Tag Archives: Recipe

Mom’s Mocha-Toffee Bars

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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.

Mom's Mocha-Toffee Bars Resized

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!

Mocha-Toffee Bars

  • 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

Baking Directions

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!

Mocha Chai

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I began this blog with a dilemma: hating coffee, but, loving coffee shops.

I’ve spent the past couple years reflecting upon the thrills and memories that coffee shop ambience sparks within me, and also experimenting with some confections and drinks that my taste buds associate with coffee shop culture.

Last year, I developed a recipe for a Mocha Smoothie that worked well for my caffeine-free lifestyle. This year I have a soul-soothing alternative for anyone seeking a warm, nourishing drink.

Mocha Chai

For a 12-ounce mug:

  • Combine 8 ounces of Rice Milk and 4 ounces of Water in a small saucepan.

Add:

  • 2 Whole Cloves
  • 2 Cardamom Pods
  • 2 Whole Black Peppercorns
  • 1″ Piece of Cinnamon Bark
  • 1/2″ Piece of Fresh Ginger Root (No need to peel)
  • 1 Teaspoon Turmeric Powder

Step 1:  Stir together and bring to slow boil over medium heat on range top burner.

Step 2:  Once the liquid begins to boil, reduce heat slightly and allow mixture to gently boil for 3 minutes.

Step 3:  Cover pan and let sit while placing in the mug:

  • 1 Teaspoon Dark Maple Syrup
  • 1 Teaspoon Oil (Udo’s is my favorite)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Coffee Liqueur
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Chocolate Liqueur

Step 4:  Pour liquid from pan through a strainer into the mug.

Step 5:  Stir well.

Sip and enjoy on a chilly evening. Or, anytime, really. It’s a drink that warms and relaxes the body, mind and heart.

Celebratory Muffins

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Sweet Spud Cranberry Muffins

Well, I wrote about intending to bake them for New Year’s Day.

And these Sweet Potato Cranberry Muffins with a shot of bourbon were a resounding success, so I’ll share the recipe:

  • 3 Cups Unbleached White Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Himalayan Pink Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1 Cup Maple Sugar
  • 2 Packed Tablespoons Orange Zest
  • 3/4 Cup Sweet Potato Puree
  • 1/2 Cup Almond Oil
  • 2 Eggs (at room temperature)
  • 2/3 Cup Half-and-Half
  • 1 Shot of Bourbon (roughly 1 ounce)
  • 1 Cup Cranberry Sauce
  • 1/2 Cup Fresh or Frozen Cranberries

Recipe makes 12 hearty muffins.

Step 1:  Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin tin with paper liners, because these are moist and dense little confections.

Step 2:  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Step 3:  Zest two medium oranges (or as many oranges as it takes to yield 2 packed tablespoons) in a small bowl. Rub the zest together with the maple sugar, using your hands to mix thoroughly. Whisk mixture into dry ingredients.

Step 4:  In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the sweet potato puree, almond oil, eggs, half-and-half and bourbon. Pour slowly into the flour mixture, using a wooden spoon to stir. The batter will be thick and rather sticky, so just stir as steadily as possible.

Step 5:  Fill each muffin cup about 1/3 full. (I found that 2 cutlery spoons worked well for this delicate operation!) Place a liberal tablespoon of cranberry sauce on top of the muffin batter. Top muffins evenly with remaining batter. (Again, this is sticky work and I found the 2 cutlery spoons to be most effective.) Once each muffin is covered, go back and hand-place several whole cranberries on top. Lightly press each one into the batter.

Step 6:  I bake at 5000 feet and use a cake tester to determine if the muffins are finished. These required 20 – 22 minutes. For lower altitudes, I would recommend checking at 15 – 17 minutes. When tester, or toothpick, comes out clean, remove pan from oven. Carefully remove muffins and place on a cooling rack.

Sweet Spuds in Progress

They store well for several days on a cake platter beneath a glass dome, if you can resist that long.

Enjoy!