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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Aunt Cora's Jam Squares


Here's a very special Jam Square that holds more memories than I can tell you about.  Aunt Cora always served these when my sister and I visited her when we were children.   

Lois, Fella and Heather
Aunt Cora
Aunt Cora, my father's sister, lived with her two unmarried cousins, Will and Elsie. The house was devoid of most childhood pleasures, except for Aunt Cora's dolls which adorned her bedroom and a few board games like Ludo.  We weren't allowed to play with the dolls because they were keepsakes, and I suppose they were much too old to be played with anyway.  But Aunt Cora liked to give us a good time when we visited and would play games like Ludo and Tiddly Winks with us. And we were allowed to play with the old dog, Fella, patting him gently while telling him he was a good dog.  

Apart from the dolls there were lots of interesting ornaments around the house.  I remember two little china dogs that sat on either side of the living room fireplace.  And the mantelpiece held various and curious figures as well.  We weren't allowed to touch any of those either.  
  
Heather and Lois at Aunt Cora's house.
Aunt Cora and the Cousins lived three blocks from our home and every few months Heather and I were summoned for a visit.  It was like a royal invitation with no other option than to attend.  We didn't really mind as Aunt Cora liked us and we liked her and she always gave us afternoon "tea" when we were there.  Often we were paraded in front of some ancient friend or 15th cousin and were expected to behave like proper little ladies.  That wasn't too hard for Heather as she was more sedate than her boisterous older sister who was most distressed to sit for so long.  Just before the visit ended Aunt Cora would call us to the dining room or kitchen where she would have a little plate of finger sandwiches and dainty cookies and squares set out for us along with cups of milk to sip while nibbling on our goodies.  She always gave my sister warm milk instead of cold as she thought Heather to be more delicate than I.  Heather preferred a glass of cold milk but Aunt Cora said it wasn't good for the digestion. So warm milk it was.  Not in our wildest dreams would we consider objecting out loud. 

Aunt Cora made these squares with raspberry jam, which I think is the best jam for these squares, but that being said, I think a good apricot jam would be lovely as well.  If you make these use your favourite jam and make a few memories with your own family.

Aunt Cora’s Jam Squares
½ cup butter
 

¼ cup white sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt  
½ cup raspberry jam

Meringue Topping:
1 egg white
 

¼ cup brown sugar 
½ cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line 9x9-inch pan with parchment paper for easy removal.

Cream butter and white sugar together.  Add egg yolk and milk and mix well.  Mix flour, baking powder and salt together and add to creamed mixture.  Spread in pan.  Cover with raspberry jam.

Make the meringue topping by beating the egg whites until soft peaks are formed.  Add brown sugar and beat until stiff.  Fold in chopped nuts.  Spread meringue mixture over the jam.

Bake 30 minutes until golden brown.  Cool completely before cutting.


Makes 25-36 squares.


Separate the egg yolk from the egg white by letting the white slip out of the shell into the waiting bowl.  Switch the yolk from shell to shell as the white drains away from the yolk.   Any tiny bit of yolk in the egg white will stop the whites from whipping.


 
 This recipe can easily be made by hand.  Make sure the butter is very soft before you begin.


Pat the dough in the pan using your hand.  Smooth it out using the back of a spoon.  
I had to smooth this dough out twice because I dropped the camera right on top of the dough.  
Needless to say it left big gouge in the dough that had to be fixed. 

Spread the jam evenly over the dough. 

Before whipping the egg whites, wipe out the bowl with a vinegar dampened paper towel.  The vinegar will wipe away any residual grease that may be on the bowl surface.  Do the same with the beaters.  Any grease will stop the whites from whipping.

1. Pack the brown sugar in the measuring cup and chop the nuts.  
2. Beat the egg whites to soft peak and then add brown sugar, beating until stiff.
3. Fold the nuts in the beaten brown sugar meringue.
4. Drop the meringue by spoonfuls on top of the jam.  This will make it easier to spread.

 
The squares hot from the oven.  They must cool completely before cutting.

Ah...Jam Squares with an ice cold glass of milk. 
 

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