Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cookie Bookie: Maple Bars and the Macabre

Welcome back to another edition of Cookie Bookie, the week long celebration of nail-biting stories and mouth-watering treats. If you weren't here yesterday, scroll down for Agatha Christie's Suprise, Surprise and some suprisingly delicious chocolate cookies.
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
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cups flour
1 cup chopped toasted pecans
For Frosting:
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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Michal said...

I'll take the cookies and Northanger Abbey, pass on the zombie Elizabeth Bennett Darcy:)

Just posted a link on Facebook. Hope to bring you some new followers! Everyone needs Prudy!:)

MK and Co. said...

I love Northanger Abbey and those maple bars look delicious. I Iove sweet with a little bit of salty. Thanks for another great reading suggestion and recipe. Have a great day! Are you and your kids on Fall Holiday?

Val said...

Those look incredible.

The JR said...

You're trying to blow my diet!

Leslie said...

I'm with Michal. Yes on Northanger Abbey, No on the Zombie Pride and Prejudice, and Yes on the maple bars.
This is my favorite week of your blog. Books, books and more books, and always a good cookie

Mona said...

Looks oh soooo delicious!

Catherine said...

I can't believe I've never read Northanger Abbey. I saw the PBS movie, but I keep forgetting to read it. Maybe I'll be reading it on the plane. =D

Catherine said...

PS I've spent the day making a pair or black bloomers to go with Annabelle's costume and if I didn't thankyou properly for the pair you made for Annabelle, I'm thanking you now! That really was so nice of you and she and I both love them. =D

Catherine said...

Here's another PS that you'll get a kick out of. When I bought the fabric and the eyelet, the girl who cut the fabric for me and the girl who rang me up both asked what I was making, I told them both, "bloomers" and both of them, BOTH of them, thought I was making them for ME!!!

Prudy said...

Catte, really? For you? They probably think you're a crazy UT Mormon that wears pioneer garb at home all day. ha, ha! I love the black bloomers. Now I'm wondering where Sailor's are. Hmmm. They are really cute under winter dresses with black tights and a black petticoat.

Catherine said...

I remember how cute Sailor's black bloomers looked under her Christmas dress. I loved it. But my black bloomers didn't turn out that great. I wanted them to be the same shape as Sailor's black one's but the legs are too wide, so they look like the shorter style and that I made them too long. They're kind of funny looking, but I didn't have a pattern. Actually you probably didn't have one either, if I know you. =D But yours turned out darling. Maybe after Halloween I'll cut some of the length off and hopefully they'll look more like her white ones.

Cookin' Canuck said...

I adore the combination of brown sugar and maple - those bars look amazing! I have read a lot of Jane Austen books, but never Northanger Abbey. I'm putting it on my list.

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Jenna said...

Have you read "Jane Slayer"? Similar to "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" it's much more intersting to read. Jane Eyre as a vampire slayer is suprisingly believable.

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