Tuesday, March 06, 2012

I need a little fabulous, is that so wrong?

Things have been entirely too healthy around here lately.

To put an end to that, I'm about to share with you one of the most closely guarded secrets of the Willis Clan.

Yes, I'm talking about my grandmother's recipe for toffee sweets.  A recipe which may have been handed to her from her mother, Lucy Grant Cannon.  A recipe which is as delicious as it is bad for you.  A recipe which, (as you might remember) I call "Robert's Imagination Bars".

(A recipe which is actually not a closely guarded secret.  We aren't real recipe snobs around these parts.  We're share and share alike kind of people.  But really, doesn't it seem more thrilling to be getting a secret recipe?  I thought so.)

These bars are the epitome of decadence.  They are essentially fat mixed with sugar, topped by sugar, topped by more fat and sugar.  But, I'll say this, stuff that is bad for you, never ever tasted so good.

A few weeks ago, I made these to take to our Hawaiin Haystack celebration following Big Emma's baptism.  I am not exaggerating or kidding in the least when I say that every person who had one of these raved and raved about them.  It was a proud moment for me.

Here's the recipe:

Toffee Sweets- Grandma Willis

Cream till fluffy: 1 cup margarine
                           1 cup brown sugar

add: 1 egg
       1 tsp. vanilla
       2 cups flour

Spread in greased 9x13” pan.  Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes.  Do NOT overcook.  Cool.  Spread with powdered sugar icing (recipe below).  

I doubled the recipe--that's why this pan is so much bigger than a 9x13"

Spread with chocolate glaze (recipe below).  
Sprinkle with 2/3 cups chopped nuts. (This is an optional addition.  I never add the nuts.  That's because I'm too lazy to chop them)

-Makes about 80 small (But small is good, because they are really rich)


Powdered Sugar Icing
2 ¾ cups powdered sugar
6 Tbs. evaporated milk


Chocolate Glaze
2 squares semi-sweet chocolate, melted (I usually use 2 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips instead, 'cuz I don't keep semi-sweet chocolate squares on hand)
Cream ½ cup butter or margarine with 2/3 cup powdered sugar.  Add chocolate and 2 egg yolks.  Mix well.        

* * *   

Notes that may or may not be best taken with a grain of salt:

If you use fat-free evaporated milk for those 6 Tbs in the powdered sugar icing, you'll save a few calories.  (They practically make this a health food!)

After I add the chocolate chips, I like to put the bag in the deep freeze.  That helps me forget about them, which makes me less likely to have a little "chocolate chip handful" snack later on in the day.



For an additional barrier, I like to cover up the chocolate chips with a little package of pureed peaches.  Maybe you will see this as a sign of weakness (and it kind of is, truth be told) but I hold by the saying, "out of sight, out of mind", and I do end up pawing through that freezer for one thing or another several times each week.

So, out of mind is a good thing.

When it came time to serve these to the after-baptism crowd, I cut the bars that were this size in two.  Seriously, these babies are super rich, so small is just fine.




5 points for the name of the song
2 points for the name of the musical
other points awarded as whims dictate


Kaylee C said...

It sounds like...marilyn monroe.

Jake said...

I remember when mom used to make those. They were so good and rich. Rich like Diego Maradona would be if he played today. Alas the poor south American sports stars of yesteryear.

deutschlehrer said...

My favorite decadence is my wife's pecan pie--followed closely by blond brownies and frozen cookie dough. I believe it is my wife's fault that I can't get down to 155 lbs and be competitive with my bicycle in the tour de France. Of course that is probably a good thing since just about every pro cyclist ends up in a violent endo-crash, breaking his collar bone. After breaking a couple of bones I would probably figure my only way of competing would be to start taking performance enhancing drugs. The drugs would spiral out of control, probably addicted to pain killers, which would eventually lead me to enter de-tox (anonymously) at a certain rehab center somewhere in Orem, Utah.

And that is just one reason I love my wife.

Jeri said...

I had an "i think it might be... moment and was going to make it a public guess, but my post google conclusion) is that I would have been WRONG!!! If I had been right, I most likely would have claimed the points without the least bit of guilt)

I got nothing to use to bargain for whim points here - never seen the musical (nor had any desire to actually, let me know if I should reconsider...)

The only thing that comes to mind here is that my family loves Hawaiian haystacks and I love my grandma's toffee recipe (actual toffee though, not toffee sweets.) I guess I could share my gram's "secret to knowing when the toffee was ready. (without using a candy thermometer of course) she taught me to keep an open jar of peanut butter by the stove and when the toffee was the same color as the peanut butter - Ta'da - it is done! I've used that trick every time since and it works like a charm, which is good because every time a buy and candy thermometer, my kids break it. They are FABULOUS at breaking things.

Jake said...

So I'm anxiously anticipating the link between the Nazis and that detox center between Nephi and SLC. I can feel it coming.

deutschlehrer said...

well. . .Hitler was on some serious medications when he committed suicide. I am sure he would have headed to Orem if the Russians had not been blocking his way at the time.

deutschlehrer said...

Also, as a tea-totaller (unusual for a German, don't you think) and a vegitarian, Hitler was definitely not into decadence.

Harmony said...

Jeff can have points for the story, but I want the points for keeping him out of rehab! Man, I've always been a fan of learning something new every day, but this was a revelation! Of course I'll probably also get the blame when he gets salmonella from the cookie dough. Jacob, is there a drug for that?

Harmony said...

Because one good grandma recipe deserves another. : )

Grandma Burton's Blonde Brownies

2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 3/4 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt

Stir together and add 3/4 cup chocolate chips, and chopped nuts (if desired). Bake 25-30 minutes at 350 F., or until knife comes out clean. Cut into squares while warm.

Charlotte said...


No Marilyn, but I'll give you a point for being first on the board.

Jacob: another whim point--I don't know why I keep encouraging you on this tack.

Jeff: another whim point for you as well, for once again steering us back to Utah County Rehabs.

(Do any of the rest of you feel like you're in one of those conversations where everyone is really just conversing with themselves, but taking turns doing so?)

Good times guys, good good times.

Charlotte said...

Jeri: Awesome toffee trick. I don't love toffee (surprising, considering how I feel about toffee sweets), so I probably won't use that trick anytime soon. But, it's an awesome secret to share. I'll give you a point for it, and a point because it is your grandma's. Toffee and Grandma? What are the odds?

Total points: 2

Jacob/Jeff: You can share four points for this little repartee that I am finding so entertaining.

Harmony--Two points for keeping Jeff (and the rest of your brood) out of that rehab. Nice work there.

Gotta go read scriptures, back in a minute.

Charlotte said...

Harmony gets three more points for a delicious-looking blondie recipe from her grandma! Blondies are possibly Eric's favorite thing (next to lemon meringue pie), so he thanks you as well.

Melissa @ Happy Quilting said...

I would post my Christmas toffee recipie, but as you have already said it really isn't your favorite I will refrain :) And funny, I use a brown paper bag to compare my toffee. When it gets the same color, done :) I wonder if anyone uses a thermometer for making toffee :)

Every time I hear Grandma Willis I think of the infamous crutches incident. Lucky for Jacob, I didn't allow him to take any pain killers while he suffered through his sprain, I just kept telling him, "You will thank me when you don't end up in a Rehab Center by that school down South.". He suffered through it and like Harmony, I saved my husband from years of grief and heartache :) What would they do without us??

Lindsey said...

I think I know this one! Is it one of the high school musicals? I don't know which... But Sharpay sings it. I don't know the name of the song...
Also- High School Musical was filmed at my high school. My locker during senior year is right next to Sharpay's now bright pink locker. Also, because our cheerleader uniforms say East on them, I am able to be a High School Musical cheerleader for halloween each year, and some of my friends made money doing birthday parties for young girls. Yep. I think that's all I've got.

Kala said...

My daughter says that it's from "High School Musical 2"...song "Fabulous".

deutschlehrer said...

I once swam a dual swim meet against East High. We won of course, because, hey, Cedar High.

Ok. . .since I am beginning to feel everyone expects it. . .

The lead actor of High School Musical is Zach Efron. I believe he is also one of the lead voices in the recently released animation, The Lorax.

The book was written written by Dr. Seuss, whose real name is Theodore Geisel who was, wait for it. . .


The Jews were famously persecuted by, among others, the Germans. This persecution caused his family to come to the United States to begin a new life. During the Second world war Geisel wrote propaganda against the . . .

Wait for it again. . . .


To sum up, if it weren't for the Germans, we would all be reading Dr. Seuss today in German. Not that that would be a bad thing.

To my knowledge, neither Zach Efron, nor Danny Divito, nor Dr. Seuss have ever been in rehab.

deutschlehrer said...


just google fact checked myself. Dr. Seuss,

Not a Jew.

sorry. But he was German himself which still counts for something at least in my book.

Jeri said...

i LOVE this game!!! the game has SO taken back seat to the crazy comments! I watched "Lean on Me" yesterday, which took place at "East High" (different one) and Crazy Joe clark pretty much ran his school like he was a Nazi. (only with slightly better results at the end)

deutschlehrer said...

By the way Jake, aren't you also a Dr. Like Dr. Seuss? I have been meaning to tell you I am glad there is still a Dr. Corry in Cedar City. You are like the sequel (cue the deep voiced movie preview guy):

Dr. Corry, he's back. And this time, he looks a lot younger.

Charlotte said...

Sheesh! Trying to keep track of y'all on TWO posts now? You're keeping me on my toes!

Melissa:I'll give you a point for another toffee secret, and another point for keeping Jacob out of rehab.

Lindsey: 2 points for the name of the musical--nice work! Heck, I'll give you another two points, just because this turned out to be such a hard one. Another point for knowing that Sharpay sings it, and one point each for--having the locker next to Sharpay's, being able to be a HSM cheerleader for halloween each year, and having the movie filmed in your high school. Nice work!

total points: 8

Kala and Daughter--Welcome to the game, and here's 5 big ones for naming the song. I'll give you two more as well, just since it turned out to be so hard.

Total points: 7

Jeff: 3 points for once again managing to tie High School Musical to your subject of the week, Germans and/or Nazies. I'll give you one more point of your East High dual meet was actualy held AT East High. If not, you're out of luck buddy.

Oh-wait--Dr. Suess wasn't a nazi you say, well we'll just take one of those points away right now.

But, I'll give you a point back for making me chuckle with that deep-voiced-movie thing (particularly since I know very well that YOU are a tenor.)

Total points: 3 with one more possible.

Jeri: 1 point for watching a show about East high, and another point for tying it all to Jeff's preferred subject.

Total points: 2

Jake said...

While I was attending the U I lived just a few blocks down the road from East High. Often times as I walked to or from the bus stop I wondered to myself "wouldn't it be great if they made a movie about this school".

deutschlehrer said...

minus points for NOT being a Nazi? I think I understand your logic, but if you consider it a bit, maybe someone should not lose a point for the lack of naziness. It is, of course, up to you.

As for swimming at east high, I definitely swam there, although it could well have been at south high. I am not good with directions. Either way we most certainly won the meet. My mother-in-law and my grandfather both went to south high. My mother in law had German there (at south) from Paul Luckau-who later was my adviser for student teaching.

Harmony said...

I'm multitasking--commenting AND chatting with my husband and telling him to quit checking his points on charlottelaughs and get back to work. Women can do that! :-)

Thank you Lindsey, for finally figuring out the musical on this one!

I was reading an article the other day in an alumni magazine from the "school down south" (near the celebrity rehab place) about a creative writing class that went on an overnight retreat to beautiful southern Utah where they were supposed to be inspired by the scenery and "think about and experiment with place-based writing." Apparently they did that, but they also stayed up way too late bonding, singing songs, and playing a game of movie title mash-ups. Some of the titles they came up with were The Lion King's Speech, A Time to Kill a Mockingbird, Cowboys vs. Aliens vs. Predator, and their professor's contribution, Hunt for Red October Sky High School Musical 3 Amigos. (Leave it to an intelligent, overworked, underpaid university professor to come up with a brilliant masterpiece like that!)

So I started wondering (after I googled the High School Musical 2 lyrics and remembered this article), if I could do the same with musicals. Here are some I came up with:

The Music Man of La Mancha
The Jungle Book of Mormon
Jesus Christ Superstarlight Express
Calamity Jane Eyre
My Fair Lady and the Tramp

and, if you cheat a little and leave a "the" out--
Sound of Music Man of La Mancha

Did I miss any obvious ones? :-)

deutschlehrer said...

The Music Man of La Mancha

deutschlehrer said...

The Three Penny Phantom of the Opera

Harmony said...

Titles have to be in order Jeff!

Charlotte said...

I got all messed up on posts. Jeff, you'll notice that I gave you your no-nazi post back, but it's on the other post.

Jacob: You made me laugh with your "they should make a movie there" post. So, I'll give you another point.

Harmony: one point for starting a new "game within a game" , and 1/2 point each (rounded up) for the five mash-ups.

total points: 4

Jeff, you can have 1/2 a point (rounded up) for [The]Music Man of La Mancha, but as it IS Harmony's game, and she says the titles have to be in order, I'm afraid I must bow to her, and leave you pointless for that threepenny phantom rigamarole. (Not that it matters, since 1/2 a point rounded up and 2 1/2 points are the same thing, but still, KNOW that you did not get points for the other one, will ya?)

deutschlehrer said...

What about Seven Brides for Seven Brothers Karamazov?


Brigadoonsbury--Comic strips deserve to have musicals made about them too.


It's a small world after all quiet on the western front

Maybe neither of those are musicals, but it does get us back to something German.

Harmony said...

Game-within-a game. Isn't that like a dream within a dream? Because I think we've already made the Princess Bride/Mandy Patinkin/Broadway connection in a previous season of MMM. Not that that should stop us from going there again I suppose.

But wait--Jeff shouldn't get any points for his first mash-up either, since it was the first one I listed!

Harmony said...

And now he's not even sticking to musicals!

Nate said...

I have to bring it back to candy. We also had a grandma that loved making candy and made the absolute best hand dipped chocolates in the world. She was also. Notorius for packing every nook and cranny in her motorhome with delicious snacks and sweets. Well, I remember one family reunion where each family had to perform a skit. If memory serves it went something like this.......

Setting: exterior: outside Grandma's Winnebago
Enter Dad stage left, looking very angry.
Dad: Where is that boy?!?! Doesn't he realize we have to perform a skit right now? Blast it!
Dad exit stage right, storming off.
Enter Jeff from back door of Winnebago, wearing size ginormous pants. Stuffed with at least half a dozen pillows. He staggers down the steps and out into the middle of the "stage"
Jeff: I can't believe I ate the whole thing!
Jeff then falls down on the ground and rolls around while groaning melodramatically for laughs.
Exit Jeff's dramatic career stage right.

I'll rest my thumbs now after typing that into my phone!

Nate said...

And since I can't ever resist getting dig in on Jeff. I knew that Dr. Seuss wasn't Jewish, however he was often assumed to be and suffered discrimination because of it. His friend even wrote a poem about his name:

You’re wrong as the deuce
And you shouldn’t rejoice
If you’re calling him Seuss.
He pronounces it Soice (or Zoice)

Charlotte said...

Sorry Jeff--I have to agree with Harmony here. No points unless both parts of your mash-up are musicals. And, I'm sorry, but Harmony is correct. I remembered that she had combined Sound of Music and Man of la Mancha, but forgot that she had also done Music Man of La Mancha before you. I'm afraid I'm taking away your 1/2 point rounded up.

Total points: -1

Harmony--I'll give you a point for tying game within a game to dream within a dream, and back to the incomprable Mandy Patinkin.

Nate: two points for that awesome story, and another point for the fact that you typed such a long comment into your phone (Doug--are you reading this? Take a lesson!)

And, another point for sharing that fun Seuss rhyme

Total points: 4

Harmony said...

I thought Melissa might take the bait on the musical mash-ups. I've got a few more I think I can get points out of though, if no one else wants to play.

deutschlehrer said...

How about the Lion King Leer: the Musical (I googled it after the fact--it exists)


Anna and the King Leer: the musical


The Lion King and I

Harmony said...

Okay, I gave ya'll a chance. Now I'm just gonna post these before this game moves on, so Charlotte isn't forced to keep track of points for three posts at a time. You're welcome!

Funny Lady and the Tramp
Song of the South Pacific
Tarzannie Get Your Gun
Tarzan American in Paris
Oklahoma Little Night Music
Oklahoma Chorus Line
Oklahoma Mighty Wind
Oklahoma Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

Charlotte said...

Awesome! 4.5 points, rounded up to you, oh master of the mash-ups!

Harmony said...

I'll take the other half point (which you already awarded me) for


Harmony said...

Oops, that should be Pinocchioklahoma.

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