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Walnut Bars and a (Not So) Fairy Tale

October 14, 2011

There once was a girl with a food blog.  Her name was Jean and oh, how she loved it so!  Cooking, photographing and writing were pure delight day in and day out.  She often daydreamed about food and was happily preoccupied about expanding her cooking repertoire.  Taste was her favorite of all the senses.  Her friends in the blogging community kept her company and she enjoyed sharing her kitchen adventures as much as she read about theirs.  Her blogging life was perfect! 

Alas, summer arrived and fun adventures left Jean without enough time to spare in the kitchen.  Instead of creating new dishes she reverted to serving old standbys that were old news to her blog.  Her foodie friends grew concerned by her absence and she appreciated this so much.  She managed a new post here and there to keep her poor blog going but time still wasn’t on her side.  How she has missed the thrill of a new post and connecting with her friends but she had faith the new season would allow for her normal life to resume. 

Unfortunately, a big bad wolf in the form of a health issue posed an even bigger threat to the survival of her blog.  She wasn’t the one attacked but instead it threatened someone near and dear to her.  It has been lurking, threatening to kill the joy in her humble little home.  What’s a girl to do?

The past month has been spent preparing for the big day when the big bad wolf would hopefully be cast away for good.  She and her prince made temporary lifestyle/diet changes (most not blog-worthy) to fortify themselves but made equal effort to sprinkle as much happiness to each day as possible.  Would the big bad wolf blow down their house?   

The big day came this week.  Her prince, ever so courageous, walked into battle to face the biggest challenge of his life.  Fear threatened to overthrow his will but losing to the wolf was not to be.  By his strength he conquered the wolf and after some recovery they expect life to return to normal and they will live (and blog) happily ever after!  


Yes, I have been cooking here and there and originally planned to break my blogging fast with a savory dish.  However, I couldn’t resist giving you something sweet instead.  This recipe was contributed to Food & Wine by Jean Calviac of Gascon, a Michelin-starred French restaurant in London.  They are rich and impossibly moist.  The walnut frosting is truly heavenly.  Hope you enjoy it!

Walnut Bars

* from Food & Wine 2002 

  • 2 cups walnut halves (1/2 pound)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Salt
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter an 8-inch-square baking pan and line the bottom with wax paper or parchment. Finely grind 1 cup of the walnuts with 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  2. In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer to beat 4 tablespoons of the butter with the remaining 3/4 cup sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks, 1 at a time, making sure each is incorporated before adding the next. Stir in the ground walnuts.
  3. Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form. Fold the beaten whites into the walnut batter, then pour into the prepared pan. Tilt the pan to evenly distribute the batter. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the cake is set and begins to pull away from the side of the pan. Transfer to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the side of the pan and turn the cake out onto a serving plate to cool completely.
  4. In a food processor, pulse the remaining 1 cup of walnuts with the confectioners’ sugar until finely ground. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and pulse until creamy. Spread the frosting evenly over the cake. Using the edge of a tablespoon, make a decorative pattern in the frosting. Cut the cake into 1-by-2-inch bars and serve.
26 Comments leave one →
  1. October 14, 2011 9:55 AM

    I love ‘happily ever after’ stories especially when they happen in real world! These bars look lovely…love your blog space and your food pics 🙂

  2. October 14, 2011 9:59 AM

    I love how simple this is! Anything with just 6 ingredients that looks that good is a “win” in my book! Thanks for sharing.

  3. October 14, 2011 10:01 AM

    Welcome Back. I’m so glad the wolf is defeated. And, what a lovely way to get back into the swing of things. Gorgeous dessert!

  4. October 14, 2011 10:10 AM

    Yum! That looks so good! I may have to make this! Thanks!

  5. October 14, 2011 10:23 AM

    I’m glad to hear your husband is feeling much better and the wolf have been defeated. Welcome back Jean, we missed you a lot 🙂
    Love your sweet entrance, can’t wait for the next ones.

  6. October 14, 2011 10:28 AM

    Thank God for the happy every after ending to that story. Nothing like a naughty cake to bring smiles to everyone’s faces. I just love the extra thick nutty topping. Take care, Jean.

  7. October 14, 2011 10:46 AM

    Family always trumps blogging! Fingers crossed your prince’s recovery is quick and complete!

    PS…these bars are stunning!!!

  8. October 14, 2011 11:30 AM

    Im glad the fairy tale had a happy ending. These walnut bars sound delicious.

  9. October 14, 2011 1:28 PM

    Life is full of ups and downs and sometimes one has to just be adaptable and go with the flow; these bars are splendid and remind me of an Armenian pastry I almost made the other day.

  10. October 14, 2011 1:35 PM

    I’m cheering for the happy ending, too! The walnut bars are beautiful and tempting. Some people say they don’t like walnut stuff. I don’t believe them.

  11. October 14, 2011 1:58 PM

    I hope everything works our just perfectly for you, Jean! These walnut bars look just delicious!

  12. October 14, 2011 2:00 PM

    Glad to hear your husband is on the mend 😉

  13. October 14, 2011 2:18 PM

    You’ve been missed! I’m glad to hear your husband is doing better.

  14. October 14, 2011 3:35 PM

    The bars look absolutely delicious. Hope hubby is better!

  15. October 14, 2011 4:27 PM

    Glad you’re back. And very glad you two managed to kill off that nasty wolf!

  16. October 14, 2011 4:41 PM

    Jean, my dear friend – this was such a lovely post! I am SOOOOOO happy that the story ends well and my thoughts are with hubby and you for a speedy recovery. You have indeed been missed within the blogging community and would love to get together soon. Email me and we can figure out a time that works! BTW – these bars look super divine. Enjoy your weekend!! 🙂

  17. October 14, 2011 6:15 PM

    Glad to see you posting Jean and happy that you are doing well;-) I’ve missed your posts and am loving this one. I like to share the sweet notes too;-) I hope you’re enjoying this amazing weather and have some fun things planned for the weekend.

  18. October 15, 2011 8:48 AM

    I am glad that you are back, and even happier that the story had a happy ending:) These bars look divine and remind me of something my grandmother made – very simple, very rich, and utterly delicious! I missed you!

  19. October 15, 2011 10:36 AM

    Welcome back Jean! We missed you and your posts but I’m glad your husband is feeling better. I hope you and your husband are enjoying the beautiful weather this weekend. This walnut bar looks delicious and I’m glad you are back blogging. Take your time settling down for blogging, we’ll be here. 🙂

  20. October 15, 2011 11:52 AM

    I am so HAPPY for that HAPPY ENDING!!! And I am also so-very-happy to see you back!!

  21. October 15, 2011 12:06 PM

    So happy to read about your new post, and more importantly, happy to hear the big bad wolf has been defeated!

  22. October 15, 2011 12:56 PM

    Welcome back and glad to hear that things are looking up for you and yours! Thanks for sharing a sweet dish rather than savory. Seems perfect to think of the sweet things in life 🙂

  23. October 15, 2011 1:57 PM

    You are the girl for whom happy endings were invented! GREG

  24. October 17, 2011 12:07 AM

    A happy ending! So wonderful to hear that he is on the road to recovery and that you are back for all of us 🙂 I know I missed you! These walnut bars are just gorgeous and a beautiful way to celebrate 🙂

  25. October 17, 2011 6:56 PM

    So glad things are getting back to normal for you, that must have been so hard. These bars are amazing, a must try. So glad you are both doing okay. You were missed.

  26. October 31, 2011 9:18 AM

    great idea with the top of these! such a simple way to make them look over the top beautiful!

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