The 5th Annual Staff Assembly Bake-Off was a hit on December 3rd, with over 70 staff joining us to compete or taste the baked goods! First place was awarded to Kate Creveling for her Ina's Raspberry Crumble Bars. Second Place and the Table Presentation award were given to Crystal Yang for her Charlie Brown's Millionaire Bars, and third place was awarded to Lilliane Cruz for her Heartland Turtle Bars.

The winners of the 2019 Staff Assembly Bake Off

Recipes from participants willing to share their secrets are published below! Enjoy, and tag us on Instagram if you try these out! 

 

Coco Loco Cookies

Ingredients
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup of sweetened coconut
1 cup of white chocolate morsels

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, cream together butter, white sugar, and brown sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; stir into the creamed mixture. Mix in oats, coconut, and white chocolate. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets. Roll the dough into walnut sized balls, and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Flatten each cookie with a large fork dipped in sugar.
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Earl Gray Cocoa Cookies

Makes ~25-30 small cookies

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 egg
2 packets Earl Gray tea (1 packet per 1/4 cup of butter)
1 cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup cocoa powder

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter until just liquid.
  3. Cut open the tea bags and empty the contents into the butter.
  4. Continue heating the mixture for about 5 minutes on low heat.
  5. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for another 5 minutes or until the butter is discernibly tinted by the tea leaves.
  6. Let the butter come to around room temperature.
  7. Cream together tea butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and mix until well-combined.
  8. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, and vanilla.
  9. Scoop cookie dough and roll into small balls and place 1-2 inches apart on a baking sheet.
  10. Bake for 13 to 16 minutes or until the consistency is right.

 

Heartland Turtle Bars

Ingredients
For the bar topping and base: 
1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 and 3/4 cups rolled oats
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped into large pieces
1 and 1/2 cups chocolate chips

For the caramel filling:
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
10 tablespoons (1 and 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Directions
For the bar topping and base: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9x13 inch glass or light metal baking pan
  3. Line the pan with parchment paper so that the paper overhangs the pan on 2 sides
  4. Butter the parchment
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda
  6. Use your hands to rub in the brown sugar
  7. Add the oats and stir until the ingredients are evenly combined
  8. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, then pour in the melted butter and stir until the entire mixture is wet and combined
  9. Spread two-thirds of the mixture across the bottom of the prepared pan and bake for about 10 minutes

For the caramel filling:

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the sugar and butter together
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly (the caramel will begin to darken at this point)
  3. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the cream, and pour the caramel directly over the chocolate pecan layer
  4. Use an offset spatula to evenly distribute the caramel
  5. Sprinkle the remaining oatmeal mixture onto the caramel and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the top is golden brown
  6. Let the bars cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, then place the pan in the refrigerator and chill for 1 hour to firm up
  7. Cut and serve
  8. These bars can be stored, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator or at room temperature for up to 3 days

Ina's Raspberry Crumble Bars

Ingredients
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
10 to 12 ounces good raspberry jam, such as Hero
2/3 cup good granola without dried fruit
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed just until combined. With the mixer on low, add the vanilla.
  3. Sift the flour and salt together and, with the mixer on low, slowly add to the butter mixture, mixing until it almost comes together in a ball. Turn the dough out on a board. Lightly pat two-thirds of the dough evenly on the bottom of a 9-inch square baking pan and about ¼ inch up the sides. Spread with the jam, leaving a ¼-inch border. Mix the granola into the remaining dough with your hands. Break the dough into small bits and distribute it on top of the jam, covering most of the surface. Sprinkle the almonds on top. Bake the bars for 45 minutes, until lightly browned.
  4. Cool completely and cut into 9 or 12 bars. Sprinkle lightly with confectioners’ sugar.

 

Millionaire Bars

Ingredients
Butter Cookie Base:
1/2 cup white sugar (100 grams)
2 Tbsp packed light brown sugar (25 grams)
1/4 tsp table salt (2 grams)
2 1/4 cups flour (293 grams)
1 cup unsalted butter, melted (226 grams)

Caramel Filling:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks (113 grams)
1/2 cup light brown sugar (100 grams)
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk (396 grams)
1 tsp vanilla extract (4 grams)

Chocolate Ganache Topping:
1 cup heavy cream (230 grams)
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate (263 grams)
1/2 cup white chocolate (88 grams)
1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter (22 grams)

Directions
Shortbread Butter Cookie Base:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with parchment paper, and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Stir together the melted butter, sugar, brown sugar, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Stir in the flour in two additions.
  4. Gently mix ingredients until the dough just starts to hold together. Be careful not to over mix, and stir until the ingredients are just combined.
  5. Spread the dough evenly into the prepared pan, and prick thoroughly with a fork.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes (until the edges are golden brown). Set aside to cool.

Caramel Filling:

  1. While the shortbread base bakes, make the millionaire bar filling.
  2. Heat the butter, brown sugar and sweetened condensed milk over medium heat in a heavy saucepan.  
  3. Stir frequently, and allow the mixture come to a gentle boil.
  4. Once this happens, turn the heat down to allow the caramel to simmer.
  5. Continue to stir frequently until the mixture thickens and becomes a medium caramel color (about 10 minutes).  
  6. Remove from the heat, and stir in the vanilla extract.
  7. Pour the filling over the cooled cookie base, and spread evenly.
  8. Let this cool completely before adding the chocolate topping (or place in the freezer for 20 minutes to accelerate the cooling process).

Chocolate Ganache Topping:

  1. As the caramel filling cools, make the chocolate ganache topping topping.
  2. Place the milk chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl, and the white chocolate chips in a separate heatproof bowl.

 

Ooey Gooey Butter Cake

Ingredients
The Cake:
One 18.25 ounce package yellow cake mix
1 egg
16 tablespoons melted butter, divided

The Filling:
One 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
One 16 ounce box powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Combine the cake mix, egg, and 8 tablespoons of butter and mix well with electric mixer. Press the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 9x13" baking pan
  3. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the eggs, 8 tablespoons of butter, and vanilla, and beat together.
  4. Add the powdered sugar and mix well. Spread over the cake batter and bake for 40-50 minutes. Make sure not to over bake, as the center should be a little gooey.

 

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

Ingredients
The Crust:
1 (15.25-ounce) box yellow cake mix
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg

The Filling:
1⁄4 cup crust mixture reserved from above
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 (16-ounce) box confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 350°F.

  2. Make the crust: Mix together the cake mix, butter, and egg in a bowl. Measure out 1⁄4 cup and set aside for the filling. Press the rest into the bottom of a 9 × 13-inch baking dish; the crust should be 1⁄2 inch thick.

  3. Make the filling: Beat together the reserved 1⁄4 cup crust mixture with the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth. Mix in the confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon. Add the egg and vanilla, then finish by mixing in the pumpkin until smooth. Pour on top of the crust.

  4. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the filling begins to crack and is set but jiggles slightly when the pan is nudged (a knife inserted into it will not come out clean). Cool completely in the pan.

  5. Cut the cake into 2-inch squares or 3 × 11⁄2-inch bars and dust with an even snowfall of confectioners’ sugar. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month.

 

Sallted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread

Ingredients
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2¼ sticks) cold salted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
6 ounces semisweet or bittersweet dark chocolate, chopped (but not too fine, you want chunks, not thin shards of chocolate)
1 large egg, beaten to blend
Demerara sugar (for rolling)
Flaky sea salt

Directions

  1. Using an electric mixer and a medium bowl or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla on medium-high speed until super light and fluffy, 3–5 minutes.
  2. Using a spatula, scrape down sides of bowl. With mixer on low speed, slowly add flour, followed by chocolate chunks, and beat just to blend.

  3. Divide dough in half, then place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. Fold plastic over to cover dough and protect your hands from getting all sticky. Using your hands (just like you’re playing with clay), form dough into a log shape; rolling it on the counter will help you smooth it out, but don’t worry about getting it totally perfect. Each half should form logs that are 2–2¼" in diameter. Chill until firm, about 2 hours.

  4. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a rimmed baking sheet (two, if you’ve got 'em) with parchment paper. Brush outside of logs with egg wash. Roll logs in demerara sugar (this is for those really delicious crispy edges).

  5. Slice each log into ½"-thick rounds. Arrange on prepared baking sheet about 1" apart (they won’t spread much). Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake cookies until edges are just beginning to brown, 12–15 minutes. Let cool slightly before eating them all.

  6. Do Ahead: Cookie dough can be made 1 week ahead. Tightly wrap in plastic and chill, or freeze up to 1 month. Cookies can be baked 5 days ahead. Store in plastic wrap or an airtight container.

 

Super-Cinnamon Snickerdoodles

Ingredients
Cookie Dough:
5 ½ cups All-Purpose Flour
3 cups Sugar (granulated)
4 tsp Cream of Tartar
2 tsp Baking Soda
½ tsp Salt (granulated)
1-2 Tbsp Ground Cinnamon (to taste)
4 eggs
1 cup Unsalted Butter (soft)
1 cup Shortening (vegetable)
1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract (to taste)

Coating:
¼ cup Ground Cinnamon
½ cup Granulated Sugar
(Keep to roughly a 1:2 ratio Ground Cinnamon to Granulated Sugar, but you can adjust to taste.)

Yield: About 100 cookies

Directions
Day One:

  1. Mix all dry ingredients together. Set aside.
    • Pro Tip: Use the ground cinnamon to tell when this is well blended.
  2. Blend together the softened butter and shortening.
  3. Into the butter/shortening mix add the eggs and vanilla extract.
  4. Sift the dry ingredient mix into the wet, mixing well about every two cups or so.
  5. Once all of the dry ingredient mix has been added make sure it is fully blended into the dough. The dough should stick together, but not stick much to hands or the bowl.
  6. Seal the dough into an airtight container and into the refrigerator.
  7. Mix the cinnamon-sugar coating, seal and set aside for the baking stage.

Day Two:

  1. Once the dough has refrigerated for 24-72 hours it is ready.
  2. Roll the dough into roughly 1” diameter spheres and coat them completely in the cinnamon-sugar coating.
    • Pro Tip: It is best to get quite a few of these ready before you start the oven. If you refrigerate these as well (15-30 minutes) before putting them in the oven this will result in soft, chewy cookies.
  3. Leaving at least a 2” diameter between cookies, bake on a cookie sheet at 400°F for 8 minutes. (Even for slower ovens it should not go over 9 minutes.)
    • The coating should lightly caramelize along the bottom.
  4. Allow cooling off of the cookie sheet if possible.
  5. Once cookies are cool, seal them in an airtight container to maintain softness.
  6. Serve with coffee, cinnamon tea, or vanilla ice cream.

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