Dude. I am totally late to the game.
It’s been a crazy week, with traveling to Ohio and back, and so I decided this weekend was going to be a mellow weekend. I slept in this morning and leisurely lounged about in bed until about 10:30am where I grabbed my iPhone (because I was too lazy to actually get up and move to my computer) and stared at it’s tiny screen to see what was going on in the world.
Pulled up Facebook – browsed a bit, checked email (mostly spam – note to spammers, I really don’t need any help with losing weight. thanks), then twitter. Junk, junk, junk. Oh wait. Gluten Free Girl just retweeted something interesting – “RT @franticfoodie Seattle food blogger bake sale starts at 10 at Metropolitan Market uptown, be there or be square! (I’ll be there!)”
Hmm… I wonder if the blogger bake sale is only happening in Seattle (where Shauna of Gluten Free Girl is based). Google. google. google. NOPE. Happening ALL OVER THE NATION.
Why didn’t I know about this beforehand? Probably because I’m totally out of the loop in terms of things. Though I’ve been blogging on again, off again for about 4 years, (old defunct blog here) I’ve only really started food blogging for a month or so. *shrug*.
The San Francisco Blogger Bake Sale was located in front of the awesome Omnivore Bookstore, where the awesome Rose Levy Beranbaum was going to give a talk about her latest book “Rose’s Heavenly Cakes”. She also recently gave a talk to the baking club “The Baker’s Dozen” that I’m a member of, but sadly I haven’t had a chance to actually go to any of their talks as they usually happen during the day.
So I jumped out of bed, and try to figure out what I can make in an hour to bring to the bake sale. Because if there is something I love to do, it’s to help with a bake sale! Anyone want to throw a bake sale, let me know, I’m great at math (hey, I’m Asian), can organize (use to plan events), sell things (used to work retail), really sell food (used to sample cookies at Neiman Marcus as a side gig), design signs and advertisements (I’m a designer and used to work as an art director at an Ad Agency) and of course bake things for the sale! Basically I’m a walking bake sale organizer/worker.
I took a look at my pantry and tried to figure out what I could whip up in an hour. I knew that my fail safe recipe of chocolate chip toffee congo bars was probably what I was going to make, as I can make it in under an hour from start to finish. I’m kinda bored with making it. But everyone I know seems to like them. I mean REALLY like them.
I once visited Chicago, and my friend Steve who I stayed with said that the highlight of the trip was me bringing the cookie bars. He eventually moved to San Francisco (I’d like to think that my cookie bars were a factor in that move. That and the fact that he got a job out here). I brought them to my friend Stephanie’s wedding rehearsal, and she came over to me with adoration in her eyes and profusely thanked me for the cookie bars with lust in her eyes – on her wedding rehearsal day. But the best one was when my friend Nina gave birth to her daughter, I visited her at the hospital and brought her these and she sat up in the bed when I handed her husband the box of cookie bars and told him what they were. She took one look at them and proclaimed “OK. Today REALLY IS the best day of my life.” True stories. All of them.
But you keep making the same thing over and over again, it gets a little tedious.
Oh well. It was fast and people rave over them. So I whipped it up, and to make it a little more interesting for me (and as a nod to Shauna over at Gluten Free Girl who tipped me off on the bake sale) I went ahead and made it gluten free. I figure a bake sale could always use more gluten free goods (I was right, there was only one other gluten free baked thing there, which were some awesome looking mint brownies).
I showed up around 1pm, handed over my gluten free cookie bars and tried to offer my services, but Anita at Dessert First who organized it told me they had more than plenty volunteers, so I hung out a little, took some photos with AJ’s fancy camera and met some fellow San Francisco food bloggers like Shauna at Piece of Cake, Lisa at Lisa is Bossy and Allison at Bake Your Heart Out as well as some other fab bakers and customers. All super great people.
The baked goods looked amazing. Lisa at Lisa is Bossy made these fantastic looking macarons and Allison had made these adorable banana cake pops and of course, there were sorts of awesome baked goods like a multigrain bread, a mango bundt cake, red velvet whoopie pies, a gorgeous lavender orange tea cake, caramel popcorn and all sorts of cupcakes. It was a ridiculous the amount of deliciousness that was at one table.
And then I decided I was feeling a little bit like the creepy guy who was just hanging out not doing much other than oogling the baked goods. So I took off. Hopefully they did well, and raised a lot of money though! There seemed to be a lot of leftover goods, but you can still donate to the cause even though the bake sale is over by going over here.
By the way, if you want to see more images from the bake sale, check out my flickr album of the event here.
In the meanwhile here’s the gluten free version of these cookie bars. Super easy to make. Your friends will love you if you make it for them.
Oh yeah, and after I made them today (the gluten free version that is) AJ ate a stack of them, and then told me he thought they were better than the regular wheat free versions. He was ever so pleased that I took the rest to the bake sale because he said he would have just eaten them all if there were any left here. So there.
Note: Whilst baking I listened to Firefox AK’s If I Were a Melody. A sort of updated 80’s electronica album. I was obsessed with it a couple of years ago when it came out, and I’m still listening to it.
Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Toffee Bits Cookie Bars (Congo Bars)
By Irvin Lin
I’ve made these congo bars so many times that AJ pretty much calls them mine, even though they were adapted from the awesome baker and blogger David Lebovitz‘s The Great Book of Chocolate (who, himself, got it from a recipe by San Francisco Pastry Chef, and member of the The Baker’s Dozen Flo Braker). More than a blondie, these cookie bars pretty much are welcome at any event that you bring them too. Or just enjoy them at home. Just be forewarned that they are difficult to stop eating once you had a bite.
As always, if you are celiac or extremely gluten sensitive, make sure all ingredients are certified gluten free (like the chocolate, toffee bits and flours).
1 cup (130 g) almond flour
3/4 cup (120 g) white rice flour
1 cup (125 g) sorghum flour
1/2 cup (60 g) tapioca flour
1/2 cup (90 g) potato starch
1 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
11 tablespoons (150 g or 1 1/3 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoon of vanilla
3 large eggs
12 oz (340 g) chopped bittersweet chocolate
3/4 cup (115 g) toffee bits
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 10″ x 15″ x 1″ baking pan with aluminum foil – leaving a couple of inches hanging over the side of the pan. Spray with a flavorless cooking oil.
2. In a medium bowl, mix all the flours, the xanthan gum, the baking powder and the salt together with whisk, breaking up any clumps of almond flour (I keep my almond flour in the freezer so it tends to clump up). In a mixing bowl, mix the melted butter, vanilla and the brown sugar together. Add the eggs one at time until the batter starts to lighten up and look thick.
3. Add the flour mixture and beat to incorporate. Once blended in add the chocolate and the toffee bits. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the dough into the prepared baking pan. Then spray some cooking oil onto your hands and spread the dough to the corners of the pan. It will be sticky.
4. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the edges of the cookie get dry, crack and start to brown. Cool on a wire rack in the pan for fifteen minutes or so. Then grab the aluminum foil on the edges and pull up in a straight manner and move the pan to another wire rack to cool completely. Once cool completely, cut into 1″ x 2″ bars and enjoy.
Makes 36 bars.