Anyone else see a river of chocolate, Willy Wonka-style, in this picture? As a child, I toured a local department store’s annual Christmas display with my school. Their elaborate productions changed yearly and in my 6-year-old eyes, they’d outdone themselves that year with their depiction of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Scenes included the chocolate river — fragrance included — complete with a model of Augustus Gloop stuck in a pipe. It’s an image I’ll never forget.
What does all of this have to do with what is supposed to be a Great-aunt Helen’s Recipe Box post, you ask?
While the Chocolate Factory visit was on the school’s watch, most of my trips to the Christmas display were with Helen. Each December, my suburban family would drive to Helen’s inner-city Minneapolis home and together we’d all bus downtown to the department store hosting the display.
That bus ride was, for me, a journey to another world. People of different races, ages, and socioeconomic status were on those buses. Because our ride took us past the University of Minnesota campus, I’d see college kids en masse. One memory includes great-Aunt Helen leaning toward me, telling me that the beautiful young woman in a seat toward the front of the bus was probably a college student. I couldn’t have been more impressed if she’d said the President of the United States was in that seat. A real-life college student was royalty to my young mind.
Looking for a recipe in Helen’s recipe boxes for this week’s post, I grabbed the Toffee Squares card as soon as I saw it.Crediting it to Peg (my mom!) reeled me in as did the promise of out-of-this-world flavor. A rich, buttery crust topped with melted chocolate could only be amazing. Not a fan of nuts in baked goods, I instead used flaked sea salt and cacao nibs.The recipe offered no surprises. Basic ingredients went together easily. Instead of “3 to 4 milk choc. bars,” I laid random chocolate bars — mostly dark, not milk — and even a few pieces of a leftover chocolate Easter bunny to fit on the just-baked crust. I’m certain I used more than what was recommended in the recipe.Pieces were cut small to yield the six to seven dozen listed on the card. Good thing, too, as they’re overwhelmingly rich eaten in larger amounts. (Don’t ask me how I know this.)
The bars chilled overnight and the next day were wrapped as gifts for my daughter’s teachers. It’s come full circle with my youngest now the age when I took those trips to downtown Minneapolis with great-Aunt Helen. My Anna Helen doesn’t have a great-Aunt Helen to expand her suburban environs, though I do what I can to fill that role. And with Helen’s recipe collection in hand, I can create the foods she created in her urban kitchen.
Next week we find a beverage with which to pair these sinfully tasty treats. I’ll expect to see you here 🙂