Triple Chocolate Cookie Bars

A classmate of mine has the terrible, horrible problem that her mom sends her ‘tons of really good Venezuelan chocolate that she doesn’t know what to do with'. Rough, right? Since she knows I love to bake, she entrusted me with several bars with the one caveat that some great recipes come her way so she can have a solution to her problem. I jumped at the chance and these bars are just the beginning...

Triple Chocolate Cookie Bars // Makes 10 large bars*

4oz (½ c) unsalted butter

¾ c sugar

¾ tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp espresso powder

1 egg

¼ tsp salt

1 ¼ c flour

¼ c dark cocoa powder, sifted

⅓ c hazelnuts, toasted & chopped

3 oz  chopped good-quality milk chocolate

3 oz  chopped good-quality white chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast, peel, and chop your hazelnuts. The easiest way to get the skins off is to place the toasted nuts in a clean kitchen towel and rub them together; the skins can be bitter so don’t skip this step! Prepare your pan by spraying and then lining with parchment that overhangs on each side; *I used an 8” x 5” baking dish but you can use two loaf pans for smaller portions and your yield will be about 20 pieces.

In the bowl of your mixer fitted with the paddles attachment, cream together butter and sugar until lightened in color and fluffy in texture. In a small bowl, stir together extract and espresso powder to mostly dissolve powder; add to butter mixture along with egg and salt. Beat to combine well. Add flour and cocoa, combining the ingredients in short pulses at first, then beat to fully incorporate. With a wooden spoon, stir in nuts and chopped chocolate until it’s thoroughly distributed.

Press dough into prepared pan and bake 22-26 minutes, depending on the size of your pan. The edges will be a bit more set and the center should still be soft when pressed as you want the centers to stay fudgy {notice there was no ‘if’ - you WANT the centers to stay fudgy}. Allow to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then grab onto the parchment wings to remove from pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Using a sharp knife, slice the cookie in ½ inch pieces; if you cut them too thin, they will be a bit too fragile, unless you cut them in half crosswise or make the shorter ones. I think they look fabulous placed sliced-side-up so you can see the big chunks of delicious nuts and chocolate!

Triple Chocolate Cookie Bars

Now at this point I almost melted some dark chocolate and drizzled it over the cookies….but I resisted the urge, and it felt weird. So if you are a lily-guilder like me, drizzle on some chocolate and call these Quadruple-Chocolate Cookie Bars! Enjoy with a large glass of milk, or spiked hot chocolate as needed.

With a full heart and an empty plate,

Katie

 

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Chocolate-Drizzled Toffee Blondies

Chocolate-Drizzled Toffee Blondies

These bars are essentially a culmination of everything I was craving at the time. I drew inspiration from a Food Network magazine article, my inherited-from-my-grandma Cooky Book, and my desire for chocolate. 

Chocolate-Drizzled Toffee Blondies // 24 bars

1/2 c butter, softened

1 1/2 c brown sugar, lightly packed

2 eggs

2 c flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 c toffee bits + 1/4 c for sprinkling

3/4 c chopped pecans

1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 tsp Crisco

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fit a 9x13" pan with parchment paper, leaving enough to hang over for easy removal. To make things even easier, spray the un-papered part to ensure painless departure from pan to board.

In bowl of mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar on high for about 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla; combine on medium speed until incorporated. In separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Carefully add flour mixture to the mixer bowl, pulsing at first so you don't get a flour shower. Mix until fully incorporated; add pecans and 3/4 cup toffee bits and stir until just combined. Pour into prepared pan, spreading into an even layer. Sprinkle with remaining toffee bits. Bake for 20-25 minutes to start, depending on your oven. These little puppies are best when ever-so-slightly under baked. When a toothpick inserted in the center comes out just barely clean, remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before removing to cut.

Toffee Blondies

Lift the sheet of glory from the pan and onto a board; cut into 24 pieces. You should probably taste one at this point so you know how delicious they are, even without chocolate. To get my drizzle on, I chose to place all the bars back on the wire rack and lay a piece of parchment under it to catch the drips. Now this was a great idea in theory, however, the wire rack was incredibly annoying to clean since I used the cute one with the millions of crosshatches that the chocolate sank into. I recommend using a rack that has just one direction of wires so washing is much easier! Moving right along...

Place the chocolate and Crisco(or butter) in a small bowl and microwave in 30-second increments until you can stir and it's melted through. Make sure your bars have a little space between each one on the rack, then use your spoon to drizzle the chocolatey goodness all over the those golden brown confections. 

Drizzling Toffee Blondies

Perform another taste test, then allow chocolate to set before placing in a tin. If you are like me and sometimes just bake for the sake of baking, wrap some up and give them to a neighbor or coworker or really anyone who can benefit from a treat (everyone). Then pour yourself a cup of coffee and have one more to be sure they are perfect.

With a full heart and an empty plate,

Katie

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