This is the time of year I usually bake a lot of cookies. Nothing too fancy because even simple cookie recipes can be delicious and friends and neighbors are always delighted to receive them. Although I can’t eat them anymore because sugar inflames my joints, I enjoy the pleasure these sweet treats bring others. A vivid childhood memory is of the annual tin of cookies gifted to my parents from a caterer, Ingrid Slattberg, who had immigrated from Sweden and made delectable baked goods. Each tin contained 7 or 8 types of cookies including melt-in-your-mouth shortbread rimmed with colorful sprinkles, vanilla/chocolate swirled sables and everyone’s favorite—rolled lacy tuiles with a dab of light green frosting at each end. Ingrid shared her recipes but my recreations have never tasted quite as good as hers were in my memory.
I have participated in cookie swaps (you bake a dozen cookies for each participant and go home with many varieties), mailed cookies, baked and bagged cookies for school bake sales, served platters of them at holiday gatherings and sent dozens to office parties. Along with the requisite envelope of cash, I annually gifted cookies to our building superintendents. The most recent super started to ask me every year around Thanksgiving, when he would be getting his annual “brownies.” They weren’t actually brownies at all but buttercrunch bars, also known as turtle bars, and I’ve never met anyone who didn’t enjoy them. I think I found the recipe on a package of Land O’ Lakes butter as a teenager and have been making them ever since. An older friend (who was an excellent baker) once sent me a Maida Heatter brownie recipe with a note that said “Make these and give them away immediately!” They were that scrumptious. My advice is the same in this instance.
The recipe is a simple three step crust (flour, sugar, butter), filling (nuts covered with melted butter and sugar) and topping (chocolate chips that melt onto the hot filling topped crust). I increased the amount of filling and topping to make it more generous and added the amount of chocolate. Be careful not to cut the squares too large because this is a rich bar. No wonder it was promoted by a butter company! You can, and should, make a double recipe.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish (I use a Pyrex).
- 2 cups flour (all purpose is standard you could use pastry or white whole wheat or a blend)
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 cup (packed) brown sugar
Mix until crumbly and pat down in prepared baking dish.
Cover the crust with a layer of pecans (or walnuts-more economical).
In a small saucepan combine:
- 1 cup butter
- 3/4 cup (packed)brown sugar
Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until boiling.
Boil one minute.
Pour over reserved nuts/crust.
Bake 20-22 minutes until bubbling.
Take out of the oven and sprinkle immediately with 2-3 cups semi-sweet (or whatever type you prefer-milk, bittersweet, etc.)chocolate chips
Smooth with a knife or spatula or leave chips as they fall.
Cool a few minutes and cut with a sharp knife, taking care not to mush the bars.
Chill until chocolate is firm and finish cutting into squares.
Store cooled bars in layers on waxed or parchment paper in covered tins or other lidded containers.
Store up to one week(if you can resist eating them) or they can be frozen for a couple of months. The amount of bars will depend on the size you cut them.
MIKE HELKE makes pots that are simultaneously fun and serious. He continuously challenges the traditional shapes of teapot, plate, pitcher, even bowls, cutting, moving and adding elements into reinventions we have to wrap our heads around. They are still recognizable as teapots, plates, pitchers and bowls but presented in new ways. The pieces are clever, appealing and useful! You can find Mike’s work in shops and galleries and at his website.