A Sweet Bar Named Desire

Summer is winding down, and though the evenings are getting cooler, mid-day outdoors still tends to coat me in a sheen of sweat. Because of central air conditioning, August is a much more pleasant month than it used to be, and I am glad to spend the days baking treats inside instead of baking my pale skin outside.

Tennessee Williams sets the backdrop for A Streetcar Named Desire as a Louisiana summer in the 1940s. The air is heavy and dense, in many manners of speaking. Stella knows that her husband Stanley is sinful but can’t seem to get enough of him. And while I agree that there are few things yummier than a young, pouty Marlon Brando – I may have found one of them to be peanut butter cheesecake bars. The combination of cream cheese, graham cracker crust, peanut butter and chocolate chip may even drive you crazy.


Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars:

12 oz cream cheese

1 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

1/4 cup brown sugar

pinch of salt

1 cup chocolate chips

Graham Cracker Crust:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup brown sugar

6 tbsp melted butter (unsalted)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Make graham cracker crust by combining graham cracker, brown sugar, and butter in food processor. Press to make even layer on bottom of greased baking pan. Bake in oven for five minutes, allow to cool on stovetop while making the cheesecake batter.

3. In medium bowl, combine cream cheese, peanut butter, brown sugar, salt, and egg using electric mixer. Add milk a bit at a time, incorporating well into the batter. Fold in chocolate chips with spatula.

4. Pour cheesecake batter over cooled graham cracker crust. Bake in oven for 25 minutes. Allow to cool on wire rack (still in baking pan) for an hour, then chill in refrigerator for two hours. Remove from baking pan and cut into bars.

5. (Optional:) Sprinkle with cocoa powder and/or powdered sugar.

Enjoy your peanut butter cheesecake bars with A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, and check in at warandpeach.wordpress.com for future recipes and book reviews!


Ryebread Revisited

I love tea time and the tradition of stopping mid-afternoon to revive the soul with a hot cuppa. But tea sandwiches always leave me either eating twenty plus or finishing the tea party with a rumbling stomach. I have sought to find an alternative that won’t spoil dinner, but will satisfy me for the duration of the afternoon.

In Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh deals with the same balance of light but not too light, traditional but not predictable. Through the lens of Charles Ryder, Waugh initially paints a picture of English nobility as indulgence, luxury, and the constant consumption of champagne and strawberries. Yet Waugh goes past the frivolity and into a more complex world of Catholic guilt and the pressures of both generation and reputation.

As Waugh used a fanciful backdrop to tackle a complicated subject matter, these hefty tea sandwiches are loaded with flavor and meatiness, yet still bite-sized and manageable.


Tea Sandwiches:

Miniature loaf of rye bread (fifteen slices)

1 cup Swiss cheese, grated

1/3 cup scallions, finely chopped

1/3 cup pancetta, diced

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1/4 cup mayonnaise

Chives to garnish


1. Chop scallions, grate cheese, cook pancetta on stove top until crispy.

2. Combine scallions, cheese, and pancetta with mayonnaise and Dijon.

3. Spread mixture onto rye bread. Place under broiler until cheese is melted. Garnish with chives.

Enjoy your tea sandwiches with Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, and check in at warandpeach.wordpress.com for future recipes and book reviews!