The simplicity and deliciousness of these geometric treats leave members drooling.
Even though she’s only been at The Metropolitan Club of the City of Washington (D.C.) for less than a month, Jennifer Kopp, Executive Pastry Chef, is well aware of the power and impact that a delicious dessert bar can have on members and guests.
Before moving to the District, Kopp was the pastry chef for more than 13 years at Chevy Chase (Md.) Club, where dessert bars were a staple at outdoor events, as well as on buffets.
“Dessert bars are portable, pretty and easy to eat,” says Kopp. “Plus, if you cut them the right size, members or guests can enjoy the intense flavor of a bite-sized sweet, without the guilt of indulging in a full slice of cake.”
Some of Kopp’s favorite bars include:
- Raspberry hazelnut linzer squares—Made with a hazelnut dough, these squares feature homemade raspberry jam in the center and a piped hazelnut cookie lattice on top
- Magic cookie bars—A favorite with kids, these cookie bars feature a graham cracker crust, coconut, chocolate chips and pecans, all held together with a sweetened condensed milk custard.
- Raspberry or cranberry oat bars—To make these, Kopp presses a traditional streusel into the bottom of a pan and par-bakes it. She then spreads on a layer of raspberry jam or cranberry compote, or even caramelized diced apples. After that, she tops it with more streusel, and bakes it until golden brown. Once set, she sprinkles the bars with powdered sugar.
“Dessert bars are a mainstay of any pastry operation—especially as members look for smaller bites and tapas-style sweets,” Kopp says. “Bars fit well within that category.”
Brandi Edinger, Executive Pastry Chef of the Army Navy Country Club (Fairfax, Va.), agrees.
Edinger came to Army Navy a little over a year ago. In that time, she’s taken the operation from having no pastry department to now having a scratch pastry kitchen. (The club still purchases pastry products for banquets.)
“Dessert bars are great for grab-and-go,” says Edinger.
Some of her favorites include:
- Strawberry rhubarb oatmeal bars—This bar, which is also vegan, is made with an oatmeal streusel. (Edinger replaces the butter with coconut oil.) She then layers on a homemade strawberry rhubarb compote, and tops it with more streusel.
- Salted caramel pretzel bars—The salt from the pretzels have a big impact on these bars, which are made by crunching up pretzels with butter to make a crust, then topping that with homemade caramel.
- German chocolate cookie bars—Similar to the classic cake, these bars feature a brownie crust below a sweet coconut filling. They are topped with toasted coconut and a drizzle of chocolate.
“We sell our bars for $2 each in our café,” says Edinger, who cuts them into three-inch squares. “For clubs that don’t have a pastry department, traditional bars, like brownies or blondies, are a simple way to offer members a homemade sweet.”