Recently, Jeff and I were rearranging our cookbooks as we are running out of space to put them. We probably have over 200 and space is getting tight. Back a few years ago when Jeff's parents came to live with us, we cleaned out quite a bit of "stuff" from their house. Jeff's mom gave him some old cookbooks his aunts and grandmother used to use. One was the Modern Priscilla Cook Book - One Thousand Home Tested Recipes. As I flipped through the pages, there was notes about the recipes along with additional recipes written on the sides of the pages. The book is falling apart and has some missing pages, but from what I can gather, it was published in 1924.
We laughed as we read about Fig Cake, Fruit Soup, Savory Rarebit and Scalloped Chicken. It was fun to think about what people made for recipes in the 1920s and 1930s. I also loved that they would paste other recipes into the book, whether on the back and front cover or on the actual pages, to show how they altered a recipe.
Ah, altering recipes. Something that we as cooks and food bloggers do all the time. We take basic recipes and add our own twist. Even on this Butterscotch Squares recipe, I added butterscotch bits and bittersweet chocolate. It's fun finding old recipes and realizing where a certain recipe might have come from.
I had that moment when I was making the Butterscotch Squares. As they were baking, they began to smell like my grandmother's molasses squares. For as much as I made them when she was alive, I wish I could ask her where she got the recipe. I know there would have been a wonderful story behind that. Probably something like...it called for brown sugar and I didn't have any so I substituted white sugar and molasses. Then I was short on chocolate chips so I added a few butterscotch chips to the recipe...and so on.
I will say, this was a really easy recipe to make, especially since I made it in a large pan, so I didn't have a lot to clean up. Once the butter and sugar was melted and slightly cooled, I mixed the remainder of the ingredients and within 30 minutes they were baked and I was cleaned up. The butterscotch squares were delicious. They had a nice caramel taste and the little bit of butterscotch and chocolate chips added to the sweetness of the brownie. I added the butterscotch and chocolate chips because years ago, Stop and Shop used to sell butterscotch brownies. They were a blonde brownie with butterscotch chips, chocolate chips and walnuts. I was trying to capture that childhood moment.
If you have an old cookbook you haven't used in a while, take advantage of opening the book and skimming through the pages. I'm sure there is a recipe you have used or a recipe you told yourself you would make some day lost somewhere in the pages. I found some really interesting recipes in the Modern Priscilla Cookbook that I can make as is, or alter as needed. It goes back to everything we do in history - "everything old is new again." Modern Priscilla could become the next Food Network Show!
Butterscotch Squares (I doubled the recipe)
- 1/2 cup of butter
- 2 cups of brown sugar
- 2 egg
- 1-1/2 cups of flour
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- 1/2 cup of chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup of butterscotch chips (optional)
- 1 cup of semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, slightly grease a 15x9 inch pan.
2. Melt the butter and sugar in a pan on the stove, over medium heat, until the two are combined.
2. Cool to lukewarm and then add eggs one at a time, incorporating each.
3. Add the vanilla, then stir in the flour and baking powder.
4. Once all ingredients are mixed, add the butterscotch chips, chocolate chips and pecans.
5. Turn ingredients into the pan and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until slightly golden and a tooth pick comes out clean.
6. Remove from oven and place on a rack until cool. Cut into bars.
Makes about 24-36 bars.