I was contacted a couple months ago and asked if I'd like to receive a complimentary copy of a new dessert cookbook called Sugar, Sugar: Every Recipe Has A Story by Kimberly Reiner and Jenna Sanz-Agero. Well I love sugar so I said yes!
I was excited to get my hands on this book because it reminded me of a modern version of my favorite community cookbook. The book is broken up into 7 chapters- the first telling you about the book and the "sugar momma" authors and how the book came about, and then came the recipes categorized by type of dessert- Cakes, Tarts and Pies, Cookies, Bars, Confections and Recipe Legacies. You see, each recipe is contributed by someone else, much like a community cookbook. Because the recipes are submitted by other people, they are not all from scratch, some of them contain shortcut ingredients, such as boxed cake mix and canned pie filling. But this book is more than just a collection of recipes because each entry also has a short story accompanying it. The stories were funny, sweet and sentimental. Some were about the celebrations in which they were served, some were about the people and hands that made them. The one constant is that this books bring life to the recipes.
Another thing I liked about this book was that the authors leave you "Sugar Momma Tips" about the recipes, like how to turn these bars back into a pie, or how to how to make the recipe your own by swapping out ingredients. They also give you tips on how to speed up the recipe if you're pressed for time. On top of all that, there is a section for note taking, so you can jot down comments or changes you made to the recipe, much like grandma would have done in her own handwriting on a recipe card.
When it came down to deciding what to make for this review, I decided on a caramel cake. As you can see, that is not what I have here. I found the cake to be cloyingly sweet and just couldn't eat it. I tried to pass it off onto others and they all said the same thing. It had great buttery caramel flavor, just way too much sugar. But then again, it comes from a book where the word "sugar" appears twice in the title. I turned to these Kentucky Pie Bars, because we love Derby Pie and I liked that these could be made in bar form with a graham cracker crust. These were just like the pie I make and not too sweet. They were like a cross between a magic cookie bar and Derby Pie. I would definitely make these bars again, but I would add more Bourbon to the filling (I added the lesser amount) and add a bit more butter to the crust to help bind it together since I found them to be a little crumbly. I also have my mind set on making the cover recipe as well as a pie and another bar cookie recipe, so stay tuned.
Kentucky Derby Pie Barsslightly adapted from Sugar, Sugar
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Graham Cracker Crust:
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3-4 Tablespoons Bourbon, optional
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9x13-inch baking dish (or use non-stick cooking spray).
To make the crust: Place the graham crackers and the melted butter in a medium bowl and mix together until the crumbs are thoroughly moistened. Press mixture firmly and evenly on the bottom of the baking dish and set aside.
To make the filling: Place the sugar and butter in a large bowl. With an electric mixer, beat mixture on medium speed until well combined. Reduce the mixer speed to low and the eggs ones at a time, add the vanilla and Bourbon, if using. Gradually add the flour until just combined. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to fold in the pecans and chocolate chips. Pour the filling on top of the crust and spread it evenly.
Bake for 33-38 minutes, until the bars begin to turn a light golden brown. Remove from the oven and let them cool before cutting. Or eat them while still warm and gooey.
Now for the giveaway. The publishers and I want you to have your very own copy of Sugar, Sugar: Every Recipe Has A Story. To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post. For a second entry and in the spirit of this book, leave a seperate comment telling me a brief story about one of your favorite recipes. That's it!
I'll pick a winner in a couple days and the folks at Andrews McNeel Publishing will send a book straight out to that individual. Good luck and happy story telling!