Monday, May 31, 2010

Rhubarb-Berry Crisp

Happy Memorial Day! I hope you are all enjoying beer-soaked bratwursts and remembering all the people who existed and sad things that happened to them so that you could enjoy those bratwursts. Thank a soldier while you're at it.

If you haven't yet made a dessert for the picnic you're headed to this afternoon, here's a recipe you might consider. And if you have already made a dessert, just bookmark this one for later. It comes in handy on many occasions, including but not limited to the following: (1) when you have a lot of frozen fruit taking up space in your freezer that could be better used for breastmilk or baby food cubes; (2) when you make a rich, salty dinner and need a fresh, light dessert to cleanse the palate and round out the meal without making your guests explode; (3) when you blinked and those peaches or plums or apricots or berries that you had on your counter for a week overripened instantaneously; and (4) summer. (And, of course, when you are trying to see how many simple things you can make with rhubarb in one week.) It's one of the best, most useful recipes I've crafted and ends up being a go-to dessert several times every summer. The maple syrup is a perfect compliment to seasonal fruit and the oatmeal crumble proves to be everything you want in a crisp - buttery, chunky, and just sweet enough.

Rhubarb-Berry Crisp
From ME!
Yield: 4-8 servings, depending on appetite and how much ice cream you eat with it

2 pounds fresh fruit or frozen fruit, thawed and drained (I used about equal parts rhubarb, strawberries, and frozen raspberries, rinsed under cold water; mostly plums + a cup or two of berries also work v. well here)
2 tablespoons maple syrup (or brown sugar or maple sugar or vanilla sugar)*

1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup flour (any flour will do, I used spelt this last time)
1/4 cup maple syrup (or 1/3 cup brown sugar)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted or soft
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon and/or ground ginger (optional)

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Mix fruit and maple syrup or sugar in a 9" pie dish or a cake pan comparable in size. Cook fruit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, stir together the oats, flour, salt, and any spices you decide to use. In a measuring cup, melt or almost melt the butter. Add in the maple syrup and whisk until combined. Pour the butter-syrup mixture into the oat mixture and stir together with a fork until crumbly. Dollop the mixture evenly on top of slightly-cooked fruit and bake for another 30 minutes, or until the top is browned and the fruit is slightly bubbly. (Check it every couple minutes past 20 - it can burn quickly.)

This is absolutely delicious warm with fresh, lightly sweetened whipped cream or ice cream (if you are really dressing it up, try lemon or key lime ice cream or sorbet - yum!) and a glass of champagne. It's also good with vanilla yogurt for breakfast. But... I really like dessert for breakfast.

Note that this recipe can easily be doubled or even tripled to accommodate a crowd or use up a Costco-box-load of fruit. Just use a 13X9" pan or a 2 quart casserole instead of a smaller pan. Baking time should be the same.

(OR - if you are a bit evil - I have not personally done this but have wanted to because let's be honest the best part of a crisp, no matter how good the fruit is, is the crisp - you could just double the topping but not the fruit. But then, really, you might as well just make OMG Cookies.)

* If you are using tart berries, plums, apricots or more rhubarb than other, sweeter fruit, you might want to up the syrup or sugar a bit. Also, of course regular sugar would be fine too, but I'd add the spices and a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla then just to give the baked fruit some more desserty tones.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Wine-Roasted Rhubarb

Day 2 of the rhubarb frenzy. (Don't worry. There are only three days.)

(So far.)

This recipe is v. easy and v. tasty and v. easy to adjust to suit your own palate as far as sweetness and tartness and the highly personal delicate balance we all try to find between them go.

Hi. My name is Edith and I like to write awkward sentences.

This recipe is from Orangette. I am reading A Homemade Life, a sort of coming-of-age memoir/cookbook written by Molly Wizenberg, the creator of Orangette. She's cute. Because I can't not critique things I read, I'll note that conciseness sort of eludes her, but her writing is sweet and honest and quirky and funny and her recipes are v. good, and anyway maybe conciseness is overrated because books look better on shelves than pamphlets. What I like most about this particular book is that her writing style and tone and maybe even her attitude/perspective on life remind me a lot of my BFF of twentysomething years, Nicole. That's a compliment to them both. They're both quite charming and they both write passionately about food and family and love.

But back to the rhubarb frenzy!

Since I like the recipes in her book and the small handful on her blog that I've tried, I figured Ms. Wizenberg's v. simple roasted rhubarb recipe was worth a shot, particularly since I had all the ingredients on hand. I was right. It's delicious. And I didn't even use fresh wine. I used wine that my husband and I had opened and forgotten about (an unfortunate rarity) for about a week in the refrigerator. But I am the opposite of wasteful, so I saved it anyway for cooking or baking and here we are.

It's a bit tart as written below. If you want something more rhubarb-pie-like, double the sugar, and then actually you'd be following the original recipe more precisely. I was a little sugared-out when I made this, so I thought I'd go for something more subtle so I could have it for (a guilt-free) breakfast. I also wanted to see how much the roasting itself brought out different flavors in the rhubarb. All in all, it proved to be a worthwhile mini-experiment. I'd make it exactly the same next time.

Wine-Roasted Rhubarb
Ever-so-slightly adapted from Orangette
Yield: about 2-3 servings

1 lb. rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup white wine
1 vanilla bean, split

Set a rack in the lower third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350°F.

Put the rhubarb in a pie plate. Add the sugar, wine, and vanilla bean, and stir to mix. Bake (uncovered) for about 25 minutes, or until very tender, giving the rhubarb a gentle stir about midway through to ensure even cooking.

Great served while warm (particularly with ice cream) and pretty darn tasty right out of the refrigerator the next morning.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Mango Rhubarb Loaf with (optional) Coconut Crumble


Did you miss me?

I missed you too.

In fact, I always miss you.

Yes, you.


You are so pretty.

So, the reason that I haven't posted lately is that I had my parents and nephew visiting for a week and we spent a portion of their visit at our cousins' lake cabin about an hour north of Brainerd. I don't know that region of Minnesota v. well, so I can't be more specific than that really, other than to say that it is one of the prettiest and tick-ridden parts of the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and storms there feel a little more horror-movie-esque than they do when I'm safely in the confines of my sixth floor condo. But that all sounded a little darker than I meant. It was actually a wonderful trip, and we ate loads and loads of red meat and bacon and big, syrupy breakfasts and super rich desserts made by my cousin, who makes a habit of substituting sour cream for yogurt and heavy whipping cream for milk. I am fatter having gone on this trip.

Oh well.

Before we left, as I mentioned in my last post, I got some rhubarb from the farmer's market. Rhubarb is so interesting. It looks like celery spray-painted red, which is weird in and of itself. And then after you touch it your hands smell like delicious summer candy. But then you take a bite and no no no. I mean, I know some people like it, but they're weird, right? It just makes my mouth pucker thinking about it. But then it cooks down to something mild and semi-sweet and chutney-ish. It's wonderful. I think I love rhubarb, so there was a rhubarb frenzy in my kitchen last week. The rest of the month's posts are going to document the frenzy. Hopefully you'll enjoy it because maybe you love rhubarb too.

We have so much in common.

The first thing I made with the rhubarb was a quick bread based on this recipe. My modifications can be summed up as follows: I used mangos instead of strawberries, as I had some mangos that were going soft and I didn't want to use up my beautiful strawberries quite yet in a baked good; I used Cointreau because I didn't have rum on hand (well, except Bacardi 151, which I didn't use for fear of starting my oven on fire); I used a tad less oil; I substituted yogurt for sour cream; and I doubled the recipe, because I feel that one always should make two loaves instead of one because it takes the same amount of time and is super easy to double and then you have one to share and one to hoard, which is kind of my style. I also used coconut instead of pecans in my crumble because I am allergic to nuts. The crumble, which I only put on one of my two loaves, was so-so. Its flavor was fine, but it turned out a little dry (coconut absorbs more moisture than nuts), and it didn't really stick to the loaf so it was sort of a crumbly unnecessary mess. I'll skip it next time, but I'm posting the recipe for it in case you want to mess around with it a bit and let me know how to make it better.

Mango Rhubarb Loaf with (optional) Coconut Crumble
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes two loaves (about 10-12 1/2" slices per loaf)

1-1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup oil (I used olive oil)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons Cointreau or Grand Marnier or good rum
2 cups flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 cup plain yogurt (I used whole milk yogurt)
1 cup diced rhubarb (you'll want fingernail-sized pieces, like in picture - I am so helpful!)
1 cup chopped mango

Coconut Crumble Topping (Optional)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Beat together the brown sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla and liqueur or rum until creamed. Combine the flours, salt, spices, and baking soda; stir. Add dry ingredients to first mixture with the yogurt. Stir in mangos and rhubarb.

Divide evenly and spread into two well-greased 9×5-inch loaf pans — the batter will be very thick.

Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over the loaves.

Bake at 350° for about 55 to 65 minutes, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.

Let cool about 10 minutes in the pan and then about 10 minutes outside of pan before diving in.

Have at it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Pasta Salad Revisited

This weekend marked the second week of my family's favorite farmer's market. It was so great. (But it's always great because it's the best farmer's market in the world.) My husband and I shared a ham and cheese crepe with fresh peppery chives in it - note: chives go v. well with ham and cheese. Who knew? We got some spicy pickled brussels sprouts and a big bag of arugula and some herbs that cost about a third of what I've been paying at the store lately. I also bought rhubarb for the second time in my life and am determined, this time, to use it before it gets floppy. (I'm entertaining the thought of a mango-rhubarb coffee cake or crisp. Thoughts, anyone?) Finally, we got asparagus. I thought we were big asparagus growers here in the midwest, but maybe that's not true. Our co-op, which is fairly dedicated to distributing local produce when available, is selling asparagus from Washington right now. We've never gotten asparagus from our CSA farm, which is in Wisconsin. And at the farmer's market, only one vendor had it, whereas there were several folks selling rhubarb, herbs, various spring greens, and doughnuts. I guess its elusiveness in Minneapolis makes asparagus a hot commodity, in turn making the recipe below not the simple little salad recipe that it appears to be at first glance, but rather a special, get-it-while-you-can-because-you-only-can-briefly-at-least-if-you-live-in-Minneapolis little salad recipe. And a tasty, super healthy one, at that.

It's one of my favorites. It's light and fresh and summery and yet substantial enough to be your whole dinner.

It's the reason I've been on the lookout for asparagus.

Not persuaded? Here are five other reasons to make this: (1) It's inexpensive. (2) I think kids would like it, but I am not positive about that, as my kid's not old enough to. (3) It stores well, so it can travel to a picnic (just add the cheese and olive oil at the last minute before tossing), or if you are only feeding yourself or yourself + 1, it makes enough for tasty leftovers, which can be eaten cold or lukewarm (just microwave for about thirty seconds or so). (4) It is healthy and pretty - I have served it for guests on three occasions and it has consistently gone over v. well. (5) It uses up frozen peas. Maybe you are like me and always happen to have frozen peas in your freezer just begging to be used. "Help! I am a hundred years old! Cook me!" That's what my peas would say if they could talk. Unless you were my company one of those three times I served this for company. Those peas were super fresh.

Pasta Salad Revisited
Adapted from 101Cookbooks
Yield: 4-6 main course servings

1/2 pound cheese or mushroom ravioli
1 bunch fresh asparagus, sliced into 3-inch pieces
2 cups frozen peas
4 big handfuls of baby spinach (or other fresh, coarsely chopped greens)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds, toasted
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
olive oil
salt and pepper

Cook the ravioli according to package instructions. Throw the peas and asparagus into the boiling water with the ravioli for the last two minutes. Drain the ravioli, peas and asparagus and run cold water over them until they are no longer hot. Place the spinach in a large serving bowl and add the cooked and slightly cooled ravioli, peas, and asparagus. Top with sunflower or pumpkin seeds and feta cheese. Toss with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

The original version calls for parmesan rather than feta. I'm sure that would be lovely although I've never used it myself. I have, however, added some fresh herbs that I was trying to use up (e.g., mint, basil, scallions, chives, and stevia leaves). While they are by no means necessary, if you have them, they go well with the basic ingredients listed in the recipe.

It is a whole lot of sunny delicious summer here today. I need to get off this compy and take my baby for a walk. Have a good one!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Spicy Spinach, Ricotta and Sausage Pizza

This bad boy's another restaurant appropriation. My husband and I frequent a wine bar across the street called Toast. It's super convenient for us, it has an excellent wine list with frequently-changing wines by the glass, it's fairly inexpensive, and we are quite fond of its modest but yummy menu, which includes like twenty kinds of crostini, a handful of pizzas, and a couple salads and sandwiches. It also has an amazing dessert menu, but that's neither here nor there as far as this post is concerned. What this post is concerned about is the pizza. Specifically, the spinach, ricotta, chile pepper, and provolone pizza. (Which will change to the zucchini, ricotta, chile pepper, and provolone pizza in a few short weeks, I imagine, when things start to grow here other than asparagus.)

I've made this a couple of times now. The first time, I made it exactly as I imagine they make it at Toast, except with a lot less cheese because, well, you know you can't ever use the amount of cheese in your at-home cooking as they use at restaurants. I'd like to. But neither my waistline nor my wallet can afford it. (Seriously. They must use three or four times as much provolone as I used.) The second time, I used a store-bought pizza crust and added smoked andouille sausage. It was even better, not only because, duh, it had sausage, but also because we have not yet mastered the art of homemade pizza dough, so something was lacking in that first go, something besides the sausage. (Plus the Rustic Crust pizza crusts are super tasty and often on sale at our co-op.)

If you live in Minneapolis and like a good flat-crust pizza, I highly recommend trying the original version of this pizza at Toast. (It's good. Good enough for me to copy and have in the comfort of my home not once but twice in the last month.) But if you aren't so lucky, or even if you are but sometimes just need a homemade version of a restaurant-style pizza with a fraction of the cheese, this little recipe will serve you well.

Spicy Spinach, Ricotta and Sausage Pizza
Yield: one 12" pizza, to serve 2-4 people (but let's be honest 2 people)

1 store-bought or oven-ready homemade pizza crust, 10-12 inches in diameter
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
1/4 to 1 teaspoon dried red chile pepper flakes (or, heck, more if you really like spice)
2 big handfuls spinach (about 5 ounces, I'm guessing)
1/4 of a sweet onion (I used Texas 1015) or 2 shallots, thinly sliced and separated into rings
1/4 pound smoked andouille sausage (1-2 links), thinly sliced
2-3 ounces grated provolone cheese (about 1/2 cup)

Pictures above sort of show the process. Dollop ricotta cheese evenly over pizza crust. Top with garlic and red chile flakes. Next cover the whole pizza with a huge tower of spinach (it will flatten once cooked). Layer the onion or shallot rings and sausage before finally covering the provolone on top. Bake according to your crust's package instructions, or until the cheese and sausage are starting to brown (in my house, this meant about 10-12 minutes in a 425 degree oven). Let cool for about 5 minutes before slicing. Try not to eat the whole thing yourself.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Caramel Cake

I haven't posted a cake recipe for a while and, well, that just makes me feel like a failure what with this whole "Cake and Edith" business. I think this one will make up for the deficit however. It's lovely.

Let's talk about cake for a minute. When I was baking this, I stepped out of the house to run an errand (fire hazard! don't try this at home, kids!). When I returned, my home smelled warm, delicious, festive and sweet, and I felt that anyone who came over within a couple of days would experience the same sensory treat and would feel v. welcomed into my home. And hungry. What is special about cake as opposed to bread or cookies or something savory and aromatic is that a cake brings with it a lovely sense of occasion. It's reminiscent of parties and children and holidays and the people you love.

I really should make cake more often.

The cake part of this recipe is rather simple. It smells and tastes exactly like what a made-from-scratch yellow cake should do. The batter tastes frighteningly similar to the Cold Stone Creamery's yellow cake batter ice cream, only a little better, plus you know what's going into it (i.e., no "natural flavor" in this golden dreamcake). It would be nice frosted with chocolate ganache or a white buttercream. But that's not to say that the caramel is not wonderful, plus it requires using a candy thermometer (my first time and v. exciting!) and it soaks into the cake while the cake cools and, well, not that many things sound better than a perfect homemade yellow cake soaked in warm, homemade caramel, really, so maybe my ganache and buttercream ideas are useless.

The one thing I did not do but will do next time is this: I'd poke some holes into the cake with a fork before pouring the hot caramel on top. This would have taken the aforementioned "soaking" to a whole different level of decadent. A level where Colin Firth is about to take a swim behind an historic estate in the English countryside.

Caramel Cake
From Gourmet (R.I.P.), January 2008 and available at
Yield: one 8" square cake; 16 small pieces

For cake
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)*
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature 30 minutes (or placed in a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes - my little trick)
1 cup buttermilk

For caramel glaze
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Equipment: a candy thermometer

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8" square cake pan and line with a square of parchment paper, then butter parchment.

Sift together flour*, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture may look curdled - actually, mine looked curdled right when I added the eggs, I think because I had let the half-finished mixture sit around for a while to comfort my baby, who was a bit moody while I was trying to make this). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just incorporated.

Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles (loud noises!). Bake until golden (a wooden pick inserted in center of cake should come out clean), about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.

Now it's time to make the caramel glaze.

Bring cream, brown sugar, corn syrup, and a pinch of salt to a boil in a medium to large heavy saucepan (I used a 2-quart) over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Boil until glaze registers 210 to 212°F on thermometer, 12 to 14 minutes, then stir in vanilla.

Put rack with cake in a shallow baking pan and pour hot glaze over top of cake, allowing it to run down sides. If you have the willpower, cool until glaze is set, about 30 minutes.

* I experimented with the following substitution for cake flour when I made this: whisked together 1/4 cup cornstarch + 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, then sifted the mixture into a bowl and measured out the 2 cups + 2 tablespoons called for in the recipe. I recommend this substitution with reservations, i.e. only if you are really in a pinch. By which I mean, the cake turned out fine - the flavor was delicious and it had a nice crumb - but it lacked that silky, posh cake shop texture that results from using cake flour. I'm not sure the "homemade cake flour" I concocted did anything that straight-up all-purpose flour would not have done. Someday, when I have the time to do it and the company to taste-test, I would like to do a little Cake and Edith Test Kitchen experiment which would involve making three versions of this cake - one with cake flour, one with the cornstarch-flour mixture, and one with just regular all-purpose flour. Then I'd really know how significant the "reservations" in my "recommended with reservations" actually are. En fin.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Shakshuka (sort of)

I love eggs. I really do. We eat them for dinner at least once a week, and I have them for breakfast or lunch probably three times a week. I love them. They are a resourceful cook's go-to base, you know? Oh shoot, I have all these vegetables and cheese and am out of crackers and meat - let's make an omelette! Must use up that frozen pie crust and spinach - let's make quiche! Forgot to buy tortillas for enchiladas - sounds like a night for chilaquiles! Et cetera.

So imagine my glee when I found this recipe, which offered a whole new world of dinner possibilities: poaching eggs in sauce!? I had never thought to do that. Likely because I'd never before poached eggs period, let alone in sauce.

And then it got better and better, because I found delicious canned organic San Marzano tomatoes, which I didn't expect to find, and then I got to crush them with my hands, which made me feel v. fancy-meets-in-the-kitchen-trenches. This recipe is super easy, super quick, super cheap, and then - boom! - it ends up colorful, beautiful, and absolutely delicious.

The choice to use ricotta rather than the more traditional (and more decidedly Middle Eastern) crumbled feta in this recipe was more accidental than innovative. I was committed to keeping this inexpensive, and often that is best accomplished by using up what is in your refrigerator. I had ricotta. I love ricotta. It melted nicely and seeped into the eggs, making the dish, I suspect, a bit creamier than the versions on which it's based. And frankly, I think any cheese would work. What doesn't go with eggs, tomato sauce, and little spice, eh?

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen > Saveur
Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional, for extra kick; alternatively throw in another jalapeño)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 eggs (or 5 if, say, you only have 5)
4 ounces ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon chopped parsley (optional)
Warm pitas, for serving

Heat oil and butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add jalapeños and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, fragrant, and starting to brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, red chili flakes, cumin, and paprika, and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.

Put tomatoes and their liquid into a medium bowl and crush with your hands (this part is fun!). Add crushed tomatoes and their liquid to skillet along with 1/2 cup water, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Season sauce with salt.

Have your eggs and ricotta ready to go. Gently crack eggs over sauce so that eggs are evenly distributed across sauce’s surface. Add tablespoon-sized dollops of the ricotta cheese around the eggs. Cover skillet and cook until yolks are just set, about 3 minutes. Using a spoon, baste the whites of the eggs with tomato mixture, being careful not to disturb the yolk. Sprinkle shakshuka with parsley and serve with pitas, for dipping.

Note: Deb from Smitten Kitchen, in her comments section, suggests that, if you are serving only 1 or 2 people, making the sauce with less eggs for the first go and then reheating the sauce on the stove later and adding eggs is the best way to enjoy this dish as leftovers. If you only like your eggs soft-poached, then follow this advice. I, however, cooked the whole thing and microwaved the leftovers the next day. The eggs ended up hard, but I like hard-cooked eggs, especially when they have been marinating overnight in a spicy red sauce, and found it quite lovely.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Heavenly S'mores Bars

This will be quick. I am already pushing my luck by starting this post right now - my baby is likely to wake up from her morning nap at any second. But it's fitting that this post be quick and dirty because the recipe is. Well, it's quick. It's not dirty. It's heavenly. The opposite of dirty, really. And a good way to use up the rest of those marshmallows you bought to make the OMG Cookies.

These are a version of Smitten Kitchen's infinitely adaptable blondies, from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. (Speaking of which, wouldn't that just be a lovely Mother's Day gift for a woman who is celebrating her first Mother's Day as a mother? Indeed. Either that or something shiny anyway.)

These blondies truly are infinitely adaptable, just as Deb from the Smitten Kitchen suggests. I have made them with regular old chocolate chips. I have made these here S'mores Bars. And last Thursday, craving a simple late-night dessert, I made them with some white chocolate chips, unsweetened coconut, and a quarter teaspoon of almond extract in place of the vanilla. So so good.

But back to the s'mores version.

Here's the trick: LOTS OF CANDY. Seriously. Look at largest photo in this collage -

- that is bowl of candy next to bowl of batter. Notice that the amount of candy is approximately equal to the amount of batter. This is an important ratio to keep in mind if you want your Heavenly S'mores Bars to be heavenly. The kind with huge chunks of melty chocolate and a gooey marshmallow burst in every bite. The kind that make you say, "Can I have s'more please?"

(What? I like musical theater. So sue me.)

You won't really want to sue me after you eat these.

You will want to marry me.

Heavenly S'mores Bars
A heavenly version of this
Yield: about 16-25, depending on how small you cut them - they are intense, so mini portions go over well

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch salt
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose flour)
1 cup mini marshmallows (or a comparable amount of chopped up giant Israeli coconut-covered marshmallows)
4 ounce bar of bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, cut into chunks (or 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips)

Butter an 8×8 pan. Preheat oven to 350.

Mix melted butter with brown sugar – stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add egg and then vanilla and stir until combined. Add salt and flour, and stir until combined. Mix in marshmallows and chocolate. Taste test. If you dare.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until set in the middle. Remember: gooey is good.

I will make these again, probably this weekend, and I think I am going to try using graham flour to really make them super duper all-out s'moresylicious. I'll let you know how it goes.

P.S. Baby's still sleeping! Rock on!