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The son of a common butcher, Wolsey rose to power in both church and state during the Tudor Dynasty. Pope Leo X made Wolsey a cardinal, and Henry VIII bestowed unto him the title of Lord Chancellor, making him the second most powerful man in all of England.
Wolsey lived a voluptuous lifestyle and is credited with creating the delightful union of strawberries and cream, which he served at many a lavish banquet.
It was a different sort of pairing, however, that finally led to Wolsey’s downfall. Henry VIII wanted an annulment from his wife, Catherine of Aragon, so he could marry her maid, Ann Boleyn. He asked Wolsey to take care of the matter with the Pope, but negotiations didn’t go well. Wolsey ended up being arrested and while en route to London to face charges of treason, he died of natural causes.
The moral of this story: Always eat dessert first because you never know what’s going to happen next.
Fast-forward 486 years to the present date: A New Jersey dessert blogger superstar named Shelly Jaronsky has just come out with a book titled “The Cookies & Cups Cookbook: 125+ Sweet & Savory Recipes Remind You to Always Eat Dessert First.”
You’ve got to love her attitude: “Whoever made up the rule that desserts are a leftover thought ‘if you have room’ is my mortal enemy.”
So Jaronsky’s book begins with dessert: cakes for breakfast, cookies, brownies and bars, more cake, frosting and pie. Following those are party snacks, pizza and pasta, salads and sammies as well as Jaronsky’s family favorites.
For starters, I recommend this one:
STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM BARS
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, at room temperatures
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperatures
1 cup white chocolate chips, melted
1½ cups chopped strawberries
1. For the bars: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 7 x 11-inch baking dish with foil and coat lightly with cooking spray.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed for 2 minutes.
3. Turn the speed to low and add the flour, mixing until the dough just comes together.
4. Press the dough into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until the edges are golden.
5. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool completely.
6. For the topping: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Slowly beat in the melted white chocolate and mix on medium speed until smooth and incorporated evenly, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.
7. Spread the cream cheese mixture on top of the cooled crust. Place the pan in the refrigerator to chill or at least 30 minutes.
8. When you’re ready to serve the bars, spread the strawberries evenly on top of the cream cheese layer.
Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Our assessment: So pretty and tasty, too, these bars are a crowd-pleaser; plus they’re a snap to make. A number of my taste testers commented on the buttery bars, saying they reminded them of shortbread cookies, but better.
If you’re a Wimbledon fan, you may know that Strawberries and Cream is a favorite treat served at the classic tennis tournament. This year’s event takes place June 27-July 10. If you’re having friends over for a Wimbledon party, these bars would be a terrific dessert to serve.
If you don’t have a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, don’t worry — an electric hand mixer will suffice. In preparation for making this recipe, I realized I needed a 7 x 11-inch baking dish, so I stopped at a thrift store to look for one. I didn’t have a tape measure in my purse but I know the distance from the tip of my middle finger to my wrist is exactly seven inches. I found a dish for $1.99.
From the book: "The Cookies & Cups Cookbook: 125+ Sweet & Savory Recipes Reminding You to Always Eat Dessert First" by Shelly Jaronsky; 294 pages, $23.99. Published by Gallery, 2016.