Mango Key Lime Pie Bars

Mango Key Lime Pie Bar

Summer is finally in full swing here in Montana and these long, hot days have me craving tart, refreshing desserts. And these Mango Key Lime Pie Bars are my essential summer dessert. Like if I don’t make them at least three times a summer, something is seriously wrong.

There are a few things that make these my go-to option: 1. I grew up in Miami and am therefore required to love all things Key Lime 2. They take barely any time to make and 3. They freeze beautifully and are absolute perfection eaten straight out of the freezer on a hot, sunny day…..which is what I tend to do during the hottest parts of the year. Because let me tell you, there is NOTHING better than hanging out on the patio, eating a refreshingly cold Mango Key Lime Pie Bar and letting the heat from the sunshine beat down on you. Throw in a hazy IPA to drink and you’ve pretty much found my happy place.

These bars are an adaption of my Pop’s Key Lime Pie recipe that I’ve posted on here before (go back, way back on the blog to find that recipe….and don’t mind the old, not so great pics). While pie is nice and all, I tend to prefer these in bar shape. They’re easier to eat (aka no one judges you when you eat it with your hands and no plate) and they feel less stuffy…..which is a plus for summer desserts. If you can’t find mangoes or if you don’t like them (and if you don’t, WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?!), you can easily make these straight up Key Lime Pie Bars. Just omit the mango puree and up the key lime juice to 2/3 cup.

So what are you waiting for? Make a batch of these, stash them in your freezer, break one out on the next 90° day and let me know how much you love them!

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Salted Tahini Caramel Brownies

Tahini Caramel Brownies

Sometimes when you’re developing a recipe, you have a very specific image in your head of how you want the finished product to look. This was the case five years ago when I came up with my original Salted Caramel Brownie recipe. I had the most insanely, frustratingly specific idea of how I wanted them to look. I wanted two fudgy, dark chocolate brownie layers with a layer of thick salted caramel in the middle. It couldn’t be pockets of caramel or a faint ribbon of caramel – it had to be a distinct, gorgeous, continuous copper layer of caramel.

No joke, I drove myself crazy trying to accomplish this. Every time I pulled the brownies out of the oven, I’d get my hopes up thinking maybe this adjustment fixed it. But, more often than not, the caramel layer would bake into the brownies and all I’d be left with is the faintest caramel remnant. I was just about to give up, when a seemingly crazy idea popped into my head. What if I created a frozen layer of salted caramel??? This would give the brownies enough time to bake and because the caramel was frozen it wouldn’t immediately dissolve into the brownie layers.

It was my only idea left, so I gave it a shot. I made my salted caramel, carefully poured it onto a small sheet pan, spread it into a thin, even rectangle…….and then shoved it in the freezer and hoped for the best. When it came time to make the brownies, I poured half the brownie batter in the pan then placed the frozen caramel layer on top and then carefully spread the remaining brownie batter on top of  that.  The baked brownies didn’t look that much different from the outside, so I didn’t know if my idea had worked. But when I cut into them, there it was…….a gorgeous layer of caramel smack dab between the two brownie layers.  It was perfect.

Salted Caramel Brownie

The OG Salted Caramel Brownies

These Salted Tahini Caramel Brownies are a fresh update on my original recipe. It’s the same brownie base, but with Salted Tahini Caramel in the middle and some halvah folded in for good measure. I’m on a massive tahini kick lately (not even kidding……I’ve got another tahini recipe coming your way soon) and this seemed like a natural way to give one of my old recipes a more modern taste. These brownies are crazy rich and decadent, so a little goes a long way. And they definitely require a little more forethought than your average brownie since you have to make the caramel layer and freeze it ahead of time. Buuuut they are totally worth it!

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Meyer Lemon Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut Lemon Cream Pie

Winter here this year was ROUGH. I’ve been referring to it as the never ending, relentless winter, because that’s how it felt to me. So many storms, so much snow, so much ice…….just so much winter. Those who follow me on Instagram know I’ve been training for a marathon and I’m not kidding when I say – I picked the wrong year to train. Even though I love running and racing, I’ve always been a bit of a fair weather runner…….especially when it comes to winter conditions. Typically, I take December through February off and try to get in more cross country skiing (aka my ONLY winter sport). But I’ve always wanted to run the Colorado Marathon which is in May every year……which meant I HAD to train this winter.

Needless to say, it was an adjustment. Like a BIG adjustment – especially mentally. This winter I had to suck it up and run no matter what the conditions were. And they weren’t the best. We’re talking roads that were sheets of ice and temps so cold that my quads and butt went numb. I bundled up like crazy for each run (I’m the chick who’s always cold and rocks a down coat in the office every day) and bought running shoes with cleats on them, so my klutzy self wouldn’t slip and die on the ice. I got mad at the weather and would curse out loud at the snow and wind. Which I’m sure made me look a little crazy…….nothing like running through a neighborhood muttering, “Eff you wind!” It was an experience to say the least. But at the end of the day, it made me a better runner and forced me to develop some extra grit that I know will help me in my race. Plus I feel like at total bad ass running in crazy weather.

Now you’re probably wondering why I’m talking about running instead of baking……but I have a point, I swear. One of the things I love most about baking is how adaptable certain recipes are. You can make a few adjustments and come out with a whole new dessert. It’s the perfect way to change up recipes for different seasons. The new dessert will have the same basic core of the original, but with a different vibe or feel. Which is kind of like us when we have to make adjustments in our life and adapt to changing conditions (uggghhh…….I sound like a cheesy motivational speaker – please forget I said that….but you have to admit I totally connected everything to an overall theme here).

This Meyer Lemon Coconut Cream Pie is essentially a riff on my Key Lime Pie. While the key lime version is perfect for summer, this coconut lemon one feels like the quintessential spring dessert to me. It has a coconut graham cracker crust, a lightly tart lemon filling and is topped with the dreamiest, fluffiest coconut whipped cream. And, like my Key Lime Pie, it’s relatively quick and easy to put together. So now that the never ending, relentless winter is (hopefully) over and spring is here, it’s time to get in the kitchen and whip up something bright and sunny like this pie!

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Cowboy Cookies with Bourbon and Smoked Sea Salt

Cowboy Cookies

Sharing is caring or at least that’s what they say. In most cases, I’m all about sharing – especially when it comes to food I’ve made. However, there are a couple areas in my life where sharing is a little harder. The first is french fries (there’s never enough!)…..and the second is recipes. Let’s be honest here, every baker or chef has at least one recipe they don’t want to share. That one recipe they’ll protect fiercely and keep to themselves. The recipe they’re most proud of and the thought of sharing it physically pains them. This one is mine……..

Ohhhhhh Cowboy Cookies. This cookie is my baby…..no joke. I developed it four years ago and it took me FOREVER. I’m talking dozens of different iterations and me eating a LOT of cookies to get them exactly how I wanted. It quickly became one of my best-selling items at the farmer’s market and has inspired a very loyal following of Cowboy Cookie crazed fans.

It started with a simple enough idea. I found an incredible hickory smoked sea salt that smelled just like a campfire and I wanted to create a cookie to use it in. The smoky fire smell of the salt conjured up images of cowboys sitting around a campfire at night telling stories and staring up at the stars (I have no idea if cowboys actually do this – but in my head they totally do). I wanted a tough cookie to go with this idea. A cookie that a bad ass cowboy/cowgirl could proudly eat. Basically, I wanted a cookie that would kick every other cookie’s ass.

I tried to think of ingredients that would compliment the smokiness of the salt. Brown butter was an obvious choice. As was bourbon…..because who doesn’t love a little booze in their baked goods?? Chocolate came into the mix, but not as just one chocolate BUT three different types (milk, dark, and semi-sweet). And since I love a little extra crunch and texture in my cookies – I figured why not throw some toasted almonds in there. I had all the components, but for some reason it just wasn’t doing it for me. The cookies were missing something and I couldn’t figure out what it was.

One day, I was drinking espresso and intensely staring down at the latest batch of cookies wondering, “Why won’t you work?!” and then it hit me…..I had an idea. To see if my hunch was right, I took a sip of my espresso and then a bite of a cookie. It was perfect. All the cookies needed was a little bit of instant espresso powder. They had been missing that backbone and one ingredient that melds everything together, which is exactly what espresso powder does. It’s kind of a magical ingredient. When added to recipes, you don’t necessarily taste the espresso. It just enhances all the other flavors and ties them together. With my missing piece in place, the cookies were finally everything I had hoped for.

Okay…..so now you know how long it took me to develop the recipe……and the slight internal struggle I had when deciding whether or not to share it. I seriously hope you love the cookies as much as I do!

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Take 5 Scotcheroos

peanut-butter-caramel-scotcheroo

Because it’s Halloween weekend…..and because I’m obsessed with Take 5 candy bars, I decided to share the recipe for these awesome Take 5 inspired Scotcheroos! These bars have a Peanut Butter Rice Krispie / Pretzel base, a Salted Peanut Caramel middle, and are topped with a Dark Milk Chocolate Glaze. They’re salty-sweet perfection and everything I dreamed of when developing the recipe. Hope you guys love them as much as I do!

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