26 July 2012

Bridge Parties and Toffee Bars

The weekly bridge game used to be the place to be.  Sometimes I wish we could go back to the days when all the girls got together once a week to gossip, play cards, and eat great snacks.  Since I had kids, I don't get nearly enough time with my girlfriends.  The Olive Ball recipe I posted on Monday made me start thinking about those weekly bridge games and all the wicked fun and gossip that happened around the card tables.  Those card games sure sound like fun to me. 

Toffee Bars were a mainstay at many of those weekly bridge games.  They appeal to me on lots of levels.  These are sweet, salty, oh-so-elegant, and terrifically easy.  All my favorite things.  These are really just gussied-up cookies.  The best thing about them is that the extra fanciness only takes about 5 more minutes.  Who am I to complain when the addition of chocolate and nut topping adds almost no time and elevates a simple cookie to one that is truly sublime? 

Toffee Bars were traditionally served with coffee.  I decided to skip that step and add some espresso powder to the dough.  The espresso powder adds some extra depth of flavor to the cookie without needing to drink some hot coffee in the middle of the sweltering summer -- plus chocolate and coffee really like hanging out together.

Toffee Bars
makes 60-75 bars

Print me, Please!!!

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg yolks

1/2 tsp almond extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 T instant espresso powder
8 oz semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 c salted, roasted peanuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°.

Cream together butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes, or until light and fluffy.  Add the egg yolk and almond extract; continue beating for an additional minute.  Gradually add the flour and espresso power and beat on low until well blended.

Press the dough evenly into a greased or foil-lined 15 1/2" x 10 1/2" x 1" jelly roll pan.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. 

Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the chocolate chips over the hot cookie.  Wait 3-5 minutes until the chocolate is melted and spread the chocolate in a thin layer over the top of the cookie.  Sprinkle the chopped nuts over the warm chocolate.  Let cool completely in the pan.  When completely cool, cut into small bars.

*Note -- You can substitute just about any chopped nut to sprinkle on top of these cookies.  I prefer salted nuts, but you can also use unsalted if you aren't as big a fan of the sweet/salty combination.

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