Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ambrosia Squares

I think I am doomed to become like Peter Pan.  I have an aversion to growing up, and I prefer to spend my time in an imaginary land filled with monsters, magic, and middle school kids.

Okay, so I just really like children’s books.  So sue me.

I would probably post more blog posts about legit literature if I ever read it, but I don’t.  So today you get a sampling of one of my favorite children’s series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, by Rick Riordan.

I discovered Percy Jackson about a year ago, and I was rolling with laughter as I read each book.  Rick Riordan is hilarious!  For instance, here are some chapter titles from The Lightning Thief (book 1 of the series).

Chapter 1: I accidentally vaporize my pre-algebra teacher
Chapter 2: Three old ladies knit the socks of death
Chapter 6: I become supreme lord of the bathroom
Chapter 10: I ruin a perfectly good bus
Chapter 12: We get advice from a poodle

Just reading these chapter titles made it one of my new favorite books.  Reading the hilarious, action-packed stories with all sorts of history lessons about ancient Greece hidden in awkward encounters with modern Olympian gods just solidified my love for them.  This series is second only to Harry Potter in my mind.  And that is saying something.

Okay, so you get the point that Percy Jackson is awesome.  So here’s the how it relates to food.

Percy is a demigod: his dad’s a Greek god and his mom’s a mortal.  Because he’s a demigod he gets a lot more interaction with the gods than mortals.  One of the perks of being a demigod is that he can eat the food of the gods – ambrosia – which has healing properties.  That is, unless he were to eat too much – then it would burn him from the inside out.  Anyway, Percy describes ambrosia not as fruit salad, but as little squares.  In The Last Olympian (book 5), Percy narrates, “I took out a square of ambrosia – part of the emergency god-food I always kept with me.  It was a little bashed up, but Nico chewed it” (Riordan 254). 

The books don’t give us much more description of ambrosia than this, so I got to get creative in my interpretation.  I had always pictured ambrosia squares as kind of like lemon squares, only less cakey, sweeter, and more creamy.  They had to be able to travel well on hero quests, without getting much worse than “a little bashed up.”  So I searched high and low for a recipe to fit those criteria.  That’s when I discovered a recipe for Cream Cheese Bars on  I altered it only slightly, adding a little flour and lemon to the mix.  Here’s my adaption, to make it into ambrosia.

Ambrosia Squares 
Prep time: 15 min.  Cook time: 45 min.  Total time: 1 hour.

1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg, beaten

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 eggs, beaten
1 ½ tbps lemon juice
1 tbsp flour
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 15 x 10 inch sheet pan.
  2. Mix together cake mix, butter or margarine, and 1 egg. Press mixture into pan. (It should look like play-doh.)
  3. In a small bowl, mix together cream cheese, 2 eggs, lemon juice, flour, and confectioners' sugar. Pour mixture on top of cake mixture.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C), and bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Sift about ½ cup powdered sugar on top.  Cool completely and cut into squares.
These things are AMAZING! And very simple to make.  The cake mix layer has the consistency of a soft sugar cookie with a yellow cake flavor.  The cream cheese layer is like creamy lemon cheesecake.  What could be better?

You can adapt it to however you might imagine the ambrosia squares by adding different ingredients to the cream cheese.  Maybe add marshmallow cream, or chocolate, or raspberries, or vanilla extract.  Whatever you feel would qualify as “god-food,” you can add.   I highly recommend these addictive little treats.  But be careful not to eat too much!  You may not burn to a crisp, but you will definitely have to burn off a lot of calories!


Anna said...

Mary, you are great. I am glad I could help you brainstorm a recipe for this. Hey didn't I tell you to read Percy Jackson.

Rachel said...

I think maybe some toasted coconut on top.

Elizabeth thought the Red Pyramid was ok, and not too scary when she read it, but then she had nightmares later.

The Lost Hero is Riordan's best.

Rene said...

Ok, there are others of us out here who also love childrens literature as opposed to the other, so be proud! The Ambrosia squares look awesome, I will try that sometime. It reminds me of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, there was Turkish Delight, which always made me hungry, so I took up looking for Turkish Delight!

Anonymous said...

Yes toasted coconut. I wont sue. ;P I like the books goo job I say I didn't like the Egyptian books so much I love 39 clues though

Anonymous said...

good not goo lol

Anonymous said...

I had to make Greek things for a project. This was perfect.

Anonymous said...

Nice! One of the books states it actually looks like a lemon bar, and I've always wanted to find a recipe that looks like was described in the books/in you're imagination and yet still maintains the best quality- to taste wonderful!

Unknown said...

I used a tsp of banana extract today at my birthday party and everyone LOVED them!

Anonymous said...

Made these today and so amazing! Creamy and beautiful! Recommend to other people to use less sugar, personally 3 and a 1/2 cups was too much and so I used 1 and a 1/2. Nonetheless, these golden beauties are a definite hit!!

Sarah said...

This is perfect for my Mythology final project! We have to create a business relating to Greek gods, heroes, etc (like Aphrodite's Dating Service, things like that,)and my first idea was Tantalus's Ambrosia Bars! I'll probably add a little honey, but this is great!