What I mean is: there is a woman with two children, one under a year old, in our west coast office that wields our interoffice overnight mail for the very best of causes: baked goods. Got a promotion? New employee? Had a bad day? Leaving for greener pastures? Any and all events, no matter how small or mighty, are greeted with a bundle of butter, sugar, chocolate and‚ well, I haven’t figured out all of the ingredients yet, so I just call it “crack” and you will hopefully know that I mean that it is a very good thing.
She is never too busy, and I love that. It gives me hope that you can pick a dozen things from a kiss before bedtime to baked goods on a whim in an interoffice envelope and declare them non-negotiables and that’s just that. Of course, there is also the fact that these things she calls “blondies” are impossibly tasty and wildly addictive, thus always worth the effort. Yet, despite my persistent efforts to pry the recipe from her, she insists that she just “throws some things together,” making it up as she goes along.
I have no idea how to do this, this throwing caution to the wind thing. But, when I saw Homesick Texan’s post about Hello Dolly bars a couple months ago, I said, that’s it! Well, that’s almost it, but I knew I was getting warm. So, on exactly one of those days that I was ‘too busy’ but had a barbeque to go to, I threw my attempt at an imitation of the office goodies together in a flash, packed them up and brought them over. I was convinced they were too sweet, too sticky and cloying but within two minutes of it being opened, people had ransacked them, leaving nary a butterscotch chip for the grazers.
As for their proximity to the original recipe I was shamelessly trying to riff, they’re close. I don’t think she uses any gooey stuff at all, so I might try that next time. Or, I might try it again exactly like this, because, well, they aren’t half, or even a quarter-bad. And once you try one, you’ll never be too busy to make them again.
One year ago: Ina Garten’s Lemon Cake (This cake is in my top five.)
Hello Dolly Bars
Adapted from Homesick Texan, and memory
These are sticky, gooey and both chewy and crunchy and seriously, intensely sweet, but you won’t mind, especially when you find out they take 30 minutes to make.
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, cut into large pieces
1 1/2 cups graham crackers crumbs (about 8 graham crackers, pulsed in a food processor)
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk (just under half a small can)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt butter in microwave in heatproof bowl until just melted when stirred. Add graham cracker crumbs. Mix and then press evenly into the bottom of 8×8 baking pan.
Layer coconut, pecans, butterscotch and chocolate chips on top of graham cracker base. Pour sweetened condensed milk over whole mixture.
Bake in oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is light brown.
Like all brownie and cookie bars, I find them easier to cut cleanly once they’ve been thoroughly cooled in the fridge, but I also don’t expect you to be able to wait that long.
Because they’re so sweet, I like to cut them into really tiny squares. Those mini-cupcake liners come in handy as well, too, so they don’t all cluster together, not that anyone would mind.