Sunday, February 3, 2013

A sweet treat for a sad day

In Glen's own words, today was a sad day.

Dove, one of our beautiful young cows, gave birth to dead twin heifer calves this morning. For us, twin heifer calves are extra special. They even get special names – like Hope & Pray and Laugh & Love. So, to have twin heifer calves born dead was extra sad. To make it worse, not only is Dove a great-looking cow, she's ranked one of the best cows in our herd; the kind you really want to have a heifer calf.

So, in an effort to cheer Glen up, I decided a pan of bars was in order (even though our niece delivered the Girl Scout cookies yesterday). I thought the bars might be appreciated, given this conversation last night:

"Dang, I actually lost weight," Glen said, after stepping on the scale.

"What?!?" I asked, thinking maybe I hadn't heard him right.

"I'm trying to gain 10 pounds before spring gets here," Glen explained.

I understand his reasoning: He's trying to put on a little extra conditioning so that he has something to burn off when he's burning the candle at both ends this spring trying to get crops in the ground.

But, man, talk about injustice. I'm trying to shed my post-partum padding and Glen's trying to fatten up. Oh, the jealousy. I'd give my left leg to be able to lose weight while eating to gain.

With plans to send the treats out to the barn, I started rummaging through my recipe folder for the bar recipe I had found inside the Land O'Lakes butter box awhile ago, but hadn't yet tried to make.

Caramel 'N Chocolate Pecan Bars
Prep time: 15 minutes — Total time: 1 hour*

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup pecan halves

Caramel Layer
⅔ cup butter
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar

Chocolate Layer
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


Heat oven to 350°F. Combine all crust ingredients except pecans in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until mixture resembles fine crumbs.

Press onto bottom of ungreased 13x9-inch baking pan. Place pecans evenly over unbaked crust.

Combine 2/3 cup butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar in 1-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until entire surface of mixture comes to a boil. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Pour evenly over pecans and crust.

Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until entire caramel layer is bubbly. (Do not overbake!) Remove from oven. Immediately sprinkle with chips; allow to melt slightly (2 to 3 minutes). Swirl chips leaving some whole for a marbled effect.

Cool completely; cut into bars. Makes 36 bars. (Who are they kidding? It's more like 15 bars.)

*Note: Prep time will vary depending upon how many newborns and three-year-olds you're trying to entertain at the same time.

My bars don't look nearly as great as the ones pictured on the Land O'Lakes web site, but they taste great. After a little tweaking (see below), this recipe will definitely be a keeper.

Part of the reason my bars might not have turned out like I hoped was that when I went to the box of baking supplies to fetch the ingredients, I came up a little short. There wasn't even a quarter of a bag of chocolate chips left. Seems like somebody (not me!) has been raiding the supply of chocolate chips. Probably the one who's trying to gain weight right now.

I didn't have enough for the recipe, but I did find a couple squares of semi-sweet baking chocolate in the bottom of the box. I figured that would work if I grated it.

I didn't have as many pecans as the recipe called for, either. I found some coconut, though, and decided to toast it and add some of that. I also chopped the pecans so that I'd have enough to cover the pan.

My bars don't hold together very well — probably from chopping the pecans and adding the coconut. I'm hoping they'll hold together better when I make them with the proper ingredients, because, around here, bars need to be suitable for grab and go consumption.

And since I'm an incurable recipe-tweaker, next time, I'll try using the crust recipe from these bars, since I like it better. I'll also try increasing the amount of caramel (by using 1 cup of butter and ¾ cup of brown sugar).

It might take a few tries for me to tweak these bars to perfection, but I know each attempt will be enjoyed. And at 5,760 calories per pan, they ought to help Glen reach his goal and keep a smile on his face.

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