A week or so before I got married my mother-in-law (who is renowned for her baking) handed me a pretty little blue box adorned with cheerful sunflowers and bright red apples. Inside, I was delighted to find index cards with recipes for some of her well-loved dishes, painstakingly written out by hand. She had made sure to include some of Ninja’s favourites including Pecan pie, sweet and sour meatballs and potato kugel; useful recipes for challah, soups and marinades; and banana coffee cake with chocolate chip streusel for me.
As this special and thoughtful gift might indicate, the Cohens are big on food (without being big from food). They joke that their family motto is: ” We meet, we eat” and they really do share some quality family time around the dining room table. For someone with a sweet tooth like me, being set loose in the Cohen household is a serious liability.
The first recipe I ever asked my mother-in-law to give me was the one I am sharing with you now. Mocha bars belong to that category of reassuringly good, no-frills, no-nonsense baking. They never go wrong, everyone loves them and they are best eaten still warm from the oven. They are the perfect comfort food (of the sweet variety) because they aren’t too rich or sickly sweet (meaning you can eat a few at one sitting) and they can be whipped up quickly, at short notice, with ingredients most people have lying around. They are my classic fall-back dessert. The best thing about mocha bars, if you bake them for EXACTLY 22 minutes, is the texture. Not crumbly, not crunchy, not chewy, just…well, ummm….yummy.
So – here I am, married for less than a year and already sharing the family secrets….
Debbie’s Mocha Bars
Makes about 24
1. Sift together and put aside:
2.5 cups flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2. Mix together:
1 cup margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1.5 tbsp instant coffee powder
3. Combine flour mix with above and mix in chocolate chips. (I usually break up a 100g bar of chocolate instead so the chocolate pieces are chunkier). The mixture will be crumbly and quite dry.
4. You can add ½ cup walnuts. I never do.
5. Press into a 9 x 13 inch greased pan and bake at 350/170 for EXACTLY 22 minutes.
6. Cut into squares and leave to cool. Try to be patient and avoid burning your mouth on the chocolate like I always do.
Enjoy enjoy enjoy…just LOOK at these…