CHEW THIS! Orange Bars

Orange Bars

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, February 17th 2019 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

A Lost Recipe, Found!
Blaise Doubman

When testing and developing recipes for my cookbooks, website and this column, I keep a detailed list of all the recipes I have made, tried, tasted, developed, published and printed. Hardly ever do I misplace a recipe but within the last year or so, it happened! I searched and searched for my recipe for orange bars. I was so proud of the recipe and now where had it gone? I love lemon bars but wondered if I could somehow make an orange version. The recipe took about two weeks to figure out and I decided that I would share it in my second cookbook. Well, needless to say the recipe never materialized, and it did not make it into my second cookbook. I just told myself I would never find the recipe and would need to develop it again later, once I had the time. Several months passed and I decided that it was about time to develop the lost orange bars recipe. I tried, unsuccessfully, for a couple of weeks and then decided to move on to other recipes. I was disappointed but not discouraged.

Over the course of the last several months I have started “weeding” my cookbook collection. Going through and donating the cookbooks I know that I will never use or have duplicates of, etc. It was a huge task, but I did finally finish. I can not even fathom the number of cookbooks I donated but the number was easily in the thousands. As I was going through all those cookbooks, organizing, separating and trying to get them in order, I found several pieces of notebook paper that I had put inside of one of the cookbooks, sticking out on the sides. I pulled them out and low and behold! There was my orange bar recipe that I had lost several months back! What were they doing inside one of my cookbooks? I have no idea. I am a relatively organized person, so what I was thinking at the time I will never know. I was thrilled to find the recipe though and even though it did not make it into my second cookbook, I am excited and thankful to share it here with all of you! Try these, they are remarkably fabulous!

Orange Bars

These are best made ahead and chilled in the refrigerator, so plan ahead with this recipe.

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

For the filling…
½ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 ½ cups white granulated sugar
¼ cup white all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
4 large eggs

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 well the softened unsalted butter, white all-purpose flour, white granulated sugar and salt. Once a dough forms, press into the bottom of the prepared pan.

Place in preheated oven and bake for 18 minutes.

While the crust is baking, prepare the filling.

In a large bowl whisk well together the fresh squeezed orange juice, orange zest, white granulated sugar, white all-purpose flour, baking powder and large eggs. You will know the mixture is well combined once bubbles start appearing in the filling.

Once the crust has finished baking, remove from the oven and pour in the filling.

Return to the oven, carefully, and continue to bake for about 25 minutes, or until the top part of the bars are no longer jiggly. Remove from the oven and allow to cool 30 minutes.

Wrap in aluminum foil and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

Remove, dust with powdered sugar and cut into desired squares.

Ask and Answer: I have been getting so many air fryer questions that it has been hard for me to keep up with them all! Lot of people would like to know what brand and size I have. I have Target’s air fryer called the “Air Fryer XL” and is 5 quarts. Really when shopping for an air fryer, buy the brand and size that you think would be best for you. Lots of people have also wondered if my recipes are “air fryer friendly”. Yes! Just about any recipe is, you just have to take the time and patience in finding out the correct temperature and time. There are online charts that you can Google that will help you with this process. You can even bake in your air fryer!

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CHEW THIS! Fresh Orange Brownies

Fresh Orange Brownies

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, April 16th 2017 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Fresh and Flavorful Orange Brownies
Blaise Doubman

I love citrus desserts almost as much as I love chocolate desserts! Key lime pie, lemon meringue pie, lemon bars, pineapple cake, orange scones, ricotta orange cheesecake, lemon cheesecake, lemon curd with berries and lemon-lime tart are some of my go-to desserts when the season is hot and the flavors are citrusy and bright. When I was developing recipes for my cookbook some of the first recipes I developed were those of citrus. Lemon curd muddy buddy mix, lightning fast lemon pie and pineapple icebox pie were some of my favorites that were developed along the way and still some of my most popular recipes. Venturing on to creating and testing more recipes I envisioned some type of citrus brownie. A brownie that was your typical texture, chewy and dense, but had fresh and bright colors and nothing artificial.

Browsing through some of my citrus cookbooks I noticed there really was not anything in the field of brownies and citrus. I did find a couple of recipes from a famous food personality for citrusy type brownies but her recipes called for artificial flavoring and I wanted mine to be fresh, bright and flavorful. I can taste when something is artificial and that is not what I was looking for. A friend sent me a recipe that she had used, and same thing – artificial. I set out with your typical blondie brownie recipe, cut out the brown sugar, added an extra egg for chewiness and cut out the vanilla extract. Instead I added freshly squeezed orange juice and freshly grated orange zest. I also created a glaze to pour over the warm brownies and guess what? The brownies were fabulous! Bright, flavorful, full of citrus and perfect!

Fresh Orange Brownies

It is important to remember to zest the oranges before cutting and squeezing them for their juice. The best way to get maximum juice from the oranges is to gently roll the oranges on your counter a few times before cutting and squeezing. Also remember that when you zest any citrus, only take off the thin layer of color on the fruit, being sure not to get any of the white skin that is underneath – that part is very bitter. Wash all citrus before using.

For the brownies…
2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, soft
2 cups white granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 ½ cups white all-purpose flour

For the glaze…
1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest

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 cream together the soft unsalted butter and white granulated sugar. The mixture should be light in color and fluffy in texture.

Next, add in the large eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Beat in the freshly squeezed orange juice, freshly grated orange zest and salt.

Gently fold in the white all-purpose flour, until no white streaks remain in the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Smooth out the top.

Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes.

Once baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly while you prepare the glaze.

To make the glaze simply whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, freshly squeezed orange juice and freshly grated orange zest in a medium sized bowl. Whisk until smooth and pourable.

Pour the glaze over the warm brownies and spread evenly. Allow to cool at room temperature before cutting, serving and enjoying.

Ask and Answer: A couple of weekends ago I took part in a local bake sale and I received a few questions about some of the specifics and details. I thought I would answer some of those questions here. To start with it is important when baking for a bake sale to remember people who may have a peanut, gluten, wheat, etc. allergy. If something contains peanuts I always label it as such. Meet with your bake sale coordinator to see what other special instructions may need to be followed. I also make sure to take everything in foil disposable containers. That way the person can throw away once finished and not feel like they need to return any nice containers, etc. Plastic wrap is your friend when covering baked goods. Aluminum foil hides what is underneath and does not make for a good presentation. Wrap your baked goods loosely with no air pockets around the edges. Also remember to bake things that can be made in advance without the possibility of anything turning stale or spoiling.