Graham Cracker Chewy Bars - A Julienne Favorite
I once lived in an apartment in Hollywood, next door to an amorous Chilean woman who had two lovers. One, apparently, knew about the other, and one thought he was the one and only. I know this because I frequently provided an escape route to "the other" through our adjoining balconies. (My neighbor thanked me by introducing me to Rincon Chileno, a Chilean restaurant on the seedy side of Melrose.)
I've never experienced this dilemma in life, but sometimes I feel that way with my two blogs. "Two blogs?" some may gasp. You may have thought Open Mouth, Insert Fork was the "one and only." Readers of my other blog, Cancer Banter, are well aware of my food blog. Heck, I even invite them to "sneak over the balcony" and visit Open Mouth, Insert Fork.
Up until now, there really wasn't any reason for me to tell you about Cancer Banter. But now I'm ready to share because I feel like I'm experiencing the ultimate convergence between the two blogs (a chance meeting in the hallway?).
Susan Campoy, owner of Julienne and author of Celebrating with Julienne, died of cancer in May, and I wrote a tribute to her at Cancer Banter. We shared more than a love of food; we also shared the same doctor at the same cancer center, City of Hope.
I have an appointment at the City of Hope this afternoon, and since I am feeling so good, I decided to make Julienne's Graham Cracker Chewy Bars to share with my doctor and staff.
Raising the bar
This recipe recently appeared in the LA Times Food Section's "Culinary SOS," where readers request their favorite recipes. The recipe, along with a brief story about its origin, also appears in the Celebrating with Julienne cookbook. (There's not a photo of the bars in the book, so it's nice to see the pic with the LA Times article.)
The cookbook neglects to instruct bakers to dust the finished bars with powdered sugar, so I was glad that the LA Times article included this. The dusting of sugar definitely prettifies these bars.
Graham Cracker Chewy BarsTotal time: 45 minutes, plus cooling time
Servings: 24 bars
Crust3 cups graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugar and flour until moist and well-blended. Press the mixture firmly and evenly over the bottom of a 13-inch by 9-inch baking pan. Bake until the crust is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.
Topping and assembly2 1/2 cups brown sugar
4 extra-large eggs
2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 prepared crust
Powdered sugar, if desired
1. While the crust is baking, in a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and eggs to blend. Whisk in the graham cracker crumbs, vanilla, salt and baking powder until well-blended. Stir in the pecans.
2. Spread the mixture over the baked crust and return to the 350-degree oven until the filling is dark-golden on top and jiggles slightly when tapped, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and cool completely.
3. Sprinkle a light coating of sifted powdered sugar over the pan if desired, and cut into 24 bars. The bars can be made 1 day in advance. Wrap in plastic and keep at room temperature.
Each bar: 247 calories; 2 grams protein; 36 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber;11 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 50 mg. cholesterol; 184 mg. sodium.
Also, I like to use 1 1/2 cups of nuts instead of the specified 1 cup. I like to fine chop 3/4 cup in my mini food processer and course chop 3/4 cup by hand.
You may scoff at the 3 cups of graham crackers in the crust. And that's not counting the 2/3 cup in the filling. Sounds pretty pedestrian, doesn't it? But, oh my, it is not pedestrian. It's not even public transportation. It's a convertible zipping around a hairpin curve. The sweet, chewy, nutty goodness of these easy-to-make bars gives you that kind of high.
So, it's a nice little circle we've formed. Susan Campoy nurtured thousands in her lifetime. My doctor and his staff have nurtured thousands of patients in their careers. And now I get to do my little bitty part to nurture the nurturers with these rich and chewy treats, from a recipe by a nurturing woman.
The circle of sweets is complete.
Don't even think about it, Tiger.
(PLEASE forgive me for not responding to all of the wonderful comments and questions on the most recent post and other posts. Life has been busy, and I'm still feeling a bit overwhelmed - in a good way - by the increase of activity from blog of note.)
(PS I'm still in remission and just going for my monthly visit.)