sprinkling of lemon zest, a dash of lemon sugar or simply leave them undecorated and with a smooth and shiny top. The best part of these cupcakes may be that they are extremely versatile. If you do not care for lemon, simply replace the measurements below with fresh orange, lime or even pineapple! This recipe is simply amazing.

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Icing

These cupcakes can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days. I prefer eating these chilled, so feel free to store inside the refrigerator as well. Always use fresh lemon juice and never the bottled variety. There is no substitute for fresh lemon zest or fresh lemon juice. Also remember to zest your lemons first before cutting and juicing. To get the most juice from your lemons, roll the lemons back and forth across your cutting board before cutting or place in microwave for about 10 seconds to get the juices flowing.

For the cupcakes…
1 stick unsalted butter, soft
1 cup, plus 1 tablespoon white granulated sugar
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups white all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup whole milk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

For the icing…
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon whole milk
Fresh lemon juice

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-count cupcake pan with paper liners.

In a large bowl combine the soft unsalted butter with the white granulated sugar and beat together until light in color and fluffy in texture. Add in the large eggs and pure vanilla extract and beat until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth and glossy.

In a separate bowl combine the white all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together well until all dry ingredients are combined and free of lumps.

Add the dry ingredients gradually to the beaten butter and sugar until combined, being careful not to over mix the batter. Add in the whole milk, fresh lemon zest and fresh lemon juice and beat just until the batter has come together and is light and glossy.

Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners and bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Once baked, remove and allow to cool to room temperature before icing.

To make the icing, combine the confectioners’ sugar and whole milk in a bowl with a whisk. Slowly add in fresh lemon juice until the desired constancy is reached. I prefer a thinner icing for these cupcakes, but a thicker icing can be made by adding less fresh lemon juice.

Prepare the cupcakes by icing the tops, serve and enjoy.

Ask and Answer: I heard from so many of my readers with my previous column dedicated to my sweet fur baby Macy. Thank you all for your kind words and thoughtful messages. So many of you wanted to know if I had any more “doggie recipes” and I have a few but want to remind everyone to check with your dog’s veterinarians and ask about any possible food allergies. Dogs, just like humans, may have food allergies that a person would need to know about before providing or recommending any specific recipes. I will, however, recommend a cookbook for those interested. “Organic Dog Biscuit Cookbook” By: The Bubba Rose Biscuit Company is a wonderful resource for those looking for safe and non-toxic “doggie recipes”.

Sugar Cookie Crust Lemon Bars

Originally published on “Blaise the Baker” November 6th, 2017

I LOVE anything and everything lemon! Lemon bars, lemon cookies, lemon candy, lemon brownies and did I mention lemon bars? If you browse my site you will find dozens of lemon based recipes! Well the recipe I am sharing today is also of the lemon, bar, variety and they are delicious! The base of the lemon bars are made from sugar cookie dough and the filling is foolproof! If you are looking for something new and different, these lemon bars are out of the box, unique, delicious and simple!

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Sugar Cookie Crust Lemon Bars

1 roll Pillsbury sugar cookie dough
4 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 white granulated sugar
2 tablespoons white all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray containing flour.

Break up the sugar cookie dough with floured hands and sprinkle evenly into the prepared pan. Again with floured hands, press down and pat evenly to create a crust.

Bake in preheated oven for 24 minutes.

While the crust is baking combine the beaten eggs, white granulated sugar, white all-purpose flour, melted unsalted butter, fresh lemon zest and fresh lemon juice. Whisk until combined and frothy.

Pour over the hot crust and place back into the oven for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool until room temperature. Wrap in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to serve, remove from refrigerator and lift bars out of the pan using the foil overhanging handles.

Sprinkle evenly with powdered sugar.

Cut, serve and store chilled.

Enjoy!

CHEW THIS! Zesty Lemon Bars

Zesty Lemon Bars

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, March 6th 2016 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Lemon bars bring brightness to winter days…
Blaise Doubman

We are entering the final weeks of winter, and lots of people online are pulling up their “spring inspiration” recipes for some much needed solace from the cold, snow and rain. I have been looking over my recipe files, and whenever I have the “winter blues”, I always head straight to one of my favorite dessert ingredients – lemon. Growing up, I hated lemon. My Grandpa Max and Grandma Deloris would always keep a small crystal bowl filled with lemon drops in their living room, and I would always just shrug them away. I would, however, occasionally suck on one long enough for the sugar that was dusted on the outer shell of the candy, to be dissolved in my mouth, but after that the candy went straight into the garbage. I didn’t start loving lemon until I found out I loved lemon bars. I had my first lemon bar in “Sweden” at Disneyworld’s Epcot. I loved the taste, the texture, the brightness and the zing I got from each bite. I don’t remember why I agreed to try the dessert, since lemon wasn’t my favorite flavor, but at the moment, I was so glad that I did. From them on out, I’ve loved lemon. Lemon brownies, lemon candy, lemon cupcakes, lemon scent, lemon lip balm… I’m addicted.

When developing this recipe, I wanted to stay close to home with simple tastes and textures. I had already gone “outside of the box” on my Blaise the Baker blog when awhile back, I developed a recipe for crunchy lemon bars, which incorporated saltine crackers. They’re delicious, but not what I was looking for here. I was looking for something bright, familiar and flavorful. Something that would take me back to the first time I had ever had lemon bars. After experimenting with several different variations of lemons and how to get the certain taste I was looking for, I finally did it. I found that, of course, using fresh lemon juice and lemon zest was the answer. Whenever I would mix in the lemon extract, the taste wasn’t as pure as I knew it could be. This recipe for my zesty lemon bars are a lemon dessert staple in my family that I make again and again.

Zesty Lemon Bars

This recipe has been perfected over the course of experimentation, but that doesn’t mean you can’t put your own twist on things. How delicious would these be with a cup of white chocolate chips stirred in before baking, or perhaps some lime juice and zest added to the mix? For a more tropical theme, incorporate a little pineapple juice, and top with chopped cherries once cooled. To get the one cup of lemon juice, as well as the four tablespoons of zest, you will need about 6-8 large lemons. Also always remember to zest the lemon first, before squeezing. Gently microwave your lemons for 10 seconds to get the maximum amount of juice from each lemon.

2 ½ cups white all-purpose flour
¾ cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, cubed
6 large eggs
2 ¼ cups white granulated sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons grated lemon zest

Start by preheating your oven to 350-degrees F. Lightly spray a 9-inch square pan with non-stick cooking spray and cut a square of parchment paper to fit easily on the inside of the pan. This will help you “lift” the bars out once they’re baked. Press the parchment down inside the pan, allowing for a little overhang of the parchment.

To make the crust, combine 2 cups of the white all-purpose flour (leaving aside the remaining ½ cup), powdered sugar and fine sea salt in a large bowl. Next, add in the cubed butter and using a pastry butter, fork, or your fingers, gently blend everything together until the mixture resembles course sand. This is almost like making pie pastry.

Once coarse sand is achieved, press this mixture, gently, into the prepared pan. Be sure to evenly press in the crust, taking some of the crust up the sides of the pan. This is important in holding the bars together, as well as how they will bake in the oven.

Place the crust into the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Once baked, remove from oven and sit aside to cool slightly.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300-degrees F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the large eggs and granulated sugar until smooth and light in colored. Next, add in the lemon juice and lemon extract and combine.

Finally, stir in the remaining ½ cup white all-purpose flour and pour into the crust.

Place back into the oven for 45 minutes, or until the lemon filling no longer jiggles.

Once baked, remove from oven and allow to cool at room temperature before lifting out of the pan. Dust with powdered sugar, cut and serve.