Thursday, December 12, 2013

Simple Gifts #3: Cookies

These days the baby is so busy, staying home all day is tough.
He's good in his car seat, and he's a pretty patient shopper, so it's much better to get out of the house if we can. But yesterday's temp hovered around zero, and we wouldn't have gone anywhere except that a local theater was performing during Chapel at Northwestern.They are so good, and I've wanted to see this performance for so long, that we bundled up Malachi and headed out into the deep freeze.

Remember Chapel? When I went to college, we had to sign in on clipboards, organized alphabetically by our last names. Now the students scan their ID cards.

Before we left the house, I whipped up a batch of these Toffee Bars. They are one of my Top Favorite Cookies of All Time. My mom made them in Peru, so you know the ingredients are pretty basic.

Toffee Bars

Preheat oven to 350

1 cup butter, softenened
1 cup brown sugar
vanilla to taste
1 egg yolk (if I have scrambled eggs for breakfast, I take out one yolk and save it for this)
pinch of salt
2 cups all-purpose flour  
Chocolate chips for the top 

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except for the flour.
Whip for a long time, about three to five minutes, scraping sides of bowl occasionally.
The butter and sugar will become light and fluffy, almost like frosting.

Add flour, mix just till ingredients are combined.
Dump cookie dough onto Pampered Chef stoneware Bar Pan.
If you don't have this pan, buy one.
If you use another kind of pan, they won't turn out as good. Just saying.
But if you must use a metal pan, line it with parchment paper. That should help.  

This is the only slightly tricky part.
The cookie dough is so crumbly that you can't spread it easily.
The best way to press it into the pan is to flour your hands (repeatedly if necessary),
and using mostly the heel of your hand, press the dough.
This cookie dough is so delicious that at this stage, I have to fend off my family from eating it.

Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes.
You want the edges to be nice and brown and crispy.

When the bars are done to your liking, sprinkle them with chocolate chips.
I like the butter crust of these cookies more than the chocolate, so I don't use too much chocolate.
(Maybe about 1/2 cup, although you may want to use more.)
Place the bars back in the oven for a few minutes until the chips melt.  

Spread the chocolate almost to the edges.
At this point, I sprinkle walnuts on one side of the bars.
This creates what I like to call a "healthy cookie."
Since the crust is so good, I leave the edges plain.
When they cool, you can cut them into diamonds.
I usually cut a diamond in the corner so I can follow the lines.  

Malachi Jude, waiting for a cookie.

The play was excellent.
It was wonderful to sit in Chapel with my daughter and baby son.
When we came home, someone had reduced the cookies by half, and eaten off all the walnuts.
Good thing they're easy to make.  

What are you baking this year? What's the one cookie you can't give up?

(If you're in the market for a good play, and you live in Minnesota, check out Theater for the Thirsty.) 


  1. Is my Uncle Don still in the theatre department at NW? Also, what kind of pan did your mom use for those bars in Peru? I am collecting recipes for Shannon to make when she comes home.

    1. Yes he is Ruthie, and the students love him. My mom probably used an aluminum 9x13. One reason I like this pan is that the larger size makes the cookies thinner. Add that to the walnuts and they are pretty much granola bars. Hehe

  2. Hi Laura! These look so yummy! I'm not sure that Grant has any relatives at NW right now- so maybe it was another Harms family? Also, I haven't been able to find your baby name post. Is there a link you could give me?

    1. Try to Google my web address and then the phrase "the right name". If that doesn't work i can email the link.

      baby name

    2. Oops "baby name" wasn't supposed to be there.... I'm typing from my phone.