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What's Cookin: Sweet treats of spring

Spring has sprung, celebrate with cookies.

By Linda Smith / For the Enterprise - Although we all know that we shouldn’t be eating desserts every day, an occasional sweet is a treat. Tasty bars are simple to make and always welcome. Today’s recipes are compliments of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

For the crust:

2 c. graham cracker crumbs

3 T. sugar

8 T. butter, melted

For the cheesecake:

16 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 c. sour cream

3/4 c. sugar

2 large eggs

1 t. vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

2 t. lemon zest

2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 pint fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9x13-inch pan with foil. Lightly grease the foil. In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Toss with a fork until well blended and all the crumbs are moistened. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and maintain the oven temperature while you prepare the filling. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese and sour cream. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Add in the sugar and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Blend in the vanilla extract, salt, lemon zest and lemon juice. Fold in the blueberries gently with a spatula until evenly incorporated. Pour the mixture over the graham cracker crust and gently spread into an even layer with a spatula. Bake for 35 minutes or until just set and the center no longer jiggles when the pan is tapped. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before slicing and serving. Notes: If using frozen blueberries, gently drop them onto the top of the cream cheese filling and swirl them in or you risk turning your bars very blue. Meyer lemons make this dessert extra tasty.

Coconut Bars

For the crust:

3/4 c. all-purpose flour

1/3 c. packed brown sugar (light or dark)

1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 t. salt

6 T. unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces

For the topping:

2 large eggs

3/4 c. granulated sugar

1 t. vanilla extract

1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1 1/2 c. sweetened flaked coconut, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. To make the crust, whisk together flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add butter, and mix with a pastry blender or fork until combined. Dough will be crumbly but should hold together when pinched. Press dough into bottom of prepared pan. Bake 10 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. Place eggs in a large bowl and beat lightly. Add sugar and vanilla, and mix well. Mix in flour until combined. Stir in 1 c. coconut. Pour topping over partially baked crust and spread evenly. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 c. coconut over filling. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until topping has set and coconut is lightly toasted. Cool in pan before cutting into bars. Makes 16 two-inch bars.

Peanut Butter Banana Bars

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1 c. old-fashioned rolled oats

1/2 t. baking powder

1/2 t. salt

1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1/2 c. packed light brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 t. vanilla extract

2 medium ripe bananas, mashed

1/2 c. peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Whisk together flour, oats, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, and mix well. Mix in bananas and peanut butter, mixing just until combined. Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture, mixing just until combined. Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth evenly. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until edges are browned and toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan before cutting into bars. Makes 16 two-inch bars.

White Chocolate Blondies

1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 c. dark brown sugar

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1 T. light corn syrup

2 eggs

1/2 t. vanilla extract

1/4 t. almond extract

2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 t. salt

1/2 t. baking soda

1 c. whole almonds, chopped

1 c. white chocolate morsels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9x13-inch pan and set aside. In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter. Remove from heat. Add brown sugar, granulated sugar and corn syrup. Stir. Let mixture cool until warm, but not too hot to touch. Add eggs and stir. Add vanilla and almond extract. Stir. Place flour, salt and baking soda into a separate bowl. Stir. Pour flour mixture into the butter and sugar mixture; stir until blended. Add almonds and white chocolate chips. Stir. Mixture will be thick. Empty batter into prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Let cool. Cut into bars. Serves 10-12.