It was our annual Christmas pot luck lunch at work on Friday. Sorry, I should rephrase that. It was our annual “Stuff Yourself Until We Have To Roll You Out The Door Day”.
We have a lot of staff, and it’s usually too much food for just lunch, so we decided to split it up and have breakfast AND lunch! Twice the food, twice the fun!
It began with a breakfast of hash browns, deviled eggs, sausages, croissants, muffins, fresh fruit, juice, tea, and coffee. Then we waddled our way back to our desks.
And before we had time to digest our breakfast, lunch prep had begun. Ham, meatballs, chicken, shrimp, scalloped potatoes, perogies, pasta salad, Caesar salad, pancit, spring rolls, buns, pickles, cheese, etc. Then we waddled our way back to our desks.
And finally, my favorite… dessert. Cookies, butter tarts, assorted squares, gingerbread cheesecake, fruitcake, and chocolates. Then we waddled our way back to our desks.
And at the end of the day, we rolled ourselves out the front door. Merry Christmas.
2 cups shredded, unsweetened coconut (or whatever type you have on hand)
1 can (300 ml) sweetened condensed milk
20 maraschino cherries, chopped
For the icing:
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup icing (powdered/confectioners) sugar
2 tablespoons whipping (heavy) cream
2 tablespoons boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice (optional)
2 drops red food coloring (optional)
Preheat the oven to 300 F.
In a bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, brown sugar and flour. Stir until well combined. Firmly press the graham crumb base into a 8"x12" baking dish, lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Increase the heat to 350 F.
In another bowl, combine the shredded coconut with the sweetened condensed milk. Mix until well combined. Add the chopped cherries and mix until just incorporated. Spread the coconut mixture over the base and bake for 20 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature, or cool in the refrigerator.
To make the frosting, use an electric mixer to whip the butter and icing sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the cream and beat for 2 minutes. Add the boiling water and beat for 2 minutes. Add the vanilla, maraschino juice, and red food coloring and beat for an additional 2 minutes. Spread over cooled cake. Cut into squares.
Recipe adapted from my friend Lavina's Pink Delight Bars - 2014
Every summer, around the middle of July, we go saskatoon berry picking. Saskatoon berries are native to western Canada and north-western United States. They are similar to a blueberry in color and size, but saskatoon berries grow on tall bushes, where blueberries are found very low to the ground. Saskatoon berries are more tart than blueberries and have a less mushy texture. Not to dis the blueberry, but saskatoon berries are actually higher in protein, fiber, vitamin C, iron, and potassium than the blueberry. Saskatoons can be interchanged in any recipe that you would normally use blueberries, and they are easier to pick. It’s a win win!
This year, due to the incessantly long winter, and the rainy, wet spring, the saskatoon berries were abundant. And huge! They literally dripped off the bushes! And not surprisingly, they are delicious!
However, to get access to that heavenly fruit, you had to beat back mosquitoes that were the size of house cats. It was +30 degrees Celsius outside, and the humidity made it feel like you were picking berries on the surface of the sun. Sweat dripped into our eyes and burned like battery acid, but there was no way that we were passing up the opportunity to pick saskatoons. However, it was so muggy and mosquito infested that we had two pickers (my teenage boys) give up about 10 minutes into it and they waited for the rest of us in the car. Wimps.
We picked close to 30 lbs of berries in just under 1-1/2 hours. Now my freezer is stocked for cakes, jam, syrup, or whatever else I feel like making all winter long. And that includes these delicious saskatoon crumble squares. Soooo worth the mosquito bites!
If saskatoon berries are not available where you live, then simply interchange the saskatoons with blueberries.
For The Base And Crumble Topping
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
zest of 1 lemon (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup butter, lightly chilled and cubed
For The Saskatoon Filling
4 - 5 cups fresh or frozen saskatoon berries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 slightly heaping teaspoons cornstarch
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, and lemon zest. Add the vanilla, egg, and butter cubes. Use a pastry cutter, or two knives, to cut the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until crumbly. There should be visible tiny lumps of butter.
Line a 9"x13" baking dish with parchment paper. Transfer a little more than half of the flour mixture to the baking dish and press the base lightly with your hands.
In a separate bowl, combine the saskatoon berries, sugar, and cornstarch. Mix well until the berries are coated. Pour the saskatoons over the base and sprinkle any of the cornstarch and sugar that may have settled to the bottom of the bowl over the berries.
Crumble the remaining butter/flour mixture evenly over the berries. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool before cutting it into squares.