Bars Archive

Thursday, August 7, 2014

apricot pistachio squares

apricot pistachio squares

Let me just get the obvious out of the way because I know what you’re thinking: what am I doing here? Shouldn’t I be packing for our move, which is less than 24 hours from now? These are all valid questions, but you see, there is history here, a long history of kitchen-related procrastination. Two days before our last move, I sheeted pasta and peeled favas. I spent the last week of my pregnancy stocking the freezer with foods to bribe charm labor and delivery nurses with. When I was done with that, I made a cake for people coming to visit the new baby. When my induction was trudging along pitifully slowly, I pulled out my laptop and wrote up a new recipe I’d made in the days before. Thus, it should be no surprise that on Tuesday, with a totally straight face, I made the argument by turning the last splash of heavy cream, handful of chocolate chips and a half-pint of vanilla ice cream leftover from this into hot fudge sauce, I was “packing.” But yesterday, I didn’t even have an excuse; I just needed a break from having exasperating conversations a store that lost the mattress we ordered and could maybe get us a replacement sometime in September, arrgh.

pistachios and apricots
apricots everywhere this summer

Ahem. I’ve been in a bit of a fervor this summer over the apricots from Red Jacket Orchards. I shared a photo of them the other day and someone asked me what I was going to make with them and I was confused. Make? With apricots? Why on earth would you make something with apricots, when you could eat them as-is, even four in a row as my son did before my dropped jaw yesterday. But then the next wave of procrastination hit and why, yes, making something with apricots was a brilliant idea!

whirling the pistachios

Continued after the jump »

Friday, May 9, 2014

strawberry rhubarb crisp bars

strawberry rhubarb breakfast crisp bars

Look, I have no business giving dating advice. Or marital advice. I didn’t, like, scope the scene or learn the rules or think big thoughts about what kind of person would be the right person for me when I walked into a bar 11 years ago and met this guy for a drink. Nevertheless, if you were to try isolate a single trait essential in a life partnership, I think you should look for a person who is pro-whim — that is, encourages you to have whims and pursue them, for better or for worse. Does that sound too abstract? Okay, fine; let me propose instead the Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Bar Test, which should be enlisted as follows. 1. Find a potential mate. 2. Say, “Do I need to good reason to make strawberry-rhubarb pie bars?” 3. If they answer, as mine did on Monday, “Nope. I think they’re always welcome,” you’re probably on the right track. If nothing else, your weekend is about to get tastier.

mix the dry ingredients right in the pan
add the butter

I’d been daydreaming about a late spring riff on an apple-crisp-in-the-pan bars since I got the One Bowl Baking book last fall. I’m not sure I’ve ever met a pie-like cookie bar I didn’t like, but still, these made me nervous because they seemed so (ewww) wholesome. There are more whole grains than white flour, less sugar and less butter than any other cookie bar I’ve ever made. How could this be good? Silly Deb, I should have just trusted the author implicitly. Yvonne Ruperti is a former Cook’s Illustrated writer, America’s Test Kitchen on-air host and bakery owner, so you could say she knows a few things about baking.

mix it right in the baking pan

Continued after the jump »

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 »