Old Time Fruit and Chocolate Chip Bars


Decades ago, I had the opportunity to watch my kids’ great-grandmother read through a little farm paper, The Farmer’s Friend and Rural Reporter. Every week when it arrived in the mailbox, she would turn to the back, past the updates on crop conditions and market reports, to the pages designed just for farm wives like her. These were filled with recipes, gardening hints and food preservation suggestions, along with offers for dress and apron and little boy dungaree patterns.

Each week,  it was the recipes that most drew her in–and soon me as well. A new mother and housewife just out of my teens and still learning about cooking and baking,  I was building my own collection of clippings and hand-copied recipe cards, many from The Farmer’s Friend too.

My adaptation of one of the earliest of these became a family favorite. As I made it today, with some clothes flapping on the line and the doors open to the sounds of spring, I was taken back to that comfortable old farmhouse with its cook stove and rocker in the corner of the kitchen.

Try the recipe as is or consider the microwaved alternate that I developed several years ago. Either way, this is a bar cookie that tastes far richer than it really is and can be made relatively inexpensively if you always keep an eye out for specials on things like raisins, brown sugar, etc.

Corn Flake Bars

1/2 c butter (I usually use a tablespoon or two less and still find it buttery enough)
1 c flour
1/4 c brown sugar, packed
1/4 c white sugar

2 eggs
1/4 c brown sugar, packed
1/4 c white sugar
1/2 c chopped dates
1 c coconut
1/2 c raisins OR chopped dried apricots OR dried cranberries
1/2 c semisweet or dark chocolate chips
2 1/2 to 3 c crushed cornflakes (see NOTE)

1.  Make the crust: Cut the butter into chunks and put into a 9 X 13 pan. Melt the butter in the oven while you preheat it to 325 degrees.
2.  When the butter is melted, stir the sugars and then the flour into the butter and mix with a fork until well blended. Use your fingers to spread the mixture evenly all across the pan. Set aside.
3.  Make the filling:  Combine the eggs and sugars and stir until well blended. Add the dates, coconut, raisins, and chocolate chips and mix well. Gradually add the cornflakes and stir until evenly blended.
4.  Spread the filling over the prepared crust, making sure it is as even as possible and that the edges are not thinner than the middle.

5.  Bake about 25 to 30 minutes until set in the middle. Be careful not to overbake. If you should see the edges getting a little hard, place strips of aluminum foil along the top edges of the pan.

6.  Remove from oven and let cool about 5 to 10 minutes. It is easiest to cut these while they are still warm–a plastic disposable knife often does the best job of cutting these.

NOTE:  Do not crush the cornflakes in a processor or blender, as either is likely to result in crumbs too fine for this recipe. Instead, fill a two cup measure with cornflakes and then use your hand to crush the flakes so they measure only one cup. Repeat as needed. (If you don’t have a two cup measure, just do the same crushing to half the volume in a one cup or other measure.)

Microwave Variation:

Cut the recipe in half and prepare as above using a 9 inch round glass cake pan. Microwave at medium to medium high power (level 6 or 7)  for about 5 to 6 minutes, depending on your microwave. Then cook another 2 to 2 1/2 minutes on full power, until the center is just done.


A final note: As I was preparing this entry, I stumbled upon a reference to a “smart refrigerator.” In contrast to Great Grandma’s simple kitchen, here is a description of what the new refrigerator–already on the market, here is a little of what it can do:

The Smart Refrigerator Gets Smarter with the Enhanced Smart Manager*
Built around the company’s signature Linear Compressor, which comes with a 10-year manufacturer’s limited warranty, LG’s flagship smart French-door refrigerator is equipped with a full range of Smart ThinQ™ technologies. Key among them is Smart Manager, which transforms the refrigerator into a complete food management system. Consumers can use the refrigerator’s LCD panel or their smartphones to check the food items stored inside, as well as their location and expiration date. Using the Smart Manager’s Freshness Tracker, users can also enter various food items, such as eggs, milk and vegetables, and check their suggested expiration dates. Additionally, the refrigerator recommends dishes that can be cooked using the ingredients available in the refrigerator.

You can read more about this Jetsons-come-true appliance at Today’s Smartest Refrigerator. Next year: a refrigerator with its own blog!

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