Today, I'm sharing a book from another of the world's most celebrated authors. Jane Austen wrote about love, romance, and class distinction...but did she write about anything frightening enough to be included in Cookie Bookie? Well, yes. And no. And maybe so. Let's get started with the slightly frightening and work our way up to the downright eerie. Northanger Abbey has all of the rosy charm that readers have come to expect of Jane Austen. Heroine Catherine Morland is torn between the demands of her heart and the demands of her family's pocketbook in the form of two potential suitors. Typical Austen fare. But Northanger Abbey is also a spoof on the chilling gothic novels that had become so popular during the Regency Period. Our heroine spends a good portion of the day with her nose stuck in a spooky novel, and then superimposes eerie gothic mystery into everyday situations, to the point of suspecting her lover's father of being a murderer. Think Walter Mitty with a death wish. Catherine craves the horror and suspense, the drama and the intrigue that are standard fare in her favorite books. As Catherine wanders the dark halls of Northanger Abbey, you won't be immune to her spine-tingling perspective. Before Catherine can give herself over to true love, she must learn to respect the boundaries between truth and fiction. It's the perfect read for those who are looking for a mild case of the shivers. But look what they've done to dear Jane now. (Don't look, Mom.)
Can this pulp fiction even count as our proper Jane Austen now? I'm not sure. Have you read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies yet? It's gruesome, but I couldn't resist. Elizabeth Bennett stretches beyond proud and witty literary heroine to become bonafide bad-mama zombie fighter. The notion is amusing. If you think you enjoyed her pithy banter with Mr. Darcy, wait until she uses her muscles to express her annoyance. Hi-ya! But...after awhile I got a bit bored with the slash um' up gimmick. It just couldn't hold my attention in the effortless way that a true Austen can. Still, I did get more than one good chuckle out of it. Listen to the first line...."It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains." Fans of Austen will remember the first line of the true Pride and Prejudice as "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man inpossession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is not for the squeamish, but it will do well enough for those who want to be scared silly.
Whichever Austen (or Austen-ish) book you choose to devour this October, I've got the perfect treat as a companion: A tender brown sugar bar cookie, studded with toasted pecans and tempered with a slightly salty maple glaze. It's a little fancy, a bit on the high brow side, since Austen deserves our utmost respect (tut, tut). But it's also playful, with a little touch of salt thrown over the top, to ward off superstition. Just in case the macabre really is lurking around the darkest corner of your attic. Mwah, ha, ha. Until tomorrow.
Maple Glazed Brown Sugar Bars
adapted from Taste of Home Baking Book
Estimated Cost: $5.00 for 12 squares
1 and 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
2 teaspoons maple flavoring
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cups flour
1 cup chopped toasted pecans
2 tablespoons softened butter
2 cups powdered sugar
2-4 tablespoons cream
1 and 1/2 teaspoons maple extract
1/4 cup chopped, toasted pecans
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine sugar, butter, and maple flavoring. Add eggs and mix until well combined. add baking powder and salt. Stir in flour, then nuts. Pour into greased 9 inch square baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Prepare glaze by combining butter and powdered sugar. (Mixture will be a little lumpy.) Slowly stir in cream, as needed. Stir until smooth. Add maple flavoring. Pour glaze over almost cool bars. Sprinkle with pecans and salt. Serves nine.
Be Back Tomorrow with More Cookie Bookie
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