About 35 years ago, my mom held a summer luncheon in our family home. She made these bars for dessert, and I fell in love them. After I returned to the Southwest, she sent the recipe, which I cherished and saved in my recipe file.
And yet, somehow, I never baked them until a week ago.
Perhaps to honor her passing, I was destined to wait. I was given time to reflect upon her love of the color brown. The color of earth, of solidity, of groundedness that she decorated our childhood homes with.
My earliest childhood home was actually painted mocha at mom’s request. Likely because she made a killer yellow cake with mocha frosting that the entire neighborhood craved, yet they rarely had the pleasure of indulging in because my dad, brother, and I usually engulfed it on its first night of creation.
Having said that, I’ve pondered the obvious fact that perhaps I named my blog after my mom in a surreptitious way that even I never uncovered until now. “Now” as in this very moment of typing these words on my chiclet keys. Amazing how and when connections are recognized!
- 2 Cups Brown Sugar – Firmly Packed
- 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1/2 Cup (1 Stick) Butter, Softened
- 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Coffee Liqueur
- 1 Cup 1/2 and 1/2
- 1 Egg – At Room Temperature
- 1 Cup Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
- 1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Walnuts or Pecans
Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13″ x 9″ baking pan and set aside.
Step 2: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and flour.
Step 3: Using a pastry cutter or your hands, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Remove 1 cup of crumbs and set aside.
Step 4: To the original large bowl, add baking powder and salt. Using a whisk or fork, lightly beat in coffee liqueur, 1/2 and 1/2, and egg.
Step 5: Continue beating until batter is smooth. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan.
Step 6: In a small bowl or measuring cup, stir together chocolate chips and nuts.
Step 7: Sprinkle reserved crumbs over top of batter in pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips and nuts on top of the layer of crumbs.
Step 8: Use a long, flat spatula to spread topping evenly over the top of the batter in pan. (I find that using my hands is also effective.)
Step 9: Bake for 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean.
Step 10: Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack. Cool bars in pan completely before slicing.
Step 11: Using a serrated knife, cut into 24 bars. If you’re using a non-stick baking pan, you might consider a serrated plastic knife for this process. My husband recently surprised me with a Bakeware Buddy Knife that seems to be ideal for protecting pans from damaging scratches.
Step 12: Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days. I used a cake platter with a glass dome to store mine, and they were moist and delicious on the fifth day.
*High Altitude Note: This recipe has been tested from sea level to 5000 feet. I suspect that altitudes above 5000 will also do well, however, always best to be prepared to experiment.
Indulge in mocha!