Bars Archive

Friday, August 3, 2012

pink lemonade bars

pink lemonade bars

Last year, not seconds after putting the final touches on what I certain was The Lemon Bar To End All Lemon Bars, a recipe intended for that little cookbook I wrote, I couldn’t quite change the station and became immediately absorbed in making something I wanted to call a pink lemonade bar. They’d be as awesome as a summer carnival, the kind that rolls into town with sketchy rides that your parents forbid you to go on but you do so anyway (or so a friend once told me!), or maybe a play date at the friends house whose mom served prettier, thus cooler, lemonade than what you had at home. I had great plans for these bars, I just had one tiny problem: I had no idea what made pink lemonade pink.

plopping in the dough
pressing in the shortbread

I don’t mean that I am naive; I was aware that in 99 percent of the iterations of pink lemonade out there, the pink was supplied by food dye. I was also bummed to learn that some other people had thought to make pink lemonade bars first — being the type who still clings to the silly notion that there are new, uncharted waters to bake our ways through — but the vast majority of the recipes called for red food dye too. Surely, before pink lemonade was made with red food dye, it was made with a fruit of sort, like strawberry or raspberry or cherries, right? Since last summer, this article has been written but even it doesn’t come to a singular conclusion as to what should make pink lemonade pink. The only thing that is apparent among its discussions of clothing dye and red hot candies is that if you can make it with something natural and/or tasty, you’re probably improving upon its lineage.

pureeing raspberries for a natural pink

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, September 2, 2010

peach shortbread

peach shortbread

Is there an unsaid rule that bar cookies have to be heavy and gooey? Two weeks ago, we picked up a cup of coffee on our way to the park so that the little monkey could continue his path of destruction outside our apartment, and I fell for something in the bakery case called peach shortbread, cut into bars. But instead of being thick and intense, it was delicate, light and barely sweet — a thin layer of shortbread, even thinner slices of peach and the faintest sprinkling of streusel on top. I knew I had to share it.

shortbread
peaches, tiled

And it wasn’t until I had jotted down “peach streusel bar” on my to-do list that I remembered a recipe for brown butter peach bars from that I found in a preview of The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook in The New York Times nearly three years ago, and have pined for since. (This recipe didn’t make it into the cookbook, but a rhubarb version — that looked almost as time-consuming and delicious — did.) Every summer, I swear, I’m going to summon the energy to make them. First, you make a peach jam from fresh peaches. It involves a candy thermometer. It takes an hour to cook. Then you brown butter and freeze it until solid. Then you make a crumb base with this butter, bake it for 20 minutes and let it cool. Then you make a custard filling with fresh vanilla bean, and brown more butter. This filling is spread over the baked crust, the peach jam is dolloped over that, and you bake it for 30 minutes more. I have no doubt that nirvana ensues, in fact, a reader recently told me that she tried them and they were absolutely worth it. But I got tired just typing this paragraph and I realized it was time for me to admit that it might not be worth it to me, especially since so much of time right now is spent doing things like this.

peach shortbread, haphazard

Continued after the jump »

Monday, November 2, 2009

salted brown butter crispy treats

salted brown butter krispy treats

As it turns out, the last days of October don’t awaken in me a desire to fly around on my broom, don a “sexy” nurse/maid/fireman outfit or even gorge myself on candy. Nope, according to a quick glance at my archives, apparently when Halloween approaches all I can think about is reinterpreting Rice Krispie Treats.

mise, hee hee

Unfortunately, I don’t seem to choose my recipes very well. Last year’s Peanut Butter Crispy Bars were delicious, but had structural issues that irked me. And two years ago, I fell prey to a Caramelized Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treat that was all sorts of a styrofoam-textured disaster. Nevertheless, I haven’t been able to get them out of my head, so this year I decided I would conquer them once and for all. It helped that I knew exactly what went wrong the original dud of a clearly-untested recipe (hm, do I sound bitter?): the cereal to marshmallow ratio was unfeasibly high, more than double that of the original recipe and — small detail — marshmallows don’t caramelize very well, and should you succeed in getting them to, they don’t cool back down to anything gooey or soft. What a travesty.

gooey krispy treats
Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

granola bars

granola bars

Some of you have asked me to share what kind of cooking I’ve been doing to stash in the freezer and hopefully tide us over for the coming storm (T-minus 22 days, not that anyone is counting). I know it’s common, in a fit of impatient nesting, for soon-to-be mamas to tuck away pans of enchiladas and lasagnas and meatballs and other hearty, freezable fare so that they don’t starve in those early weeks when the baby demands constant surveillance (okay, cooing), but despite understanding the logic behind this, I should confess: I’m prepping nothing.

dried apricots, cranberries and raisins

At least one of the reasons I’ve decided to ignore sound advice to cook and stash while I can is that food could not be easier to come by around here. Hummus platter with fava bean stews, pirogis and borscht and/or Tom Collichio-crafted sandwiches arrive so quickly after you call, we’ve become convinced that they’re actually preparing in our building’s basement and you don’t even want to know how many Thai and sushi restaurants there are per block around here (at least two). Plus, both of our families live within an hour of the city and (Hi Mom! Hi Alex’s Mom!) our moms are not only good cooks, but have vowed to keep us from starving. Wasn’t that sweet of them?

granola mix

Continued after the jump »

Monday, June 29, 2009

cherry brown butter bars

cherry brown butter bars

I don’t know what’s happening to me — maybe it’s third trimester dwindling energy levels and an accompanying desire to get the most bang from my feeble bursts of productivity — but all of a sudden, I find myself saying that I don’t want to cook this thing or that because it’s not practical. Practical! Who am I? Certainly not the girl who baked a wedding cake last summer in her tiny, overheated kitchen. Certainly not a person who has [shh, can't tell you]-making and a 12-layer cake on her summer cooking agenda.

sweet cherries

Take this recipe, for example. It was originally a delicious-looking raspberry brown butter tart from this month’s Bon Appetit magazine. And although I usually associate brown butter with winter cooking — hazelnut brown butter cakes, brown butter shorties, pear crisps and brown butter with chestnuts and brussels sprouts, yes please. — and although I’ve never met a dessert tart I didn’t like, all I could think was “these would be so much more practical as a bar cookie!” Practical, there’s that word again. It’s all over for me, isn’t it?

cherry pittingpits and stemscherries a-pittedliquid ingredients Continued after the jump »


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