When my daughter Sabrina was born 10 1/2 years ago, I lived in NYC’s Chinatown and was a member of a parenting group named Bowery Babes, which is how I found out about local mom Gretchen Witt and her son Liam, who very sadly died of cancer when he was only six. The heart-wrenching story has stayed with me, which is why over the years I’ve made and donated cookies for bake sales that help fund the organization Liam’s mom started: Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. And now, OXO is partnering with chef-supporters of Cookies for Kids’ Cancer who are providing recipes to inspire you to host your own Cookies for Kids’ Cancer bake sale.
While this is a sponsored post, I hope you’ll read about Liam Witt and his parents, who are truly inspiring: they took a tragic event and turned it into an entire movement to help other kids facing cancer. If you’d like to help, you can make these delightful Swedish Visiting Cake Bars created by famed baker and cookbook author, Dorie Greenspan (or another cookie of your choosing), and host a bake sale with your kids, friends or family.
I have been a supporter of Cookies For Kids Cancer from before Day 1 and with good reason: It’s a targeted source of funding for research into pediatric cancer treatments. That pediatric cancer is so prevalent and so poorly funded is a terrible paradox. Cookies for Kids Cancer is changing this and I love helping them reach their goals.
These are a mash-up of two recipes I love: almond-meringue topping, which I usually use on fruit tarts and (a variation of the) Swedish Visiting Cake, which is usually unadorned. I can no longer remember when or why I married these two, but once I did, the knot was tied for life — the crisp almonds and chewy cake make a perfect couple.
The cake is supremely satisfying and the topping is unusual in that it bakes to a meringue finish, but there’s no whipping involved. You just mix egg whites and confectioners’ sugar together — I do it with my fingers — swish sliced almonds around in the mix and spread it over the batter. The oven does all the work.—Dorie Greenspan
Makes 9 squares or 18 triangles
For the topping
1 cup (120 grams) confectioners’ sugar
3 large egg whites
1½ cups (150 grams) sliced almonds, blanched or unblanched
For the bars
¾ cup (150 grams) sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon pure almond extract
1 cup (136 grams) all-purpose flour
1 stick (8 tablespoons; 4 ounces; 113 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a 9-inch square baking pan and line it with parchment paper.
To make the topping: Put the sugar in a medium bowl and pour over the egg whites. Using your fingers or a fork, mix until the sugar is moistened. If there are lumps, ignore them. Toss in the almonds and stir them around until they’re coated with the sugared whites. Set aside while you make the batter.
To make the bars: Working in a large bowl, whisk the sugar, eggs and salt together until the mixture lightens in color and thickens a little, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the vanilla and almond extracts. Switch to a flexible spatula and gently stir in the flour. When the flour is fully incorporated, gradually fold in the melted butter. You’ll have a thick batter with a lovely sheen. Scrape it into the pan and use the spatula to work the batter into the corners. The layer will be very thin.
Give the topping another stir, or a run-through with your fingers, and turn it out onto the batter. Use a spatula or your fingers to spread the almonds evenly over the mixture, making sure to get nuts into the corners too.
Bake for 28 to 32 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean or with only a few crumbs stuck to it. The meringue topping will be pale golden brown. If you’d like a deeper color on the topping, run it under the broiler until you get the shade of gold you like best.
Transfer the pan to a rack and let rest for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edges of the cake and unmold it onto the rack. Very gently peel away the parchment and invert the cake onto another rack to cool to room temperature.
Transfer the cake to a cutting board and, using a long, thin knife, slice it into nine 3-inch squares. For smaller portions, cut each square into two triangles. If you’d like, you can dust the bars with confectioners’ sugar just before you serve them.
Wrapped, the bars will keep at room temperature for 4 to 5 days.
Tools to Use (all shown throughout the post)
Non-Stick Pro Cake Pan
11″ Balloon Whisk
Non-Stick Cooling and Baking Rack
5lb Food Scale with Pull Out Display—This OXO 5lb Food Scale with Pull Out Display accurately weighs small quantities and the easy-to-read display pulls out if you’re using large plates or bowls.
Join in the Cookies for Kids’ Cancer challenge by registering your event online (click on the “Register a Fundrasier” button); if you mark that you were inspired by OXO when you register, they’ll match proceeds from your bake sale up to their annual commitment.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of OXO.