fat free opinions on a food centric life

Mocha Toffee Bars


As I look outside my window, I find it difficult to believe that it is December 1st.  It was nearly 70 degrees outside today, the sky perfectly clear, and as always, the trees leafy and green.  It never ceases to amaze me, but in the many years I’ve lived in San Diego, it’s more the norm than not, and the holidays come in spite of our near perfect weather.

This year, to celebrate this special time of year, I’ve joined Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes and others to spend the next 12 days baking up a cookie storm with Gourmet’s Favorite Cookie Recipes from 1941-2008.

We didn’t decide who was making what on which day, and we have absolutely no rules other than sampling Gourmet’s selection and sharing our cookies daily.  But you can count on me to let you know what I think since cookies have changed a bit in 70 years — especially the directions!

Let me introduce you to my fellow cookie makers:
Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen, Sandy of At the Baker’s Bench, Courtney of Coco Cooks, Judy of No Fear Entertaining, Ben of What’s Cooking? and Jerry of Cooking by the Seat of My Pants.

I’m starting my baking off with a fairly quick and easy bar cookie from the era of big hair and disco — the 1980s:  Mocha Toffee Bars.


Mocha Toffee Bars

1 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. brown sugar, packed
1 lg. egg yolk
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 T instant espresso powder dissolved in 2 T boiling water
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. all purpose flour
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, melted
3/4 c. salted roasted cashews, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer until light and fluffy.  Add the egg yolk, vanilla, and mix before adding the espresso mixture a little at a time, mixing well before adding more.  Add the salt and flour slowly with the machine on low until everything is well mixed.

Line a jelly roll pan (15″ x 10″) with parchment and spread batter evenly across the surface.  Bake in the center of the oven for 15 minutes or until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan.

While the cookie batter is baking, melt the chocolate in a double boiler, making sure the upper pan does not touch the surface of the simmering water.

Remove the baked layer from the oven and spread the melted chocolate over the surface.  Sprinkle nuts over evenly.  Cool on a baking rack before cutting it into even squares.  Then cover with plastic wrap and chill until chocolate is firm.



  • I used pecans instead of cashews and bittersweet chocolate instead of semisweet.  It was a matter of convenience.
  • Because I had caramel syrup left over from the most recent Daring Baker’s Challenge, I drizzled that over the nuts.
  • Instant espresso can often be found in your grocery store.  Medaglia D’Oro is the brand I used.  It comes in a 2 oz. jar.  It’s one of those things I keep around for occasions like this.  Honestly.
  • For those of you who prefer not to drink coffee, I can say that the coffee isn’t the predominant flavor in these — the chocolate is.  The cookie is crisp, and has a semi sharp taste, almost like strong caramel, and the chocolate tempers that.  The flavors work nicely together.  I’m wondering what the salted cashews would be like, and think any salted nut would make these really excellent.  Alas, I did not have salted nuts.
  • Once the chocolate is set, the cookies can be placed in paper cups, then in a box, or stacked carefully and wrapped in cellophane for gift giving.  Of course, you could pass up these options and just keep them to nibble on yourself with coffee, tea, or a cold glass of milk.