Mary’s Maine bars

One of the best parts of blogging, aside from getting to taste test lots of great food, is the opportunity to work with some awesome brands. Sponsored opportunities are part of what makes a blog possible, and when given the chance to help a meaningful charity its a win-win!

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Last year I participated in Cookies For Kid’s Cancer, and recently got and email  asking if I would like to participate in Bake a Difference with OXO for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer and Dorie Greenspan. I would be sent some awesome baking supplies from OXO and make a recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s new cookbook Dorie’s Cookies, being released in October 2016. The cookie book delves into over 200 recipes from classics to brownies to savory cookies. Cookies for Kid’s Cancer will be donating $100 to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer for each blog post (up to our $100,000 commitment.) As you can Imagine, I was giddy when the box of goodies arrived on my doorstep. I received the following:

Glass 3 Qt Baking Dish with Lid
Glass 2 Qt Baking Dish with Lid
Brownie Spatula
Illuminating Digital Hand Mixer

I selected Mary’s Maine Bars for my recipe. I am feeling all the fall recipes right now, and these molasses and spice bars sounded like a home-run to me. I served them with whipped cream, and they made the perfect fall dessert. They would be a wonderful addition to a holiday spread as well!

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I have included some pictures of the bake-ware in action, but it’s hard to tell from pictures what high quality these products are. I have been using the same hand mixer I received in high school, and I am embarassed to admit what bad shape it was in. This mixer is amazing! I have never seen one with an illuminating feature before, but its something you don’t want to miss. It makes it so much easier to see what you are mixing!

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DSCN6519When you’re finished, the on-board beater clip, wrap-and-secure cord, and flat, stable base allow for compact, upright storage.

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Made from BPA-free borosilicate glass, OXO Good Grips Glass Bakeware can withstand extreme temperature changes.

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The glass baking dishes with lids are heavy duty, and the lids made them perfect for storing. No more struggling with foil or plastic wrap for me!

Generous handles and sloshproof lids make moving full dishes easier, and the clean, elegant design means you can take them from the oven directly to the family table.

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With a light to guide you, OXO On Illuminating Digital Hand Mixer includes intuitive digital controls to steadily increase or decrease speed.

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Mary’s Maine Bars

Recipe from Dorie’s Cookies by Dorie Greenspan

When Mary Dodd, my wonderful recipe tester, returned from a family trip to Maine, she cooked everything Maine, from lobsters to chowders to blueberry muffins, for weeks afterward, if not earning herself honorary citizenship in the Pine Tree State, then at least making the rest of us believe she was a Down Easter. Of the things she cooked and baked, this recipe turned up most often, bringing happiness with it. Mary’s first taste of the bars was in Portland, where they were called Little Cranberry Island Gingerbread. It must be some kind of Maine magic, but the combination of molasses and a hefty dose of cinnamon and cloves but no ginger, tricks you into believing you’re eating old-fashioned gingerbread.

I’m the suggestible type, so when Mary told me the recipe was from Maine, the first thing I wanted with it was blueberries. Turns out that folding some blueberries into the dough is as good as you’d think it would be. Serving the bars with whipped cream and Blueberry Syrup is also good. In fact, the full flavors of molasses and spice invite other matches. Try spooning some Mixed Citrus Curd over the bars or go deep and swirl spiced apple butter through the dough; see Playing Around.

A word on the measuring trick: Whenever you’ve got something sticky like molasses (or honey or corn syrup) in a recipe, measure it in a glass measuring cup that you’ve buttered or oiled; the butter or oil slicks the way for the sticky stuff to just slither out. And when you’ve got oil in the recipe — as you do here — measure the oil first and pour it out, then measure the molasses — it’ll slide out of the cup, leaving almost no residue.

Mary’s Maine bars

Yield: Makes about 20 squares

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups (204 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups (204 grams) whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup (200 grams) sugar
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) unsulfured molasses
  • ½ cup (120 ml) flavorless oil, such as canola
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) buttermilk, at room temperature
  • Sanding or granulated sugar, for sprinkling

Instructions

  • Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a 9-x-13-inch baking pan or coat it with baking spray. Line it with a piece of parchment paper.
  • Whisk both flours, the baking soda, salt and spices together.
  • Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the sugar, molasses, oil and egg together until smooth. Add half of the dry ingredients and pulse the mixer to start blending them in, then beat on low speed only until the flour disappears into the dough. Pour in the buttermilk and mix to combine. Add the remainder of the dry ingredients and, still working on low, beat until incorporated. You’ll have a smooth, heavy, sticky dough. Scrape the dough into the pan, using a knife or offset spatula to get it into the corners and to even the top as best you can. Sprinkle with sugar.
  • Bake for 26 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan after 15 minutes, or until the top is dry and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack.
  • After 10 minutes, run a blunt table knife around the edges of the pan, invert the Maine bars onto a rack, peel away the paper, turn it over onto another rack and let cool. When you’re ready, cut it into 20 bars (about 1¾ x 3¼ inches).
  • Maine Blueberry Bars.
  • Once the dough is mixed, gently stir in 1 cup fresh blueberries. Or, if you’re making this in any season but summer, use 1 cup dried blueberries that you’ve soaked in very hot tap water for about 10 minutes, drained and patted dry.
  • Maine Apple Butter Bars.
  • Once the dough is spread evenly in the pan, dot the top with spoonfuls of apple butter (spiced or plain) — you’ll need about ¼ cup — and use a blunt table knife to swirl it into the dough to create a nicely marbled surface.
  • Storing
  • Wrap the bars well, and they will be fine at room temperature for at least 4 days; wrapped airtight, they can be frozen for up to 2 months.
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