This is THE recipe to contribute to the bake sale; first to sell out, and always popular. And now, you know the secret.
For years, my friend C. helped me stock the green room for our performing artists at the Roots on the River Music Festival. It was a great deal of fun, and our green room was quite popular because we not only catered to everyone’s special needs, we had lots of homemade items that felt like home for the road weary, from lasagna to special baked treats.
Shh, it’s a secret recipe, kind of
C. often made these toffee squares, and they had to be rationed out so they wouldn’t all disappear immediately. She got the recipe from another friend who cautioned that the recipe was a secret, but eventually I pried it out of her. They were easy enough, and also seemed familiar, for many of our guests as well. I guess that is why they were so popular and comforting.
Well, one day, while thumbing through my mother’s recipe cards, I discovered the exact recipe, almost word for word, and it had the notation that it was from my Aunt Jeanette who got it from her Betty Crocker Cookbook! I double-checked it on line, and there it was! Every ingredient and instruction exact except for the chocolate chips. My mom’s old Betty also had the recipe, but she didn’t make them often. They were only a vague memory and I would have remembered these if she made them all the time. Perhaps what I remember was having them at Aunt Jeanette’s home. She was always feeding us kids treats because she loved baking as much as my mother, and the two sisters were a bit competitive in that department.
So easy, a leopard can make them!
Last week, a little family leopard helped me make a batch, and she was delighted at how easy they were. Her favorite part was spreading the just melted chocolate over the cookie base! Very satisfying, she said in leopard talk, which I happen to understand quite fluently.
Do you remember?
Yes, you can make them gluten-free. Yes, you can substitute a flax egg for the yolk, or just leave it out. No, you cannot substitute carob, but why would you want to? If I am making them for my whole family, I omit the nuts and use coconut or crispy rice cereal.
But to me, of course, no matter what you substitute, they will forever be C.’s Secret Recipe Toffee Squares, and Betty doesn’t even enter into the equation. Simple, delicious, addicting! You can add your own spin on these, use white chocolate? Add some dried fruit? Any nut will do as well.
I bet you knew these bars too somewhere along the way! Take a bite. Bring back a memory or two? I know a little leopard who will have some fond memories of these one day, or at least of spreading warm chocolate.
Secret Recipe Toffee Squares
- 1 cup butter, or vegan butter, softened
- 1 cup of brown sugar
- 1 egg yolk, or flax egg
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract (we used two because we always add a bit more)
- 2 cups flour, or gluten free flour of choice
- 1/4 tsp. salt, big pinch
- 2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips, or your favorite
- 1 cup chopped nuts, optional, or use coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream together the butter, sugar, yolk, and vanilla, then add flour and salt and mix until blended.
Press into a greased 13”X9” baking sheet and bake 15-20 minutes or until slightly browned.
While still warm, sprinkle with the chocolate chips and when they melt, spread evenly with an offset spatula (this is a good time to explain to newbie cooks what one uses an offset spatula for!). While still warm, sprinkle with a cup of chopped nuts, or, coconut! I like it with both.
Cool completely and cut into squares. This is the hardest part of the recipe, but wait you must. Your choice as to size, but I think 24 is just right!
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