I made “Chocolate Squares” the other day. That’s what we called a certain decadent, toothachingly-sweet, calorie-laden, carb-ridden, chocolatey dessert when I was growing up. Only when I was well into my adult years did I learn they had another name: Nanaimo Bars.
“Chocolate Squares” have a special place in my memory bank because one day, when I was maybe 12, I decided to make them. On my own. No help from Mom. I was a “big girl” now.
We had received the recipe from Mrs. Hill, one of my grandmother’s friends. It was hand-written on a 3″x5″ file card. And, as with many recipes from people of that age, details were sometimes a bit sparse – they assumed you knew what to do.
I didn’t know that.
The first layer was no problem. I melted the butter, cocoa and sugar in the double boiler, then added the beaten egg, the crushed graham crackers, chopped nuts and coconut. Once it was well mixed, I spread it in the pan.
So far, so good.
The recipe for the second layer read “Spread on . . .”, so I spread on the icing sugar and sprinkled on the Bird’s Custard powder. Next came ½ cup of butter.
That’s when I realized there might be a problem. How do you spread ½ cup of butter, even when it is soft, into a powdery layer of icing sugar? Not only that, but then I was supposed to add some cream. Things did not look quite right.
Time to call in the expert. “Mo-om!”
Mom was in the living room or maybe in her sewing room doing something, certainly not housework. She was a staunch believer in the “Housework if necessary but not necessarily housework” philosophy. There were so many other things to do that were far more interesting or rewarding than – Ick! – housework.
She also had a warped sense of humour.
Mom walked into the kitchen, took one look at my messy spread-on-as-the-recipe-said layer and burst into peals of laughter.
I was devastated, traumatized. For life. (No, not really but it sounds more dramatic, doesn’t it?)
When she finally stopped laughing and had wiped the tears from her eyes, she said, “You’re supposed to MIX it before you spread it on.”
“But, but, the recipe didn’t say anything about mixing it!”
Like I said, some of those old recipes are a bit shy on details.
Anyway, Mom helped me scrape the mess into a bowl where I mixed it up, as I should have, and then continued with the rest of the recipe. The Chocolate Squares turned out just fine. Only Mom and I knew how they had almost been made.
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