It all started with the pears. In 1910, Seattle hotelier Samuel Rosenberg traded the opulent Hotel Sorrento for 240 acres of pear trees in southern Oregon. Following his untimely death in 1914, his two sons, Harry and David, took over the business, and, in the wake of the Great Depression, began selling their special "Royal Riviera" Comice pears by mail. The rest is history. Almost a century later, Harry & David is an umbrella organization that encompasses everything from fresh fruits and spiced nuts to chocolate truffles, salsas, barbecue sauces, relishes, and that dangerously addictive candied popcorn snack, Moose Munch.
They also have mixes for all kinds of baked goods, such as scones, pancakes, and cookies. This being hot, sticky August, I decided to make Harry & David's rendition of one of my favorite warm weather desserts: key lime bars. (Available at Harry & David outlet stores for $7.95.)
A message on the Harry & David Dessert Square Mix package proclaims that the product is "Gourmet Made Easy!" This is not false advertising. The bag contains two pouches, "crust" and "filling." The instructions say to simply press the crust mixture into an 8 x 8-inch pan and bake for eight to ten minutes. At first, I thought it was a misprint—surely I needed to add a few tablespoons of canola oil or melted butter to what appeared to be a plain sack of cookie crumbs. But when I emptied the crust into my pan I found it surprisingly moist. It packed down easily, like wet sand.