Friday, August 05, 2005

Home Cooking - Ono aloha

There's nothing I love more than a cookbook compilation of the 'best recipes' from a slew of other well-regarded cookbooks. In the case of Hawaiian food, it usually comes in the form of a plastic ring-bound stack of pages. I consider this compilation layout to be less than professional for some food genres, but for island food, plastic binding = AUTHENTIC. So ono!!! (ono = delicious in Hawaiian)

Macadamia Nut Bars (from 'Best of the Best from Hawai'i Cookbook)

2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 C brown sugar
2 T flour
1/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/2 C flaked coconut
1 C toasted macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
Powdered sugar for topping

Beat the eggs, vanilla, and brown sugar together until smooth. Sift flour with baking powder and salt; stir into egg mixture and blend well. Fold in coconut and nuts to complete the filling.

Butter crust:
1/2 C butter
1/4 C sugar
1 C flour

Blend butter, sugar, and flour together with a fork to make a crumbly texture. Press into a 9" square pan. Bake at 350 deg. for 20 minutes or until light brown. Remove from the oven.
Gently spread Filling over crust. Bake an additional 25 minutes at 350 deg. Remove from oven and place on a rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cool 5 minutes, then cut with a knife into desired size squares.

This is what the shortbread crust looked like after the first round of baking. It was so beautifully golden, sparkling with sugar crystals (which, unfortunately I could not capture with my camera), I was quite tempted to abort the recipe right then, and dig right in.

Somehow, I mustered up the will-power to continue, and soon blanketed the buttery base with a toffee-pale topping. It poured out easily and evenly, which was a welcome change from those 'shape, push, and spread' thicker concoctions that rebel against the spatula.

The end result was bliss-inducing. The gooey, syrupy, soft-caramel-like insides was the perfect binding between the crust, toothy nuts, and chewy coconut shreds. The top skin was a light shell almost like a meringue, and crumbled upon contact. The bar overall held together pretty well, but it did lean towards the soft side. Then again, most of the bars didn't last more than a few seconds, so that wasn't too much of a concern. This recipe is definitely a keeper!


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