I love the work of Jessica Hutchison. She's widely known for making some very unique knitted toys and robots. Jess had published a booklet of her toy designs, but by the time I stumbled upon her work and discovered said booklet existed, it was already way too late to get my hands on one; she stopped printing and selling them long ago. Yes, I know. Poor, poor me. But I was able to get my hands on one of her patterns, for free, no less. Jess contributed a pattern to Knitty's Winter 2005 issue: Kate, the Cat with Britches.
I found no reason to resist temptation.
While amigurumi and other smaller toys usually require you to really pack in the stuffing to better shape the toy and achieve better construction overall, Kate was different. Kate held her shape fine with a loose stuffing, so she's light, soft, and huggable. She's bigger than my usual toys, so I can actually pick her up and cuddle her. Yippee for truly soft toys.
Speaking of soft, squishy things, I have a recipe to share with you: Almond and Raspberry Meringue Bars. Deconstructed French almond macarons, with raspberry filling and a touch of coconut is the best way to describe them. The almond shortbread base is surprisingly soft, and the marshmallowy meringue is deliciously chewy (how are you liking those adverbs? haha). But really, I think I'm in love with these.
Almond and Raspberry Meringue Bars (makes about 36 pieces) adapted from Allrecipes.com
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with aluminum foil. Grease lightly.
- To make the Base: In a large bowl, mix the butter, almond paste, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in one large egg and the almond extract. Mix in the flour until the dough just comes together. Press into prepared pan, bake 20 to 25 minutes, until edges are golden. Remove from oven and cool slightly.
- Using a spatula, evenly spread the raspberry preserves over the base.
- In a large glass or metal bowl, whip three egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in 1/2 cup of granulated sugar until the peaks are stiff and glossy. Lightly spread the meringue over the jam. Sprinkle with coconut.
- Return the pan to the oven, and bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until meringue is firm and coconut is lightly toasted. Allow to cool in the pan. Carefully lift the foil from the pan. Using a sharp knife, cut into bars.
I'll end this post with a bit of fun. Anyone care to guess what crafty goodness is front and center in this cropped photo?