May 12, 2012

Toffee Bars & Honoring My Mom

A brown sugar cookie crust topped with chocolate, toffee bits, and pecans makes for rich-and-delicious Toffee Bars.  They're my Mom's absolute favorite, so they've got  to be good!

Toffee Bars ~ brown sugar cookie crust topped with chocolate, toffee bits, and pecans. Rich & delicious!

In honor of my Mom for Mother's Day tomorrow, I decided to post a recipe that is right up her alley ... these rich-and-delicious Toffee Bars.  My Mom loves Heath Bars (which you sprinkle on the top of these little beauties).  And pecans.  And ooey-gooey buttery sweet cookie crusts.  And chocolate ... Oh, yes - she loves chocolate.  Almost as much as I do.  Which is a lot.

So don't these chocolate, pecan, and Heath Bar-topped, brown sugar cookie crusted Toffee Bars sound just perfect for her?  (Hint, hint - the answer is 'yes.')

Also in honor of my Mom for Mother's Day, I decided to share two of my favorite memories of Mom from growing up.

Of course, many of my fondest memories ... far too many to count ... are of us working together in the kitchen.  My Mom is one of those Moms who prepared a home-cooked meal almost every night of our growing-up lives.  I truly don't know how she did it.  As much as I love to cook, I still have difficulty getting a home-cooked meal on the table just several times a week (I try to cook for two nights worth every time I cook) -- and it's just my husband and myself.  She worked full time, ran two kids around to all our 'stuff,' and still made delicious, well-balanced home-cooked meals each night.  My hat's off to you, Mom.

I would help.  And I loved it.  I was Mom's sous-chef, and learned so much from her about baking and cooking all sorts of stuff, and about experimenting with different foods and flavors.  Mom, like me, was always trying new recipes.  She figured worst case was, if we didn't like something, she just wouldn't make it again.  No harm, no foul ... I like that attitude.

I was also Mom's dishwasher.  That part I absolutely DID NOT like.

Toffee Bars ~ brown sugar cookie crust topped with chocolate, toffee bits, and pecans. Rich & delicious!

But let's talk about a couple of memories that are not food related.

Fun Memory #1

I was a bit of a metal-head, music-wise, when I was in grade school and high school.  So was my brother.  (We were children of the '80s people, so please cut us a little slack on this.  Okay?)  I loved my heavy metal music and '80s hair bands ... and will admit that I am occasionally known to still to-this-day rock it out to AC/DC or the Scorpions while driving around in my Volvo.  Which cracks me up.  A Volvo-driving, AC/DC-listening, 41-year-old ... quite the funny picture.

Anyway, this leads to one of my favorite memories of Mom (and Dad) when I was growing up.  See, when I was in the 8th grade and my brother was in early high school, my brother and I wanted to go to an Ozzy Osbourne concert.  In Montreal. 

I grew up in a very small town in Vermont, very close to the Canadian border, so Montreal was about a 3-hour drive.  Well, do you think our parents were going to let us cross a border into another country by ourselves?  And go from eensy-weensy little town where everyone knows your name to a huge city by ourselves??  And mix-and-mingle with an Ozzy Osbourne concert crowd by ourselves???

Nope.  Absolutely not. 

Solution?  Mom and Dad went with us.  To an Ozzy Osbourne concert.  Coolest parents ever. 

Toffee Bars ~ brown sugar cookie crust topped with chocolate, toffee bits, and pecans. Rich & delicious!

Fun Memory #2

When it came time to go to college, my brother left Vermont and went far, far away - moving to North Carolina to go to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  When it came time for me to go to college, I received an offer of a full academic scholarship to ... wouldn't ya know ... the University of Vermont ... just one hour away from the town I grew up in (and, therefore, just one hour away from my parents).  I was immensely grateful for the scholarship, don't get me wrong, ... and the University of Vermont is a fabulous school ... but, I was ready to have and assert my independence.

So how was I going to go to college just one hour away from home?  ('Cause you can't just pass up a full scholarship to a great school, right?.  That would be c-r-a-z-y.)

Well, I made a deal with my parents.  We agreed that, no matter what, my parents could not come visit me without calling and planning that visit in advance.  My stance?  If you couldn't drop in on my brother ('cause he was a 17 hour drive away), then you can't just drop in on me.  Mom and Dad agreed.  They're good-and-reasonable parents like that.

Now, picture it's the second week of my freshman year of college, on a lazy Saturday morning.  About 9:00 in the morning, the phone rings.

Just who do you think it was??  I'll give you three guesses, and the first two don't count.

Yup, it was my Mom.

The conversation went something like this...

MOM:  "Good morning!  Your Dad and I just wanted to check and see if it was okay to come see you today.  We've got to run a few errands up that way, and we'd really love to see you."

ME:  "Well, ... sure ... I guess that would be okay."

MOM:  "Great!  'Cause we're downstairs in your dorm."

So sweet. 

Now, Mom ... crank up some Ozzy, make yourself a batch of these Toffee Bars, and give me a call.  And if you happen to be making that call from 'just downstairs,' I'd love it.

Happy Mother's Day, everyone!

Toffee Bars ~ brown sugar cookie crust topped with chocolate, toffee bits, and pecans. Rich & delicious!
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Toffee Bars
Source:  Adapted from a friend's family recipe
(Printable recipe)
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 c. light brown sugar (firmly packed)
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
2 c. all-purpose flour (or white whole wheat flour, which is what I use)

1 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. chopped pecans
3/4 c. chopped Heath Bar or Heath toffee bits

For the crust:
1.  With an electric mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the egg yolk, vanilla, and salt.
2.  With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour and mix until just combined.  The dough will be stiff.
3.  Pat dough evenly into the bottom of a 9x13" coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 350 degrees until pale golden on top, about 15-20 minutes.

For the topping:
4.  Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the crust.  Return pan to the oven for 1 to 2 minutes until the chocolate chips are beginning to melt.
5.  Remove the pan from the oven and spread the chocolate evenly over the crust.  Sprinkle the pecans and Heath bar toffee pieces evenly over the chocolate.
6.  Let cool completely in the pan.  Use a sharp knife to cut into small squares.


Please enjoy these other sweet treats from The Kitchen is My Playground ...


  1. Loved reading your "Memories". Your Mom and Dad are my kind of parents!

    1. Thanks, Barbara! My parents are amazing parents. I'm one blessed girl.

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  3. I hope this is not a duplicate...Blogger was wonky when I tried to post my comment. Anyway.....these look and sound delish! I will definitely try them.

    Great post re: your parents. You're very lucky!


  4. That showing up in your dorm thing? Totally something my parents would do. I mean, I love them a lot, but spontaneous visits are not my thing. :) Love these Toffee Bars, my mouth is watering! Pinned!

    1. Yes, I'm definitely not a spontaneous-visit kinda girl. But I cut my parents some slack on that one. Looking back, I think it's hysterical! What would they have done if I'd said no??? Thanks so much for Pinning my post! These bars are absolutely worth a little drooling. :-)

  5. What great memories! Thanks for sharing them. The recipe looks wonderful, too.

  6. These look seriously delicious! Thanks so much for sharing!!

    I would love it if you would link up at Watch Out, Martha!’s link up party: Martha Mondays, going on now! Hope to see you there!

  7. Oh my goodness these toffee bars look absolutely AMAZING!!!!!! You have them so beautifully photographed! I love toffee and these sound delicious, thanks for sharing!!!

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  9. I just found your blog from a link on I'm excited to try out some of your recipes and enjoyed reading your stories. My first concert was Ozzy, but not in Canada, in MA and I was allowed to go at age 14 because my older (but ?ably more responsible) brother was going. Thanks for sharing your cooking and a little bit of your life with the world. I don't have a blog, but I started following you in Pinterest.

  10. Hello there! It seems like the kitchen really is your playground.
    Thanks for the toffee bars recipe.
    I'll create one for sure, my kids are gonna like it :)
    If you don't mind, can I submit your toffee bars photo in ?
    It's a food photography site full of all DIY food pictures from members around the world. Or perhaps you'd like to submit by yourself? Let me know when you did, so I can share it.

  11. Mmmmm, I can taste them now!

    Nice post. Family memories are the best. :)

  12. This toffee bar recipe looks so delicious! We loved having you link up to our "Strut Your Stuff Saturday." Hope to see you back soon! -The Sisters

  13. oh my word! I wantta make those! lol!

  14. Ironically, it's my dad who loves toffee in our house! I may bake this for him on Father's Day! :)

  15. I have a question. I need baked items that are good in the heat for my kid's swim team bake sales. Would this hold up in the heat?
    Please share this on my foodie friday party today.

    1. The chocolate layer is melted chocolate chips ... so, I think they would get a bit melty in the heat, depending on how much heat we're talking about. My Caramel-Walnut or Raspberry-Almond bars would be GREAT choices ( Or, my Oreo Bars ( would be fabulous! All of these would stand up to the heat no problem.

    2. Thanks so much for your suggestions. Hope to see you next week on foodie friday.

  16. Those are some great memories of your parents...they sound so cool! And these toffee bars...amazing!!! I must make them soon!!!

  17. yum..I love this kind of's SO addicting! thanks for the recipe!

  18. Thanks "t"...I'm reading this at I will respect your early bedtime and your phone won't ring tonight but I'll catch you tomorrow!

  19. Yum!

    I would love for you to share and link up at my TGIF Link Party.

    Hugs, Cathy

  20. I know I'm late to this recipe party, but I have a question.
    Is the crust sturdy? I'm looking for a cookie crust like this that will hold up well and not crumble.
    Thanks and Happy New Year!

    1. Hi, Kate! Yes, the crust is sturdy ... it's like a shortbread. Enjoy!

    2. Thank you Tracey!
      I am making these today.

  21. These look so yummy! Definitely a must-try. And your parents sound very cool! :)


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