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Bars, Brownies & Aunt Vi's

chocloate mint bark

There are so many different things that can fall into this category that it's hard to even begin to list them. There are the traditional Brownies, dense, chewy and fudge like, or light and more cake like. Blondies, which are Brownies made with white chocolate, are becoming quite popular and can make a nice compliment to traditional Brownies on a dessert tray. Nanaimo Bars, chocolate cake, mint fillings, more chocolate. Magic Bars, Date Squares, Energy Bars and even S'Mores can be made at home in a pan, although personally I don't see the point. S'Mores are meant to be made at a campfire, and only at a campfire. But that's just me.

And of course there are the Aunt Vi's.........


Aunt Vi's

Do you remember back on the Home Page that I told you there would be more about them later? Well here we are! Aunt Vi's. Or as they are most affectionately referred in my family simply as "Aunt Vi's Goodies". How to explain them? From the beginning is usually the best way. Back in 1967 my maternal grand-mother had been recently widowed, and she had 5 of her sisters come over from Aberdeen, Scotland to visit her for the summer. At the end of the summer 4 of them returned home to their families, one remained. That was Aunt Vi. Technically she was my mother's aunt, so my great-aunt. Aunt Vi had been a school teacher that had never married and was now retired so she was free to stay with Grandma for as along as she liked. Grandma had been in Canada since 1920, and had only been back to the "old country" as she always referred to it, once and that was in 1931, just after my aunt had been born. So they had some catching up to do.

At Christmas of 1967 when the family gathered from across southern Ontario as families do at the holiday season, Aunt Vi "whipped up" some bars that were just about the most incredible things any of us had ever had. They were an instant hit. I was only 7 at the time and I remember it as clear as a bell. (side note: also last time Leafs won "The Cup" which I also remember), I had to learn how to make them before she went back to Scotland.

They looked simple enough, only 3 layers and the top was just chocolate. There really was only one or two problems. The first was that Aunt Vi had apparently made up the recipe in her head, so when it came time for her to write it down so she could "pass it along" to me, it took her some time to remember what she had done. The other problem was that the key ingredient was very hard to find. So much so that over the years I've been known to drive all over town going from one grocery store to another looking for it. In fact this year, because I had to make so many for the wedding, I finally had to order 2 cases from Amazon. You see, this secret ingredient really comes from Scotland.

Now that I'm retired and am looking for things to keep myself busy around the holiday season I start my "Christmas Baking" in early November. These days I make dozens of different things, (see the gallery for some images), and I give it all away to my friends as gifts. Without fail, as soon as they get their bags, they dive into them looking for the Aunt Vi's. They wouldn't care if there wasn't anything else in that bag, just as long as the Aunt Vi's were in there. I've had lots of people suggest that I sell them. They are that yummy, but the trouble is, I really don't know if the recipe is one that Aunt Vi created, or every house in Aberdeen makes them. What I do know, is no one I've ever met has ever come across them before. I have a friend from Glasgow, and neither he nor anyone else in his family has ever had them. So if they are a Scottish tradition, then perhaps they're an Aberdeen, Scotland tradition. So I couldn't very well sell them on the pretence that they're a secret family recipe. Which they are actually. As far as I know, I'm the only one that has it and I guard it carefully. One day I will teach the next generation, I've begun to teach my cousin's grand-daughter (Riley, you'll meet her on other pages) how to bake them, but she's only 9 and nowhere near ready yet.

These are some of the Aunt Vi's that I made for Katie & Andrew's wedding,( I actually made 90 of them ), the lettering is done in white chocolate.

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So, for the time being, I'm the official Aunt Vi's baker. If I was to show up in Aurora on Christmas Eve without them, I'd be sent right back to Mississauga with strict orders to bake some, and to not show my face until they're done.

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