Double Chocolate Almond Cookie Bars

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That title is the best I could do, because these are not exactly brownies. Although the ingredients are about the same, this technique is easier than melting chocolate and mixing by hand.  Use a mixer for the dough and bake in a foil-lined pan for easy clean-up.  I find this more pleasant than dropping bits of cookie dough on a baking sheet and obsessing over whether they’ll be too gooey or too crisp.  These will have a crispy crust and a gooey center!!

The dark chocolate almonds are a nice touch but completely optional and so is the Starbucks VIA instant coffee. If you don’t have that on hand – no worries, but it does add a rich flavor. For gluten-free, substitute Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten-Free Baking Mix for the all-purpose flour (keep the buckwheat). With the coffee, almond & chocolate, maybe a better name would be Cafe Mocha Bars?  Call it what you like, here’s my most requested recipe this year:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup lt brown sugar
  • 1 stick softened unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tube Starbucks VIA (regular or decaf)
  • 3/8 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 cup Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/8 cup sliced almonds (for top)
  • 25 dark chocolate covered almonds (optional)

Preheat Oven to 350 and line an 8X8 baking pan with foil, leaving extra “handles” for easy removal after baking. In a large mixing bowl, cream eggs with sugars.  Add eggs & mix until fluffy.  Mix on low while adding soda, salt, Starbucks VIA, cocoa, buckwheat, and flour.  Add the extracts, chocolate chips & 1/2 cup almonds, mixing briefly.  Spread batter evenly in pan and top with 1/8 cup almonds. Bake about 23 minutes. Allow to cool, then use foil handles to remove from pan. Cut into 25 pieces and press one chocolate almond into each piece (optional).

If you’re a chocolate lover, it might be a good idea to double this recipe for a 9X13 pan!!

A recipe from Donna Alley, Innkeeper Since 1984

Colonial Pines Inn Bed and Breakfast

Highlands North Carolina (828) 526-2060

Caffe Mocha Bread with Almond Glaze (and muffin variation)

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A coffee and chocolate lovers dream, this bread is wonderful for breakfast or for dessert topped with a scoop of chocolate or coffee ice cream.  If you don’t have a large, heavy-duty mixer, halve this recipe to make just two loaves.  Freezing first and then slicing with a large chef’s knife yields a cleaner slice.  The “secret” ingredient is two packages of Starbucks “Via” instant coffee, either regular or decaf; and using buckwheat flour means this is a gluten-free recipe!!

Preheat oven to 350 and grease and flour (4) 4X8 loaf pans.  Brew five 8 oz cups of strong, hot coffee, either regular or decaf.

In large mixer bowl, beat 4 eggs, 4 cups sugar, 1 cup dark brown sugar.  Add 2 cups canola oil, beating well.

Combine 4 tsp vanilla, 1/4 cup Kalua, and 1/4 cup white vinegar  Add to above mixture and blend.

In a separate bowl, combine 5 cups buckwheat flour, 1 cup cocoa, 2 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp salt.  Add to above mixture alternating with 4 cups of strong, hot coffee.  Add two packages of Starbucks “Via” instant coffee.

Pour into prepared loaf pans and bake for one hour.  Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pans onto a cookie sheet and glaze with the following: combine 1 cup sugar with 1/4 cup coffee, 1 tsp almond extract, and 1/2 cup sliced almonds. Spread evenly over four loaves. Cool completely.

Enjoy your first slice with the remaining cup of coffee!!

If you like this recipe but want something not so sweet in the morning, try this hearty muffin variation:

Add ingredients in the following order to large mixer while beating on low: 1 egg, 1/3c light brown sugar, 3/4c oil, 2t vanilla, 1T Kahlua, 1T apple cider vinegar, 1/4c unsweetened cocoa, 1/4t salt, 1/2t soda, and 1/8c milled flax seed, 1/2c finely chopped walnuts. Optional:  1/4t cinnamon, 1/4t nutmeg, 1/4c shredded coconut. Beat on high 2-3 min until thick and glossy.

Add 3/4c buckwheat flour alternating with 1/2c strong hot coffee plus 1 pkg Starbucks VIA (any kind). Mix until combined.  Line a muffin tin with 8 paper liners, add a generous 1/4 cup batter, and sprinkle tops generously with finely chopped walnuts.  Bake at 400 about 20 minutes or until walnuts are very lightly toasted.

Colonial Pines Inn Bed and Breakfast

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 541 Hickory St, Highlands NC 28741 (828) 526-2060 or (866) 526-2060 Toll-Free