Bake Club: Grandma’s Squares

Last week I told you about the recipe my aunty gave me. The date square that my grandma used to make. I made it Saturday and it tastes EXACTLY like I remember it. which is a giant relief. It is so disappointing when things from your childhood aren’t like you remember. I tried the square at room temperature and honestly, I prefer them frozen, so I cut them into small pieces and stuffed them into my full and nearly bursting freezer.

The first thing I did was preheat my oven to 350F and chop a pound of dates.

I pulled out the vintage Pyrex bowls from my parent’s wedding gift stash and I creamed together 1 cup of granulated white sugar and 3 tbsp of salted butter. I did this by hand because I remember my grandma doing it that way. I added 3 egg yolks one at a time, beating in between the addition of each yolk.

I added the pound of chopped dates and 1 cup of chopped pecans. Stirring this was hard. I remember Grandma’s hands shaking and thinking she was weak. Sorry Gran, I take that back. It was hard.

I sifted together 1 cup of unbleached AP flour, 1 tsp of baking powder, and 1/4 tsp of salt. I then added it to the mix and stirred it up.

Then I whipped up the egg whites and vanilla until it reached ‘stiff peak’ stage.

I tried to be gentle when folding them in, but honestly, it was hard, so they were forced into the mix. Do what you can, I won’t judge.

It said to pour into a shallow greased pan. It didn’t say what size, but I found a 9 x 13 was the perfect size. I used the back of a measuring cup to smash it down, it wasn’t pourable or spreadable.

I baked it for 25 minutes and it turned out perfectly. The instructions say and I quote “DO NOT OVER BAKE” So I didn’t.

At this point you could cut it up, sprinkling icing sugar over it or leave as is because of the dates, it is very sweet. But not my grandma…. she would make pink buttercream frosting. I think it was intended to be red for Christmas and it would end up being hot pink. I am not okay with food dye but I made an exception this time. Only I made a soft pink frosting by creaming together 1/2 cup of salted butter, 2 cups of icing sugar and 3 tsp of cream.

I am surprised I loved these as a kid with all the dates and nuts. But the hook for me was the frosting. I love the stuff. In hindsight, it kind of tasted like butter tarts, Canada’s favourite sweet. I followed the recipe the way I remember helping Grandma do it. Right down to the beater. I didn’t offer it up to anyone because it was my job to lick it clean.

I did it right Grandma! It tasted they way it was supposed to – better frozen and I did my job. Love you and miss you. Thanks for the squares.

Basically: Bars

I made it through another recipe with almost all the ingredients! I am enjoying this project so much, I can’t even!! Every Sunday morning another recipe pops up in my inbox and I read the entire recipe first. Then I read it again thinking about the ingredients. This week was Tahini Billionaire Bars. First off, Tahini is a weird ingredient for me. I have used it in hummus but that is about it. It isn’t sweet so using it would tone down the sweetness in the butterscotch. Apparently, you can use any nut butter as long as it is unsweetened. Fair enough. After tasting this, I would substitute peanut butter but this is really good as is, just super sweet. Cut the bars smaller than they call for because it was just too much sugar. It tastes like you can eat the whole piece but then it gets to be too much and you lose interest about halfway. Maybe that’s just me, maybe not. I will let you decide.

The first step was making the shortbread. I didn’t have sesame seeds so I made it without. I have to confess, this layer was an ORDEAL. The dough kept sticking to my hands as I pressed it into the sides, it became too soft. I suppose I could have stuck it into the freezer to chill it but it was a Tuesday night and I didn’t want to be at this for hours. So I swore and smooshed. The recommendation was for a 9 x 9 pan but spreading was thin, the corner was overdone. You can’t tell with the other layers tho and my family eats anything.

The second layer was problematic too. I started it WAY BEFORE the bottom layer was cool and out of the oven. HA, so much for reading the instructions twice. I have made butterscotch before so I dived in with a lot of arrogance. (The difference between butterscotch and caramel is brown versus white sugar – the more you know!)

The butterscotch was perfect, I could have added all the cream from the one cup container, it could have taken it. Now I have a 1/4 cup of cream in my fridge and keep forgetting to use it in my coffee. I let the caramel cool slightly while I waited for the shortbread to come out of the over, reversed I know but too bad, so sad.

I added the butterscotch and put the two layers in the fridge for an hour. Too hot, I know but whatEVER, stop judging.

After an hour, everything was firm and cool to the touch. I kept it in the fridge while I melted the chocolate. I didn’t have the fancy bittersweet 60% blablabla… WE ARE IN ISOLATION PEOPLE! So I used my standard chocolate chip use in cookies chocolate. It was fine. Good enough for snacks, good enough for this. Back into the fridge for 30 minutes and then I cut into them. That was the hard part (Other than the crust layer) These suckers need a firm hand and a sharp knife. Use a serrated knife and saw. I didn’t. I cut, I didn’t crush it like they said it would happen, but I didn’t use boujee chocolate so maybe that was the difference. I cut this into 16 squares, then after tasting, I cut into 32 rectangles. Trust me. I also didn’t sprinkle sesame seeds all over the top because WE ARE IN ISOLATION PEOPLE! And I didn’t want to go to the bulk barn for just that. Hopefully, I have the stuff for the next recipe, I heard a rumour it has carrots and carrot juice. Where the heck will I find carrot juice??? Wish me luck. Meanwhile, I nailed it this week in spite of the problems. Judge for yourself and imagine tiny little sesame seeds all over the top.

Theirs vs Mine

They taste as good as they look. What are you making this week?