Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cherry Kuchen Bars

I make a lot of desserts.  I go through pounds of sugar every month.  I love to bake, but I also love to fit into my jeans.  So here are the ways that I stay healthy and still make all these tasty treats.  Maybe my tips will help you keep off the pounds but let you enjoy time in the kitchen!


- For most of my recipes, I will make half batches.  Having fewer cookies around means fewer to eat.

- I make things that Boyfriend likes to eat.  As long as I leave fruit out of my dessert recipes, he'll happily chow down cookies, brownies and blondies.  He's six foot three inches and burns calories like a hummingbird.

- My coworkers often enjoy treats on Monday morning.  I once put an entire bundt cake in the lunchroom and left for an hour.  When I returned, I found an empty cake plate.


- Boyfriends coworkers also get to have sweets.  Things like cakes, cupcakes and pies stay in New Jersey because they are awkward to carry on the commuter train.  The most positive thing about sending them to work with BF is that I don't eat any extras.  The downside?  I've lost a few containers because someone forgets to bring them home.

- The freezer is full of dessert.  They are there if I really want something sweet.  At the end of the month I go through the freezer and clean out all the excess food.

Of course I also hit the gym several times a week and I'm on my feet a lot during the work day.  I generally eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch during the week (oatmeal for breakfast & a salad for lunch) and I make lean protein and veggies for dinner.  Repetition helps me maintain my healthy weight.


Or you could think about it this way.  The more cupcakes you feed your coworkers, the thinner you look in comparison!  It's a win-win.


One Year Ago: Cherry-coconut Bagels
Two Years Ago: S'mores Cupcakes

Cherry Kuchen Bars
Adapted from BH&G Christmas Cookies

Bar cookies are the best.  No shaping, no forming, just pour in the batter and bake!  These bars require a tiny amount more work than a brownie, with its three layers, but they are so worth it.  Not a fan of cherries?  Fill your kuchen with blueberry pie filling, apple pie filling or whatever unique flavor that your grocery store offers.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 21-ounce can cherry pie filling

Powdered sugar frosting

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 4 teaspoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 F.  In a large bowl, beat butter and softening until well combined.  Add sugar, baking powder and salt and beat until fluffy.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in eggs, one at a time.  Add vanilla and mix until combined.  Add flour, 1 cup at a time, and beat until flour is incorporated.  Save 1 1/2 cups dough for later.  Press remaining dough into a 15x1x1-inch baking pan.

Bake for 12 minutes.  Remove from the oven and spread cherry pie filling over the partially baked dough.  Top pie filling with reserved 1 1/2 cups dough.  Bake for another 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Drizzle with powdered sugar frosting and let cool completely.  Cut into 32 bars.
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