Monday, July 28, 2014

Dolly's Crisp Toffee Bars

I started teaching myself to cook in junior high when I was home alone during the summers.  I began by baking cookies and baking is still what I love to do the most.  Alas, my jeans tell me that I'm only allowed to have limited quantities of these indulgences, so I usually only bake once a week.

This week I decided to try Dolly's Crisp Toffee Bars from Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts (1980).  Normally I wouldn't consider a recipe from 1980 to be 'vintage', but it involves chocolate, so I'm good with it.

I was intrigued because the recipe calls for no leavening, eggs or milk, but otherwise was similar to a chocolate chip cookie recipe.

The bars were very easy to make and taste like really decadent chocolate chip cookies.  Mine are a little more 'hard' than 'crispy', but they do have a nice flavor and they seem to store well in the cookie jar.  I might even say that they taste better after aging for a couple days.  Sometimes that comes in handy.

If I make them again, I will chop the walnuts a little smaller.  I wasn't sure what medium-size meant, but I definitely over shot it (they are also a little on the sharp side - ouch!).  I would also cut the bars smaller, because they are very rich.   I think 2" long narrow strips would be about the right size.

chambers stove range

So not in focus!

Dolly's Crisp Toffee Bars  (Printable Recipe)
from Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts
Makes 32 bars

1/2 pound (2 sticks) (softened) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup light or dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
4 ounces (generous 1 cup) walnuts, cut into medium-size pieces
6 ounces (1 cup) semisweet chocolate morsels

Adjust oven rack to the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer (I used a stand mixer).  Add the salt, vanilla and sugar and beat well.  On low speed, gradually add the flour, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula and beating until the mixture holds together.

Add the nuts and chocolate morsels and stir until they are evenly distributed.

The dough will be stiff.  Drop small mounds of the dough in an unbuttered 10.5x15.5x1-inch jellyroll pan.  With floured fingertips, press the dough firmly to make and even layer.

Bake for 25 minutes, reversing the pan front to back halfway through.  The bars will be golden brown.

Let the bars stand for a minute, then cut into bars with a small, sharp knife.  Let them stand in the pan until cool.

Transfer the bars to paper towels to dry the bottoms.  Store in an airtight container.


  1. I have her cookies and bars book and it's a outstanding.It was one of my Mom's favourites and she was an oustanding cook and baker. MH's cake book is a classic.if you ever come across it. I'm still hoping to find it used, but it's still in print and going strong.

  2. p.s. My mom always cut down on the sugar in these recipes quite a bit. That might help if they're too sweet.

  3. Thanks for the visit! I didn't know about the cookies and bars book - I will have to watch out for that one. Because I, um, need more cookbooks. ;)

    I may have to try them again with less sugar. I really liked them, but they were a little on the rich and sweet side, which means I can't eat as many of them in one sitting as I want.

  4. It's called Maida Heatter's Book of Great Cookies, 1977, which followed The Book of Great desserts, 1974.The inside jacket exclaims, "Great Cookie News!". :) These are her two earliest books... i would consider them "must-haves", and since she'd already been around the block when she wrote them, you COULD consider the recipes vintage, if not the complilation. Don't resist; they're small books so they wouldn't take up too much space.

  5. Okay, you've talked me into it! :) I saw The Book of Great Desserts at a sale a while back and talked someone else into buying it. I'm not sure what was wrong with me that day because I have regretted not buying it ever since.

  6. KitchenAid has a "Flour Power" rating in their stand mixer descriptions, ranging from 8 to14 cups depending on the model. electric stand mixer