Mattison Avenue Toffee Bar Cookies Recipe

"You know you're crazy," says my husband as he observes the kitchen counter covered with crumbs and cookies in various stages; each pile labeled with sticky notes.  Yes, I realize I'm crazy...but I don't care.  Some people are passionate about music or sports.  Me - I love to play with food.  I love to develop and perfect a great recipe.  I love to research why certain ingredients and techniques create different results.  I love to hear, "OMG that is the best _____ ever!"  Crazy = Tasty food, so watch who you're calling crazy!

This toffee bar cookie originated when I was a second grade teacher at Mattison Avenue Elementary in the early 90's.  We were a tight knit group who loved teaching and working at this great little neighborhood school in Ambler, PA.  I would make big batches at holiday time and give them as gifts to my school friends.  They became a delicious tradition of many years.  I haven't made those cookies in quite a while, but a taste for them must still linger…as I recently received an email from a school friend I hadn't spoken to in ages - asking for the recipe!  The recipe was not super original - I would simply mix up a batch of Toll House Cookie dough, but instead of chocolate chips, stir in a dozen crunched up Skor Bar toffee candy bars.  Hmm...Maybe I should make some!

Well, the first batch did not look amazingly appealing, they spread in the oven and came out completely flat.  I think I made them exactly how I used to.  Was I happy with completely flat cookies back then, or was my gas powered apartment oven of the 90's a perfect cookie baking machine?  I wonder what causes cookies to come out flat?  Do I need to tweak the recipe?  Is my oven accurate?  Should I change the baking temperature?  And so the madness begins…  After consulting some cookbooks and noodling around online, I decided to play with the ingredients a little, I would increase the flour just a smidge, adjust the ratio of sugars and decrease the baking soda.  Also, I wanted to explore creaming the butter vs using melted butter and baking on ungreased shiny baking pans vs parchment lined ones.  

In the end, I came up with a craggily topped and slightly mounded, buttery tasting, toffee filled, chewy cookie that was absolutely delicious!  

I dedicate this cookie to all those students, families, teachers and staff who enjoyed their time at Mattison Avenue Elementary School as much as I did.  The school was closed last June for the last time.

Skor Bars: These toffee bars make all the difference, IMHO!

If you're unfamiliar, a Skor bar is a rich, crispy buttery toffee milk chocolate covered candy bar.  I was curious as to how exactly they differ from other toffee bars and found a great blog that compared 3 popular toffee bars.  I do not recommend using toffee chips.  You really want the various textures you get when these candy bars are crunched up by hand; dust, crumbs and chunks…mmm…

The Findings of my Experiments:

The Baked Results:

I will preface this by saying that none of these cookies tasted horrible!  They were all happily gobbled up by my trusted taste testers.  However, the one on the bottom left was the clear winner in my book.  You can see by its smaller diameter that it did not spread out like all the others.  (I controlled the dough balls by using a measured cookie scoop.)

Mattison Avenue Toffee Bar Cookies Recipe:

Christina Verrelli @epicuricloud.com

Makes about 3 dozen large cookies

Ingredients:

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

12 Skor Toffee Candy Bars, crunched up

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line baking sheets (shiny silver ones) with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt.  

In a large bowl, stir together the butter and sugars.  Mix in the vanilla and eggs.  Stir in the dry ingredients.  Mix in the toffee bar pieces.  Form balls of dough (approx. 2 tablespoons each).  

Chill the dough balls for at least 2 hours.  (You can chill overnight.  You can also freeze them after they are chilled and bake them up to a month later.)

Bake for 12-13 minutes or until the outsides look golden brown, but the insides are not quite done.  Remove by lifting parchment with hot cookies to cooling rack.  When cool, slide off parchment and store in an air-tight container.

Printable Recipe: Mattison Avenue Toffee Bar Cookies

Thank you for spending some time in the cloud with me.  I hope you enjoy the cookies!  Tina ( :

Irish Coffee Brownies Recipe

epicuricloud Irish Coffee Brownies Tall Logo TItle.jpg

I dedicate these brownies to the Murphy's, the O'Malley's, the McFillin's, the McAndress's and to all my friends Irish or not who enjoy a little cheer on St. Patrick's Day!  These dark chocolate and espresso brownies have a little nip of Jameson's Irish Whiskey in them.  They are slathered on top with a Bailey's Irish Cream laced white chocolate ganache.  Sláinte!

Irish Coffee Brownies:

Step 1 - Prepare the Chocolate Mixture (Scroll through the step-by-step photos by clicking on the arrows.)

Step 2 - Mix the Brownie Batter

Step 3 - Make the Irish Cream Ganache mmm...

Irish Coffee Brownies Recipe:

Christina Verrelli @epicuricloud.com

Makes 24 brownies

Ingredients:

For Brownies:
Non-stick baking spray
1 stick + 6 2/3 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup dark cocoa powder
1 tablespoon instant espresso granules
3 tablespoons Irish whiskey, such as Jameson’s
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or extract)
2 cups sugar
1½ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided

For Irish Cream Ganache:
12-ounces white chocolate chips
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
½ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or extract)
3 tablespoons Irish Cream Liquor, such as Bailey’s

Directions:

For Brownies:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (Note, if you use dark baking pans such as the darker non-stick variety, you'll want to drop the temperature 25 degrees, so 325.)  Prepare 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan: Spray with nonstick baking spray and if desired, line with a double layer of foil or parchment paper cut to fit lengthwise and extended past top of pan – fold over edge of pan.  Spray the foil/parchment with additional non-stick spray  (This will allow you to remove the brownies from the pan when cool for easy cutting.)

In saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter and stir in cocoa powder and instant espresso.  Turn off heat and set aside so it cools slightly.  Stir in whiskey.
In large bowl, beat eggs and vanilla.  Mix in sugar.  Stir in the melted chocolate mixture.
In a small bowl whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder.  Stir the flour mixture into the wet mixture.  Mix until well combined but do not over beat.  Stir in ½ cup of the chocolate chips.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean.
Allow to cool in the pan.

For Irish Cream Ganache:
Add white chocolate and butter to medium sized heat proof mixing bowl.  Bring cream to a simmer in a saucepan over medium/high heat.  Pour hot cream over chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.  (If you have trouble getting the chips to melt completely, you can place your heat proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water for a minute or two.) 
Stir in vanilla bean paste and Irish cream liquor.  Pour ganache over brownies and smooth with an offset spatula.  Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup chocolate chips over the ganache.  Refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until set.  

Use overhanging foil/parchment to lift out of pan to large cutting board and cut into 24 squares. (I use my electric knife to cut really neat bars.)  

Printable Recipe Link: Irish Coffee Brownies

epicuricloud Irish Coffee Brownies Title Logo.jpg

Thanks for spending some time in the cloud with me!  Hope you enjoy the brownies!  Tina  ( :

 

Recipe at MisterMartha.com

Recipe at MisterMartha.com

Have you met Mister Martha?

If you love great recipes, gardening tips, home renovation and more…check out my friend Brett's new blog!  It's pretty amazing!

http://www.mistermartha.com


Italian Turkey Sausage, Bean & Farro Florentine Soup Recipe

Lingering Holiday Hangover?

Yeah, me too…only it’s not the kind that makes your head pound and your bed spin from consuming too many glasses of vino.  It’s the kind that makes you crave every kind of ooey, gooey homey comfort food and baked good - a holiday food hangover.  It happens to me every January.  I manage to keep a balanced diet right up until our little Christmas Eve appetizer party, then I let loose and indulge in all our yummy traditions, mmm…bacon wrapped nibblers, queso dip, pigs in a blanket, pot stickers…that one night pretty much dissolves any willpower I was clinging to and before I know it, our family dinner table is flowing with chicken and dumplings, cookies, lasagna, cookies, macaroni and cheese, cookies…it’s like being on a merry-go-round of luscious comforting meals and sugary treats.  And it’s oh so good until the jeans threaten not to button.  Damn. 

Well it’s February now and thanks to this polar vortex, over a week of snow days, the ice storm and ensuing power outages, my hangover (much like the school year) has been extended.  In order to avoid the shame of extending my waistband, it’s time to curb the cravings.  My plan is to find delicious ways to cut back.  When I want something sweet, I’ll eat unsweetened dried & freeze dried fruits. (Trader Joe’s mangoes are my favorites!)  No, they are not as good as an Oreo-wrapped-in-cookie-dough-baked-in-a-brownie and yes they still have calories, but they satisfy my sweet craving in a more natural way and eventually I won’t crave anything sweet.  For dinner, it’s time to insert more lean proteins, veggies and whole grains.  To keep that homey, comfort food feel, I’ll combine all those healthy ingredients in a steamy pot of soup.

My Italian Turkey Sausage, Bean & Farro Florentine Soup is just the thing to start nudging my menu back to the more balanced side.  It has lean turkey sausage, protein packed cannellini beans, fiber rich farro and spinach.  I’m going to serve it with some whole grain bread and a salad.  Mmm! 

Italian Turkey Sausage, Bean & Farro Florentine Soup Steps:

Italian Turkey Sausage, Bean & Farro Florentine Soup Recipe:

Christina Verrelli, epicuricloud.com
Serves: 4-6
Time: 45 minutes


Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 links (about 12-ounces) fresh Italian turkey sausage
½ cup sweet onion, chopped
½ cup carrot, chopped
½ cup celery chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon dried thyme (or ¾ teaspoon fresh)
¼ teaspoon dried rosemary (or ¾ teaspoon fresh)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 (14.5-ounce) can petite-diced tomatoes
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 (15.5-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
1/3 cup farro
2 cups baby spinach, stems removed
¼ cup fresh Italian parsley
Parmesan cheese for topping

Procedure:
Heat oil in pot (4 quart or larger) over medium heat.  Remove the sausage from the casing and add to the pan in bite-sized pieces.  Brown the sausage in the pot for about 5 minutes, break up any pieces that are too large.  Remove browned sausage to a plate.  Add onions, carrot, celery and garlic to pot and cook, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes.  Stir in thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper and tomatoes.  Add the sausage back to the pot.  Pour in the broth and add the beans.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Add the farro, reduce heat to a low simmer and cover.  Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the spinach and parsley and cook for about 10 more minutes.  Serve with Parmesan cheese for topping.

Printable Recipe Link: Italian Turkey Sausage, Bean & Farro Florentine Soup

Thank you for spending some time in the cloud with me.  Hope you like the recipe. Tina ( :