Saturday, November 21, 2009

I Am Not Lazy #3: Love Bars


Yeah, I don't post that frequently. Get over it. I prefer to think of it as "plot development."

While I was in Indy a couple of weeks ago, my "editor" and I decided to take on the project of making these curiously named "Love Bars." (I don't even know how to respond to that bizarre nomenclature. I am prone to think that the creators either kind of mailed it in or had just watched the episode of The Simpsons where they create Love Day. That, or it's some sort of misguided homage to Jennifer Love Hewitt, but for various reasons, I doubt that. Those reasons being that A) she's never done anything of note (certainly nothing as thought-provoking as an oatmeal blog), B) based upon my Google image search, she is never fully clothed, ("Honey, I think you should take that dress back." "Why?" "Because, apparently, the store only gave you half of it.") and C) the Brits are far too stodgily dignified to do such a thing. ("Let's call it the Churchill!") Anyway, let's get back to the topic at hand. I shan't have the readers getting restless.) EH had discovered them (Love Bars, in case you forgot during that aside) in May when the two of us and our friend AL (initials are hilarious!) stopped by a Pret A Manger while in London (we're classy like that). Pret describes them as "vanilla, pumpkin, and pistachio" (clearly the Brits don't believe in descriptive language), but basically they're kind of a granola bar bottom (which they call a "flapjack") topped with a caramelly layer and then nuts and chocolate and all sort of goodness. After minutes of faithful searching, EH found a recipe online, and so we decided to tackle it (after she hunted down some of the ingredients on E-bay). Since the recipe is British, and the fools are on the metric system (stand strong, U.S.A., Burma, and Liberia! Don't give into the pressure to conform!), the best part of the process (for me, anyway...EH's experience was probably dampened by my elementary school playground-esque bossiness) was converting grams to cups and ounces and etc. (200 grams unsalted butter! 300 grams rolled oats! 35 grams pumpkin seeds!) Another fun element was the British ingredients. How could I have lived so long in ignorance of the difference between "soft brown sugar" and "dark brown sugar?" (I knew light versus dark, but not soft versus dark.) Even more so, what on earth is "clear honey?" How about "golden syrup?" Well, at least I can answer the last question. (In response to the first two questions regarding brown sugar and clear honey, to which, frankly, I do not know the answers, I instead offer for your consideration the following two facts: 39% of people take people with curly hair less seriously (Jerks.), and the final score of the 1997 Super Bowl (XXXI!) was 35-21. Just knew those off the top of my head. You are impressed, and rightfully so.) Golden syrup, anyway, is this stuff:
EH had to buy it on E-bay (though we later discovered it is sold at Whole Foods...embarrassing), and it was shipped all the way here from the Motherland (i.e. England). Apparently, Lyle's is The Best and Greatest of All Golden Syrups, so as you can see, we are not here to fool around. It's kind of a honey-ish, molasses-y corn syrup. (Please note to the left the "metrics made easy" converter, apparently popular with housewives the world over from about 1954, whose main concerns were crucial items like which pearls to wear today (the giant fakes that make the neighbor jealous) and how many grams are in 4 pounds (1816). It's pompous claims of "ease" were false, by the way. We resorted to rough mental math and the occasional aid of a calculator, often ending up with measurements like "3 and 7/8ths cups of oats.")

The "flapjack" was made of golden syrup, clear honey, rolled oats, and soft brown sugar (we just used unpacked light brown sugar...goodness knows if that's correct). We pressed it into a pan, then tackled the caramel middle (dark brown sugar, cream, and butter), which the writers of the recipe clearly intended to take all of our wit and guile. The recipe is rife with warnings against overcooking it, and you apparently need several arms to make it, given that there is a great deal of stirring and ingredient adding going on. But I think we managed to muddle through rather satisfactorily. That gets poured on the flapjack, and then, while the caramel is still hot, throw on pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate chips, almonds, and pistachios (and yes, EH gutted a pumpkin herself just to get the seeds to roast for this recipe. She was dedicated.). Oddly, even though the paltry British description of the stuff says "vanilla," there is no vanilla in the recipe. Fakers! Well, regardless, I think the final product was pretty good. I don't think we quite cooked the caramel part enough (the recipe author struck the fear of all things burnt into our hearts), so it wasn't as solid as I think it was supposed to be. (You can kind of see it in the picture.) But we refrigerated it overnight, and that helped a lot. All in all, a success, and definitely a recipe that I would try again.

I apologize for the brevity and non-humor of this post, but I am currently at my friend RR's "beach house" in Michigan, killing at Halo.

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Did you believe that for more than a second? Success! Well, hopefully I can get my act together and do a real post sometime within the next couple of days. Meanwhile, this is kind of old, but I never pass on an opportunity to prove that, for a bit at least, Wesley Snipes knew what he was talking about, even if later on he apparently didn't.

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