In the kitchen with Joan Horton: Several sweet recipes for your favorite Valentine

11 years ago

I have always been a fan of so called “squares” as sometimes you just do not have enough time to keep watching pans of cookies in the oven. They don’t always have to be the usual ones that everyone makes. I have come up with an assortment of ones that will please just about every taste.

This first one for Cheesecake Brownies is a great brownie with a filling of cottage cheese that makes a nice variation on the usual brownie.

3 squares unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup butter
1 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
3/4 cup cream style cottage cheese
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup unsifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

    Directions: Melt the chocolate and 6 Tablespoons of the butter over hot water. Cream the remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter with the sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla. Add the cornstarch, cottage cheese, 1 of the eggs and the lemon juice. Beat until smooth and set aside.
Beat the remaining 2 eggs until smooth. With a spoon, gradually stir in the remaining cup of sugar. Beat with a spoon until thoroughly mixed. Stir in the chocolate mixture, which should be slightly cooled. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir into the chocolate mixture. Mix in the nuts, the remaining teaspoon of vanilla and the almond extract. Spoon half of the chocolate mixture into the bottom of a well-greased 9-inch square pan. Cover with the cottage cheese mixture. Carefully spoon the remaining chocolate batter over the top. Do not attempt to completely cover the cottage cheese mixture. With a spoon swirl the top chocolate mixture and the cottage cheese mixture together. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes before cutting into 16 squares.
Peanut Butter Squares are simple to make and the ingredients are usually in everyone’s cupboard.

1/2 cup peanut butter, crunchy or regular
1/4 cup softened butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped salted peanuts

Directions:    Cream together the peanut butter, butter and brown sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla, flour and salt. Fold in the peanuts. Spread evenly in a greased 8-inch pan and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes. When completely cool spread with the following frosting.

QUICK CHOCOLATE FROSTING: Put 1/2 cup undiluted evaporated milk and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a saucepan and just bring to a boil. Stir in a package (6-ounce) semisweet chocolate chips and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Remove from the heat and beat until smooth. Cool slightly before spreading on the peanut butter squares.
I have no idea why these are called Chinese Chews but if you look in hundred year old cookbooks this is the name they were given.

1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pitted dates
1 cup chopped nuts
2 eggs, beaten

   Directions: Sift the sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. Stir in the dates and nuts. Add the eggs and mix thoroughly. There is not shortening in this recipe. Spread in a well-greased 15 and 1/2 x 10 and 1/2 x 1-inch jellyroll pan. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Cut into 2 x 1-inch bars while still warm. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Makes about 6 dozen.
The color of these Cherry Marshmallow Bars would make them a great thing to keep in mind for the upcoming Valentines Day. An electric mixer is really needed to make the marshmallow mixture and when you start mixing it you will see the “magic” begin.

3/4 cup butter
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 and 1/2 cups sifted flour
2 enveloped unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup cherry juice and water (see instructions)
1 (8-ounce) jar maraschino cherries, drained and chopped
1/2 cup chopped almonds
3 drops red food coloring
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Directions:    Combine the butter, brown sugar and flour. Mix well and press into an ungreased 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan. Bake in a 325’ oven for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Soften the gelatin in the 1/2 cup water. Combine the granulated sugar and the juice drained from the cherries with enough water added to make 1/2 cup. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and sir in the softened gelatin. Beat with an electric mixer until very stiff, about 20 minutes. The mixture will climb the beaters as it thickens. Fold in the cherries and almonds. Add the food color and almond extract. Spread on top of the cooled, baked crust in the pan. Let stand at room temperature until the topping sets. Cut into 2 x 1-inch bars. Cover the pan with a lid or foil and leave in a cool place, not the refrigerator until time to serve. Makes 48.
Finally a recipe for an old time favorite, Date Squares. Be warned they are very rich but oh, so good.

1 cup dates, chopped and pitted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup water
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1 and 1/2 cups quick cooking oatmeal

Directions:    Combine the dates, sugar, orange juice and water in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly until thick. Set aside to cool. There will be about 1 and 3/4-cups of mixture.
Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, nutmeg and cinnamon. Add the brown sugar and lemon peel. Blend all well. Blend in the butter with a pastry blender. Add the milk and then stir in the rolled oats. Spread half of the dough in a greased 8 x 8 x 2-inch square pan. Spread the date filling evenly over the top. Roll the remaining oatmeal dough between sheets of waxed paper into an 8-inch square to fit the pan. Fit the dough over the filling. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool, in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars that are 2 and 1/2 by 1-inch. Makes 2 dozen.