March 15, 2011

disappearing act

Do you all have a mental image of me? I know that I form a picture of each of you in my head as time goes by, based only on the food you make and your style of writing (and perhaps, say, a photo you've posted of yourself).


I suspect that I'm way off-base with the majority of you and you actually look nothing like the person I see in my mind. I think that's part of the fun--I could pass you on the street (if I did, in fact, ever walk down a street) and not have any idea. Further, as most of us do, I look different than I did three years ago when I started this blog.

Speaking of things that change in appearance (how's that for a segue?!), let's talk about these bars. They're composed of three separate layers, but as they bake, the compositions of those layers change. The shortbread cookie crust stays the same, of course, but what begin as separate chocolate truffle and caramel-oat-pecan layers eventually become a chocolate-caramel truffle layer topped with oats and pecans. Sinking caramel! What fun! Good, clean, wholesome fun!


I make a lot of bar cookies, and I'm very comfortable saying that these are the tastiest ones I've done to date. The buttery base, the smooth and rich chocolate-caramel filling, and the crunchy, nutty topping all play together very nicely, and they really live up to their distinctive (and totally random) name.

So tell me, folks--what do you think I look like? If someone comes really close, I might be inspired to reward her! Those of you who actually know me need not apply. :)

Serendipity Deluxe Bars
(from A Passion for Baking, by Marcy Goldman)
Crust:
1 cup butter, cold and diced
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Truffle Filling:
1 cup corn syrup
1 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Caramel:
1/4 cup corn syrup
3/4 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
1 cup oats
1/2 cup pecans, coarsely ground
3/4 cup (6 oz) butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 13x9-inch pan.
To prepare the crust, combine all four ingredients in a food processor and pulse until coarse crumbs are created. Press into the prepared pan and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the edges are slightly browned.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling by microwaving together the corn syrup and chocolate chips, stopping to stir occasionally until the chips have melted. Let cool, then add the remaining filling ingredients and beat to combine. Pour over the hot crust and bake for 27 minutes, or until the outer edges are firm and the center is only slightly jiggly.
While the filling bakes, prepare the caramel layer by stirring together all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. When the pan is deemed ready to remove from the oven, let it sit for 10 minutes before dolloping on the caramel layer and spreading it evenly over the chocolate layer. Then return the pan to the oven for another 25-35 minutes, or until the bars are just set. Let cool completely before cutting.

65 comments:

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Terrific bars! So luscious and devilishly rich.

Cheers,

Rosa

Priyanka said...

A very rich and tempting bar :)

Joanne said...

Sinking caramel...now that's a magical act if ever I've heard of one. These are amazing!

A Plum By Any Other Name said...

Is it wrong to say I picture you as a layered shortbread bar? I think they are really your specialty! And this one is no different, with its sinking caramel. ;)

di2009 said...

I cannot possibly bake these because I would eat the entire pan. And I think you look as lovely as your picture. You have the amazine "Southern Grace" that is reflected in your blog!

sweetlife said...

terrifc bars, love the sinking effect...hmmm funny thing is I always picture you doused in flour baking away..

sweetlife

shaz said...

Oh Grace, you tease! I've often wondered what you look like actually, but not in a stalky way, just in a wondery way. I think you would look like your brothers? But definitely prettier of course. ;) Either that, or you look like a frozen berry. Mmm..chocolate, and caramel and pecan, the bars sound so good!

TKW said...

Those bars look decadent and dangerous!

I always picture you in a really adorable apron...

Gloria said...

First let me tell you, always I think in you like a beauty and funny person and in treats...A lovely and tempting bar filling with truffle, yes you are !! huggs gloria

lisa is cooking said...

These bars have everything I need in a cookie. Buttery, chocolaty, carmely, and nutty. Now, I'd like to taste one, please!

I think you posted a partial photo of yourself one year on Halloween, maybe? The photo didn't include your face or any part of your hair, I don't think, but I'm guessing light brown for your hair and I don't even know why.

bellini valli said...

I envision you with short blonde hair and a Southern grace and style with a slight splotch of flour on the tip of your nose and your bright blue apron when you're baking.

cupcakegirl said...

wow they look delish!

I know what you mean I always picture people when I read their blog and in thepast ive met people ive spoke to online who say i dont look as they imagine.

I imagine you with shortish and very well styled hair in a cute apron and quite tall

Mimi said...

Something pecan pie-ish about these bar. Yum!
Stylish is the word that comes to mind when I think of you.
Mimi

kat said...

Oh my gosh I have no idea!

Melanie said...

Any dessert with separate sections for truffle and caramel has to be good.

And is it really a guess as to your appearance? So easy (and I've never met you). Hair the color of cinnamon, tall and willowy and thin like a cinnamon stick with a light dusting of cinnamon sprinkles, I mean, freckles, on your cheeks. How could it be otherwise?

Hungry Dog said...

I really like the sound of these bars. Chocolate and caramel, sign me up! As for what you look like...I picture a petite blond with a big smile. Am I close?

Dana said...

I do the exact same thing, imagining what all of the people out there in blog land look like. Weirdly enough, I've pictured you as somewhat similar to me, but taller. Strange, isn't it?

marla said...

I love that you asked us this question - as I do often wonder what you look like. I my blog my mug is in your face. No mystery there.
I picture you blond, medium height, long way hair & slim. Your turn ;)

These bars beckon....xo

Juliana said...

Grace, your chocolate bar looks delicious, love all the three layers...so flavorful! Beautiful pictures!

Laura Jeanne said...

Ok I have to admit I was drawn in because I thought the picture looked like a fruit bar but now that I find out its chocolate, caramel and pecans...I think I just drooled over my table.
These look SOOOO good and gooey (i hope) and might be something Ill have to try for my boyfriends upcoming bday. We're both not too into cake but boy does he crumble for chocolate.
thanks for the recipe :)

Pam said...

I think that you are probably extremely beautiful, with a slight smudge of cinnamon on your cheek. I'm the closest, right :)

5 Star Foodie said...

These bars look absolutely heavenly with the truffle filling and caramel!

Cara said...

I thought the disappearing act had to do with how fast these would surely be consumed in my house. (Sweets hoarder is included in your image of me, right?)

scrambledhenfruit said...

Chocolate? Shortbread? Caramel? Nuts? Oh my, these do sound good. I am terrible at guessing what people look like, but like you I always put somewhat of a picture in my head. I'm usually totally wrong though, so I won't even try! (I am chicken, you know.)

Lynda said...

Tempting bars Grace, sigh; it's so hard to diet with these images of decadence in front of me!
I like Melanies desription of you!

Laura said...

These sound fantastic. Kind of like a Carmelita bar meets millionaire's shortbread. Awesome.

Speaking of how people look I am swooningly happy now that Timothy Olyphant is gracing my tv screen every week. Did you watch the Friday night lights finale yet? I forget if you have directv...

Holtnotes said...

I am salivating over the Serendipity Deluxe Bars. They look decadent.

Now to what you look like - I just found your blog tonight - I have spent an hour feasting my eyes on old posts. What a talented young lady you are. So what do I think you look like - 27 year old female - medium brown hair - medium toned skin - not petite - eyes that light up when you smile -You certainly are an extremely talented epicure and photographer.

peachkins said...

Now I wanna know what you look like... I have a photo of myself in my blog!

Bridgett ~ La Bella Cook said...

I bet you have freckles the color of your cinnamon ;)

All I know is that you make one hell of a tasty looking bar.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I remember a picture that you showed us of you-well not your face but your top half and I think you were wearing a red sweater and jeans. You are very tall and slender from what I remember!

Barbara said...

All you had to say was caramel and I was all over your bars! Deeeeelish!

Blog photos are deceiving....I've had my hair all cut off and that's not really a photo of me anyway, it's a watercolor a friend did.
I picture you as young, with cinnamon colored hair. :) From eating so much of it, of course.

kimberleyblue said...

These are the perfect dessert for me. They look so gooey and decadent and I want to make a pan of them tonight! Anything with caramel and chocolate...mmmm.

I do have mental pictures of everyone whose blogs I read, but they're somewhat vague. All I know for sure is that you must have dark brown, curly hair!

Lucie said...

Love the closeups of these bars! They sound heavenly. I picture your hair pecan-colored and your personality spicy like cinnamon :)

Cheryl said...

That is funny your blog gives very few details about you. In my minds eye (which is very active) you are tall slender and blonde with a beautiful smile and blue eyes!

WizzyTheStick said...

I don't have a mental image of your physical body but only of your personality which I'm guessing is sweet and fun loving

Lori said...

Totally salivating here. That looks like some serious goo right now that I would totally love to eat!

Marjie said...

I think you look like a blond Julia Roberts with long fluffier hair. You are southern, after all; you must have big hair. And you always carry around bar cookies. That's how I'd know you.

Nutmeg Nanny said...

These bars look amazing!!! I love all the flavors and the up close gooey picture.

Now onto what you look like. Hopefully I don't sound like a crazy stalker but I have always wondered. In my head I picture you as someone who is tallish, thin, maybe a few freckles (not a lot, just a few), hazel eyes and thinish medium brown wispy hair. How did I do? :)

Crazy Sweet Life (Brianna) said...

Blond and petite?! No, oh well, I tried.

Those bars looks soooo yummy!

Helene said...

Another insane treat to try from your blog. I too love baking bars.

Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said...

Oh man, these look similar to these amazing bars that my boyfriend's mom bought from a local hometown bakery over Thanksgiving. I was just thinking of attempting them at home, too. This is so perfect. As for appearances, I've definitely been surprised by people even when they have their photo up haha. I organized a DC area blogger lunch recently and most of the people surprised me in other looks, personality, or both. But you're right that is part of the fun of it. I don't have very good visual imagination, but I guess I'd figure you to be blonde or light brunette, petite, and to have a cheerful personality and great big beautiful smile :).

Les rêves d'une boulangère (Brittany) said...

Good question! I always form mental pictures of all the blog's I follow; literally all 200+ of them. I consider you all friends. Firstly, I'll begin and say that this looks too delicious. I mean really..why tempt me like this? As for your question......
I would picture you as a blonde typical Southern American woman. I guess "Southern Grace" triggers me to stereotype you in that way! Hehe. Either way, it's evident that your a damn good cook and a lovely person because you share your recipes with us.

Les rêves d'une boulangère (Brittany) said...

Wait! I think you have brown hair. If your birthname is Grace. Every Grace I know has brown hair..

FOODESSA said...

Ohhh Grace...you always bake the most sinful desserts...mumm.

Are you a confident, independant looking gorgeous brunette? Looking somewhat similar to moi? LOL LOL

Ciao bella,
Claudia

Happy St.Patrick's day

oneordinaryday said...

Truffle filling AND caramel? Mmmm!!

~~louise~~ said...

I was here yesterday and couldn't think of anything clever to say. So, I'm visiting today and still can't think of anything brilliant to say. (perhaps its the anesthesia)

You look exactly how I imagined to my minds eye:)

Now as for those bars of yours. Never could I imagine their gooey goodness! They are gorgeous just like YOU!!!

Amanda said...

I think these sound and look amazing!!!

Pam said...

I've always pictured you with cinnamon colored hair (probably because you LOVE cinnamon), in your 30's, and tall. Am I close?

These bars have me drooling and it's only 8:30 in the morning. Man they look tasty.

Robin Sue said...

Grace, You are taller than me, I am only 5 feet so I can't be wrong. You have brown hair, straight, shoulder length, no bangs. You are thin and have brown eyes, and you are very cute. That is how I picture you! Now let's see if I am right!

Anonymous said...

I picture you as someone extremely comfortable wearing orange and maroon together - not even comfortable, but with pride, and if not, someone with a smile to great those tasty treats you create

Carolyn Jung said...

I'm thinking the oats makes it healthy. LOL That's my thinking and I'm sticking to it as I help myself to a second bar.

Abby said...

You're a gorgeous Southern belle like me, obv. ;) And those bars made me drool on the keyboard, which I just cleaned, dang it!

Kerstin said...

Sold just by the mention of caramel - these look rich and decadent and oh so good! I think you're a tall blond - are we going to get a pic? :)

vanillasugar said...

hmmm. you have short brown hair, about 5'5", skinny, dark eyes, dark eyebrows, med complexion, strong facial appearance, you live in jeans, and eat way too many sweets.

Catherine said...

I don't know why, but I've always imagined you to be curvaceous, olive skinned and with long, dark locks. NO IDEA why though!

I wish I could ask the same question to my readers, but my photos are plastered all over the blog!

P.S - those cookie bars? Yuuuuuummm!

The Blonde Duck said...

SWEET. WOuNDED. WUFFLES.

The Teacher Cooks said...

I am making these, but when I am asked to bring a dessert. I think that I would be tempted to eat the entire pan.

CC11 said...

If you say that bar is the most delicious you have made yet, I believe you!

As far as guessing what you look like...hmm, I'd say dark blonde shoulder length hair and medium height. I really have no idea, I hear a person's 'voice' when I read their blog rather than see their face :)

Deborah said...

I have found that even when people have a picture, they tend to look different in real life than in the photo they've chosen! :)

These look so decadent - I wish I had one right now!

Emily said...

I bet you're pretty and happy looking! :) I want to see a picture of you! You should find me on Facebook, Grace!

Foodycat said...

I picture you as tall, with very big blonde hair and a great smile. Possibly wearing a tiara and sash while you bake. I am all about the Southern stereotype!

These bars look totally amazing. Next time my workmates deserve a treat...

Suzanne said...

Holy moly those look amazing.
You are Southern...therefore beautiful. :)

Erin said...

I don't even know what to say about these bars. I'm licking my computer screen as I type! YUM!!!

Livin Local said...

Are you crazy? Asking us to move beyond these delectable bars and make guesses? I'm too busy checking my pantry at the moment to see if I can make these tonight.

But if pushed ... I'd go all Black Swan. Beautiful and lovely, while also willing to go to those fabulous dark (chocolate) spaces in our heart.

Sharon Graves said...

As a recent Southern Grace reader, I've been bookmarking your recipes like crazy since I found your blog. Finally tried these this weekend and LOVED them. I say, Thank you !!! (But my hips say, please stop reading her blog and go back to Weight Watchers.com).