Finding a Foundation

Baking is an interesting hobby in that even if you start from scratch for a recipe, you’re not starting from nothing. As passionate as I am about baking, I’m not ambitious enough to throw random amounts of flour, sugar, and baking powder together to see what comes out of the oven. For me it’s helpful to start with an established recipe, learn the process and then experiment from there. One of my favorite things to experiment with is ice cream. I know it’s not really baking, but it uses the same ingredients: eggs, sugar, milk. I looked up a recipe for Sea Salt Ice Cream because a game from my childhood always made me wonder how it tastes. It was alright but rather plain tasting. However, thanks to this recipe, I had an ice cream base I could make, and then mix in whatever flavors I wanted before freezing the mixture. I came up with a caramel coffee rum recipe for my first invented flavor. The rum was to keep the mixture from freezing completely and to maintain a smooth texture, but it contributed a lot to the flavor as well. I found that xanthan gum also keeps the homemade ice cream smooth. But I have freedom to experiment with an infinite possibility of flavors thanks to having a base that will turn out all the time.

This is a little more difficult to do with baked goods since it is necessary to stay closer to the recipe to ensure fully baked treats. I managed to do this with an easy blondie recipe. At first I made a simple change of replacing the chocolate chips with butterscotch chips to make a sweet and savory blondie, but last weekend, I was inspired. Instead of putting in chocolate or butterscotch, I had a craving for a maple flavor blondie. So I followed the basic recipe and put two teaspoons of maple extract in with the liquids in addition to the vanilla extract. I looked and saw there was some coffee left in the pot, so I threw some of that in too. I then went online and found a recipe for an espresso glaze. Who says you cant mix and match desserts and icings? The end result was something so delicious, our entire tray was gone in a day and a half. So while the foundations I use keep me from making burnt flour, baking beyond the recipe gives me a sense of creation and ownership over my baking achievements. I have to give credit to Taste of Home for providing the foundation and Marta Stewart for the glaze recipe, but here is my recipe for Maple Coffee Bars.


1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup butter, melted

2 large eggs lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 2 teaspoons maple extract

1/4 cup coffee

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder


Combine the brown sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, maple, and coffee until blended. I like to start with the eggs, so I can beat them in the large bowl and safe on dishes. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix back into the egg batter.

Spread into a greased 8x11in. baking pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 24 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Spread the glaze while the dessert is still warm.

For the glaze:

Full credit to Martha Stewart for the glaze recipe


1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar in layman’s terms)

3 tablespoons strong coffee

A pinch of salt


Stir sugar, coffee, and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.


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