June 27, 2010

going vintage

If you're lucky, you have in your possession a few crinkly, brown, and splattered scraps of paper detailing tried-and-true recipes passed down from your grandma and your grandma's grandma. This is one such recipe, albeit with an enhancement or two.


The first time I made these bars, I was convinced until the second a bite entered my mouth that the praise bestowed upon this recipe was undeserved. Things were fine and dandy as I mixed up the batter--it came together very easily and quickly and--bonus--in one bowl. However, when I opened the oven to check on the doneness of the bars, my heart sank--I saw what appeared to be rock-hard edges and goopy, raw innards, as jiggly as jello. However, the toothpick test revealed only a few moist crumbs, so I forged onward and pulled the pan out. As the bars cooled, the middle sank completely, leaving towering walls...and me near tears. 


It's a hard life, ya know?

Hold the phone!  My spirits began to lift as I first sliced into the pan--the sides weren't as hard as cement after all and in fact, they cut up quite nicely. Further, the innards weren't a sloppy mess--they were dense and even a teensy bit elastic, reminiscent of baked caramel. And oh, that first bite--so rich and buttery, so melt-in-your-mouth magnificent. This recipe has rightfully earned every kind word it has ever received.

Throwback Butterscotch Bars
(adapted from this recipe)

1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup vanilla chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13x9-inch pan.
In a large microwaveable bowl, melt butter and whisk in brown sugar until well combined. Set bowl aside and let cool to lukewarm.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
Whisk the eggs into the butter and sugar. Mix in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Dump batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle vanilla chips over the top.
Bake until the top is shiny and the edges just begin to pull away from the side of the pan, about 18 to 24 minutes. Do not overbake - a toothpick placed in the center should come out with moist crumbs attached. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before cutting into bars.

68 comments:

Foodessa said...

Grace...do you know how hard it is to read about the description you ultimately gave this scrumptious dessert...and all this before breakfast!
When I was reading your post...I got you all too well...so many bad finally gone good after all has happened to me a few time too ;o)

I shall try your recipe...now, only if I could find vanilla chips.

Flavourful wishes and a great Sunday, Claudia

Jannett said...

These look delectable... :)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Absolutely to die for!!! <3

Cheers,

Rosa

♥peachkins♥ said...

I agree..they are to die for!

shaz said...

Oooh Grace, you had me at baked caramel. Actually, I was pretty taken by - one bowl - too. Looks decadent, hooray for vintage recipes.

Angie's Recipes said...

Vanilla chips!!
All the good stuff in this rich, moist and gooey cake!

Nutmeg Nanny said...

Ohhhh man you are killing me with this post! They look amazing. I love the gooey center. That would be my favorite.

Lisa {Authentic Suburban Gourmet } said...

Sometimes the most simple and tried and true are the best. These look divine!!!

pierre said...

a very nice photo for a very nice recipe !! cheers de Paris Pierre

Sandie {A Bloggable Life} said...

What's that they say about great minds thinking alike? I see we've both had cookie bars on our brains as of late---good taste my friend! :)

hannah {thepastrykook} said...

its name fits perfectly. looks real delicious, grace! i can almost smell the butterscotch i tell ya

Gloria said...

Grace I have a lot of recipes of my grand Mom and adore them!
And this recipe is awesome and delicious! gloria

Kerstin said...

I love how you labeled the picture - I really like gooey treats and would love to try these!

bellini valli said...

I agree with Foodessa. Here I am dreaming of dessert and I haven't even had breakfast, brunch or anuthing closely resembling this delicious bar.

Julie said...

Mmm...crackle and goo, two of my favorite things! Looks delicious.

Sinful Southern Sweets said...

Love that crackle and goo!!

Baking Monster said...

oh man my mums gonna love you for this! These looks awesome!

Melanie said...

I love a good throwback recipe and I'm glad these butterscotch bars exceeded your first peek. By the way, about your reference to the divinity of Fresca in your review post, a truer word hath never been spoken. Amen.

Sook said...

I always love tried-and-true recipes from families and friends. This definitely looks like a great one!

Carolyn Jung said...

I would like two helpings of crackle and goo, please. ;)

Chanel11 said...

I am such a fiend for gooe-y cakes - go the goo!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Oooh so glad that you pursued with it Grace! I know the feeling when you open the oven and it just looks so unlike what you think it should look like!

All Our Fingers in the Pie said...

Vanilla chips? I don't think I have seen them. This looks delicious.

Bridgett said...

I have loads of recipes from my great grandmother, and since I am a nerd, I have them encased in plastic sleeves to keep them longer. This recipe is one worth passing along. You always have something wonderful made up.

Pam said...

I have been wanting to make a St. Louis gooey butter cake for months now, and this looks like it would be so similar!

The Blonde Duck said...

Am I a piggie if I add butterscotch chips to the white chips?

Robin Sue said...

Those old tattered recipes are the best to have around- they bring back so many memories too!

Barbara said...

Pass me a big slice of crackle and goo, please! Oh my. How divine.

Sophie said...

A stunning & ooh so appetizing picture, dear Grace!

Give me a big slice,...please??????

Kisses from Brussels!

Erica said...

Wow! Those bars look wonderful!

Ingrid said...

You've just described the perfect blondie... You know how I feel about blondies so, this won't shock you to hear I'll be whipping up a batch asap!
~ingrid

lisa said...

I love the combination of crackle and goo! A buttery cookie bar reminiscent of baked caramel sounds great to me!

Marjie said...

My mother couldn't boil water. She threw out any recipes left by her mother. So I'll have to borrow yours!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

This looks like the perfect after-school treat. Add a glass of cold milk and you've got happy kids.

Juliana said...

Oh Grace, what a beautiful bar...would love to have a little piece of it...looks so moist...yummie!

Albany Jane said...

OH MY GOSH, YES!!!

I wanna rub them all over my body!!

Let's not tell grandma.

pigpigscorner said...

Gorgeous! So moist! I think I can have the whole pan.

grace said...

The way you wrote about these.. I can almost taste it! My mom loves butterscotch, I'll have to attempt to bake these for her.
Thank you for sharing the family love :)

sweetlife said...

crackle and goo oh my...I love these...and vanilla chips oh too groovy

sweetlife

oneordinaryday said...

Don't you love when you get happy surprises like that? : ) The bars look delicious!

Susan @ SGCC said...

These look amazing! I love anything butterscotch. I've never seen vanilla chips, though. I wonder if white chocolate chips would work...

Ms. Meanie said...

Oh. My. Goodness. It is 10:03pm and I am suddenly craving blondies. Look what you did. That picture is too much! These look freakishly good!!

Trissa said...

Isn't that a great feeling when you think something is going to turn out badly and then ta da! It just turns out perfect! Congratulations - looks like my type of bar!

Joanne said...

I think these are the bars I have been waiting for all my life. I want some goo.

Amanda said...

lol LOVE THAT picture. I had no idea I was obsessed with crackle and goo until you so kindly showed me! ;)

Be blessed-
Amanda

lisa said...

Baked caramel? These look so delicious! What a great hand me down recipe. Looks like these bars turned out just perfect!

Cheryl said...

Nothing better than crackle and goo, YUM!

Lori said...

My kind of goo and crackle. I had the same kind of sinking feeling when I made the browned butter bars but alas it is one of my FAVORITES. I am quite sure this would be one of my favs as well.

Nadji said...

Un gâteau délicieux. J'aime beaucoup.
See soon.

The Recycled Dove said...

Looks yummy !!!
Stop by and visit.

Dove

lovelyandroid said...

Oh man... those look SO, SO GOOD. I will definitely have to try this recipe. Thank you for sharing it! There goes my diet! ;)

marla@familyfreshcooking.com said...

You had me in such suspense reading this! So glad to hear you didn't have to throw out this pan of blissful buttery, caramely bars. Vanilla chips sound mighty nice! xo

Mimi said...

Anything with that much brown sugar in it must be good.
Mimi

Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said...

Oh this is just food porn at its finest. I'd love to get my teeth into some of that :).

D. @ Outside Oslo said...

I'm honored enough to be the recipient of all of Grandma's recipe boxes! Yes, it's a delight to have them, their handwritten notes giving the bare bones of a recipe, the name of who the recipe was from, etc.--it's all such a treasure.

Lazaro Cooks! said...

Fantastic recipe and great photos. Funny how our best recipes are the ones passed down through the generations.

Cheers!

Cocina Savant said...

it does look amazing!! that gooey center did me in, i'll have to make these in the very very near future. i'll be dreaming about them the rest of the day now!

Emily said...

I have a weakness for butterscotch, and these sounds delicious!

Jaime said...

wow how can i not want to try this after reading your description of it!?! vanilla chips though hmmm...never seen those

Nicisme said...

I love the gooey bits and anything with the word butterscotch in has to be delicious doesn't it???

Deborah said...

Can you send one or two my way??

Lucie said...

This sounds like the kind of bar you just know you're only going to have one piece of and then you'll be fine. And somehow, the whole thing disappears in 20 minutes. A perfect family recipe!

culinography said...

Oh. My....

Laura said...

This all sounds awesome to me except the white chocolate chips. Wonder what it would be like with those caramel balls? And maybe a sprinkle of salt on top.... your description and picture have me drooling....

Lindsey @ pickyeatings said...

I love a good 50's housewife recipe. My mom has some vintage recipes that call for slightly odd ingredients (cream of rice?), but they are tried and true favorites.

kimberleyblue said...

:O! Look how gooey that bottom looks. This i my kinda bar - super sweet and moist.

Jeanne @ CookSister said...

Holy moly those look good! You had me at "butterscotch" but the picture was the clincher ;-)

Connie said...

Dang, here I am trying to cut back on eating sweets and I find this post (amongst others on your lovely blog)! That butterscotch bar looks incredibly addictive with that crisp top and moist inside. I gotta stop looking at the picture...