06 February 2009

Bar Won

How satisfying is it to have something you've wanted for years?

I'm not trying to be all smug about it, but finally making these kitchen sink buttercrunch bars is making my life feel complete.

Originally from Lisa Yockelson's Baking by Flavor cookbook, these jumped out at me while I was collecting recipes for the holiday 2002 issue of the magazine where I worked. It was a special publication, which meant it was produced much faster and cheaper than the regular issues. But no matter how I hinted, wheedled, then finally begged, none of the chefs had time to test the recipe.

Heath bars, almonds, chocolate chips; the ingredients stayed in my mind all these years, almost taunting me. Can you imagine how delicious we'd be all mixed together? they teased.

Only seven years later, I've taken matters into my own hands.

I needed to bring something to a Superbowl party a few days ago. While I couldn't care less about anything on TV, much less a sporting event, any excuse to bake something new is a welcome opportunity. And this would ensure that I couldn't eat the entire pan myself.

Those little voices were right. These bar cookies are crunchy yet tender, with rich toffee and almond notes chorusing among the chocolate. Don't deprive yourself and wait as long as I did to make them.

Kitchen Sink Buttercrunch Bars
Makes: 20 bars.

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
4 packages (1.4 ounces each) Heath bars, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup coarsely chopped almonds, toasted
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 350°. Line 9 x 9-inch baking pan with nonstick foil, or grease and flour lightly.

2. In medium-sized bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. In another medium-sized bowl, mix together melted butter and both sugars with a wooden spoon. Mix in egg and vanilla and almond extracts until blended. Add in flour mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in Heath bar pieces, almonds and chocolate chips; batter will be dense. Scrape into baking pan, spreading evenly.

3. Bake 25 minutes or until set. Transfer pan to a cooling rack; let cool for 30 minutes, then cut into bars. Let cool completely, in pan, before recutting and serving.

For my tasting, as I cut the bars up for the party, I tried a Kenyan sencha ($7 for 25g) which I'd never heard of until last week. Japanese-style green tea from Africa is a bit like wine from Massachusetts or olive oil from Texas: it's fascinating as a concept, but does the taste measure up to the novelty factor?

In this case, yes. The tea brews up a lovely tawny golden color, with a light, mild smoothness that you wouldn't expect from sencha. The resemblance to Japanese sencha is faint- think first cousins rather than sisters- but it's a lovely tea in its own right. It cut through the bars' brown-sugar, candy-coated sweetness perfectly, enabling me to have a few more.

Take one last, longing look. While it is incredibly satisfying, fulfillment is also incredibly fleeting.


montague said...

anything involving a heath bar is heaven sent.

Anonymous said...

I am also a Heath bar fan so this just looks amazing.

I like to make chocolate cookies from the Bon Appetit cookbook with Heath or toffee bar chunks. These bars might be even better.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Hi Ana! I love looking at all those delicious food you keep posting up! Makes me hungry all the time haha. Also I tried the snacks you made that Sean brought to work during portfolio.com were awsome! Very delicious :) Keep up all the good work.

avra romanowitz said...

do these stand up to mrs. a's chewy-chippy bars?

ana dane said...

hi allen! glad you liked them.

and avra, considering that i haven't had some much as a chippy or chewy nibble in years, i'm going to have to say my bars are better.

Unknown said...

Mmmm...these look so scrumptiously delicious, I can't wait to try them!

Hayley said...

These look amazing! I don't know how you ever waited so long. Thanks for sharing!

SZ said...

Can you pls clarify the amount of Heath bars? I only had a 12 oz package of mini's available at my local grocery. . . so I doubled the batch and used the whole bag. Did you mean four 1.4 oz bars, or four packages containing 1.4 oz bars?

ana dane said...

Hi Sonja,

The total amount of Heath bars is 5.6 oz (four 1.4-ounce bars). If you can only find a 12-ounce package, I'd just use a little less than half the bag for the recipe.

Hope you enjoy the bars.