Showing posts with label bar cookies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bar cookies. Show all posts

Friday, December 12, 2014

Toffee Crunch Blondies

by Sheila Connolly

Last month I went to the mystery mega-conference Bouchercon in Long Beach, California, which is at the coast opposite the one I live on. I will state up front that all my flights were on time, I made all connections, and my luggage followed me all the way. I just want to go on the record to say that it does happen occasionally.

Anyway, between the two legs on my return trip (in some time zone that made no sense to my bewildered biorhythms), I stopped for a meal that was either lunch or dinner or both. The sandwich was not memorable, but I treated myself to a toffee crunch blondie and was blown away: it was the perfect bar cookie for that time and place.

Chocolate and toffee chunks--yum!

This magnificent buttery, sugary creation combined small chunks of both dark and white chocolate and some kind of toffee.  I know this can be made with chips of all of the above, but the one I bought had nice, large, randomly distributed globs of goodness, nestled in the blondie in a series of happy surprises. I wanted more.

I was surprised to find only a few recipes online, but I kind of combined them. (As an aside, when I was a child I used to hate it when my mother tinkered with recipes. Silly me!)

Toffee Crunch Blondies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tblsp milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1 cup toffee bits or chunks (at my market they had one brand, but the chunks were tiny. Instead I bought a package of Heath Bites and chopped them roughly)
1 cup chocolate chunks (I used a semi-sweet candy bar)
1 cup white chocolate chunks (candy bar again)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13” pan (the inspirational blondie I had in the airport was about 1” thick, so I used a 9x9” pan instead—just remember to cook a little longer for the thicker version. Note that you’d get more bars with the bigger plan.)

Don't you love the ratio of chocolate to dough?

 In a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar until they are fluffy. Beat in the eggs and continue to beat until the mixture is creamy. Add the vanilla and blend.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Then stir it into the batter along with the milk.

By hand, stir in the chocolate chunks and the toffee chunks.

Ready for the oven

 Spread evenly in the baking pan. Bake 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown. Let cool, then cut into bars. Try not to eat them all at once!

They didn't last very long at my house.

The next in the County Cork Mystery Series, coming February 2015.

Have I mentioned here that books make wonderful gifts? If you have any Irish blood, or would like to, or have visited Ireland, or are planning to, or really want to--this series will give you a small taste of the place.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

It's Cookie Time!

We're kicking off our Cookie Contest here at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. Submit a recipe and you could win some adorable cookie cutters. We're closing submissions on December 7th, so hurry if you have a great recipe!

This recipe had me at the first line. Smooth, sweet peanut butter cookie with a kiss of peanut butter and chocolate. These cookies are so good that I barely let them cool before I started eating them. They're easy to make, but not so easy to share!

Congrats to Candance Early for submitting this recipe! Please email me at so I can send you some adorable cookie cutters!

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour (any brand)
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup granulated white sugar
½ cup smooth peanut butter
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons whole milk
40 miniature chocolate covered peanut butter cups, unwrapped and frozen
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside. Cream together the butter, sugar, peanut butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg, vanilla and milk. Add the flour mixture and mix well. Shape into 40 same size balls and place each into an ungreased mini muffin pan.

Bake at 375 degrees for eight minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately press a mini frozen peanut butter cup into each ball. Cool before removing from pan. Store cookies for up to a week in an airtight container.
Submitted by Candace Bowen Early

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cherry Almond Bars

Friday afternoon, I got around to making my recipe for the week (yummy cherry almond bars that are perfect for Saturday afternoon tailgating ...).  After I got the oven preheating and finished my prep, I started looking for the camera.


It took me a good 20 minutes to find the camera ... which was sitting smack in the middle of my dresser, in plain sight..

And then, when I finally found the camera, I clicked it on, and the little orange "help me" light started blinking:  the battery was on the brink of death.   Awesome.

We have two batteries for the camera, so we used to keep one in the camera and one in the charger, plugged in and ready to go.  But then we ripped apart the den (where the charger lived) ... and, well, you can see where this is going.

I looked.  Honest, I did.  I pulled the baskets out from the TV stand and searched through the wires and cables stashed there.  I sifted through the stacks of stuff on the dining room table.  I went back to my dresser and checked behind my jewelry box ... thinking, foolishly, that the charger might have been close to the camera.  Finally, I gave up.

When Mr. Wendy got home, I asked if he knew where the charger had landed.  Big sigh.  No.  No, he did not.  But he would find it.

He searched through the cables and wires, sifted through the stacks, checked behind every box and bag and book in sight.  Finally, after about half an hour, he came into the den, the charger raised above his head in triumph.

"Where was it?" I asked.

He shook his head.  "You don't want to know."


"It was in the battery drawer, wasn't it?"

Yes, that's what our life has come to.  Combined, we spent nearly an hour looking for a battery.  Without checking the drawer specifically dedicated to batteries.

The story provides a good context for this week's recipe.  Today, I'm tailgating with a group of friends.  I was tasked with bringing dessert.  I wanted to do something other than the usual chocolate chip cookie/brownie thing, but I wasn't sure what.  I turned to a stack of recipes I recently brought from my mom's house.  They're all culled from my mom's recipe box, some of them handed down from my grandmothers or passed along from neighbors long gone.

I settled on a recipe for cherry almond bars from my Grandma Mary Ellen's collection.  It's dated 1980, and the note in the corner says she got it from the Columbus Dispatch.  I figured it would be like a bar cookie, perfect for tailgating.  Alas, the finished product is more like a crumble.  Definitely something you eat with a fork.  But I really didn't have time to make anything else (either for the blog or for the tailgating).

The bars required a fork, but that didn't really slow us down ...

Thankfully, the bars are tasty as all heck, a perfect blend of buttery, sweet, and tart.  I'm hoping that my tailgating buddies won't mind crumbs and cherry juice dribbling down their shirts.  As for you, my friends, grab your forks and dig in ...

Cherry Almond Bars

Crumb Topping
2 - 14.5 oz cans tart red cherries (in water or juice)
2 Tbs. cornstarch
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. almond extract
a few drops red food coloring

2 c. flour (I used half all-purpose, half white whole wheat)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 c. sugar
1 c. margarine, softened
1 c. flaked coconut
3/4 c. slivered or sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 400.

Drain cherries, reserving juice.  Combine cornstarch, 3/4 c. sugar, and reserved juice in a saucepan.  Whisk to remove lumps.  Bring to a boil.  Add cherries, almond extract, and red food coloring.  Bring to a boil again, remove from heat, and cool.

Combine flour, salt, baking soda, and sugar in a large mixing bowl.  Cut in margarine until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in coconut and almonds.  Pack 3 cups of the crumb mixture into the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Remove from the oven and reduce temp to 350.  Spread cherry mixture on top of the baked base.  Sprinkle remaining crumbs over the top.  Return to oven and bake 25 - 30 minutes.

Allow bars to cool before you cut them.  Yum!


Wendy is the author of the Mysteries a la Mode. Visit her on the web or on Facebook.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Welcome Guest Blogger Babs Hightower with her Grandmother's Baked Beans and Sam's Cookies!

Sam's Cookies
(Hello Dollies)

Please welcome our guest blogger, Barbara (Babs) Downey Hightower. Babs is a passionate book reviewer and blogger who is also an amazing cook. She's sharing two very special recipes with us today: one for a favorite cookie and one for her grandmother's baked beans. Take it away, Babs! 
 ~ Cleo Coyle

I am thrilled to be here with all of you today. Mystery Lovers' Kitchen is one of my favorite sites. I visit each day, so imagine my surprise when Cleo invited me to be a guest.

I love to read, but that has not always been the case. It wasn’t until high school when I had to read Rebecca, that reading caught my attention. The thriller got me hooked on mysteries from then on.

I started my website in 2008 to post my reviews for my close friends as they were always asking if I liked or even if I did not like a book. It started catching on when I asked a few authors to be guests on the site.

One day in 2010, I got to talking to Cleo about being a guest as I have always been a big fan of hers. She took me under her wing and introduced me to the blogging world. She even helped me with the title of my blog, The World of Book Reviews. I did change it to Babs World of Book Reviews as I wanted to stand out a bit more. Since then, the blog has taken off. I have had more authors contact me to be on the blog and review their books than I could ever imagine.

It might sound hard to believe, but mysteries were all I wanted to read until I started my blog. My eyes have been opened to more genres that I did not know I would enjoy. I always frowned on romances while growing up. My mom always read them. I remember her dragging me to the book exchange to turn in her old ones for new ones or the book store for the newest releases. I did not see the big hoopla of it all. Now that I look back, I wish I would have paid more attention to the book shelves when I was younger. My main genre to review is still a good old mystery.

As my husband (TJ) and I have had a recent addition to the family and since Cleo wanted to see a picture of the little fellow, I better tell you about my family.

We have 4 boys that are all adopted and all half brothers. We have Ethan 14, Logan 8, Duncan 18 months and Marco who as of today is 6 months old. We started out with Ethan who was 8 at the time and Logan who was 2. They are my babies (don’t tell Ethan). We got a call last year that the birth mom had another baby boy and would we take him. Well, of course my answer was yes. TJ and I already decided we would keep their family together if we could. So, Duncan came into the picture when he was 5 months old. I was happy with 3 boys and thought that would be it until 2 months ago. We got another call about another little boy, Marco. I never thought I would have 4 children much less 4 boys. I keep hoping for a girl one of these days, but if not, I am just as happy.

Now for the fur babies. We have 13 pets that are all rescues. We have 4 indoor cats as one just passed away. Their names are Bandit, Casper, Timber and Katie Bell. We also have 9 Siberian huskies they are, Winter, Glacier, Nanook, Avalanche, Sleet, Sapphire, Summer, Nomad and Alpine. 

We have a house full of adopted and or rescues. They all keep me on my toes. This isn’t all of the dogs of course but there is TJ holding Duncan, Logan in front of them and Nomad and Summer can’t tell who the ones are behind TJ.  --->>>

Last, but not least there's my love for cooking. My mom’s side of the family is from Georgia. Every summer and any vacation time I had from school, was spent in Georgia with my great grandmother. She cooked everything home made with no short cuts.

My mom said I was 3 years old, on a chair helping grandmother stir whatever was in the pots. She taught me a great deal about cooking and cooking with joy. She always said never treat cooking like it is a chore, if that happens you need to stop cooking. I never copied any of her recipes. I thought she would always be here.

When she passed I was 18 years old and my great uncles surprised me with all of her recipes. One of my happiest days. The most important thing my great-grandmother taught me, southern cooking isn’t just fried chicken and the fixins. It is also about lots of love.

I had so many recipes running through my mind to share. I finally narrowed it down to these two.

I love this recipe as there can be so many variations to make how you like it. This recipe is from a friend of mine.

Sam’s Cookies (Hello Dollies)

Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Oven Temp: 350 degrees F. 
Pan Size: 13 x 9


1 stick butter melted
1 cup crushed graham crackers
1 cup ( 6 oz ) chocolate chips
1 cup medium sized pecan pieces
1 cup coconut ( optional )
1 cup condensed milk

Directions: Line your 13 x 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Do not mix above ingredients. Layer each ingredient separately into your pan. Press each layer down as you would in making a pie shell. Finish top layer by spreading condensed milk over it. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 25 minutes. When the cookies are done, cool, cut and peel off paper.

<< Line pan with parchment.

Layer ingredients >>

<< Finish with condensed milk.

Bake, cool, cut, and peel off paper >>

*  *  *  *  *  *

Western Baked Beans

This next recipe is from my grandmother. We like to use this recipe when we are cooking out on the grill.


2 tablespoons butter 
1 pound ground beef (or ground turkey)
1 package onion soup mix
1/2 cup water
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoon mustard
2 tablespoon vinegar
2- 12 oz cans of any pork and beans
Bacon slices (cooked and drained)

Directions: In skillet, heat butter and brown the ground beef (or turnkey). Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into a 2 quart casserole dish. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 20 to 30 minutes. Garnish with bacon strips. I also like to add cheese and sour cream to top mine off. There are so many different ways you can.

I hope you like these 2 recipes just as much as my family does. Thank you for inviting me to be a guest today and hope to see you stop by my blog.

~ Babs


Thank You again to Babs for joining us here today.
I cannot wait to make these amazing recipes!

~ Cleo

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

3 Cleo Coyle Holiday Recipes and a Book Pub Party!

What do you most look forward to tasting every holiday season? Pumpkin pie? Gingerbread? Sugar cookies? Candy canes? Rum balls? Stollen? Panettone? Latkes?

Leave your answer in the comments section of this post and help me kick of the holiday cooking (and eating) season!

Congrats to Melissa who left a comment on Tuesday and won this adorable Gimme Coffee Latte Cup! Follow this blog for more chances to win throughout November as I continue to celebrate the release of my light, Capra-esque Coffeehouse Mystery: Holiday Grind.)

Cleo Coyle, author of the
Coffeehouse Mysteries,
celebrates the release of
Holiday Grind in paperback
(What can I say? Like most of
the country, we're on a budget!)
So what's my favorite holiday food?

When I was a little girl, my Italian-born aunt taught me (just as her aunt taught her) how to fry up crispy-sweet bowtie cookies and dust them with powdered sugar. Aunt Mary is gone now and I deeply miss her, but whenever I cook and bake the foods we prepared together, it always brings her back to me.

This Proustian idea of foodie memories is exactly what inspired the culinary theme in Holiday Grind. At the start of the book, Clare Cosi (my series' amateur sleuth) holds a latte tasting with her coffeehouse staff, asking them to share their most powerful holiday flavor memories.

Clare uses their answers to create a menu of Fa-la-la-la-lattes (yes, a bit twee-sounding, but effective). The coffee drinks bring remembrances of holidays past to her customers. They become so popular they actually save her shop from the ravages of the tanked economy.

Even better, this winning idea came from Santa himself, a genuinely jolly stand-up comic named Alfred Glockner who collects for charity near Clare’s coffeehouse.

Clare's grown very fond of Alf, and when she finds him cruelly gunned down in an alley one snowy December night, she’s more than devastated. She’s angry, especially when the police claim Alf’s killer was no more than a random mugger.

Clare believes otherwise and sets out to find the truth. During this nearly impossible quest, she butts head with a street-hardened NYPD sergeant (who’s more interested in Clare than her theories); gets herself arrested; disguises herself as Santa’s little helper; and endures more than one attempt on her life.

In the end, she manages to reclaim her holiday spirit, something Alf, with his humor and generosity, embodied from the start.

"Fun and Gripping"
~ The Huffington Post

 "Some of the most vibrant
characters I've ever read.
Coyle also is a master of
misdirection...I challenge any
reader to figure out
whodunit before
Coyle reveals all."
Mystery Scene

 Thanks to my awesome readers, Holiday Grind became a Top-10 national mystery bestseller in hardcover last year. With its release in paperback this month, I hope even more readers will be able to enjoy the story—and the bonus recipes.

As a special gift to the many CM readers who tell me how much they enjoy my recipes and tips, I made Holiday Grind's recipe section extra large with holiday cookie and candy recipes, a glossary of coffeehouse terms, and instructions on making your own coffeehouse drinks (including lattes and cappuccinos) without an expensive machine. I even included recipes for flavored syrups like chocolate, caramel, gingersnap, apple cider spice, raspberry, and more.

As for today's recipes, see the links below. More to come in my future posts--including my darling Aunt Mary's bowtie cookies. :)
Publishers Weekly 

“Coyle's coffeehouse mysteries (Espresso Shot, etc.) are packed with believable characters and topped with serious coffee lore and holiday recipes. This one will keep your cup piping hot.”

“...a good plot and an in-your-face look at life in the Big Apple for good measure. Fans of culinary cozies will want this.”
Library Journal

“Fast-paced action [and a]
well-crafted story…sure to delight!”
—Fresh Fiction

To read Lesa Holstine's Sunday Salon
Review at Lesa's Book Critiques,
click here

From Cleo’s
Recipe File:

Every holiday season, I look forward to tasting so many delicious flavors. Among my favorites are cranberries, eggnog, and English Stilton cheese. All three served as inspirations for the recipes below. Just hit the hot links to get my recipes in a PDF format that you can print, save, or share...

Click here for
Cleo’s Colonial Cranberries,
based on a dish mentioned in
John Adams' journal.


Click here for
Cleo’s Eggnog
Latte Cookies

with easy
Eggnog Glaze

Click here for Cleo’s Holiday Sprouts with Blue Cheese. (I use English Stilton in this one, which is traditionally served at Christmastime, but any blue will do!)

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

To get more of my recipes,
learn more about my books,
or sign up to win free coffee,
visit me at my *virtual* coffeehouse:

Cookie Contest!

Krista Davis is celebrating the upcoming release
of her new holiday mystery, The Diva Cooks a Goose. 
She's holding a delicious contest. Send Krista your favorite cookie recipe
at and you might win!
Find out more by
clicking here

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Chocolate drizzled pineapple-coconut bars

The ever present smell of tropical
sunblock in the summer gives me a
hankering for some treats, specifically
of the pineapple-coconut kind.
This recipe was given to me by a friend
(thanks, Kelly) and she warned me to put
aside a few of the cookies for myself
after they were made because they
wouldn't last. She was not kidding.
32 cookies gone in 24 hours, I swear!

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup flaked coconut
1/4 cup well-drained crushed pineapple
3/4 cup toasted chopped macadamia nuts
Six squares semi-sweet baker’s chocolate

Preheat oven to 350°.Blend crust ingredients together well; pat into a greased 9-inch square or 10 x 7-inch oblong baking pan. Bake crust for 10 minutes, until just barely browned; set aside.
Sift 1/4 cup flour with baking powder and salt. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs with brown sugar; stir in flour mixture then coconut, pineapple, and toasted nuts. Spread topping mixture over the baked crust; bake 25 to 30 minutes, until set. Cut into bars while warm. Makes about 32 bars.
Once the bars have cooled, melt the chocolate squares in a double boiler or microwave. Stir with a fork and use the fork to drizzle the chocolate over the cookies. Chocolate will harden once cooled.



And now to celebrate the upcoming release of THE LONG QUICHE GOODBYE,
Avery is hosting our next exciting contest!

Avery's "You Be The Sleuth" Contest!

Avery’s first book in A Cheese Shop Mystery series, The Long Quiche Goodbye, debuts July 6. To celebrate its release, Avery is running a contest from June 9 to July 6! You be the sleuth! Track down the recipe on Avery's website that includes eggs, Edam, and white pepper. Enter your answer by clicking on this link: CONTEST ENTRY FORM.

One of you will win a $25 gift certificate at your favorite bookstore. Two of you will win signed copies of The Long Quiche Goodbye. Three of you will win a Long Quiche Goodbye magnet. You can ask friends for help. Spread the word and share the fun. And while you're there, consider pre-ordering a book on Avery's booksellers page.

Here is the link to Avery’s website to help get you started.