Monday, June 23, 2008
My Niece Stole My Headline
I wasn't even quite sure what I wanted to write about today, then I received an email from my sister - it's always interesting what might or might not inspire me to write. Today, my sister emailed me and described how my younger niece was watching a cartoon where they were naming all of the U.S. presidents. At the end of this list she apparently said "Mom, they forgot to name the GIRL PRESIDENTS". They forgot to name the girl presidents.
I was stunned. And hopeful. And intrigued. I wonder if her assumption was because of this year's nomination process, with Hilary Clinton in the mix. Or, was her assumption merely because there would be no inherent reason for her to think there would not be girl presidents. Why not, of course? I guess for whatever reason she feels this assumed equality, I can only hope that it lasts for as long as possible. It does give me hope that some day, there will be a world where children of both sexes and all races will grow up where they can not only assume anything is possible - but also see others like them who've gone before them to prove it so.
Maybe America is finally growing up a little. Dare we hope? We watched a woman run for the Democratic ticket. We have a man of African American descent running for President. We have people of the same sex getting married in California. While it seems so late in the game for all of this to be happening, I'm no less grateful for it. They are small steps in the right direction - and I hesitate to say more without going into a mile-long tirade about all that I think is wrong with our society.
I think my niece says it best with "They forgot to name the Girl Presidents" - indeed, my dear, INDEED.
Chocolate Carmelicious Shortbread Bars
I'll admit, I was really mad about these bars when I finished them - mostly because of the poorly written recipe, which contained outright mistakes - so, I won't be naming the book from which it was adapted (not a well known book). I nearly tossed out the whole lot, I was so filled with spite! Mature, I know. But, I warmed up to them - we had a rather enjoyable photo shoot, they gave me some coy poses, they put their best flirt on - and a spell was cast. Upon tasting them again, I finally realized they were actually frickin' delicious. If you took the concept of a Twix bar and multiplied it by the homemade factor - this is the result - and it is exponential, my dears. I took about 25 of the bars to work on a Friday; only, it was a Friday when there were only about 5 people in the office - and they were almost all gone by 3 pm - little scavengers. So, I guess they don't suck. Update: work people told me to say that they rocked - well, okay then.
2 1/2 c. all purpose flour, sifted
1/4 c. cornstarch
2 c. unsalted butter, diced
1/2 c. sugar
1 c. light brown sugar
2 14-oz. cans sweetened condensed milk
8 oz. semisweet chocolate
Preheat oven to 325F. In a food processer, pulse the flour, cornstarch, 1 cup butter and sugar until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Turn it into a 13x9x1.5-in. pan, using fingers or back of a spoon to pack down and smooth the surface; prick the bottom of dough with a fork and bake for 35-40 minutes until pale golden. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
Place remaining 1 cup butter and brown sugar in saucepan over low hear until melted. Add condensed milk and bring slowly to a boil, stirring continuously until the mixture turns pale caramel color, about 3-4 minutes. Pour over top of cooled shortbread - taking care that this layer measures about 1/2-inch and doesn't spill over the sides; if this layer becomes overly thick, the middle proves too mushy and the bars are unwieldy. Chill in fridge for 1 hour or until set.
Once set, melt the chocolate in double boiler - allow to cool as you do not want to spread hot chocolate on cold caramel, right? So, allow the chocolate to cool enough so that it won't melt the caramel - but you want the chocolate to still be spreadable; just keep an eye on the chocolate's consistency and feel the temperature - and you'll know when the time is right. Spread over the caramel topping and chill in the fridge until set. Cutting these bars is tricky - you need to allow them to come toward room temperature - otherwise, the knife will crack the chocolate when you cut them straight out of the fridge (I tried the hot, dry knife method and it didn't work so well). So, bring toward room temp., cut to desired size, and store in fridge for serving. Enjoy!