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Ben Picks Ten: Finger-friendly desserts. June 6, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in Uncategorized, wit and wisdom.
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Our friend Ben’s beloved Mama was renowned for her fabulous and awe-inspiring desserts, but she was equally known for only making them on state occasions: birthdays and holidays. The rest of the time, the closest she came to making dessert for us kids was to break open a box of Duncan Hines Double Fudge Brownie Mix, adding an egg, water, and the famous packet of liquid chocolate that came in the box (thus “double fudge”) and popping the resulting mix in the oven.

Our friend Ben loved these soft, chewy, fudgy brownies with their crackly tops, and they pretty much spoiled me for every other kind, be they never so handmade from never so pricey, exclusive, artisanal ingredients. So my ears perked up this morning when Silence Dogood was clipping coupons and said “Ben, there’s a coupon here for Duncan Hines brownie mixes. Do you want me to clip it and see if they still make that brownie mix you loved?”

Hell, yes. I’d kill for some Duncan Hines Double Fudge Brownies! But this of course started me and Silence off on a discussion of our all-time favorite finger-friendly desserts. We’ll save “real” desserts for another post, but here are ten (plus one, of course) cookies, brownies, bars and the like that we simply love. We invite you to vote for your favorites, and please let us know which ones we’re missing: 

* Duncan Hines Double Fudge Brownies. As noted, these soft, gooey, chocolatey brownies can’t be beat as far as I’m concerned. I hope the mix is still out there somewhere and moms are still making it for their kids!

* Blond brownies. Yummy butterscotch brownies with chocolate chips are so rich and luscious. In this case (unless they’re cut in 1-inch cubes), bet you can’t eat more than one! But no worries, that leaves more for later.

* Lemon bars. Silence’s absolute fave. She says “It’s like lemon meringue pie with a way better crust and no yucky meringue.” All righty then.

* Shortbread. Oh, yum. Our favorite is toffee shortbread, but pecan shortbread and candied ginger shortbread are close seconds. This rich, buttery cookie cannot be beat.

* Crescent/wedding/etc. cookies. As far as we know, there are way too many alternative names for these delicious cookies. Basically, they feature a rich, buttery dough with crumbled pecans or other nuts that are shaped into balls, crescents, or what-have-you and dusted with powdered sugar.

* Pecan tassies. Our friend Ben and Silence never encountered these until we moved to Pennsylvania, and we still have no clue how the name “tassies” came about. But these are like delicious micro-pecan pie bites. And we do love us some pecan pie! Tassies have the huge advantage of being finger-friendly foods; you can just pop a tassie into your mouth, no fuss, no muss, rather than struggling with a gooey, sticky, drippy slice of pecan pie.

* Kiffles. This is another treat we first encountered in scenic PA, but boy is it a good one. Buttery, flaky pastry surrounding a fruit filling like apricot or a honey-nut filling and shaped into finger-friendly rolls. Do I really have to say anything else?!

* Chocolate chip-oatmeal-toffee cookies. Our friend Ben’s experience of choclate chip cookies growing up was of horrid dust-dry packaged versions, so when I encountered Silence’s incredibly rich, delicious, chewy homemade version, it was love at first bite.

* Peanut butter cookies. Oops, almost forgot these. But if a peanut butter cookie is homemade and has that luscious chewy texture rather than being dry and crumbly, I’ll happily take two anytime. Preferably with a side of soft vanilla ice cream. 

* Ultimate oatmeal cookies. Not those gross, boring, dry oatmeal cookies that give oatmeal a bad name. (Silence points out that the dry ones are good for dipping in hot tea, but I think that’s revolting.) The ones I love are rich and chewy, with dried cranberries, white chocolate chips, golden raisins, and pecan pieces. Now that our friend Ben thinks about it, I’d probably rather eat these than any dessert on earth, and that would be even without the white chocolate. Thank heavens Silence will make them for me when I’m craving them!

Plus the bonus:

* Baklava. Our friend Ben can’t really count this incredibly delicious dessert as a finger-friendly treat because of the gooey honey that saturates it. (And if you try to keep the goo off your fingers by cutting them and using a fork, the flaky phyllo layers scatter in all directions. I still haven’t figured out the right way to eat them.) In fact, if a piece of baklava is dry enough to pick up, it doesn’t have enough of the honey syrup to suit me. But I’m including it because it’s served in finger-food sizes and, hey, it’s just so good.

That’s it for us. Now how about you? Have we left off your faves, or are they in our list? Let us know!