A celebration of cookies Need something that's easy, tasty and travels well? Look no further. Here are some sure-to-please creations.

December 02, 1998|By From the Dallas Morning News

It's time to gear up for the annual parade of parties, presents and celebrations that won't end till the ball drops in Times Square on New Year's Eve.

Naturally, your first question is: What can be made that's easy, delicious and portable for all the outings sure to crowd your calendar?

The answer: bar cookies.

The best ones layer chewy, crunchy, smooth textures with a sweet, buttery counterpoint. They please young and old. And they travel like platinum frequent fliers, oblivious to wear and tear.

Here are five guaranteed to please: zest-spiked orange and cranberry ginger-oat bars, old-fashioned dream bars, rich raspberry-walnut shortbread bars, a melt-in-your-mouth brownie, and chewy coconut and walnut oatmeal bars. You'll find the recipes on Page 4G.

Jane Freiman's Brownies

Makes 16 brownies

1/4 cup plain bread crumbs

1/4 cup sifted unbleached flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

1 1/4 cups walnuts

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/3 cup sour cream

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter

1/4 cup granulated sugar

Place rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 300 degrees. Prepare an 8-by-8-by-2-inch pan as follows:

Turn the pan upside down. Center a 12-inch length of aluminum foil, shiny side down, over the pan.

Press down on sides and corners to shape foil to fit pan. Remove foil.

Place shaped foil inside the pan and press gently all over to fit it to the pan. Spread room-temperature butter all over the bottom and sides.

Then pour fine, dry bread crumbs (such as purchased unflavored crumbs) into the pan and ` over a large piece of paper ` tilt the pan in all directions to crumb it all over, then turn the pan upside down to shake out excess. Set the prepared pan aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

Chop or break chocolate into small pieces; set aside.

Cut or break walnuts into medium pieces; set aside.

In a small bowl, beat eggs, vanilla and sour cream just to mix; set aside.

In a saucepan with at least 1-quart capacity, melt the butter over moderate heat.

Add sugar and stir for a minute or so, until sugar is partially melted. Then add chocolate and stir until melted.

Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Stir in the egg mixture, then the sifted dry ingredients. If the mixture is not perfectly smooth, beat it briefly with an electric mixer or a hand-held beater. Stir in nuts. Pour into baking pan and smooth the top.

Bake for about 1 hour, until a toothpick gently inserted in the middle comes out almost clean.

Let stand at room temperature until completely cool.

Then cover the pan with a small cookie sheet or board.

Turn upside down. Remove pan and foil. Cover with a piece of wax paper and another small sheet or board. Turn upside down again, leaving the cake right side up.

Chill the cake before cutting it. It will be easy to cut neat squares if the cake is cold enough. Place it in the freezer for about an hour or longer, or in the refrigerator for at least several hours.

With a long, thin, sharp knife, carefully cut the cake into quarters, then cut each quarter into four brownies.

Wrap these individually in clear cellophane, wax paper or aluminum foil, or place them in an airtight box.

Per brownie: 244 calories (69 percent fat); 21 grams fat (9 grams saturated); 1 gram fiber; 46 milligrams cholesterol; 58 milligrams sodium; 17 grams carbohydrates; 30 milligrams calcium

` Source: "Maida Heatter's Brand-New Book of Great Cookies" by Maida Heatter (Random House, 1995)

Orange and Cranberry Ginger-Oat Bars

Makes 24 bars

filling (recipe follows)

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal

Make filling first, so it will have time to cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 13-by-9-inch baking pan.

CRUST AND TOPPING: Sift together flour, ginger, baking powder and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the sifted mixture and oatmeal just until blended.

Reserve about 1 1/2 cups of dough for the topping. Spread the remaining dough in an even layer in the prepared baking pan. Spoon cranberry filling over the dough and spread in an even layer. Using floured fingertips, sprinkle small clumps of the reserved dough over cranberries.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the edges and top are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack before cutting into bars.

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