‘Tis the season to bake cookies and if you don’t get in the kitchen and throw a batch or two into the oven soon, hopefully you’re on the list of someone who does. I have a major sweet tooth and at all times try to have some sort of cookie stashed away in the cupboard. Every once in a while I’ll resort to “store bought” (usually something interesting from Trader Joe’s) but more often than not, I just whip up something myself.
As much as I like baking, the past few years I seemed to have reduced the amount and variety of cookies that I bake for the holiday season. Yesterday I found myself pouring over recipe after recipe looking for some inspiration that didn’t involve going to the store for any ingredients. Before I knew it, most of the afternoon had passed and I still hadn’t made anything. It then hit me that a tray of bars was the way to go as they are super easy to put together and take a lot less time than trays of cookies (especially if you only have one oven like I do.)
This recipe reminds me of one that my Aunt J. made every holiday season. I found it in the Gourmet Cookie Book and with the exception of the addition of espresso powder to the base, it’s probably the same as her recipe. I’m giving you the recipe from the book-I changed it up a little by using melted gianduja (a chocolate/hazelnut paste mixture) instead of semisweet and then topping it with toasted hazlenuts. Pretty darn tasty if I must say so myself.
Mocha Toffee Bars
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted bitter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1-1/2 tablespoons vanilla
3 tablespoons instant espresso powder, dissolved in 2 tablespoons boiling water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
3/4 cup salted roasted cashews, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, add the brown sugar, and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the yolk, add the vanilla and the espresso mixture, a little at a time and beat the mixture until it is well combined. Add the salt and the flour and beat until well combined. Spread the batter into a prepared 15″ x 10-1/2″ x 1″ jelly roll pan (line pan with foil and butter the foil). Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until it pulls away slightly from the edge of the pan.
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Spread the chocolate over the baked layer as soon as you take it from the oven. Sprinkle nuts over the top. Let cool in the pan on a rack and then cut into 48 bars and chill for 15-20 minutes, until chocolate is firm.