Saturday, December 10, 2016

Celebrating Emily Dickinson's Birthday with Gingerbread Bars

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was a reclusive American poet. Unrecognized in her own time, Dickinson is known posthumously for her unusual use of form and syntax.
She was born December 10, 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts, to a successful family with strong community ties. She lived a mostly introverted and reclusive life. After she studied at the Amherst Academy for seven years in her youth, she spent a short time at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary before returning to her family's house in Amherst. Thought of as an eccentric by the locals as she became known for her penchant for white clothing and her reluctance to greet guests or, later in life even not leaving her room. Most of her friendships were therefore carried out by correspondence. There, she filled notebooks with poetry and wrote hundreds of letters. 
After her death,May 15, 1886, her younger sister was tasked with organizing and destroying Emily’s letters. She carried out this task and in doing so discovered seventeen hundred of Emily’s poems, which were subsequently organized and published with the help of Emily’s longtime friend Thomas Wentworth Higginson. Dickinson is now considered one of the towering figures of American literature. 

Despite the somber tone of this lyrical poem there is great imagery. The poem personifies Death as a gentleman caller who takes a leisurely carriage ride with the poet to her grave. She also personifies immortality.
Because I Could Not Stop For Death 
by Emily Dickinson
Because I could not stop for Death –

He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
And Immortality.

We slowly drove – He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility –

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring –
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –
We passed the Setting Sun –

Or rather – He passed Us –
The Dews drew quivering and Chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground –
The Roof was scarcely visible –
The Cornice – in the Ground –

Since then – 'tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses' Heads
Were toward Eternity –

Gingerbread Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
Cook's notes: It's a bar no WAIT! it's a cookie-hey it's both. I loved this recipe on so many levels. It's easy baking in a 13 x 9 pan,  full of holiday flavors, and looks quite festive on the serving plate. The recipe has been adapted from  Makes about 20 bars. 
In this photo the baker found miniature gingerbread men to place in the center of the bars which I thought was a nice touch. This would be a fun family project with kids decorating the bars. I'm on the hunt today for mini gingerbread men. Check back later.
Bar Ingredients:
  • 2 cups + 2 TB. all-purpose flour (scoop and level to measure)
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. Saigon cinnamon or 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, diced into 1 tablespoon pieces, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
Frosting Ingredients:
  • 3 TB. butter
  • 3 oz. cream cheese, nearly at room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp.  vanilla extract
  • Optional 1/4 tsp. maple extract
  • Milk 
Bar Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray, set aside. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda and salt for 20 seconds, set aside.
  • Using a mixer blend together butter, brown sugar and molasses until combined. Mix in egg an vanilla extract. With mixer set on low speed slowly add in flour mixture and mix until combined. Fold batter with a spatula as needed until batter appears to be evenly incorporated. The batter is thick.
  • Spread dough into prepared baking dish and press into an even layer using floured hands. Bake in preheated oven until bars have baked through, about 12-14 minutes (be careful not to over-bake). Transfer baking dish to a wire rack and let bars cool completely.
Cream Cheese Frosting :
  • Using a mixer cream together butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add in powdered sugar and vanilla and mix until light and fluffy, adding in as needed to achieve desired consistency. Spread frosting over cooled bars. Cut into squares. Cover with lid or plastic wrap and store in refrigerator.

Check out Bella's latest posting from Rockport, Texas.

Holiday Countdown

and her early Christmas present from Deb. She seems a bit overwhelmed with the sheer size of it. 

1 comment:

  1. Happy birthday to one of my favorite poets.

    And thanks for posting that quote from Emily, the one you chose to send me on the mousepad. It is there every day for me to see. Words of hope. Thank you.