Gramma’s Orange Spice Bars
My Gramma has done it again: delivered a recipe sounding so incredibly good that I made it immediately and now cannot stop snacking. I came across it during my annual January purge. This year my studio, which is jammed with multiple writing resources, became the lucky recipient of the clean-out. While rearranging and dusting off my cooking and gardening books, I discovered two plastic recipe file boxes, shoved to the back of the shelf and temporarily hidden. Even though chaos abounded, I took some time to look through each box and every recipe, some from my mom but most from my Gramma. I love how she recorded her recipes by neatly typing them on index cards or thin onionskin paper. This gem for Orange Spice Bars nudged at my sweet tooth. Now that my two orange trees are bursting with fruit, I am ready to make them a center stage of many dishes.
The recipe comes together easily and took me back in time. As I creamed the butter and sugar and folded in the walnuts, I felt my Gramma’s presence in the kitchen with me, donned in her well-worn and faded yellow apron, sipping coffee and nodding her head in approval. Gramma, thanks for documenting so many wonderful, tasty recipes. I promise to make more of them!
- ⅔ cup unsalted butter or 11 Tablespoons
- 1½ cups brown sugar, firmly packed
- 2 eggs at room temperature
- 1-2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel (the recipe calls for 1 but I used 2)
- 3 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 Cup chopped walnuts
- For the Orange Glaze
- 1½ cups sifted powdered sugar
- 2-3 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 1 teaspoon finely grated orange peel
- 2 Tablespoons shredded or flaked coconut
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Grease a 10X15 jelly roll pan or line with parchment (I used a 10X15 lasagne pan)
- Cream the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
- Add eggs, one by one. Mix well.
- Add orange peel and orange juice. Mix well.
- Sift flour with soda, spices, and salt.
- Add to sugar mixture and mix just until combined.
- Stir in chopped walnuts.
- Turn dough into the pan and smooth it evenly across.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown and firm to the touch.
- Cool completely.
- Make the glaze:
- Mix together the powdered sugar, orange juice, and orange peel to form a smooth, thin glaze. Add more juice if you prefer a thinner glaze.
- Spread the glaze evenly over the bars. I did not use all the glaze, but if you want a sweeter bar, by all means, go for it.
- Sprinkle with the coconut.
- Cut into triangles, as my Gramma did, or cut into squares, your preference.
- These keep well for days covered or in an airtight container.
- Note: Don’t skip the orange glaze. It really adds that extra bit of flavor.
- Feel free to omit the coconut if desired
If the family were a fruit, it would be an orange, a circle of sections, held together but separable – each segment distinct.
Letty Cottin Pogrebin
Ciao for now,