Recipe from Sugar, Sugar by Kimberly Momma Reiner, Jenna Sanz-Agero (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2011)Submitted by Robin Nelsen Meierhoff
From her grandmother Evelyn Newquist Nelsen's recipe, Duluth, Minnesota
Evelyn Newquist Nelsen was delivered by a midwife at home on May 8, 1920, in Duluth's West End. She eventually married and raised two sons (including Robin's father) on Pike Lake.
Robin was Ev's first and only grandchild for 17 years, so she basked in uninterrupted attention. Although she could usually talk her grandparents into buying her the latest jeans or a cool pair of shoes, Robin claims she was spoiled not with material items but more so with bits of wisdom and unconditional love. Robin's parents were divorced when she was four years old, and she treasured time spent with her grandparents for the stability it provided. Robin and her grandmother formed a tight bond during the years they would sit drinking coffee and nibbling on baked goods during every visit. Robin cannot remember ever leaving Evelyn's home without Chocolate-Mint Bars, cookies, or a loaf of banana bread. Evelyn represents every grandmother who has stepped in to provide a source of love and wisdom in a grandchild's life.
Today Robin's relationship with Ev is just as strong. They chat daily, arguing over politics and family drama. They always end their conversations with "I love you." At 90 years young, Evelyn is not just a grandmother but also a best girlfriend to Robin. Like so many women we have met along this journey, Evelyn represents every grandmother who has stepped in to provide a source of love and wisdom in a grandchild's life-like a sturdy support beam when the walls seem to cave in around us.
In Robin's own words, "I wish I had taken the time to bake with her, but I was too caught up in my own life. I'm afraid her skills, but not her recipes, will be lost when she is gone. These are my favorite bars of Ev's, and they are divine!"
Makes about 2 dozen 2-inch square bars
(Momma Jenna's preferred bar)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 (16-ounce) can chocolate syrup (Evelyn uses Hershey's; see Sugar Mommas Note)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 batch Chocolate-Mint Filling, made while the bars cool (recipe follows)
- 1 batch Chocolate-Mint Glaze, made while the filling sets (recipe follows)
- Phone call to your grandma
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 by 13-inch baking dish (or use nonstick cooking spray). Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Set aside. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, blending well. Slowly add the flour mixture and blend on low speed until just incorporated. Add the chocolate syrup and vanilla and beat until the mixture is smooth. Pour the batter evenly into the baking dish. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool for 30 to 35 minutes.
While the bars are cooling, make the filling. Spread the filling evenly on top of the cooled cake layer, then let it stand while you prepare the glaze. When the filling is set, gently spread the glaze evenly on top of the filling. Place in the refrigerator and chill for 2 hours, or until the bars are set. Cut into 2-inch squares.
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk
- ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until creamy. Add the milk and peppermint extract and blend until light and fluffy.
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) butter, at room temperature
Place the chocolate chips and butter in a glass or other microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second intervals on high power until the chocolate is melted, stirring in between.
Sugar Mommas Tips
sugar mommas notes: If you can't find a 16-ounce can of chocolate syrup, use 1½ cups of any chocolate syrup. Keep these bars refrigerated for a cool, refreshing treat!
modern variation: Spread the glaze on the bars before the filling sets. Use a knife to gently swirl the two layers together so that the filling will show through on top as the glaze hardens.
old school: Ev added 1 or 2 drops of green food coloring to the filling before spreading it.
sass it up: Sprinkle crushed mint candies on top or place a mini candy cane on each bar for a Christmas party.