Monday, July 30, 2012

Bon Voyage

We have some very dear friends who are leaving tomorrow for an odyssey around the world.

They are abandoning their settled life here in LA, uprooting their kids from the usual private school world of teenage angst and grade school history projects and packing it in for a year.  They'll circumnavigate the globe, a week here, two weeks there, having adventures and exploring and doing laundry in strange places and bonding in a way so foreign to my own sense of family time that I can only look on in wonder.  To me, this behavior is both utterly bizarre and completely fascinating.*  I'm less envious than morbidly curious, but I wish them well with all my heart. We'll miss the whole family, though my daughter, especially, will feel the absence of her longtime friend. Naturally, there's a blog and photos and a video chronicle to follow**, so we won't lose them entirely, but this is good-bye nonetheless.

I think we all know what that means.

Bon Voyage Boozy Bacon Brown Butter Oatmeal Raisin Bars
My contribution to the farewell potluck.  I was trying to recreate the decadent bacon oatmeal raisin cookies I had in Seattle. And because it was a special occasion***, I added booze. I do want these people to miss us a little.

4-5 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled (optional, if this whole idea grosses you out)
1 c. raisins
Warm water and a generous splash of the booze of your choice (I used Triple Sec, but rum, brandy, or bourbon would be great, too!)

1 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 c. flour
scant 1/2 tsp. baking soda
generous 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
generous grating of fresh nutmeg
1 3/4 c. quick oats

Preheat oven to 350.

After frying the bacon, take a little bit of the bacon fat and grease a 13X9 pan.  If you are not using bacon, because you are a vegetarian or the whole idea of bacon in desserts offends you, use butter. Set aside.

Place the raisins in a small bowl, and cover completely with warm water. Splash in the booze (probably a couple of tablespoons or so), stir, and set aside while you make the batter.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter begins to turn slightly brown and smells nutty and good, about 5-6 minutes. Be careful, since this can go from great to awful quickly. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar and the sugar, then add the browned butter.  Whisk to combine, then add the eggs and the vanilla and stir well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add this mixture to the butter mixture, and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.  Drain the raisins completely, and add those, along with the oatmeal and the crispy bacon pieces, if using. Stir by hand a few more times, then transfer the dough to the prepared pan. It will be thick, so use the spoon to spread it out evenly.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until top is deep golden brown and center appears set when you jiggle the pan. Remove from the oven. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then cover with the Boozy Brown Sugar Glaze.  Smooth glaze evenly over the top of the bars, and allow to cool completely. Cut into squares and serve!

Boozy Brown Sugar Glaze
This would be good served warm on ice cream or fresh peaches, too.

1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
generous splash of the booze of your choice
about 3 Tbs. milk or cream
about 1 1/2 c.  powdered sugar, sifted

Melt butter and brown sugar together in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once melted, allow to boil for about a minute, then remove from the heat and stir in the booze. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl. Cool for a few more minutes, until lukewarm, then add the cream and the powdered sugar, stirring vigorously by hand until smooth. Start with the suggested amounts, then adjust the cream/sugar levels to get a smooth, creamy icing. The consistency should be spreadable and soft, but not too thin. It will melt and thin out more when it comes in contact with the warm cookies, then firm up again as they cool.

Click to print this recipe!

* Kind of like how male seahorses have the babies. How weird, yet cool, is that?
** They're not totally ditching their documentation-obsessed LA filmmaker personas, after all. Just taking them on the road for a year.
*** Or perhaps because this was a particularly acute departure situation. My son left for two weeks at camp the same day as the farewell party. No wonder I instinctively went for the bacon-booze-butter trifecta.

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