the sweet bee sting

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Jam Drop Almond Bars and a New Book
12:20 AM

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Most of the baked goods I like to whip up are simple, throw-together things; recipes that have room for improvisation, or are rather forgiving when you have to substitute one ingredient for another. One thing I like to think I’m pretty darn okay at is making something out of nothing, in the kitchen at least, which is something my mom has always been good at too. We didn’t have a lot of money growing up [cue violins], but my mom did a fantastic job of concocting dinners and lunches out of not much to begin with, and for a pair of pretty picky little kids.

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I admit it, okay? I love cooking and baking everything about it, but I’m an extraordinarily picky eater. I’d like to say that I’m not, but I am. I just know what I like and know what I don’t, and no, I don’t want to try it again, okay?! Get off my back already!

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Ahem, now that I’m way off topic, I have yet another reliable, easily assembled and very likable baked treat for you. More almond extract [swoon!], more raspberry preserves [double swoon!], and you can totally make them into mini cakes or bigger bars, depending on the occasion or which dish you feel like washing afterward. It’s a good one for throwing in whatever you have on hand, or for showing off homemade jams or chocolate hazelnut spreads, both of which I hope to attempt in the near future.

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Also, we had a book club meeting the other night. After much gossiping and then a lengthy conversation on Never Let Me Go, Kristina revealed this month’s book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

The Goodreads synopsis gives an interesting start to the book. “Barbara Kingsolver and her family sweep readers along on their journey away from the industrial-food pipeline to a rural life in which they vow to buy only food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it. Their good-humored search yields surprising discoveries about turkey sex life and overly zealous zucchini plants, en route to a food culture that's better for the neighborhood and also better on the table.” Sounds fun enough! This coming week’s task will be for me to find a copy, hopefully at the library or on a sales shelf.

P.S. Please excuse the freaky lighting in my pictures; it was overtly sunny that day and I couldn't get the damned blinds up far enough. And my apologies to Kristina for the egg picture, she'll probably die gagging just glimpsing it. I liked the bright broken yolks in it, otherwise I wouldn't have included it. Sorry, ma'am!

And Miss Sara Rose went under the knife two days ago to, as my mother would say, have her 'play pin' removed. Hope all went went and she recovers quickly!

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Jam Drop Almond Bars
Taken from 17 and Baking
Yields around 2 dozen mini muffins, or one 13x18 dish of bars

Unless stated otherwise, eggs should be brought to room temperature beforehand. I halved the recipe for the icing, since last time I had way too much left over using the original. Any sort of jam or preserves could be used here; it’s totally up to you. You could probably also add nuts to this for an added crunch. The white sugar could probably be exchanged for brown, if you’re feeling lucky, but I think the white sets off the almond extract best.The first time I made this I had enough batter for 12 mini cakes and an 8x10 dish of bars. Weird, I know, but I got tired of filling up the little divots and decided to dump the rest into a glass dish.

1 stick of unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups of granulated sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of almond extract
3 cup of all-purpose flour
1 cup of jam or preserves, any flavor

1/2 cup of powdered sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons of milk
1 teaspoon of almond extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a muffin tin or 13x18 baking dish will butter or non-stick baking spray.

Cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add eggs one at a time until well incorporated. Add in extracts and beat. In a separate bowl whisk together the dry ingredients. Adding a third of the flour mixture at a time, stir to combine.

Spread batter into the greased dish or tin. Using a teaspoon, drop spoonfuls of jam over the top until satisfied. For bars, bake for 20 - 25 minutes, for mini muffins, bake 15 – 20 minutes. Allow to cool around 30 minutes. In a small bowl, mix together ingredients for icing. Drizzle over bars and/or cakes.

I imagine these will stay good for about 4 days, but they didn’t last the evening in my house.

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Au revoir!
Madame Cristina

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