Category Archives: Squares

Unbaked Chocolate Coconut Square

Chocolate Coconut Squares
Chocolate Coconut Squares

This no-bake chocolate coconut square is one of the easiest to make and it does not take a lot of ingredients.  The recipe calls for graham wafer crumbs –   to make this square gluten-free, use gluten-free graham style crumbs. There may be a number of brands of these crumbs available. I use the Kinnikinnick brand. In fact, the squares in the photos in this post are made with these gluten-free crumbs.

Chocolate Coconut Squares
Chocolate Coconut Squares

This square is almost candy-bar quality.  It is not a thick square but it is rich, moist, and very tasty! A great treat anytime and a sure favorite on any sweet tray.

Chocolate Coconut Squares
Chocolate Coconut Squares

Unbaked Chocolate Coconut Square

Ingredients:
½ cup butter, softened at room temperature
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp granulated sugar
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa

1 extra large egg, room temperature, beaten
1 tsp vanilla

2 cups graham wafer crumbs
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
½ cup chopped pecans

Method:
Line 9”x9” baking pan with parchment paper, leaving enough paper overhang that finished square can be lifted from the pan for easy icing and cutting.

Combine butter, sugars, and cocoa in medium-sized heavy bottomed saucepan.  Cook over medium low heat until butters melt and ingredients are combined and heated.  Stir frequently to prevent scorching.  Do not boil.

Add the beaten egg and vanilla.  Cook over medium low heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and add the graham wafer crumbs, coconut, and pecans.  Stir to combine ingredients well.

Spread mixture evenly in prepared pan.  Cool.  Ice with buttercream icing (recipe follows). Cut into squares of desired size.

Icing

Ingredients:

2 cups sifted powdered sugar (aka icing sugar/confectioner’s sugar)
3 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
2½ tbsp water
½ tsp almond flavoring

1 – oz square semi-sweet chocolate
1 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature

Method:
Combine the powdered sugar and butter in bowl of stand mixer.  Mix on low speed to blend in butter.  Add the water and almond flavoring and increase speed to medium-low to blend ingredients. Increase speed to high and beat an additional minute to ensure ingredients are well combined and icing is smooth.  Additional water may be required to make icing of desired spreading consistency. If adding additional water, add by ½ teaspoon at a time.

Spread icing evenly over square.  Melt the chocolate square and butter in small dish in microwave only until the ingredients have melted enough to be blended together.  Drizzle in desired design over icing.  Cut squares into desired size.

Yield:  1 – 9”x9” pan of squares

Unbaked Chocolate Coconut Square

Easy-to-make unbaked chocolate coconut square is sure to appeal to any sweet tooth and make a fine addition to sweet trays

Course Dessert
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 extra large egg, room temperature, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups graham wafer crumbs
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Icing

  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar (aka icing sugar/confectioner's sugar)
  • 3 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp almond flavoring
  • 1 oz square semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature

Instructions

  1. Line 9”x9” baking pan with parchment paper, leaving enough paper overhang that finished square can be lifted from the pan for easy icing and cutting.
  2. Combine butter, sugars, and cocoa in medium-sized heavy bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium low heat until butters melt and ingredients are combined and heated. Stir frequently to prevent scorching. Do not boil.

  3. Add the beaten egg and vanilla. Cook over medium low heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Remove from heat and add the graham wafer crumbs, coconut, and pecans. Stir to combine ingredients well.
  5. Spread mixture evenly in prepared pan. Cool. Ice with buttercream icing (recipe follows). Cut into squares of desired size.

Icing

  1. Combine the powdered sugar and butter in bowl of stand mixer. Mix on low speed to blend in butter. Add the water and almond flavoring and increase speed to medium-low to blend ingredients. Increase speed to high and beat an additional minute to ensure ingredients are well combined and icing is smooth. Additional water may be required to make icing of desired spreading consistency. If adding additional water, add by ½ teaspoon at a time.
  2. Spread icing evenly over square. Melt the chocolate square and butter in small dish in microwave only until the ingredients have melted enough to be blended together. Drizzle in desired design over icing. Cut squares into desired size. 

    Yield: 1 – 9”x9” pan of squares

Recipe Notes

To make this square gluten-free, use gluten-free graham style crumbs.

 

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Chocolate Coconut Squares
Chocolate Coconut Squares

Old-fashioned Jam Squares

Old-fashioned Jam Squares
Old-fashioned Jam Squares

Jam Squares are an old-fashioned favourite that I grew up with.  They are easy to make and only take common ingredients.  While any kind of jam may be used, they are most showy when red jam, such as raspberry, is chosen. They are a treat at any time and look especially good on sweet trays for special events.

Jam Squares
Jam Squares

[Printable Recipe follows at end of posting]

Old-Fashioned Jam Squares

Ingredients:

1/3 cup butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp almond flavoring
½ cup white sugar
1 cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
⅛ tsp cardamom
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
½ cup raspberry jam

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°.

Assemble ingredients.

Prepare 8”x8” pan by lining with parchment paper.

With electric mixer, beat butter well in medium-sized bowl.  Beat in egg, vanilla, and almond flavouring.

Sift  sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom together.  Stir in grated lemon rind.  Add to butter-egg mixture and blend thoroughly.

Shape dough into a small oblong shape.  Cut off about one-third of the dough and place in freezer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, press remaining  dough into prepared pan.  Place pan in freezer for 15 minutes.

Remove both the reserved dough and the pan from the freezer.  Evenly spread the ½ cup raspberry preserves over dough in pan.

Using a grater, grate the reserved dough evenly over the jam.

Bake for 35 minutes or until topping on square is lightly golden in color.

Let square cool completely in pan before removing and cutting into 16 squares.

Old-fashioned Jam Squares

Yield: 16 squares

These easy-to-make showy squares take only common ingredients. While any kind of jam may be used, they are most showy when red jam is chosen.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp almond flavoring
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ? tsp cardamom
  • Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup raspberry jam

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Assemble ingredients.
  3. Prepare 8”x8” pan by lining with parchment paper.
  4. With electric mixer, beat butter well in medium-sized bowl. Beat in egg, vanilla, and almond flavouring.
  5. Sift sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom together. Stir in grated lemon rind. Add to butter-egg mixture and blend thoroughly.
  6. Shape dough into a small oblong shape. Cut off about one-third of the dough and place in freezer for 15 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, press remaining dough into prepared pan. Place pan in freezer for 15 minutes.
  8. Remove both the reserved dough and the pan from the freezer. Evenly spread the ½ cup raspberry preserves over dough in pan. Using a grater, grate the reserved dough evenly over the jam.
  9. Bake for 35 minutes or until topping on square is lightly golden in color.
  10. Let square cool completely in pan before removing and cutting into squares.
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Jam Squares

Queen Elizabeth Cake Recipe

Ever wonder about the history of old vintage recipes?  I so wish that accurate records existed about the origins of some of the old nostalgic recipes like the one for Queen Elizabeth Cake, for example.

Queen Elizabeth Square
Queen Elizabeth Cake

This is one recipe that has some history to it but just how much is fact and how much is fable, myth, or folklore is up for certain debate.

Queen Elizabeth Cake is, next to a plain white vanilla or simple chocolate cake, probably one of the most basic, nondescript cakes you could come by. Made with a simple batter with some dates and mild spices mixed in, its glory comes from the topping made of butter, brown sugar, cream, vanilla, and coconut that almost borders on toffee. Yes, this will remind you of a cold version of sticky date pudding.

Now, sometimes, you may see this referred to as Queen Elizabeth “Square” versus “Cake”. However, I think it most closely resembles a cake more so than a square. This is because the texture is light and tender, the crumb an even grain, and the body of the cake has a springiness to the touch. This is in contrast to what defines a typical square (or bars) – i.e., a dense texture and chewy consistency. I would class this cake as a hearty, substantial cake.

Queen Elizabeth Square
Queen Elizabeth Cake

So, just where and when did Queen Elizabeth Cake originate?  This is where fact and fiction intertwine and become somewhat blurry.  I did quite a bit of research on this cake. One intriguing story is that it is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s own recipe from which she made cakes herself and sold them for charitable purposes. This claim suggests the recipe originated in Buckingham Palace after the 1953 Coronation. I could find no information or evidence to substantiate this claim and neither could I find any reference to this history on the Buckingham Palace website.

In the June 1953 issue of the Canadian magazine, Chatelaine, a recipe for Queen Elizabeth II Cake was published. Chatelaine’s April 20, 2016, online posting which shared a photo of the 1953 published recipe claims it “was created specifically for the Queen’s Coronation” but gives no indication of who the actual creator was or any detail about how or why the specific ingredients were chosen.

Other information suggests the cake may have been created much earlier to commemorate Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother’s popularity and her historic visit with her husband, King George VI, to Canada in 1939.

Yet, other information suggests the cake was appearing in local community cookbooks in the 1940s when it was known as “Princess Elizabeth Cake” and there is suggestion that the name may have been changed to “Queen Elizabeth Cake” after the 1953 Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

So, all this to say, I could not definitively, with any degree of accuracy, determine the exact origins of this cake. I do personally recall childhood memories of this cake appearing at community and church events in the 1960s and 1970s in the part of Prince Edward Island in which I grew up.  Plates of sweets inevitably always had this cake on it, although I believe it was referred to as Queen Elizabeth “Square”.  I am reasonably certain of the specific ladies who would, most likely, have been the makers of this cake but they have, unfortunately, all passed on, taking with them whatever memories they may have had associated with the Queen Elizabeth Cake/Square.

Queen Elizabeth Cake
Queen Elizabeth Cake

Granted, I’ll admit the Queen Elizabeth Cake is not the most attractive cake but, boy oh boy, do the flavor, moist texture, and the kicker topping more than make up for it! This is one cake that, as the old saying goes, you ought not judge the book by the cover!  While this is not a cake that my mother made, she does have it in a handwritten recipe “scribbler” that was started in 1963. There is no indication on the handwritten recipe whose it was or where it came from. It cryptically lists the ingredients but contains no method, baking pan size, or baking temperature. This is typical because cooks, in years gone by, simply knew how to pull together a cake and, from whomever the recipe was gotten, it was probably baked in the cook’s wood stove oven (I’ll never know how they regulated the temperature in those). My mother says the cake was probably popular because it needed no frosting/icing since the topping is the “dressing” on the cake.

Queen Elizabeth Cake
Queen Elizabeth Cake

I have taken the basic recipe, adapted some of the ingredients and proportions, added some additional flavoring and spices (the recipe I adapted this one from had no spices listed) and tested the recipe out using different baking pan sizes, writing down the instructions as I worked. What has resulted is this recipe for one of the most tasty tray/slab cakes imaginable given that it is made with such simple, basic kitchen staple ingredients.

Some tips on making Queen Elizabeth Cake:

  • You may think there isn’t enough batter for a 9”x13” cake but there is – there is 1 teaspoon each of baking powder and soda so this cake will rise to a nice height in this size of pan. I tested it first in a 9″x9″ pan but found the cake was too tall in it.
  • The pan may be greased or it may be lined with parchment paper (or even greased tin foil). If using either of the latter, make sure you leave enough paper or tin foil overhang which can be used as “handles” to lift the cake out of the pan. Hint – This method makes both the cutting and removal of the cake from the pan easier than doing so while it is still in the pan.
  • Let the date mixture cool completely at room temperature. Adding it to the dry ingredients while it is either hot or warm can make for a “gummy” texture or soggy cake.
  • Mix the wet and dry ingredients using the rule of 3 parts dry and 2 parts wet ingredients, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
  • Mix the ingredients well but don’t beat them as this may create a “tough crumb” cake.
  • Use cream to make the topping. I used 18% cream but 35% cream will create an even more luxurious topping (but also add a few more calories!).
  • Start checking the cake for doneness at the point where the cake has been baking for 30 minutes then, if it is not baked, check it every 4-5 minutes after. The cake will be done when the cake tester, inserted into the center of the cake, comes out completely clean and dry.
  • When the cake tests almost baked (about 5 minutes before it is expected to come out of the oven), start making the topping. It needs to go on the warm cake that will go back in the oven for 3-4 minutes after the topping has been added.
  • The topping is a little bit like making candy. It can set up really fast. Don’t leave it unattended. Stir the ingredients as they boil gently for the 3 minutes. Watch it carefully – if you see if starting to “set up” and thicken really fast (even if it is before the 3 minutes of boiling is up), remove it from the stove and stir in the vanilla and coconut. The mixture should be of the consistency that it can be poured from the saucepan and spread over the cake with a knife. If it becomes too thick, it will be too sugary and won’t be of spreading consistency.

Splendid, no matter its history or how it’s served, this cake pairs particularly well with a spot of tea…. perhaps Earl Grey blend.  This is a smooth black tea that has citrus notes that complement the sweetness of the cake. With its high concentration of tannins, it’s also a great tea to cleanse the mouth after each bite of the cake so that every bite of this moist and flavorful cake tastes as good as the first one!

Queen Elizabeth Square
Queen Elizabeth Cake

[Printable Recipe Follows at end of Posting]

Queen Elizabeth Cake

 Ingredients:
1 cup dates, chopped
1 tsp soda
1 cup boiling water

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
Pinch allspice

¼ cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 extra large egg, lightly beaten
¼ tsp orange extract
1 tsp vanilla

Topping:
3 tbsp melted butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp cream (18%)
½ tsp vanilla
2/3 cup shredded coconut

Method:

Cake:

Place dates and soda in medium-sized saucepan.  Add the boiling water. Simmer for about 4-5 minutes then cool completely at room temperature.

Position oven rack in centre of oven and preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease 9”x13” baking pan or line with parchment paper (or even greased tin foil).

Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and spices together. Set aside.

In bowl of stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar.  Beat in the egg, orange extract, and vanilla. Transfer mixture to cooled dates. Stir well.

Transfer one-third of the sifted dry ingredients to the mixer bowl.  Beat in one-half of the wet ingredients. Add another third of the dry ingredients. Blend well. Mix in the remainder of the wet ingredients.  Finish by incorporating the remaining dry ingredients. Mix well to combine. Don’t overmix.

Spread batter evenly in prepared baking pan.  Transfer to preheated oven and bake for approximately 30-40 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven.

Topping:

About 5 minutes before the cake is due to be removed from the oven, begin to prepare the cake topping.  In medium-sized saucepan, melt the 3 tablespoons of butter.  Blend in the brown sugar and cream. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 3 minutes, stirring regularly to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and quickly stir in the vanilla and coconut. Pour and spread this mixture evenly over the warm cake and return it to the oven to brown slightly for 3-4 minutes. Remove cake from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely before cutting and serving.

This cake freezes well.

Yield:  1 – 9”x13” single layer cake

Queen Elizabeth Cake

Yield: 1 - 9"x13" cake

This moist and flavorful cake is made with dates and spices and features a delectable toffee-like topping

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dates, chopped
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • Pinch allspice
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 extra large egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ tsp orange extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Topping:
  • 3 tbsp melted butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp cream (18%)
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cup shredded coconut

Instructions

  1. Cake:
  2. Place dates and soda in medium-sized saucepan. Add the boiling water. Simmer for about 4-5 minutes then cool completely at room temperature.
  3. Position oven rack in centre of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 9”x13” baking pan or line with parchment paper (or even greased tin foil).
  4. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and spices together. Set aside.
  5. In bowl of stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg, orange extract, and vanilla. Transfer mixture to cooled dates. Stir well.
  6. Transfer one-third of the sifted dry ingredients to the mixer bowl. Beat in one-half of the wet ingredients. Add another third of the dry ingredients. Blend well. Mix in the remainder of the wet ingredients. Finish by incorporating the remaining dry ingredients. Mix well to combine. Don’t overmix.
  7. Spread batter evenly in prepared baking pan. Transfer to preheated oven and bake for approximately 30-40 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven.
  8. Topping:
  9. About 5 minutes before the cake is due to be removed from the oven, begin to prepare the cake topping. In medium-sized saucepan, melt the 3 tablespoons of butter. Blend in the brown sugar and cream. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 3 minutes, stirring regularly to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and quickly stir in the vanilla and coconut. Pour and spread this mixture evenly over the warm cake and return it to the oven to brown slightly for 3-4 minutes. Remove cake from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely before cutting and serving.

Notes

Please refer to entire blog posting for hints and tips on making this cake.

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Queen Elizabeth Cake

Queen Elizabeth Cake

Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square

Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square
Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square

If you like brown sugar fudge, you’ll love this Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square, even if you aren’t gluten-intolerant or on a grain-restrictive diet! With a cake-type base, it’s the fudge icing that makes this square and takes it from plain to yummy. It’s like having cake and candy at the same time!

I use 1-to-1 gluten-free baking flour along with a small amount of coconut flour in this square.  The coconut flour blends well with the shredded coconut in the recipe and gives the square extra flavor.  Super easy square to make.

Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square
Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square

The slightly tricky part is making the icing as it will “set up” very fast.  Make sure you have all the ingredients pre-measured and at hand when you start to make the icing.  It’s essential that the icing sugar be sifted to remove any lumps as there won’t be any time to work out any lumps when beating the icing sugar into the hot butter-sugar mixture. Once the icing starts to thicken, work quickly to spread it over the square.

This square freezes beautifully and is great to have on hand when you just need to have something sweet!

Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square
Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square

[Printable version of recipe follows at end of posting]

Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square

Ingredients:

Square
½ cup minus 1 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 extra-large egg (at room temperature for 20 minutes)
½ tsp pure vanilla
1 cup 1-to-1 gluten-free baking flour
2 tbsp coconut flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/3 cup milk
½ cup shredded coconut

Icing
3 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
¾ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
3 tbsp cream
1 cup sifted icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Walnut halves for decoration (optional)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease or, alternatively, line 9” square baking pan with tin foil and spray with cooking oil.

Square:  Cream butter and sugar together.  Add the egg and beat well to combine with butter-sugar mixture.  Beat in vanilla.

Sift the 1-to-1 gluten-free flour, coconut flour, baking powder, and salt together.  Add the dry ingredients and milk to the creamed mixture in three parts (3 parts dry and 2 parts wet) starting and ending with the dry ingredients.  Beat for 1 minute longer on medium speed. Fold in the shredded coconut.  Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

Bake for 30-32 minutes or until cake tester inserted into center of square comes out clean.  Remove square from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely.

Icing:  When square has cooled, make the icing by combining the butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir until both have melted/dissolved.  Add the cream.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and, with an electric hand mixer, beat in the icing sugar until mixture starts to thicken.  Immediately stir in the vanilla and, working quickly (as this icing will “set up” very fast), spread the icing evenly over square.  Score cutting lines on square and, if desired, place one walnut half on each individual square. Let icing set completely before cutting squares.

Yield: One 9” pan of squares

Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square
Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square

Gluten-free Brown Sugar Fudge Square

Yield: 1 - 9" pan of squares

An old-fashioned fudge square made with gluten-free flour and topped with brown sugar fudge icing.

Ingredients

  • Square
  • ½ cup minus 1 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 extra-large egg (at room temperature for 20 minutes)
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla
  • 1 cup 1-to-1 gluten-free baking flour
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
  • Icing
  • 3 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3 tbsp cream
  • 1 cup sifted icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Walnut halves for decoration (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease or, alternatively, line 9” square baking pan with tin foil and spray with cooking oil.
  2. Square: Cream butter and sugar together. Add the egg and beat well to combine with butter-sugar mixture. Beat in vanilla.
  3. Sift the 1-to-1 gluten-free flour, coconut flour, baking powder, and salt together. Add the dry ingredients and milk to the creamed mixture in three parts (3 parts dry and 2 parts wet) starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat for 1 minute longer on medium speed. Fold in the shredded coconut. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 30-32 minutes or until cake tester inserted into center of square comes out clean. Remove square from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Icing: When square has cooled, make the icing by combining the butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until both have melted/dissolved. Add the cream. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and, with an electric hand mixer, beat in the icing sugar until mixture starts to thicken. Immediately stir in the vanilla and, working quickly (as this icing will “set up” very fast), spread the icing evenly over square. Score cutting lines on square and, if desired, place one walnut half on each individual square. Let icing set completely before cutting squares.
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Gluten Free Fudge Squares

Decadent Chocolate Chip Squares

Decadent Chocolate Chip Squares
Decadent Chocolate Chip Squares

This is one of my most favorite squares!  I have been making this recipe for years.  It’s good any time of the year and is often found in my summer picnic basket.  With its rich, gooey chocolate center and a slightly crunchy topping, it’s a real treat for sure, especially for chocolate lovers.

Decadent Chocolate Chip Squares
Decadent Chocolate Chip Squares
Decadent Chocolate Chip Squares

Ingredients:

Base:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch salt
⅓ cup butter, softened
⅓ cup brown sugar, packed
2 egg yolks

10 oz. chocolate chips

Topping:
2 egg whites, beaten stiff
⅛ tsp cream of tartar
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup macaroon coconut

Method:

Assemble ingredients.

Prepare 9” square pan by lining with tin foil and spraying with cooking oil.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Base:
In small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Cream butter and brown sugar together. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add dry ingredients and stir just until dry ingredients are incorporated.

Evenly press dough into prepared pan.

Evenly sprinkle the chocolate chips over the dough. Set aside.

Topping:
In clean mixer bowl, beat the two egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form.

Beat in the brown sugar, adding a tablespoon at a time.

Add the vanilla.

Fold in the coconut.

Spread the topping evenly over the chocolate chips.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until topping is browned. Remove from oven and place pan on wire cooling rack. Let cool completely. Lift tin foil and square from the pan and cut into squares.

Decadent Chocolate Chip Squares
Decadent Chocolate Chip Squares

 

Decadent Chocolate Chip Squares

Ingredients

  • Base:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 10 oz. chocolate chips
  • Topping:
  • 2 egg whites, beaten stiff
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup macaroon coconut

Instructions

  1. Assemble ingredients.
  2. Prepare 9” square pan by lining with tin foil and spraying with cooking oil.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  4. Base:
  5. In small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  6. Cream butter and brown sugar together. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add dry ingredients and stir just until dry ingredients are incorporated.
  7. Evenly press dough into prepared pan. Evenly sprinkle the chocolate chips over the dough. Set aside.
  8. Topping:
  9. In clean mixer bowl, beat the two egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Beat in the brown sugar, adding a tablespoon at a time. Add the vanilla. Fold in the coconut.
  10. Spread the topping evenly over the chocolate chips.
  11. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until topping is browned. Remove from oven and place pan on wire cooling rack. Let cool completely. Lift tin foil and square from the pan and cut into squares.
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Decadent Chocolate Chip Squares
Decadent Chocolate Chip Squares

Marshmallow Squares

Today, I am sharing a sweet treat with you.  In fact, it’s so sweet, it’s almost more like candy than it is a square. This is one of the easiest squares to make and it requires few ingredients and no cooking or baking.

Marshmallow Squares
Marshmallow Squares

This square is perfect for picnics and is a colorful and tasty addition to any sweet tray.  It’s the perfect anytime treat.

While it is not necessary to line the pan with tin foil, I like to do so for a couple of reasons.  First, it protects my pan and, second, it makes it easier to cut the squares.  I find, if I don’t line my baking pans, when I go to cut the squares, the knife scratches the pan surface and ruins it.  By lining the pan with tin foil, it is easy to lift the square out of the pan, peel back the tin foil and easily cut straight squares.  With this square, I very lightly butter the sides of the foil-lined pan which helps the tin foil to peel off easier.

Any kind of shredded coconut can be used in this square; however, the shredded rainbow coconut adds additional color.  Very finely ground graham wafer crumbs can be lightly sprinkled on top of square if desired along with a sprinkling of extra coconut.

Marshmallow Squares

Ingredients:

12 graham wafers

½ cup butter
2 cups icing (confectioner’s) sugar

¼ cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup shredded coconut
2½ cups colored miniature marshmallows

½ tbsp finely ground graham wafer crumbs (optional)

Method:

Lightly butter sides of 9”x9” pan and line pan with 12 graham wafers, cutting wafers to fit as necessary.

Cream butter and icing sugar together. Blend in milk and vanilla until smooth.

Carefully fold in coconut and marshmallows.

Spread mixture evenly over graham wafers. Lightly sprinkle finely ground graham wafer crumbs and some extra coconut over top of square, if desired.

Refrigerate for at least a couple of hours to allow the square to set. Cut into squares.  Keep refrigerated until serving.

Yield: Apx. 16 servings

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Old-fashioned Brownies – A Perennial Favorite

Old-fashioned Brownies
Old-fashioned Brownies

There is nothing more plain yet more tasty, in my opinion, than a good old-fashioned brownie.  One of the best things about brownies is that they don’t take any ingredients that most bakers are unlikely to have in their cupboards.  That means they can be whipped up fairly quickly without a lot of advance planning and a trip to the supermarket.  They can also be eaten plain or dolled up with a dob of icing and a piece of maraschino cherry or they can be iced all over.

Brownies have stood the test of time and remain a perennial favorite.  Even today,  you are likely to still find brownies gracing sweet trays on refreshment tables at events….and they are rarely the last pieces left standing on the plates.

I have a few tips to making brownies:

  1. Use a good quality Dutch-processed cocoa powder.  It really does make a difference in the taste and it gives the brownie a nice, rich, dark chocolate color.
  2. Don’t over-beat or over-mix the ingredients.  Just mix them enough so they are incorporated.
  3. Don’t over-bake the brownies as it will make them dry.  Bake them just until a cake tester comes out clean and they show signs of pulling away from the sides of the pan.

I like to line my baking pans with either parchment paper or tin foil and leave enough of a hang-over on the sides that I can easily lift the entire square out of the pan.  This makes it very easy to cut squares.

These are not the gooey, fudge-like brownies. They are more of a cake-type brownie.  They hold up well when you pick them up and they have exceptionally good flavor contingent, of course, on using a good quality chocolate.

Brownies

Ingredients:
½ cup shortening
1 cup white sugar
½ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
½ cup boiling water
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
½ cup walnuts (optional)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Assemble ingredients.

To prepare 8”x8” square pan, line with tin foil and spray with cooking oil. Set aside.

Cream shortening and white sugar together.

Mix cocoa and boiling water together until smooth and lump-free. Add to shortening-sugar mixture and beat until incorporated.

Add lightly beaten eggs and vanilla. Mix together well.

Whisk flour, salt, and baking powder together.

Add dry ingredients to liquid ingredients, mixing only until dry ingredients are incorporated. Stir in walnuts if using.

Transfer batter to prepared baking pan. Spread evenly.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cake tester inserted into centre of brownie comes out clean and sides of brownie shows signs of pulling away from the pan.  Let brownie rest in pan for about ten minutes then, using the edges of the tin foil as handles, gently remove the brownie from the pan and transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.

When completely cool, cut into squares and ice each square with a dob of icing and decorate with a piece of maraschino cherry, if desired.

NOTE: These brownies may also be baked in a 9”x9” pan for about 25 minutes or until cake tester inserted into centre of brownie comes out clean and sides of brownie show signs of pulling away from the pan.  Baking them in a 9″x9″ pan will yield more dainty brownies.

 

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Date Squares

Date Squares (aka Matrimonial Squares)
Date Squares (aka Matrimonial Squares)

You may know these as Matrimonial Squares.  I have always known them as Date Squares.  Regardless what they are called, they are tasty.  Growing up, Date Squares were pretty much a staple in our household.  They are a good, wholesome square made with a tasty date mixture sandwiched between two layers of a rolled oats, flour, and butter mixture.  While these squares can be made with margarine, they are ever so much better when made with butter!  I add a touch of orange rind to my recipe as it gives them a nice tangy taste.

Date Squares
Date Squares

Date Squares

Ingredients:

12 oz dates, chopped

1 cup boiling water

3 tbsp boiling orange juice

3 tbsp brown sugar

1½ tsp vanilla

3/4 tsp almond flavouring

 

1⅔ cups rolled oats (not instant)

1 cup + 2 tbsp flour

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

Scant 1 tbsp grated orange rind

1 cup cold butter

 

Method:

Assemble ingredients.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Line 9” square pan with parchment paper.

In saucepan, combine dates, boiling water and orange juice, and brown sugar.  Let stand 15 minutes.

Over medium-low heat, bring date mixture to a boil and boil gently, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens, about 3-5 minutes.  If mixture thickens too fast, add a couple of tablespoons of water, one tablespoon at a time.

Remove from heat and add vanilla and almond flavouring.  Let cool for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in large bowl, combine rolled oats, flour, brown sugar, soda, salt, and grated orange rind.

Cut, or grate, in the cold butter until mixture becomes coarse crumbs.

Press between a scant ⅔ of the crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Spread the slightly cooled date mixture over crumb base.  Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture over date filling.

Bake until crumbs are golden, about 25 – 30 minutes.

Let cool completely in pan on wire rack.  Remove from pan and cut into squares.

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J.J. Stewart Foods and Soda Company – Fine Island Flavors

 

I am always thrilled when I discover products made on PEI.  I recently paid a visit to the small commercial kitchen of J.J. Stewart Foods and Soda Company in Stratford, PEI, where I met with owners and sole employees of the company, Heather and Thom MacMillan.

Under the brand label of J.J. Stewart, the MacMillans are producers and purveyors of a number of fine food products that includes preserves, flavoured mustards, sauces, pickles, salsa, lemonade, sodas and, of course, their signature artisan root beer.

While I was anxious to find out more about the products they make, I was first curious to learn about J.J. Stewart and his connection to the company.

The MacMillans tell me that the J.J. Stewart branding came about because of the root beer they were making.  They have been producing their artisan root beer since 2009.  When they were searching for a brand name for it, they discovered that Heather’s grandfather, John James Stewart, made and sold root beer in the early 1900s in his general store in Wood Islands, PEI. So, with the lineage and history, it seemed only fitting that their root beer should bear his name.

So, that explains the root beer but what prompted the production of the sauces, preserves, maple mustards, and pickles?  The MacMillans have been in the tourism business for many years.  They decided it was time to downsize and slow down so they sold their hotel business in Wood Islands and moved to Charlottetown.  However, their retirement was short-lived as their lifelong entrepreneurial spirit was still prompting them to do something else.  Both like to cook and when the Embers Company in Kinkora, PEI, became available for sale about three years ago, they bought it along with rights to the recipes for specialty food condiments that were already well-known and received on the market.  They have continued to produce those items as well as develop, test, and market new items, like Peanut Butter and Cranberry Champagne Jam with Ginger, under the J.J. Stewart label.

The dividing line between mass-produced mustards, preserves, and sauces and those produced by the MacMillans lies in the care and attention to detail that can only come with hand-producing small batch quantities, using high quality ingredients, and adhering to a strict individual quality control process.

Large Cooking Pot inside the JJ Stewart Kitchen
Large Cooking Pot inside the J.J. Stewart Kitchen

The difference can also be discerned in the taste and flavour when pure ingredients are used.  Wherever possible, the MacMillans use regionally-produced products.  Thom says he can actually pinpoint the berry field at Penny’s Farms in Belfast, PEI, where the strawberries are picked for the J.J. Stewart Strawberry Preserves!  The berries for their blueberry products come from Wyman’s near Morell and the cranberries and raspberries are locally sourced as well.  Cucumbers for their mustard pickles come from local roadside farm stands which offer the freshest of garden vegetables.  The maple syrup comes from Acadian Maple Products in nearby Nova Scotia.  J.J. Stewart products have become synonymous with quality so much so that the MacMillans tell me that people buy their preserves by the case in the summer and their freshly-made mustard pickles are a fall favourite which customers also buy by the case to have as their winter supply.

Like any food product produced and marketed for sale on PEI, the MacMillans are subject to food regulation and provincial inspection processes to ensure their products are safe for the market.

Bottles of Dill and Chardonnay Maple Mustard
Bottles of Dill and Chardonnay Maple Mustard Waiting to be Labeled

The artisan foods produced by the MacMillans are a perfect blend of modern and traditional fare.  Under the J.J. Stewart label that bears his picture, look for modern products like blueberry salsa and blueberry barbeque sauce and a number of flavoured mustards along with old favorites like mustard pickles and raspberry and strawberry preserves.

With distinctive flavour pairings like Dill and Chardonnay Maple Mustard and Wild Blueberry Sauce with Grand Marnier, for example, the J.J. Stewart line of products brings together the best flavour combinations.  J.J. Stewart products are both delicious and very versatile.  Whether used independently on their own as they are or incorporated as an ingredient into a recipe, these quality products are palette pleasers.

Over the next while, follow my blog postings as I use a number of their products in different recipes.

I am sure J.J. Stewart would have been happy to sell these products in his general store and he would, no doubt, be both thrilled and proud to know that his descendents are carrying on the tradition of producing artisanal root beer and other tasty products.  The J.J. Stewart speciality item products are available in select locations in the Maritimes.  For example, they can be purchased at the PEI Co. Store in Charlottetown’s Confederation Court Mall, at Riverview Country Market in Charlottetown, and at several other locations across the Island as well as at Sugar Moon Farms in Truro, Nova Scotia.

Thom MacMillan at the J.J. Stewart booth at the Charlottetown Farmers Market
Thom MacMillan at the J.J. Stewart booth at the Charlottetown Farmers Market

Each Saturday morning, you can also find Thom at his booth at the Charlottetown Farmers Market where sales are brisk and you’ll find regular customers returning week after week to pick up their favorite J.J. Stewart products.  Farmers markets are great venues for customers and producers to meet and interact.  In fact, Thom says he gets the greatest feedback and new product ideas from his regular Saturday morning customers.  Be sure to drop by the Farmers Market and taste the J.J. Stewart products at the tasting bar set up in their booth.

Tasting Bar at the JJ Stewart booth at the Charlottetown Farmers Market
Tasting Bar at the J.J. Stewart booth at the Charlottetown Farmers Market

In the summer months, their products are also sold in their own J.J. Stewart Mercantile Store in Cavendish, PEI.  Additionally, products are also available online at www.jjstewartfoods.com and they ship across North America.

My Island Bistro Kitchen's Old-fashioned Jam Squares
My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Old-fashioned Jam Squares

For my feature recipe today using a J.J. Stewart product, I have chosen to use their Raspberry Preserves in old-fashioned vintage jam squares.  For this recipe, you need to use a superior quality jam or preserves because that is what gives the square its flavour.  Red jams or preserves work best because, for plate presentation purposes, they are the most showy.  I found the J.J. Stewart Raspberry Preserves to be a nice, thick consistency which is necessary in order for it to stick to the dough and not be runny when the squares are cut.

My Island Bistro Kitchen's Old-fashioned Jam Squares
My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Old-fashioned Jam Squares made with J.J. Stewart’s Raspberry Preserves

My Island Bistro Kitchen’s

Old-fashioned Jam Squares

These are an old-fashioned favourite that I grew up with.  They are easy to make and take common ingredients.  While any kind of jam may be used, they are most showy when red jam (preserves) is chosen.

Ingredients:

⅓ cup butter

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

½ tsp almond flavoring

½ cup white sugar

1 cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp cinnamon

⅛ tsp cardamom

Finely grated rind of 1 lemon

½ cup J.J. Stewart Raspberry Preserves

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°.

Assemble ingredients.

Ingredients for Jam Squares
Ingredients for Jam Squares

Prepare 8”x8” pan by lining with parchment paper.

With electric mixer, beat butter well.  Beat in egg, vanilla, and almond flavouring.  Mixture will appear lumpy.

Sift and mix together sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom.

Grate the rind of one lemon.  Stir in grated lemon rind.

Add dry ingredients to butter-egg mixture and blend thoroughly.

Gather up dough and shape dough into a small oblong shape.

Cut off about ⅓ of the dough and place in freezer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, press remaining ⅔ dough into prepared pan.  Place pan in freezer.

When the reserved dough has been in the freezer for 15 minutes remove both reserved dough and the pan from the freezer.  Evenly spread the ½ cup raspberry preserves over dough in pan.

Using a grater, grate the chilled and reserved 1/3 dough evenly over the jam.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until topping on square is lightly golden in color.

Let square cool completely in pan before removing and cutting into 16 squares.

Jam Squares
Jam Squares

 

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