Some Cookie!

Tonight I thought of  Charlotte the spider spinning in her web praise of her friend Wilbur the pig: “Some Pig!”

Well, that’s how I feel about the cookies I baked today. They are Some Cookies!

I created this recipe in July 2009 … but I should let the old Sylvia tell you the story.

At any rate, I baked them again today so I could show you what they’re like … I ‘ve eaten six or seven … cannot stop.

I do pick a quarrel with myself of fifteen years ago. I called them “Lovely Easy Bar Cookies for Picnics.” Well lovely they are, but they took a long hour. But then I reminded myself I initially made the cookies at a time when I had only myself to think of — I was a widow with a big dog.

This morning I was also making coffee for Bill and for me, breakfast for Bill, me, our German Shepherd Uschi, and preparing lunch for a visit from grandchildren with a great-granddaughter.

But it was fun and I enjoyed it, everyone loved them — my two-year-old great-granddaughter put her stamp of approval on them, so I’m not complaining. Just amused … or is it bemused … at my former self.

Originally Posted Wednesday, July 22, 2009: Lovely Easy Bar Cookies for Picnics
My apartment kitchen is excellent, I am happy with it, however it has a half-hearted oven … earnest, well-intentioned, but unreliable (don’t we all know people — let’s get closer to the bone — have friends like that?). So even though I am back to baking bread (I suppose I will plunge in and try something again soon with La Silverton’s organic-grape-based sourdough starter, humming away to itself in the fridge), I am reluctant to use my oven (I, who love to bake). It’s not just because I can’t trust the darn thing but also because it is a cavernous storage bin … all my baking sheets, large skillets, pot lids, pressure cooker, wok, are stored inside, and every time I want to use the oven, I have to pull out the contents….

Last Tuesday, I was going with my friend to the Hollywood Bowl, it was my turn to bring the picnic, and I was seized with the desire to make cookies. I was surprised at myself (haven’t made cookies in a very long time), but there it was. I looked through my books and found what seemed to be the perfect picnic cookie … easy, adaptable, rough and tumble. It was the recipe, “Sweetmeats,” in “The Silver Palate Cookbook,” a work I admire not only for its cheerful resourcefulness, but eminently flavorful and useful recipes.

The cookies have a shortbread foundation … I added a layer of jam (one can never have too much jam) … then a topping of nuts and coconut. Don’t fret that there are three parts — it all goes easily and the beauty part is that you can use whatever you have on hand, any jam and any nuts and even skip the coconut. The “SPC” recipe calls for walnuts but I — who snatch up hazelnuts at the holidays and hoard them like a squirrel — used hazelnuts. I’m sure almonds would be lovely, too. I added a layer of raspberry jam because I don’t think there’s a cookie in the world that doesn’t profit from a tetch of raspberry…but you could use cherry or apricot or any marmalade … I also added cinnamon, same principle as with raspberry jam…. The cookies have a delicious European sensibility. (I have the feeling I will be tempted to drop in a bit of chocolate at some point.)

I packed eight for our picnic, but they proved to be rich and we each only ate two — my friend took the extras home. The rest I tucked into a storage container and put in the fridge. They are as fresh today, a long week later, as when I made them. I’m sure they would freeze well. What I love about these cookies is that, around midnight, when I’ve a nagging need for something sweet, I dip into the box and bring out a cookie — OK Sylvia, be honest, you bring out two — and my sweet tooth is happily satisfied.

Some Cookie!!!
Makes 30 to 36* crunchy rich bars

The shortbread
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1-2/3 firmly packed cups (12 ounces) light brown sugar
1-2/3 cups (7 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
The topping
2 cups (10 ounces) whole unblanched almonds (or walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts)
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 firmly packed cup (7-1/2 ounces) light brown sugar
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch sea or kosher salt
1 cup (3 ounces) shredded coconut

The base
1 cup (about 12 ounces) raspberry, cherry, or other tart jam, at room temperature

The baking
Heat the oven to 350 o, adjust the rack to the middle. Butter bottom and sides of a 9 by 12-inch or 10 by 10-inch baking pan.
For the shortbread, in a food processor pulse the butter and brown sugar together until fluffy, about 12 pulses. Add the flour, cinnamon, and salt and pulse just until blended, about 3 pulses, scrape down the sides and pulse 3 times more. Smooth this into the pan, using a fork to press it evenly, running the fork side to side then diagonally, then along the edges. Bake 20 minutes until a lovely nut color, remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

While the shortbread bakes, roast the nuts in a skillet over medium heat on top of the stove till you can smell them, shaking the skillet to keep from burning, up to 8 minutes. (If a few darken, not to worry — you won’t notice … ask how I know.) Coarsely chop.

For the topping, in a medium-size bowl, beat the eggs until yolks and whites are blended, add the brown sugar and beat or whisk till blended. Add the flour, cinnamon, and salt and blend. Stir in the nuts and coconut. Blend thoroughly.

Drop the jam lengthwise down the center of the shortbread, then use a rubber scraper to spread it evenly, completely. Smooth the topping evenly over the jam.

Bake until the pastry is richly brown around the edges, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in the pan then cut into squares. Best stored between layers of waxed paper in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator. Keeps until eaten.
I hide ours.

*The 9 x 12 pan gives 30 thick squares, the 10 x 10 pan gives 36 less-thick squares.

1 Comment. Leave new

  • So . . . . . have they all been eaten? Is one allowed to beg? You do an excellent job of making the mouth water.


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