It’s sunbutter and jelly time!

You knew this was going to happen right?  And, can anyone explain to me why it’s a banana doing the dance?


If  you’ve been around for a while you know I love back to school time.  Summer is a’right I guess, but fall is where it’s at.

And so, in the tradition of new school shoes and fresh notebooks, I give you this year’s lunchbox treat.

What could be more back to school than peanut butter and jelly? Turns out, most things–unless you want a call from your child’s principal about breaking the nut free zone policy.

What’s a kid to do?

This is where sunbutter saves snack time.  Made from sunflower seeds rather than tree nuts or the dreaded P legume, some schools allow this creamy (or crunchy) peanut butter stand-in.

Paired with your jam or jelly of choice (you could even wax healthy and go no sugar added), these make a hearty school lunch or after school treat (and will save well for care packages).

These aren’t delicate little fancies.  They’re hearty, slightly sweet and nutty.

In fact, I’m pretty sure that if you fed one to a kindergartener, they might not be hungry until the fifth or sixth grade.

Happy back to school everyone!

Sunbutter and Jelly Bars

adapted from Ina Garten’s Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars


  • 1/2 lb, 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temp
  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs at room temp
  • 2 C creamy sunbutter (just use the entire jar–mine was 16 ounces)
  • 3 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 C of your favorite jam (I used grape here because it’s tradition but would have rather used strawberry or raspberry, just my opinion)
  • 1/4 C roasted and salted sunflower seeds tossed in 2 TBS granulated sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9X13 inch pan with parchment paper then grease entire pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a Kitchenaid fitted with a paddle, cream together butter and sugar until mixture is light, about two minutes.
  4. Turn speed to low and add vanilla and eggs one-at-a-time.  Add peanut butter and mix until well combined.
  5. With mixer on low, slowly add flour mixture.  Mix until just combined.
  6. Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared pan using a knife (offset is easiest) to spread it evenly.
  7. Spread the jam evenly over the dough.
  8. Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the  jam.  Don’t worry if the topping doesn’t cover the jam completely.
  9. Sprinkle with sunflower seed and sugar mixture.
  10. Bake for 45 minutes until top is golden brown.  A note on this–start checking at 35 minutes–the last two times I’ve made this recipe they were perfect at 38 minutes.
  11. Allow to cool completely.  Cut into bars and store in air-tight container.

Thurman Merman would approve

Growing up in San Diego, my mom would buy these fruit bars from a local establishment called Dudley’s Bakery.  Chewy, dense and studded with raisins, these bars were the perfect pre-swim workout snacks.  Over the years I’ve made several failed attempts at cracking the recipe code for these not-quite-cookie bars.  I could never get the texture quite right.  They were either too dry and crumbly or too chewy–like over-developed gluten.

To be honest, after my last swing-and-a-miss I’d purposefully put the damn things out of my mind.

Until a couple of weeks ago when I ran across a picture on Pintrest that looked like a “close-enough” match to merit the purchase of a bag of raisins.

Thanks to a blog called The Lemon Bowl.

Contrary to what people seem to think, I don’t generally eat a whole lot of what I bake.  For me, baking is about making, not eating.  It’s a hobby, like quilting or glassblowing or that weird thing they call cosplay that I don’t really understand.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit, these bars were the exception.  They’re really good.  Wholesome, satisfying, and for me, nostalgic, the magic in these bars is enough to help me not only overcome my distaste for raisins in baked goods, but

They are properly called hermit bars.  But, in my head, they’re Thurman Merman bars. Should I fix some sandwiches?

Hermit Bars

adapted from The Lemon Bowl


  • 4 C all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 2 C packed golden brown sugar
  • 1 C butter (16 TBS) unsalted butter at room temp
  • 2/3 C dark molasses
  • 2 large eggs at room temp
  • 2 C raisins or other dried fruit


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a jelly pan with parchment (standard half-sheet, 12X17) with parchment.  If you want to use a 9X13 pan, you’ll just have significantly thicker bars.  Grease and then flour the parchment and sides.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, all of the spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream butter for 2 minutes.
  4. Add-in brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy, 3 more minutes.
  5. Mix in eggs one-at-a-time.
  6. Reduce speed and drizzle-in molasses.  Mix until thoroughly incorporated.
  7. With mixer on lowest speed, slowly incorporate dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined.
  8. Pull bowl from paddle and mix in raisins/dried fruit by hand.
  9. Using an offset  spatula (or floured fingers if you are brave), dump dough into prepared pan and carefully distribute until you have an even layer.
  10. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes up clean.
  11. Allow to cool completely before cutting.
  12. These will store well for up to a week in an airtight container.

Pumpkin Blondies

Pumpkin it seems, is all the rage this fall.  So much so that I’m surprised Pinterest hasn’t added it as a category.  The funny thing is that I kind of think it’s actually the spice profile people love about pumpkin and not the actual gourd itself.  Of course, I’m basing this off of the fact that Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latter doesn’t actually have any pumpkin in it.  Or maybe it’s my well documented  “not love” for all things squash coloring my belief that anyone could love pumpkin as a food.

But what can I say, I’m a sell-out and felt obligated to include at least one pumpkin-based goodie in my baking line-up this fall.


This pumpkin blondie, while not exactly healthy, is a little less indulgent than, say, a regular blondie.  The pumpkin replaces about half of the butter and eggs without missing a beat.

And while these are just fine as is, I think this recipe begs for additions.  How about some roasted pepitas?  Extra white chocolate chunks…ooh…or maybe some butterscotch chips?  If nothing else, I recommend a dusting of powdered sugar before serving these very autumnal squares.

Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin Blondies

this is a Misanthropic Hostess recipe


  • 1 scant TBS cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp all spice
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg (freshly grated if you can)
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 + 1/4 C all purpose flour
  • 1 C golden brown sugar
  • 1/4-1/2 C granulated sugar (depends on how sweet you want these)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 can (usually about 14 ounces) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 8 TBS (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 11 ounces white chocolate chips or chunks

Other things to add-in:

  • Roasted, salted pepitas
  • Spiced pecans
  • White chocolate chunks
  • Dried fruit (cherries would be the bomb)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 9X13 inch baking pan with parchment, butter pan and parchment.
  2. In a medium, heavy bottomed sauce pan melt butter over low heat.
  3. Once butter is melted, remove from heat, add white chocolate, swirl to cover and let sit for 3 minutes.  Whisk butter and chocolate together until smooth and allow to cool.
  4. In a medium bowl, sift together first 6 ingredients.  Set aside.
  5. In a larger bowl, whisk together sugars and eggs until combined. Whisk-in vanilla.
  6. Whisk-in pumpkin.  Then whisk-in cooled buter and chocolate mixture.
  7. Switch to a spatula and gently fold-in flour mixture.
  8. Transfer batter to prepared pan and cook for 30-40 minutes (they were done at 34 minutes in my oven) until an inserted skewer comes up clean and sides start to pull away from pan.
  9. Allow to cool completely.  Cut into squares.

Oh Rhubarb!

“Oh rhubarb!” is one of TD’s favorite four-letter-word replacement idioms.  Though, in order for it to have full effect (at least according to TD), it must be exclaimed using a high Ms. Doubtfire falsetto as such: “oooooooh rhuuuubaaaaaarb.”

I haven’t worked with rhubarb very much and even more rarely have I seen it divorced from its almost constant mate, the strawberry.  So, this recipe for rhubarb bars in Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery cookbook piqued my interest.

Fair warning–this recipe isn’t a whip together on a weeknight sort of endeavor. Remember those SNL skits where “Martha Stewart” knitted her own dental floss after whittling a toothbrush (quite often topless)?  This recipe is sort of like that.  In fact, about halfway through the process I found myself thinking, ‘what the rhubarb?’

But, if you have some time and are in the right frame of mind, this is a fun recipe.

There are four distinct components to this concoction, beginning with curing the rhubarb.  Here, it is cured in grenadine for at least eight hours.

While the rhubarb cures, the base for the bar, a pate sucree, is pulled together.

Keller recommends using the frasier technique of combining the dough.  This was my first time trying it out, so I hope the experts forgive my simplified explanation.  To fraiser is to combined the ingredients for a dough by smearing them with the palm of your hand.  The dough is then folded and the method repeated until the dough is smooth.  The idea is that the process, much like making a laminated dough, creates a texture that allows the butter to steam while cooking creating a flakey result.

The dough did turn out nicely and whether it was because of the frasier method or any number of other factors,  there was something very satisfying about smearing the dough around with the heel of my hand.  This recipe makes enough for dough rounds of pate sucre.  You will only need one for the bars.

Once the dough is chilled, it is rolled-out into a quarter-sheet (or 9X13) pan.  So that the pastry does not puff-up, it is blind-baked.  Keller recommends using rice.  I prefer beans.

The result is a nice, even base for the bars.

About the time you pop the uncooked dough in the fridge to chill, its also time to make the brown butter filling. This twist on the almond-based  frangipone calls for brown butter, which is kind of fun.  And time consuming.  I’ll let you in on a little secret–I actually made the dough (up to chilling it in the fridge), cured rhubarb and brown butter filling the day before assembling everything to bake.

So, once you have all your components, all that’s left is the building and baking.

The filling recipe was spot-on in terms of rhubarb to almond cream ratio.

The the bars bake until golden brown.  In my opinion, this would be lovely as-is with a hearty dusting of confectioner’s sugar.  Ever the superlative chef, Keller takes it a step further an adds an almond streusel.  I’ve included the recipe below however, next time I make these bars, I’m not going to bother with the fancy accessory.

These would be lovely for a shower (baby or wedding), a tea or any other rites of spring celebrated during rhubarb season.


I was all over the place during the three days it took to complete these bars.  Highlights include Indigo Girls, Wilco, Jimmy Buffet and the Eagles.

Rhubarb Bars

adapted from Rhubarb Tart, by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel in Bouchon Bakery

note–this is actually four (five if you count browning the butter) recipes assembled into one.  I’ve organized them separately and then provided instructions on how to put everything together at the end.

Cured Rhubarb


  • 15 young rhubarb stalks (about 2 lbs)
  • 1/2 C (100 grams) superfine granulated sugar
  • 1/4 C + 2 TBS (120 grams) grenadine (you can find grenadine in with the mixers in the adult beverages section of the market)


  1. Trim the rhubarb so that it will fit into a 9X13 inch baking dish lengthwise.
  2. Using a paring knife, pull-off the strings and any tough peel running the length of the rhubarb.
  3. Arrange the rhubarb in the baking dish.  Sprinkle with sugar and drizzle with grenadine.
  4. Cover in plastic wrap and let cure for 24 hours, turning the stalks every 8 hours or so.
  5. When ready to use, allow to drain on paper towels first.

Pate Sucree

note: this makes enough for two tart shells, you will only need one.  Wrap the second tightly in plastic and freeze for up to two months.


  • 2 2/3 C (375 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1/4 C + 3 TBS (46 grams) confectioner’s sugar PLUS
  • 3/4 C + 1 TBS (94 grams) confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 C plus 3 TBS almond meal/flour
  • 8 oz (225 grams) unsalted butter at room temp.
  • 1/2 vanilla bean split down the middle
  • 1 extra large egg (56 grams)


  1. In a medium bowl sift in the flour plus the first 46 grams of confectioner’s sugar.   Sift-in the almond flour, breaking up any lumps in the sieve.  Whisk to combine and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a hand mixer), add butter and cream on medium until it has the consistency of mayonnaise.  Sift in the remaining confectioner’s sugar and mix on medium low until the mixture if fluffy (about 60 seconds).
  3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the mixture.  Mix on low for 30 seconds to distribute evenly.
  4. Add dry ingredients in two additions, mixing for 15-30 seconds after each and until just combined.  Scrape down the bowl to incorporate any ingredients that have settled on the bottom of the bowl.
  5. Add the eggs and mix on low for 15-30 seconds.
  6. Transfer the dough to a work surface.  Using the heel of your hand, smear the dough and work it together.  Divide the dough in half and form each into a 4X6 inch rectangle about 3/4 inches thick.
  7. Wrap each in plastic wrap and chill until firm (about 2 hours but as always, preferably overnight).

Brown Butter Filling


  • 1/2 C + 3 TBS (75 grams) almond flour/meal
  • 1/2 C + 2 tsp all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs (150 grams)
  • 1 C + 1 TBS (210 grams) superfine granulated sugar
  • 1/4 C + 1 TBS (75 grams) whole milk
  • 1/4 C + 1 TBS (75 grams) heavy cream
  • 3/4 C + 1 TBS (165 grams) brown butter (recipe here)


  1. Whisk together the almond and all-purpose flours, set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, combine the eggs and sugar and mix on medium for about 2 minutes.
  3. Reduce mixer to low, slowly add the milk and cream.
  4. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low for a few seconds until combined.
  5. With the mixer running, slowly add the brown butter and mix to combine.
  6. Transfer to a pastry bag.

Almond Streusel Topping


  • 3/4 C + 2 TBS (120 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1 C + 1 TBS (120 grams) almond flour
  • 1/2 C + 2 TBS (120 grams) granualted sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 4.2 ounces (120 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces


  1. Combine the all-purpose and almond flours, sugar and salt in a bowl.  Whisk to break-up lumps.
  2. Add the butter and toss to coat the pieces.  Work the mixture with fingertips breaking the butter into pieces no larger than 1/8 inch and combining it with the flour mixture.
  3. Transfer the streusel to a covered container or resealable plastic bag.  Refrigerate for at least two hours (can be frozen up to 1 month).
  4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  5. Spread the streusel in an even layer on a sheet pan.
  6. Bake for about 12 minutes, turning the streusel with a metal spatula every 4 minutes until it is golden brown and dry.
  7. Place pan on cooling rock, allow to cool completely.
  8. Pour the streusel into a food processor and pulse to the consistency of brown sugar.

To Assemble

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Pipe enough of the filling into the crust to cover the bottom with a 1/4 inch-thick-layer and spread it evenly with a small offset spatula.
  3. Arrange the rhubarb, rounded side-up on top of the filling, running lengthwise in the pan.
  4. Pipe the fillings around the stalks, filing in any gaps, then spread any remaining filling over the top of the rhubarb (it may not be completely covered).
  5. Bake for 40 minutes, rotate the pan.
  6. Reduce the oven temp to 325 degrees and bake for an other 10-15 minutes until the filling is set and golden.
  7. Set the pan on a cooling rack and cool completely.

To serve

  • Cut 12 bars or 24 squares and garnish with streusel topping.

Brown Butter Blondies…no, that’s NOT code

Why yes, it is Wednesday.  As you read this, TD and I are on a teeny tiny plane headed to Montana.  If his predictions are correct, at some point we will get snowed-in.  To hear TD explain it,  this will trigger the zombie apocalypse whereupon only the strongest (or least best tasting) will survive to see spring.  Yeah, I don’t really understand either.  But, just in case, here is this week’s post.

Depsite my agonizingly detailed planning, about 2/3 of the way through my holiday baking, it became clear to me that I was going to need a bigger boat.  And by bigger boat, I mean more baked goods.  As my caramel crunch square supply quickly dwindled, I sprang into action with a recipe I’ve been playing with for a couple of months: the brown butter blondie.

Here is the flavor profile: brown butter, roasted walnuts, white chocolate.  The BBBs also have the added benefit of a neat cut.  You know what I mean, no sloppy edges or oozing middle (not that, provided the appropriate context, sloppy edges and oozing middles are a bad thing).  This is a slightly fancy bar that comes together relatively quickly and is made from ingredients that are generally on-hand.  Plus and plus.  In fact, these went together so easily that I knocked out two batches in the early morning hours before work.


I am officially signing-off until the 28th.  That’s assuming I’m not lobotomized by a brains seeking Santa Claus along the way.  Which would be sad because I’m all set to pontificate on the 2013 Pantone color of the year and what it has to do with a cognitive condition I never knew I had until TD scientifically proved I am statistically weird.

Brown Butter Blondies


  • 1/2 LB (16 TBS) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 C golden or light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 10 ounces chopped white chocolate or white chocolate chips
  • 1 C roasted walnut pieces


  1. To brown butter: in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, add butter.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the butter takes on a deep golden color.  Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temp.  This step can be done in advance.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9X13 inch baking pan with parchment and butter the parchment and sides.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking powder.  Set aside.
  4. In a standing mixer, add sugar to brown butter and cream until smooth, roughly 2-3 minutes.  You will not get the same consistency as you would with regular butter straight from the stick.  Don’t worry about it.
  5. With the mixer running on medium, add eggs one at a time allowing them to be completely incorporated after each add. Let the mixer run for another minute and add vanilla until mixed- in.
  6. Add-in flour mixture.  With the mixer on its lowest setting, run until the flour is just incorporated.  Watch carefully, this will happen quickly.
  7. By hand, fold-in chocolate and walnuts.
  8. Gently press the dough into the prepared pan.
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is pale gold and the edges are just starting to turn a deeper gold.
  10. Allow to cool completely before cutting.



When life gives you leftover candied orange peel, make blondies!

Okay, okay, I stole this idea from one of the 20 million holiday catalogs we’ve gotten since August.  Having both candied orange peel and almonds in the house, I decided to see if I could come up with a recipe.

I started by toasting about a cup of almonds.  I used blanched because that’s what I had but I don’t see any problem with using skins.

Then, I couldn’t find my camera.  So a bunch of stuff happened that didn’t get captured digitally.  Here is the short of it though: I melted together butter and white chocolate.  Incorporated the usual suspects: eggs, sugar, flour and a healthy does of vanilla (no silly, not in that order).  Finally, I folded-in the toasted almonds and orange peel.  Into the oven.  And.

This is what came out.  The orange peel sort of melts into blondie and the result is a sweet/zesty/nutty treat.  Sort of like me.

Once cut, I packaged them up and took them to a cookie decorating party.


Glee Christmas on Pandora, because I’m perfectly confident with my manhood.

Candied Orange Peel and Toasted Almond Blondies


  • 2 C sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 C (16 TBS) unsalted butter
  • 6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 TBS vanilla
  • 2 C flour
  • 1 C chopped candied orange peel
  • 1 C roasted and chopped almonds


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9X13 inch pan with parchment and butter or spray the pan and parchment.
  2. In a heavy saucepan, melt butter and white chocolate over low heat, whisking until combined.  Take off heat and set aside.  Butter and chocolate will want to separate.  That’s okay, just give it a good whisk before adding to the batter.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and salt.  Add-in eggs one-at-a-time.  Then whisk in vanilla.
  4. Fold-in butter and chocolate.
  5. Fold-in flour until just combined.
  6. Fold-in orange peel and almonds.
  7. Bake for about 40 minutes or until an inserted toothpick come-out clean but with a few crumbs stuck to it.
  8. Let cool completely, cut and enjoy.

Love child, definitely meant to be

Have you ever wondered what would happen if a raspberry bar was set up with  a lemon bar on a blind date?  What if they hit-it-off and shared a night of passionate abandon?  You know what I mean…made a dessert bar love sandwich.

What?  I’m the only one who has ever thought of this?  Really?

Well, let me tell you, it would definitely be something the Supremes would want to sing about. Or at the very least, something you’d want to eat.

We’ll start with a combination of flour and almond meal.

Then add in a little butter.  You know, for lubrication.

Press the dough (note, this is different from the crust to my raspberry bars but you could use that as well) into a 9X13 pan.

Bake until just golden.

While the base is doing its thing, it’s lemon time.

Lemon juice, flour, eggs, sugar and of course, zest (aren’t you glad I didn’t include a picture of zest…for once) get whisked together.

Then is slow jam time.  I mean, raspberry jam time.

Once the base is cooled a bit, add a nice layer of jam.

Top this with the lemon filling.

Into the oven.  Word of warning here–you want to almost over-bake the bars. Not quite, but, don’t worry if the top begins to turn a goldish-hue.  Let the bars cool, dust with confectioner’s sugar and you have got yourself a lemon and raspberry love child.

Yeah.  Definitely not misunderstood.  Definitely meant to be.

Raspberry Lemon Bars

inspired by Ina Garten’s Lemon Bars


for base

  • 14 TBS (1 stick plus 6 TBS) unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 2/3 C granulated sugar
  • 1 C all purpose flour
  • 1 C almond flour, almond meal or ground almonds
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt

for filling

  • 4-6 ounces raspberry (or other favorite jam)
  • 6 extra large eggs at room temp
  • 3 C granulated sugar (I like superfine)
  • 3 TBS lemon zest (6-8 lemons)
  • 1 C lemon juice
  • 1 C flour
  • Confectioner’s sugar for dusting


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees, place rack in middle slot in oven, cut parchment to fit bottom of 9X13 inch pan
  • For the crust, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • With mixer on low, add in flour and salt until just mixed.  Dough will be soft, not crumbly.
  • Press dough into pan building up the sides.  Bake 15-20 minutes until lightly browned.
  • Let cool on a wire rack 15 minutes.
  • For the filling, whisk together eggs, sugar, zest, juice and flour.
  • Gently spread thin layer of jam over crust.  Crust will still be quite soft.
  • Pour filling over jam layer.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes until filling is set.
  • Let cool at room temp, dust with confectioner’s sugar and cut as desired.

Chocolate Chip Cookies (or Bars) Cockaigne

That’s right…I said cockaigne.  Sounds dirty doesn’t it?

I originally found this cookie recipe while thumbing through the Joy of Cooking and thought it was a nice alternative to the classic chocolate chip cookie.  It has some additional ingredients like ground oatmeal and a second kind of chocolate that make it kind of special.  Kind of cockaigney don’t you think?

Okay, okay, I had no idea what cockaigne meant when I first came across the recipe. Though, I did have a fantasy that the recipe was developed in a tiny village in the South of France where the baker lived alone save for her trusted and loyal pet rooster.  A little research revealed no such romantic tale.  In fact, my little research revealed very little about the word and its relationship to food.  According to the OED, the term refers to a mythical land of plenty and good (not the other way around).  Another source revealed that at some point in the last 200 years, it was used specifically to describe the city of London.  As in cockney.


Not real sure what all that has to do with a cookie recipe, gov’ner.

A little more digging and I’ve come to suspect that the use of the word cockaigne is related more to the authors of the Joy of Cooking than the recipe’s origin as it appears in a couple other recipe titles.  So in a culinary context, I suppose the adjective cockaigne is a little something like “supreme” or “surprise.”

Works for me.

In the photos below, I’m making them as bars and have one-and-a-halved the recipe. I needed to make a lot of bars.  The same principles apply to the bar version as they do to the original cookie version.

I started at the end because it involved the food processor (that’s right, Bessy was in the house).  First, I ground up some quick oats.

Then I ground up some white chocolate.  The original recipe calls for milk chocolate but I thought I’d be rebellious and go white (if white chocolate is actually really chocolate at all…it’s kind of like a panda bear in that way).

I then looked around for something else to grind.  Alas, finding nothing but my teeth (oh come on, you knew I was going to say this), I moved on to creaming together butter and sugar.  I then added in the dry ingredients…but obviously didn’t take any pictures of it.

No need to rest or refrigerate the dough.  Right into the pan (or onto the sheet it goes).

Into the oven and out it comes golden brown and definitely cockaigne.

Let cool and cut as desired.  I realize this blog has been very bar heavy as of late.  I’ve got two more bar recipes to share and then we’ll move on.  Perhaps to the rhombus.

Chocolate Chip Cookies Cockaigne

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¾ C sugar
  • 2/3 C golden brown sugar
  • 1 egg (I use extra large)
  • 1 1/2 TBS milk
  • 1 TBS vanilla
  • 1 2/3 C flour
  • 1 ¼ t baking soda
  • ¾ t baking powder
  • ¼ t salt
  • 1 1/3 C ground quick oats (grind them in the food processor)
  • 1 C chocolate chips
  • 3 oz grated milk chocolate (I use ground white chocolate…though its good both ways)

Cream butter until light and fluffy.  Add in sugars and cream. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla.

While butter is creaming, in a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, soda and salt.  Set aside.

Once wet ingredients are thoroughly mixed, add in flour mixture and combine until dough just comes together. Stir in oats, chocolate chips and milk/white chocolate until just combined.

For cookies: spoon on to parchment-lined baking sheets, two inches apart and bake until golden, 8-12 minutes.

For bars: oil and line with parchment 9X13 baking pan.  Spread-out dough evenly (I find that the parchment likes to scrunch around.  To keep it from moving, I hold it in place in one corner with a finger and the carefully spread the dough using a spatula with the other hand)  Bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown.

The Bella Bar

You are going to wish I didn’t post this.  Even with the last of them dispersed to hungry college students and absolutely not-a-one left for my own consumption, I regret that I’m posting this.  Because thinking about them just makes me sad that they are all gone.  It makes me want to make more.  Which I won’t.  At least not tonight.

Remember the Flying Hills Elementary School Bars of Excellence?  Well.  I did something very naughty to them.  Very bad indeed.

I’ll give you a clue.  It started with this:

And then this happened:

Which, who are we kidding, was just the gateway to this:

And resulted in this:

And of course, this:

Bad, BAD Nutella!

But why call it the Bella Bar you ask?  You may remember a character from some of the way-back posts who went by the nickname ‘Petting Zoo.‘ She earned a reputation for chewing on gingerbread and coconut flakes.  She was even featured in a certain Alumni Magazine for her misdeeds.  Well, when she isn’t terrorizing baked goods, Petting Zoo goes by the alias ‘Bella.’

In addition to gnawing on inappropriate foodstuffs, Bella does imitations.  Here she is doing Lindsey Lohan.

Bella the Cat is the Kitchen God’s occasionally better behaved sister.  The markings on her fur also look suspiciously like the pattern created when peanut butter and Nutella mate.  The Bella Bar is their love child.

Flying Hills Elementary School Bars of Excellence (PB Bars for short)

Who knows what triggered the memory but suddenly, in the very recent past, all I could think about were these peanut butter bar type creations that were served in my elementary school cafeteria.  Now I realize that “things served in an elementary school cafeteria”  and “things one would want to eat” are not often used in the same sentence.  But these, at least to the third grade me, were even better than the twinkies or ding dongs that were usually considered the pinnacle of eight-year-old haut cuisine.    They were super moist, slightly chewy and had some sort of slightly cruncy icing on them.  Let me take a moment.  Okay…moving on.

At this point I’ve done enough baking to have a “sense” of how to make something.  I mean, I’m no Alton Brown but, I’ve sort of started to “get it.”  So, I skipped the recipe search and went straight to experimentation.  The first batch, while not bad tasting, completely missed the mark on texture.  Texture is an important part of the memory for me.  So, during a particularly long commute the next day, I worked out the following recipe.  And, wouldn’t you know, I hit pay-dirt.

My own relationship with peanut butter is pretty hot and cold.  Sometimes I love the stuff while other times I want nothing to do with it (this usually comes right after making the infamous chocolate peanut butter balls and all I can smell is peanut butter).  I provide fair warning: these are super-duper peanut-buttery.  There is no nuance in this baked good.  No delicate layers of flavor or multiple dimensions for the palate.  I didn’t even cut this with chocolate (though you couldn’t go wrong by doing so).  This bar has one note…peanut butter.

The recipe begins where all good recipes commence: with butter.  Two kinds.  Regular and peanut.  Melt them together over low heat and set aside to cool to room tempurature.

While the butters are cooling, sift the sugars and salt together.  There is a lot of sifting in this recipe.  This is so you don’t have to do a lot of mixing.  In this case, as with my brownie recipe, mixing makes things tough.  And nobody wants a tough time with peanut butter.

Whisk in some eggs and vanilla.  Then the butters.

Finally, we stir things up with some (sifted) flour. 

And then, into a prepared pan and into the oven. 

I realize it comes out looking an awful lot like a blondie.  But these are not blondies!  I can’t exactly tell you why–as I’ve already said, I am not Alton Brown.  But really, these are not blondies.  They are much less cakey and springy and slightly fudge-like in texture. 

Remember how I said the original Flying Hills Elementary School Bars of Excellence had icing.  Well, these do too.  Three ingredients: peanut butter, confectioners sugar and milk.

We’re getting there.

Really, are shots of icing ever gratuitous?

Once the icing sets up, cut as normal and, well, you know what to do next.

Yep, just like the cafeteria used to make.  Let me pull-on my jelly shoes and flip up my Izod collar because 1982 called and it’s got some baked goods for you.

PB Bar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter and line with parchment a 9X13 baking pan.

For Bars

16 TBs unsalted butter

1.5 C peanut butter (I used chunky because that is what we had–use what you prefer)

1.5 C granulated sugar

.5 C golden brown sugar, packed

1.5 tsp kosher salt

1 T vanilla

4 eggs at room tempurature

2 C flour, sifted

Melt together butter and peanut butter.  Set aside to cool to room tempurature.  In large bowl, sift together sugars and salt.  Whisk in one egg at a time until combined.  Add-in vanilla.  Whisk in peanut butter mixture until combined.  Sift in flour and mix until flour just disappears.  Pour into prepared pan and bake until tester comes out with moist crumbs (about 35 minutes).


1 C confectioner’s sugar

.25 cup peanut butter, melted

Milk (amount depends on desired thickness of icing–start with a couple of tablespoons and go from there).

Once bars have cooled, flip out onto a cooling rack fitted into a cookie sheet (to catch the icing).  Mix icing ingredients togther until of desired consistency.  Drizzle over bars.  Let icing set up and cut.