Nom Nom Nom. The Kensington Publishing Bake Off!

Join us on Tuesday September 27th for a Facebook Live broadcast as our esteemed judges CEO Steve Zacharius and General Manager Adam Zacharius taste our creations.

The live video will air between 12:00 and 1:30 PM EST. Stay tuned to our social pages for the official time. facebook | twitter | instagram

Bakers will be creating the following recipes in tomorrow’s Bake Off!

Ooey Gooey Chewy Cookie Bars- Cherry Cheesecake Murder
Chocolate Chip Crunch Cookies- Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder
Fudge Cupcakes – Fudge Cupcake Murder
Mini Cherry Cheesecakes – Cherry Cheesecake Murder
Banana Cream Pie- Banana Cream Pie Murder


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F., rack in the middle position

For the Crust:
1⁄2 cup white (granulated) sugar
3⁄4 cup flour (not sifted)
1⁄3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa*** (I used Hershey’s)
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 stick melted butter (1⁄4 cup–1⁄8 pound)

For the Filling:
2 cups milk chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli’s)
3 cups miniature marshmallows (pack them down in the cup)
11⁄2 cups flaked coconut (pack it down when you measure it)
1 cup chopped nuts (I use either pecans, or walnuts)
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)

*** You can find unsweetened baking cocoa in the baking aisle of your grocery store. Make sure you get an American brand—some of the others are Dutch process and they won’t work in this recipe.

Also be careful not to get cocoa mix, the kind you’d use to make hot chocolate or chocolate milk.

Mix the sugar, flour, cocoa, and salt together in a medium-sized bowl. Drizzle the melted butter over the top of the bowl and mix it in with a fork. When the butter is incorporated, the mixture should resemble small beads. (You can also do this in the bowl of a food processor, using chilled butter and the steel blade.)

Spray a 9-inch by 13-inch cake pan with Pam (or other non-stick cooking spray) and dump the crust mixture in the bottom. Gently shake the pan to distribute evenly and then press it down a bit with a metal spatula.

Sprinkle the chips evenly over the crust layer. Sprinkle the marshmallows over that. Sprinkle the
flaked coconut on next and then sprinkle on the chopped nuts. Press it down again with the metal spatula. Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the top.

Bake the bars at 350 degrees F. for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the bars are nicely browned on top. Let the bars cool on a rack. When they’re cool, cut them in brownie-sized pieces.


A Note From Edna Ferguson, the Queen of “Cheat” Recipes: If you want a shortcut for the crust, just buy a chocolate cake mix and use half of it, dry, mixed with the melted stick of butter. (Keep the rest of the cake mix in an airtight bag and you can use it the next time you bake them.) Kids really love these cookie bars, especially the name.



Preheat oven to 375° F, rack in the middle position.
1 cup butter (2 sticks, melted)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 beaten eggs (you can beat them up with a fork)
21⁄2 cups flour (not sifted)
2 cups crushed corn flakes (just crush them with you hands)
1 to 2 cup chocolate chips

Melt butter, add the sugars and stir. Add soda, salt, vanilla, and beaten eggs. Mix well. Then add flour and stir it in. Add crushed corn flakes and chocolate chips and mix it all thoroughly.

Form dough into walnut-sized balls with your fingers and place on a greased cookie sheet, 12 to a standard sheet. Press them down slightly with a floured or greased spatula.

Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then remove to a wire rack until they’re completely cool. (The rack is important—it makes them crisp.)

Yield: 6 to 8 dozen, depending on cookie size.

(These cookies have been Andrea’s favorites since high school.)

Hannah’s Note: If these cookies spread out too much in the oven, reduce temp. to 350° F. and do not flatten before baking.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F., rack in the middle position

4 squares unsweetened baking chocolate (1 ounce each)
1⁄4 cup white sugar
1⁄2 cup raspberry syrup (for pancakes—I used Knott’s red raspberry)
1 2⁄3 cups flour
1 1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 cup butter, room temperature (one stick, 1⁄4 pound)
1 1⁄2 cups white sugar (not a misprint—you’ll use 1 3⁄4 cups sugar in all)
3 eggs
1⁄3 cup milk

Line a 12-cup muffin pan with double cupcake papers. Since this recipe makes 18 cupcakes, you can use an additional 6-cup muffin pan lined with double papers, or you can butter and flour an 8-inch square cake
pan or the equivalent.

Microwave the chocolate, raspberry syrup and 1⁄4 cup sugar in a microwave-safe bowl on high for 1 minute.
Stir. Microwave again for another minute. At this point, the chocolate will be almost melted, but it will maintain its shape. Stir the mixture until smooth and let cool to lukewarm. (You can also do this in a double boiler on the stove.)

Measure flour, mix in baking powder and salt, and set aside. In an electric mixer (or with a VERY strong arm), beat the butter and 1 1⁄2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. (About 3 minutes with a mixer—an additional 2 minutes if you’re doing it by hand.) Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition to make sure they’re thoroughly incorporated. Add approximately a third of the flour mixture and a third of the milk. (You don’t have to be exact—adding the flour and milk in increments makes the batter smoother.) When that’s all mixed in, add another third of the flour and another third of the milk. When that’s incorporated, add the remainder of the flour and the remainder of the milk. Mix thoroughly.

Test your chocolate mixture to make sure it’s cool enough to add. (You don’t want to cook the eggs!) If it’s fairly warm to the touch but not so hot you have to pull your hand away, you can add it at this point. Stir thoroughly and you’re done.

Let the batter rest for five minutes. Then stir it again by hand and fill each cupcake paper three-quarters full. If you decided to use the 8-inch cake pan instead of the 6-cup muffin tin, fill it with the remaining batter. Bake the cupcakes in a 350 degree F. oven for 20 to 25 minutes. The 8-inch cake should bake an additional 5 minutes.

Fudge Frosting
18 cupcakes, or 12 cupcakes and 1 small cake, cooled to room temperature and ready to frost.

2 cups chocolate chips (a 12-ounce package)
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

If you use a double boiler for this frosting, it’s foolproof.
You can also make it in a heavy saucepan over low to medium heat on the stovetop, but you’ll have to stir it constantly with a spatula to keep it from scorching.

Fill the bottom part of the double boiler with water. Make sure it doesn’t touch the underside of the top.

Put the chocolate chips in the top of the double boiler, set it over the bottom, and place the double boiler on the stovetop at medium heat. Stir occasionally until the chocolate chips are melted.

Stir in the can of sweetened condensed milk and cook approximately two minutes, stirring constantly, until the frosting is shiny and of spreading consistency. Spread on cupcakes, making sure to fill in the “frosting pocket.”

Give the frosting pan to your favorite person to scrape.

These cupcakes are even better if you cool them, cover them, and let them sit for several hours before frosting them.




Preheat oven to 350 degrees F., rack in the center position

2 eight-ounce packages softened cream cheese (room temperature)***
3⁄4 cup white (granulated) sugar
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
24 vanilla wafer cookies
24 cupcake liners (48 if you’re like me and you like to use double papers)
1 can cherry pie filling, chilled (21 ounces net

*** Use brick cream cheese, the kind that comes in a rectangular package. Don’t use whipped cream cheese unless you want to experiment—whipped cream cheese, or low-fat, or Neufchatel might work, but I don’t know that for sure.

Line two muffin pans (the kind of pan that makes 12 muffins each) with paper cupcake liners. Put one vanilla wafer cookie in the bottom of each cupcake paper, flat side down.

Chill the unopened can of cherry pie filling in the refrigerator while you make the mini cheesecakes.

You can do all of this by hand, but it’s easier with an electric mixer on slow to medium speed:

Mix the softened cream cheese with the white sugar until it’s thoroughly blended. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Then mix in the lemon juice and vanilla, and beat until light and fluffy.

Spoon the cheesecake batter into the muffin tins, dividing it as equally as you can. When you’re through, each
cupcake paper should be between half and two-thirds full.

(They’re going to look skimpy, but they’ll be fine once they’re baked and you put on the cherry topping.)

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the top has set and has a satin finish. (The center may sink a bit, but that’s okay—the topping will cover that.)

Cool the mini cheesecakes in the pans on wire racks. When the cheesecakes are cool, open the can of cherry pie filling and place three cherries on top of every mini cheesecake. Divide the cherry juice equally among the 24 mini cheesecakes.

Refrigerate in the muffin tins for at least 4 hours before serving. (Overnight is even better.) Then take them out of the tins, carefully remove the cupcake papers, and place them on a silver platter for an elegant dessert at a finger food party.

Hannah’s Note: I made these with Comstock Dark Cherry Pie Filling and came up 4 cherries short. Lisa’s can of regular cherry pie filling had 72 cherries, 3 for each of her Mini Cherry Cheesecakes.

Hannah’s 2nd Note: If you prefer, you can use fresh fruits glazed with melted jelly instead of the canned cherry pie filling. You can also use any other pie filling you like.



Banana Cream Pie

Hannah’s Note: Make this pie the day before your plan to serve it and refrigerate it overnight. It will be firmer and easier to slice.

Salted Pretzel Crust:
Preheat over to 350 degrees F., rack in the middle position.

2 cups finely crushed salted stick pretzels (measure AFTER crushing)
½ cup (4 ounces, 1 stick, ¼ pound) salted butter, melted
2 tablespoons (1/8 cup) firmly packed brown sugar

Prepare a 9-inch Springform pan by spraying the inside with Pam or another nonstick baking spray.

Combine the crushed pretzels with the melted butter and the brown sugar.

Place the crust mixture in the bottom of the Springform pan. Press down as evenly as you can on the bottom and extend it two inches up the sides.

Bake the crust at 350 degrees F. for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly brown. (Mine took 11 minutes)

Let the crust cool thoroughly in the pan. You won’t remove it from the pan until your pie is completed.

Banana Cream, Pie Filling:

2 perfectly ripe bananas (yellow with no spots on the peel)
2 packages (4-serving each) DRY instant vanilla pudding mix
2 and ¼ cups of cold whole milk
¼ cup rum (or ¼ cup more milk if you’d rather)
1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed (I used Cool Whip)

Peel the bananas and slice into ¼ inch rounds. Put them on the bottom of the crust.

Mix the dry instant vanilla pudding with the milk and the rum and whisk for 2 minutes.

Fold in the cup of thawed whipped topping until it is well combined.

Spoon the pudding into the crust and smooth it out with a rubber spatula.

Cover your partially-completed pie loosely with a sheet of foil or wax paper. Place the pan inside the refrigerator for 4 hours to “set up.”

Whipped Caramel Topping:

1 cup whipped topping, thawed (I used Cool Whip)
1/3 cup caramel ice cream topping (I used Smuckers)

Place the whipped topping in a bowl.

With a rubber spatula, fold in the caramel until is it well combined.

Use the spatula to “frost” the top of your Banana Cream Pie with the Caramel Whipped Topping.

Once your whipped topping is in place, touch the side of your rubber spatula to the top of the pie and pull it up quickly to make decorative points.

Cover loosely with the foil again and refrigerate your pie for at least 2 more hours. (Overnight is even better! That’s what I do)

To serve, unclamp the ring around the side of the pan and lift it from the bottom. Leave your pie on the bottom of the pan. Display your pie on a pretty plate if you plan to slice it at the table. Otherwise, prepare dessert plates in the kitchen by cutting slices as you would for any pie.

You can garnish the top of the pie by drizzling it with extra caramel topping.

Yield: 8 to 10 slices. If there are any leftovers, store them in the refrigerator.