Sunday, December 2, 2018

Holiday Baking

Before I delve into finishing up my post on drag riding at the OD, I thought I'd warm up with some lighter fare, so to speak:)  One thing I wanted to do last year during December was to bake more.  I accomplished that goal to a certain degree, but I really wanted to up my game this year.  In fact, I spent a lot of time in November baking pies: pecan, apple (from fresh apples from an area orchard - OMG!), and pumpkin (twice because it was so easy!).  I also tried a recipe for something called Toffee Bars, and while I'm not convinced that the bars are all that similar to toffee, they are out of this world according to 100% of my taste testers.

One thing I did to help get me motivated for baking was to sign up for Betty Crocker's 24 Days of Cookies.  On November 23, I started getting an email every day with a link to a cookie recipe.  (You can see the recipes sent out so far at: https://www.bettycrocker.com/menus-holidays-parties/mhplibrary/seasonal-ideas/24-days-of-cookies.)  I wasn't able to start baking immediately, but the recipe for Toffee Bars caught my eye (technically, this is not a cookie recipe, but the crust is very like a cross between a cookie and shortbread).  I wanted to make something to thank the mom of one of my daughter's friends for babysitting while my husband and I went to a movie (Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald, which despite some die-hard fans' criticisms is the only movie that has ever inspired me to go to the theater to see it more than once), and these bars fit the bill.  They require normal ingredients that I typically keep on hand, they are easy and reasonably quick to make, and the taste is likely to appeal to a wide variety of people.  Also, I didn't plan ahead very well, so I needed something to be ready fairly quickly:)

My daughter helped me make them, and the only change I ended up making to the recipe was to use more chocolate chips.  The recipe calls for 2/3 cup, but I used at least 1 cup, maybe more.  I basically sprinkled the 2/3 cup over the crust and realized it wasn't going to be enough for what I considered adequate coverage, so I ended up just grabbing the bag and sprinkling chips until I thought there were enough for a thin, but consistent layer of melted chocolate.

They took very little time to make, but you do need to budget time for cooling because the melted chocolate takes awhile to cool down enough not to make a big mess (this is important only if you are trying to give them to somebody not in your house, otherwise any mess is totally worth it).  Because I was planning to cut the bars and pack some in a gift box, I wanted to avoid chocolate smeared all over everything.  I did not budget sufficient time for the chocolate to cool, so I put the pan in the fridge for about an hour, and that cooled the chocolate just enough so I didn't make a huge mess getting bars out of the pan and into the box, but 2 hours probably would have been better.  Another thing to note is that once the pan has been in the fridge for several hours, the bars can be a bit iffy to get out of the pan because I think some melted butter from the crust has solidified.  A metal spatula is your friend at this point, because once you've eaten one of the bars, you will not be able to stop and you might be tempted to break the pan if you can't get the bars out, so desperate will you be to eat another one.

Here's a link to the recipe: https://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/toffee-bars/846dec40-5fd2-41d2-929a-54dc5bfbf3ca.

And here's what my finished product looked like:
These bars were gone in about 15 minutes at my house!
As with last year, please feel free to share your favorite holiday baking recipes in the comments.  I'd love to get new ideas to try!

2 comments:

  1. Oh man, just when I thought I had my Christmas baking recipes all decided on...those toffee bars look so good, as do some of the other recipes posted on the Betty Crocker page. May have to re-think some of my ideas...or just make more than I planned, which is what ends up happening every year.

    (And really glad to hear the new Fantastic Beasts is so good. I just watched the first one for the first time, and really want to see the new one now.)

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    1. I definitely encourage you to see the newest Fantastic Beasts movie! It definitely progresses the story and visually it is stunning. I am a long-time Harry Potter fan but didn't even see the first FB movie until after it had been out on DVD for awhile because I wasn't sure about revisiting that world with a different set of characters, but I find FB to be just as fulfilling as HP!

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