Recipe: Brown Sugar Bar Cookies inspired by Rich’s bakery

Rich's ad in the AJC from 1973 focused on the popular Rich’s bakery.

Credit: CHARLOTTE B. TEAGLE / AJC FILE

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Rich's ad in the AJC from 1973 focused on the popular Rich’s bakery.

Credit: CHARLOTTE B. TEAGLE / AJC FILE

Credit: CHARLOTTE B. TEAGLE / AJC FILE

I recently saw the recipe in your column for Rich's Nut Poundcake, and it triggered my interest in Rich's recipes," wrote Merle Evans of Doraville. "Did Rich's ever produce a recipe book for dishes served at the Magnolia Room and their bakeries? If so, where can we obtain a copy?"

"Also, I remember a cakelike bar cookie from Rich's bakery. It had dried fruit in it. I am sure they would be easy to make if I just had a recipe."

To my knowledge, Rich's, the department store, never published a collection of its recipes. However, some of them have been published in various other collections. "Chef's Secrets From Great Restaurants in Georgia" included at least one recipe from the Magnolia Room, and Earlyne S. Levitas' "Secrets From Atlanta's Best Kitchens" devoted an entire chapter to the tearoom. Both are out of print.

Over the years, readers have sent me copies of their coveted Rich's recipes, but not one for the fruit bar Evans wrote about, so I published her request in the Jan. 9 Recipe Swap. Only one reader, Mary Yarbrough of Rome, responded.

"Years ago," Yarbrough wrote, "I tried to copy the Brown Sugar Bar Cookies from Rich's. Rather than dried fruit, I remembered them having candied fruit, like the kind used in fruitcakes. Rich's used pineapple, cherries and citron. Here's my base recipe. I added the orange zest, and I think that's what makes these so good."

DESSERT 

Brown Sugar Bar Cookies 

Makes 32 bars

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 pound light brown sugar

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon orange zest

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped nuts

1 cup candied or dried fruit

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour an 11 1/2-by-16 1/2- inch jellyroll pan.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar together on medium-low speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and orange zest.

In a small mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed until about half-combined. Add the nuts and fruit and mix on low speed just until combined. Spread the mixture evenly in the jellyroll pan and bake for 25 minutes. Cut into bars.

Per bar: 154 calories, 6 grams fat, 48 milligrams cholesterol, 106 milligrams sodium.

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