Ooey-Gooey caramel goodness in a finger-licking good cookie bar.
I first made these delicious cookie bars way back in 2002 when Spoongal posted the recipe at Recipezaar (now called simply “Food”). This is what I had to say about Spoongal’s “Toffee Coffee Cookies” back then: “I made these tonight and they were like sinful turtle brownies with your cup of latte stirred right in! There are 2 key words for everyone to remember about this recipe: No leftovers! Have some warm on vanilla ice cream: to die for!” -Sue. They must have really made an impression on me because just the other day I was craving them, and many times when I make some recipe off the internet, I will have forgotten it totally by next week. But not these. I made those over ten years ago! Well. There you have it.
I did make a couple slight changes by using the Pillsbury sugar-free yellow cake mix to cut back on the sugar a little bit (regular cake mix works just fine as well!) and I didn’t use cold coffee but mixed up some instant espresso in cold water (one of the only uses I have for instant espresso because I am definitely NOT going to drink that. LOL!) Well, maybe just a touch to flavor some hot chocolate as a mocha. 😉 But espresso “to drink” I am a purist about. I also screwed up the recipe this time (see? I do make the occasional mistake!) but I managed to right it somehow but not before sweating that I had wrecked the whole batch. You see, the cake batter mixture is to be DIVIDED when you spread it into the pan before baking half as a cookie crust. Well, my attention was DIVIDED and I put all of it in there, and baked it for 8 minutes. Of course, with all of it in there, it wasn’t quite set and while my eyes narrowed looking at it, my eyes bugged out when I read the printout and realized what I did. I may have said a word or two I won’t repeat here. *giggle* So I quickly took a spatula and raked half of the dough out into a bowl. respread the remaining half and baked it for another 2 minutes. Then tried to stay on track from there.
Well, it must have worked out because they taste spot on as they should (and you can see in the photo). The only minor difference is that perhaps in my “raking” the melted chocolate chips may have smeared around a bit more, but no matter. That was a close one! So don’t be like me. Do pay attention when you are making this and if you do manage to mess up as I did, know there can be redemption. There is a GOD! 🙂 For the melting of chocolate part, I do confess that I don’t own a double boiler as such. I only use them…how often do I use them? Rarely. Plus my kitchen is smaller than my shoe closet so I have to save space. That and you have no idea how much other equipment, serving ware and vintage kitchen collectibles I have around here. No room for a stinkin’ double boiler. So I do have some stainless bowls which I have had for just about forever. (Who am I kidding? I HAVE had them forever!) I just put one of those on top of a saucepan of simmering water and make do. If you do that just make sure the simmering water does not come up high enough to touch the bowl.
Oh, and I heard all you modern cooks out there whispering something about a microwave. I wouldn’t trust my microwave with the keys to my house. If I turned my back and came back, the microwave would have the place trashed like a drunk teenager having a wild party. I am not sure how much booze the microwave has been drinking, but when chocolate is involved, it could involve the fire department as well. But I know you guys have much better microwaves than mine. Mine is just a delinquent and I will not buy another.
- 1 (18 1/2 ounce) box Pillsbury Sugar-Free yellow cake mix or regular yellow cake mix
- 1/4 cup coconut oil or vegetable oil or melted butter
- 1/4 cup cold water mixed with 1 tablespoon of instant espresso
- 2 cups chocolate chips
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 32 unwrapped caramels (I used Werther’s baking caramels- so easy to unwrap!)
- 1/4 cup cold water mixed with 1 tablespoon instant espresso
- 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup chopped pecans, divided
- 2 regular sized chocolate-covered English toffee bars (such as Skor or Heath), chopped
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Butter or grease an oblong cake pan.
- Stir together the cake mix, oil/butter, one-fourth cup espresso, chocolate chips and eggs until smooth.
- Press HALF of the cake dough into the pan (I found that spritzing a spatula with PAM spray helps the process).
- Bake the cake layer for 8 minutes, then remove from oven.
- Meanwhile, set up a double boiler and heat the butter, caramels, rest of the espresso, and condensed milk over low heat until the caramels melt and the mixture is smooth, whisking frequently.
- Pour caramel mixture over the baked cake layer.\
- Using two teaspoons, dot the top of the caramel with dallops of the remaining cake dough.
- Sprinkle the top of that with chopped toasted pecans and chopped candy bars.
- Bake for an additional 25-30 minutes or until the cake batter part tests clean with a toothpick (if you stick it in the caramel part it will loo sticky, so be careful).
- Allow it to cool to just warm, then slice into squares and run a knife around the pan edge. Then cover with foil and let it cool completely before removing from pan.
- Store in an airtight container with waxed paper separating the bars.
Yield: 36 bars See Spoongal’s recipe as originally posted: Toffee Coffee Cookies
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