December 10, 2013

12 Days of Cookies
( + No-Bake Coconut-Date Cracker Bars with Browned Butter Glaze )

Over the weekend I stumbled upon a singularly snarky message board that specialized in bashing food bloggers.  With names of blogs.  In great detail.

I learned all sorts of things, like how we should all stop talking and get on with the recipe ('s a blog, not a recipe index), how we should stop editing our photos to be so bright (but then we'd never get accepted by Foodgawker, who requires your pictures to be basically radioactive), and that anything using crescent rolls or Cool Whip doesn't actually count as a recipe.

Who knew?

I'll admit to an embarrassing minute of despair that I'll never be accepted at the cool kids' table.  But then I got over it.

Because sure, there actually are guidelines for good food blogging.  Use Spell-Check rigorously.  Make sure you included all ingredients in the recipe.  And pleasegod don't use your flash.  

But a blog is, at heart, a personal story.  It's a web log: a periodically updated electronic journal.  Whatever you're talking about, whether it's food or shoes or carburetors (thank god for Spell-Check just then), you're covering it from your singular perspective.  And suggesting that sharing stories about your life or talking about food in your particular voice or sharing the kinds of food that you like to eat inherently makes your blog "not good" seems to point to a basic misunderstanding of what a blog is. 

This blog is a journal of how I eat ( with recipes ).  It's not better because I bake from scratch, or worse because I refuse to work with kale.  It just is.  And come Christmastime, despite my love for fig jam and prosciutto and laminated doughs, I'm likely to share at least one thing with you that the snarks will find truly horrifying.

Because where I come from, Christmas isn't Christmas without at least one dessert inexplicably made with either crackers or breakfast cereal, and at least one "salad" made pretty much entirely out of Jell-O and Cool Whip.

And that's okay.

I can't go so far as to say that the snarks will approve of these bars.  You and I both know that's a lie.  But they're the classiest version of "cookies-made-with-crackers" that I've ever seen.  With a gooey-chewy coconut-pecan-date filling and a browned-butter frosting that fills the house with that insanely heady perfume that only saturated fats can offer, you won't give a damn what anyone says about your primitive recipes.

You'll be too busy eating.

No-Bake Coconut-Date Cracker Bars 
with Browned Butter Glaze
from Better Homes and Gardens

Buttery Rectangular Crackers  [ such as Townhouse, 36 ]
Brown Sugar  [ packed, 3/4 cup ]
Whipping Cream  [ 1/2 cup ]
Unsalted Butter  [ 1/3 cup ]
Egg Yolks  [ 2 ]
Salt  [ 1/2 teaspoon ]
Sweetened Flaked Coconut  [ 1 cup ]
Chopped Pitted Dates  [ 1 cup ]
Pecans  [ chopped, 3/4 cup ]
Dark Rum  [ 1 tablespoon ]
Vanilla Extract  [ 1 teaspoon ]

Unsalted Butter  [ 1/4 cup ]
Powdered Sugar  [ 1 cup ]
Milk  [ 1 tablespoon or more, as necessary ]
Salt  [ 1/8 teaspoon ]
Pecans  [ chopped, 1/3 cup ]

Make Bars:
1.   Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with heavy duty foil; grease the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
2.   Arrange enough of the Crackers in bottom of pan to cover it in a single layer  [ breaking a few to size if
         necessary ].
3.  In a Medium pot, stir together Brown Sugar, Cream, Butter, Egg Yolks, and Salt.
4.   Cook over Medium heat, stirring constantly, until Butter melts.
5.   Add in Coconut, Dates and Pecans.
6.   Cook, stirring constantly, until glossy and brown  [ about 8 minutes ].  Remove from heat.
7.   Add in Rum and Vanilla; stir to combine.
8.   Pour Filling over Crackers in pan, spreading gently if necessary to make sure that Crackers are covered
9.   Lay enough of the remaining Crackers over filling to cover it in a single layer  [ again, breaking a few to
         size if necessary ].      

Make Glaze:
10.   In a small pot over Low-Medium heat, melt Butter.
11.  Cook Butter, stirring frequently, until thoroughly browned and fragrant [ specks of darker brown will
          float in the golden-brown Butter ].  Do not allow to burn.
12.   Pour Butter into a small bowl.
13.   Add in Powdered Sugar, Milk and Salt; whisk until smooth.
14.   Add more Milk as necessary to bring Glaze to a spreadable consistency.
15.   Pour Glaze over top Cracker layer of Bars, carefully spreading it evenly with an offset spatula.
16.   Sprinkle with Pecans.
17.   Cover and refrigerate until set  [ about 2 hours ].
18.   Serve at room temperature.     

Makes 1 8x8-inch pan  [ 16-25 bars ] 

       Browned Butter Wins Again:
Rosemary and Browned Butter Applesauce

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