Last night, some friends came over to help us recover the used dining room chairs I found at a thrift store in Chestertown, MD last summer. In return for their labor (and since they are far craftier and handier than either Scott or I, they did the vast majority of the work) I made dinner and dessert. Dinner was a big pot of Beef and Barley Stew (which was delicious but dreadfully unphotogenic) and for sweet treat, I whipped up one of the easiest bar cookies I know.
From Fun With Cooking, I've been making this recipe for Butterscotch Squares since I was nine years old. There are many wonderful things about this bar cookie, including the fact that I almost always have every ingredient on hand. Also it mixes up in a single saucepan (you don't even need to rig up a double boiler like you do for brownies) and the texture can either be crispy or tender, depending on length of baking time. They go great with ice cream, coffee or tea and keep really well (if you happen to have any leftover).
from Fun With Cooking by Mae Blacker Freeman
1/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (I use kosher salt because I like the slightly larger grain of it)
1/2 chopped nutmeats (I use finely chopped pecans that have been toasted, their flavor ups the sophistication level of these humble squares)
- Melt the butter over medium heat in a 2 quart saucepan.
- When the butter is melted, add the brown sugar and stir until melted and bubbly
- Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
- After letting the sugar mixture cool for a couple of minutes, add a spoonful of it to the beaten egg and stir it in to temper the egg. Add a few more spoonfuls to be sure that the hot butter/sugar/vanilla mixture won't scramble your eggs.
- Sift the dry ingredients together and stir them into the batter in the pot.
- Add the pecans and stir to combine.
- Line a square baking pan with parchment paper (they will stick terribly if you don't). For softer bars, use an 8 x 8 pan, for crispier ones, use a 9 x 9 one.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes (shorter baking time also means a softer cookie).
- Remove from pan (just by lifting the parchment paper) and cut immediately.
- Store any leftovers in an air tight container.