The first batch of chocolatey goodness I'll be bringing is her favourite family treat - our Nana's Caramel Squares. As I was baking these this morning I found myself fondly reminiscing about Nana, to the point where I could almost feel her there standing beside me, watching her soft freckled hands, knuckles swollen with arthritis, lovingly rubbing the butter into the oats and flour. She was 75 when she died, not that old these days, and I was only 13, yet my memories of times spent at her house are vivid and plenty. I remember her patience as we (another cousin and myself) made Caramel Squares in her kitchen, on the big red table and we put a whole can of condensed milk into the base instead of the caramel mixture. Never one to waste a thing, she proceeded to get another can of milk for the caramel, and used our 'modified' base anyway. I think those were the crunchiest ones we'd ever tasted lol!
The timing of my reflections on Nana couldn't be better, since patience is not a strong point of mine lately. She was a great role model, and someone whose attitude and caring outreach to others I would like to emulate more. She was a devout Catholic, and instilled in her children a love of their faith, and a love of God and his 'holy Mother' as she would say. I want to pass that on to my children. I also want them to have fond memories of their Grandmothers and other extended family which is why, even though the thought of traveling for hours on end with two small children by air terrifies me (you have no idea!), I know it is so important for us to travel to Ireland as often as logistics and funds allow us to do so. We are fortunate, too, that our families can visit here fairly often.
The other recipe I'll be making for my cousin this morning is a Martha Stewart recipe - for Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies. Like most recipes of Martha's it'll use all my mixing bowls and utensils, but it'll be so worth it because these are scrumptious. Martha is someone I don't want to emulate so much lol! Well except for the mega millions part, but I'll stay clear of prison thank you!
Here are some pics - and should you feel the urge to try - the recipes are here for you too :) Have a SUPER weekend!
For the base:
4oz quaker oats (I use quick cooking - but I don't think it matters)
4oz all purpose flour
4oz (one stick) butter
- Preheat oven to 375F
- Sift flour, add oats and sugar
- Work in butter with fingertips until evenly distributed and mixture forms pea sized lumps
- Press mixture evenly into the bottom of a greased 8x8inch baking tin (I like to use the disposable ones, I can peel the tinfoil away and it makes cutting them much easier).
- Bake for 25 mins or until brown and firm.
4oz (one stick) butter
2 generous tablespoons of light karo syrup (golden syrup)
Small can condensed milk (I used the most of a 14oz can)
Few drops vanilla extract
8oz milk chocolate chips
- Put all ingredients into a large pot and bring to the boil - allow to bubble for 5 mins (as my Nana used to say 'not a minute more, not a minute less). Be careful - I use a large pot because this mixture likes to 'spit' and there's nothing worse than a caramel burn if it gets on your skin. Watch it carefully too, it's very easy to burn and I have found this out the hard way and ruined saucepans in the process!
- Pour caramel over cooled base, refrigerate to allow caramel to set...
- Melt chocolate and pour over cooled caramel. Refrigerate again to set.
- Once cooled and set, remove and allow to come to room temperature - then cut into squares.
Martha Stewart Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies
Now, how come I never remember how much of a pain clean up is when I embark on these baking adventures?