Saturday, December 11, 2010

Coping Mechanisms


Merriam-Webster online has this definition:


\ˈhä-lə-ˌdā, British usually ˈhä-lə-dē\
: a day on which one is exempt from work; specifically : a day marked by a general suspension of work in commemoration of an event
chiefly British : vacation —often used in the phrase on holiday —often used in plural
: a period of exemption or relief
Let's see.  Suspension of work?  Not so much.   Vacation?  Nope.  A period of exemption or relief?  Boy, that'd be nice, wouldn't it?

Here are a few ways I am coping with the reality of the holidays this year.

  • Denial:   When the UPS guy drops off a new package at the door every single day from my hyper-organized, annoyingly prepared sister as a reminder of just how far behind I am in my Christmas shopping, I immediately dump said boxes into a huge pile in the way back of my garage and pretend nothing happened.
  • Escape:  I got on a plane and went to New York.   Where the city was completely decked out for the season, with twinkling lights everywhere and Christmas music and people with large shopping bags getting into cabs and office holiday dinners and...Oh, forget it.
  • Laughing*:

4.  A bunch of these:

Butterscotch Cashew Bars with Salted Rum Caramel Icing
This is an adaptation of a recipe I found on the delicious blog Culinary in the Desert.   I'm a huge fan of cashews, and of frosting on cookies like these, so I went ahead and threw those in.  It helps during the holidays to do that kind of thing.  Spontaneously**.

For the Bars

1/2 c. (1 stick) butter
2 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour, sifted
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 1/4 c. chopped cashews

In a large heat-safe microwaveable bowl, add butter and heat in the microwave until melted. Remove and whisk in sugar until well combined. Set bowl aside and let cool to lukewarm.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder and salt.

Whisk eggs into the butter/sugar mixture, one at a time, beating until well combined after each. Mix in vanilla and almond extract. Add dry ingredients and stir just until combined - fold in cashews. Scoop mixture into a 9" x 13" baking pan coated with nonstick cooking spray.  Spread batter to evenly cover the bottom.

Place pan into the oven and 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 while still warm, cover with icing.

Let cool completely before cutting into bars.  These are dense, chewy, and rich as can be.    Delish!

For the Rum Caramel Icing

1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/4 c. (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 c.  milk
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbs. rum
1 tsp. kosher salt

In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar and butter over medium heat, stirring until butter is melted and complete combined with the sugar, 2-3 minutes.  Add the milk, and allow the mixture to come to a gentle boil.   Stir well, and remove from heat.    Add powdered sugar, vanilla, rum and salt.  Using a mixer or a spoon, stir vigorously for a minute or two.  It should be pourable but not super thin, so add more milk or powdered sugar as needed.  Once you've got it right, spoon over still-warm bars.

* Thank you to my friend Crystal for sending me this!
** As in, without making a plan to do it three weeks ahead of time like SOME people I know.


  1. OMG - are these what you brought over for Hanukah? I polished every single one left for breakfast monday morn (and only for the fact that your incredible dessert was a late arrival, so much sugar had already been consumed, were there to be any leftovers!) these things are seriously addicting and worth every calorie!!! Make more, make more!!!!!!! xoxoxo ronni

  2. Yep! And they taste even better the second day, don't they???

  3. I tried these at your holiday party this past Saturday and they were INCREDIBLE! My husband couldn't leave without carrying a a couple out with him. So very good.