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!

40 comments:

standing still said...

Give your niece a hug from the hippy potter in mn. I'm so proud of her. When I was a girl, way back in the dark ages of the 70's, I kept looking for the women priests in our episcopal church. Just a few years after my questioning, it finally happened. If we follow that logic, it won't be long now according to your sweet, smart niece

Sarah B. said...

I bet someday we'll be voting for you niece on the ticket. Or, maybe reading her political blog?

NV said...

I love when someone so young captures something so profound in such a simple way. Looks like your niece got the irony gene, too, dear!

Lisa said...

Hey Ann - you don't say how old she is - seems like girls are absolutely confidendent and powerful until they're about 12, then weird things start to happen. So, if she's older than that, great! If she's younger, then we can only hope it holds!!

BTW, homemade twix bars - they look so good!! I did a butterfinger type bar in April that might interest you :) http://chocolateand.blogspot.com/2008/04/home-made-candy-bars.html

Dawn said...

Wow! Amazing: your niece and your bars. :-)

kspin said...

Mmm. I love things that don't suck.

I hope my daughters will be as spunky and enlightened as your niece. Love her comment!

Kelsey said...

Oh yes, kids are much smarter than we are. The common sense your niece currently shows? Beats most adults as far as I'm concerned. Baby steps.

My Sweet & Saucy said...

The bars look yummy! Sorry they turn out as planned though!

Meagan said...

Your little niece is a wise one! I'm with you; I'm glad to see a black nominee, a woman nominee, and gay people allowed to marry. Now, if we can just see MORE of it, I'll know the world is growing wiser.

Fantastic pictures, btw.

Clumbsy Cookie said...

The world needs women presidents and bars like these, hopefully together so the women presidents can eat the bars! I allready like your niece Ann!

Jennywenny said...

I love these things, some people call them millionaires shortbread. Make sure to get the condensed milk to a nice brown colour then it will be all full of caramelly goodness...

firefly546 said...

I'm still wondering where the women presidents are? Maybe if women were in charge of all the countries in the world, all the crazy fighting and killing would stop! There'd be a bunch of men having time outs and no supper. I think Queen Latifah once said something like if there were no men in the world there would be a lot of fat, happy women and no war! (Hey, I love men; I'm married to a wonderful man and know a bunch of good ones, but I'm just sayin', do they have to be in charge of everything? I can see room for improvement!) I do so agree, though, we are moving in the right direction, and I hope it continues. In the meantime, I'll just have to make me a batch of those bars.

Ann said...

Standing Still - Hug going out!

Sarah - Maybe she'll be the next Arianna Huffington?

NV - I know! Wonder where she gets that........

Lisa - yes on the 12 thing - I think we'll have to put her in a capsule when she turns 12, and not take her out until she's 25. :)

Dawn - thanks! ;)

Kspin - with you as their Momma, but of course!

My S&S - in the end they were de-lish, but boy what a poor recipe!

Meagan - I agree: MORE of it please, world! Thanks for the compliment!

Clumbsy Cookie - Dang, I just like the way your mind works, woman!

Jennywenny - do they remind you of Twix bars too?

Firefly - LOVE that Queen Latifah "quote"! How true is that? And I agree - not that I want a world without men or anything, but a little more balance would be nice. Maybe men DO need more timeouts...I'm liking this idea...

Anonymous said...

Those look amazing but they are making my thighs bulge just drooling over them! Yum

Leslie said...

These are indeed carmelicious!!!

Becky said...

these look sooo good, i'm drooling all over my computer screen right now. i love chocolate and caramel together. on cookies, it's even better!

Amanda said...

It's my firm belief that with 2 cups of butter and 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk will make the BEST out of anything. Seriously!

Gigi said...

Homemade Twix? I think I have died and gone to Twix heaven. And I with your niece ...where are the girl presidents? Damn those good old boys clubs.

Laura @ Hungry and Frozen said...

what a cool, cool niece you have. And that caramel slice looks mind-blowingly good. I could - perhaps literally - eat 12 pieces RIGHT NOW :)

Grace said...

yep, you've gotta watch out for those flirtatious desserts. they tempt and tease like there's no tomorrow, and then you eat them, and then they're gone. homemade twix bars? there would be no resistance here. :)

Razor Family Farms said...

Well, I confess that I was decidedly not a H. Clinton fan. She told one too many lies for me. But I can't wait for our very own Margret Thatcher to take office and clean house in there.

We are stepping out of the wilderness politically, I think. Perhaps ol' G.W.B. did us some good after all -- he opened our eyes to the NEED for progress, African American leadership, female leadership -- anything other than "more of the same." The truth is that none of us care to dwell in our grandparents' politics. We've moved on and it's high time our leaders caught up.

Excellent post. So good that I almost forgot to comment on those fabulous little bars which are so sexy and scrumptious that I shall call them Orlando (Bloom, that is). Indeed, boxy buns and all. Those Orlandos look mighty fine.

Blessings!
Lacy

Sugar said...

Your niece is AWESOME! What a bright little mind! Maybe you guys can tell her about all the other parts of the world that celebrate women as leaders. That way she doesn't get some jacked up view that it's not possible. 'Cause it is, DAMMIT!

Someone just told me that we (as in, our little world in this part of the universe) have entered into the (drum roll...) Age of Aquarius. I guess that means that male and female will become more equalized with each sides characteristics and qualities being praised for working in harmony rather than jeered for being opposite the other. No emasculating our big, strong men. No tearing women down for being feminine and beautiful. Just coming together for the greater good.

Wouldn't THAT be cool?

Ann said...

Anon - darlin', I know the feeling!

Leslie - thanks! We are lovin' 'em!

Becky - not to worry, we drooled all over them in real life and then ate them as well.

Amanda - omg, I know - can you say sugar and butter?

Gigi - I really wasn't expecting these to taste as great as they did. Nor my niece to be this profound at age 6, who knew?

Laura - love the new pic!!

Grace - I know, right! Problem is, as a food blogger, it seems there is food constantly flirting w/ us 'round here! :)

Lacy - I'm with you darlin' - both in politics and with the Orlando Bars (love it). It is high time we moved forward from the dark ages. Maybe Margaret Thatcher has a NIECE???

Sugar - What an awesome comment. I have long heard of the Age of Aquarius and that we are upon it. I am an Aquarius - so I'm as quirky as they come - so I guess this is my age. If this age brings harmony (and I can't imagine it being any less harmonious), then perhaps everything leading up to it has been worthwhile? I'm hopeful.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Ann, what a wonderful post! Your niece is absolutely bright. I hope that in the future she can get to know some girl presidents.

Your bars look delicious and I'm glad you did not give up on the recipe.

Carmen said...

delicious

Belle57 said...

These bars look like heaven, I'm at work right now and just salivating a little bit. Love the niece, sounds like she has some of the aunt in her.

Your Pal Pinki said...

I say YUM!!!

Razor Family Farms said...

Don't hate me, Ann! I have Jadite (Fire King) mixing bowls but that one is one of a set of 1950's Pyrex Primary mixing bowls. The difference? The vintage Pyrex bowls cost about $75-110 and the Jadite mixing bowls are about $50-60 on Ebay. I love my Jadite but I have to tell you: nothing tops my love for those silly Pyrex mixing bowls. Why? Because my grandmother and our housekeeper, Elizabeth, used them constantly and they are somehow still in perfect condition. When I touch them, I can picture those two wonderful ladies and the delicious meals they created.

I act like a freak when they are out and in use though. Often I scream things at my poor doting husband like I have Tourettes. It generally goes something like this:

"IS THAT MY GRANDMOTHER'S MIXING BOWL IN YOUR HAND HEADED FOR THE DISHWASHER? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? FREEZE! STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING! LEAVE THE KITCHEN. THOSE BOWLS HAVE NEVER SEEN THE INSIDE OF A DISHWASHER!"

To the bowls:

"Did Daddy hurt you? Did mean ol' Daddy try to hurt my babies?"

See? I'm hopeless.

Blessings!
Lacy

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The Cheap Chick said...

I am gaining weight just looking at the pictures, but still. Doesn't food photograph well? It IS all coy and "don't you want me?", isn't it? Naughty food!

And when your niece can vote, she will be voting for a woman. Bank on it.

Sugar said...

This is definitely not on the cleanse. But neither is Dooce now... she was just told by her doctor to knock that crap off. YAY! I have so much less guilt about eating this yummy treat now!

Jennifer H said...

Smart girl. Maybe one day the list of girl presidents will be quite long. We can hope.

Until then, we'll eat these yummy bars. Well, maybe not until then...we have to stop eventually. ;-)

diva said...

firstly, i can safely say your niece is wonderfully intelligent! and bless her heart, i hope she never loses that sharp eye and america never forgets about freedom of speech.

secondly, will you stop tempting me with your food photos! i have a heart attack every time u post. ;)

xx

Angela said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angela said...

I just came across your blog today via food gawker, your caramel shortbread looks delicious. You will find it in all the bakeries here in Scotland. We tend to call it millionaire's shortbread as it has a luxurious topping on it compared to our humble shortbread.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Out of the mouths of babes . . .

Lisa Milton said...

Those look amazing! I was going to comment on the utter lack of girl presidents, but now all I can think about is these beauties.

Both in time, I hope.

Elizabeth said...

I'm disappointed..

I made these this afternoon (we have Twix bars in Australia, but to me these bars are called caramel slice). To me, this recipe is just too, too, too sweet! I think next time I will leave out the sugar when I'm mixing up the caramel - the condensed milk on its own was almost too sweet for me.

I shall persevere! That's a sweet story, too, by the way. Australia's deputy PM is Julia Gillard, and our newest appointed Governor-General is also a female - she's yet to take office though. We've still a ways to go, though.

Christine said...

I seriously just laughed out loud when I read "They forgot to name the girl presidents."

(And I'm at the office supposedly working hard before the holiday weekend!)

Thats for the laugh. And PS- those bars look heavenly!

whisk-kid said...

Aw, sorry the recipe gave you trouble! I have been there before... Wanting to toss things out... Not a good feeling!!

These look absolutely amazing, though!