Monday, March 3, 2014

King Cake Bars

It's time for Mardi Gras! I usually make a king cake for Mardi Gras each year. Somehow Emily always seems to get the hidden baby, which should mean that she has to make the cake the next year. But I'm always the one that makes the cake. Oh well, I really don't mind. This year I stumbled across a recipe for king cake bars. They are much easier to make than traditional king cake (no rising time or anything) and slightly cheesecake-ish. They are also absolutely luscious and delicious. Perfect for your Mardi Gras party - or any time! We'll be snacking on these after our jambalaya dinner.

King Cake Bars
for the bars…
1 cup all-purpose flour (use gluten-free if you like)
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into pieces
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 package (8-ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

for the glaze…
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
Colored sugar in the traditional Mardis Gras colors… purple, green and gold (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8 or 9x9-inch square baking pan with foil, allowing some overhang, and spray foil with non-stick cooking spray.

Using an electric mixer (a stand mixer if you have one), mix the flour and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Drop in the butter cubes and beat on low speed until the mixture is crumbly and looks a bit like wet sand. (If you don't have an electric mixer, you can do this by hand. Mix the flour and sugar, then add the pieces of butter, using two knives or a pastry cutter to blend in the butter until it resembles course crumbs.) Add the milk and beat until it starts to stick together. Your mixture should look like this.


Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared pan and press it into an even layer covering the bottom of the pan.

You can reuse the same bowl and mixer (bonus for limit dirty dishes) for the next step. Beat the cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, egg, vanilla, and cinnamon together until smooth. Spread the mixture evenly over the prepared crust in the pan. 


Bake the bars for 25 minutes or until the cream cheese mixture is set.


Prepare the glaze while the bars are baking. Whisk together the powdered sugar and milk until completely smooth. Spread the glaze in an even layer on top of the bars as soon as you remove them from the oven. Immediately decorate with colored sugar. Cool completely and slice with a sharp knife.



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