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Today I'm introducing you to a little cookbook that I'm sorry to see might be a bit difficult to track down, although a couple of popular online bookstores had copies. Marie Simmons's Bar Cookies A to Z is one of my go-to sources when I want to bake up a quick dessert.
Before I decribe my latest baking adventures, I should tell you that Simmons is a fairly prolific cookbook author. Her résumé includes a number of Williams-Sonoma books, a couple about rice, a few on light or vegetarian cooking, two or three "A to Z" titles, and at least two "Fast & Fresh" books. I own three or four of her books, and I've always found Marie Simmons's recipes to be reliable.
Bar Cookies A to Z is a slim volume at just over 100 pages, but it's chockfull of recipes for and photos of delicious baked goods to suit pretty much every taste. The recipes are, as you probably already figured out, arranged alphabetically by title, and most letters contain more than one recipe.
There are chocolate and coffee cookies under C, gingery goodies under G, and tasty toffee treats under T. (You can relax, I just ran out of alliterations.) Here are some recipes I've made over the years:
- Carrot-Pecan Bars with Cream Cheese and Nutmeg Frosting
- Dark Ginger Bars with Dark Chocolate Frosting
- Orange and Cranberry Ginger-Oat Bars
- Queen Victoria Bream Bars (orange-flavored)
- Vanilla Shortbread Bars
Makes 36 bars
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
- 1 cup dark raisins
- ½ cup golden raisins
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups packed light brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2½ cups confectioners' sugar
- 6-8 tablespoons half-and-half or heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or ½ teaspoon maple flavoring
2. Make the Batter: Sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Combine the walnuts and the dark and golden raisins in a bowl. Add about 1 tablespoon of the four mixture; toss to coat; set aside.
3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar with an electric beater until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in the maple syrup; add the vanilla.
4. Gradually stir in the flour mixture until blended. Fold in the dried fruits and nuts.
5. Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the edges turn golden and begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool on a wire rack.
6. Make the Icing: Sift the confectioners' sugar into a bowl. Gradually stir in 6 tablespoons of half-and-half until the mixture is thick and smooth. Add the vanilla. Add more cream if needed to make a smooth spreadable consistency. Spread the cooled bars with the icing and let set for 1 to 2 hours before cutting into bars.
Beth F's notes: I use whatever dried fruit I have on hand. The bars shown here were made with 1 cup of craisins and ½ cup of dark raisins. I used pecans instead of walnuts. In addition, I happened to have had fresh orange zest that needed to be used up, so I added a tablespoon to the icing.
Published by Chapters Publishing, 1994
Source: bought (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)