I first began collecting recipes when I was in my twenties. This was pre-Internet days, so many of the recipes I culled were taken from women’s magazines and the weekly food sections of various newspapers. I would sometimes cut out the recipes, but more often I would retype them (yes, on a real typewriter) on small index cards. These cards were kept in a long, wooden file--the kind that contained the card catalogs at the libraries back in the day. I still have that file, and I have to admit that I now keep it more for sentimental reasons than for actual cooking purposes. But every once in a while I get a flash of a recipe I haven't made in years, and know the odds are it is in that file.
Such is the case with these Crumb Bars. I can’t say exactly where the recipe came from, but the card it is stapled to is stained and discolored enough for me to know that I made it quite often. These bars are hefty, and I’ve substituted some whole wheat flour for some of the all-purpose, so they are even a tad wholesome. The center is fudgy; the cream cheese gives it a subtle tanginess. It will be hard to resist the crunchy browned edges as you cut them away to make perfect squares, so keep them on the side for some private snacking.
As the summer, sadly, winds down, so goes the picnic season. Now is a great time to squeeze in a few more al fresco outings. Stack a few Crumb Bars in one container, add some cut-up, still-luscious peaches in another, and you’ve got yourself a great dessert to pop into the picnic basket. While you make your last grasps at the waning warm days ahead, you will be sustained with a perfect picnic treat that won't wilt (or melt) under the sun's hot rays.
They'll hide and seek as long as they please.
Today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic.
Chocolate Almond Crumb Bars
1 cup (6 oz.) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup (6 oz.) milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup (5.3-ounce can) evaporated milk
1 cup chopped walnuts (opt.)
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temp.
1/2 tsp. almond extract
Combine bittersweet and milk chocolates, cream cheese, and evaporated milk in a medium saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate pieces are melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat; stir in 1/2 tsp. almond extract and chopped walnuts, if using. Blend well; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine butter, sugar, baking powder, and flours until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add remaining 1/2 tsp. almond extract and beaten eggs and continue to blend until large clumps are formed. Press half of mixture into a greased 9x13-inch pan that has been lined with parchment paper; spread with chocolate mixture. Sprinkle remaining crumbs over filling. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, lower temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Cool; cut into bars. Makes about 3 dozen bars.