Relay for Life, Bake Sale Mania & Chocolate Toffee Pecan Squares

It’s bake sale season at work and it’s all for a great cause: we are baking for Relay for Life.  You see, a little bit over a year ago, tragedy struck one of our own: our friend and coworker Danièle and her husband François lost their only child to cancer. A beautiful young woman full of hopes and dreams was taken away far too soon at the tender age of 15. She had been diagnosed with osteosarcoma less than a year before that and although she fought a valiant fight, she couldn’t stop the big C from taking over.

In April 2014, following her diagnosis, a community rose at once : classmates, family members, work colleagues, friends, friends of friends and even strangers put their efforts together to help however they could. Various fundraisers were held to support local and National organizations that offer help and hope for cancer patient and invest in cancer research. One of the fundraising organizations selected by our gang at work was Relay for Life: a 12 hour team relay walk  which happens in late Spring and early June in many communities across the country.  In total, 3 teams were formed to support our young fighter Flavie. We all hoped she would be doing the survivors victory lap the following year but sadly, Flavie left her loved ones in January 2015… As devastating as her passing was, it only rekindled the team’s will to raise even more funds. Our team members rolled up their sleeves and went to work raising funds. There were craft sales, silent auctions and other activities. It was also the birth of  Scone Monkey: a marathon of  weekly bake sales held nearly every Thursdays in May and early June. It went viral at work!!! Each week, the donations poured in while people happily munched on home baked deliciousness. We had no set price, simply accepting donations. If my memory serves me right, I think we collected nearly $900 in 2015 thanks to Scone Monkey. It was so successful that our colleagues started to ask if we would be doing bake sales again this year.  And so without hesitation, a bunch of us volunteered to be the dedicated bakers. I am always happy to bake goodies to share with my friends and family but I feel even more joy baking  to support such a worthy cause!  All proceeds go directly to team HopFlavie and donations are always welcome and greatly appreciated. Baking is my only way of participating this year as I cannot join the walking team due to an important life event in our eldest Prince’s life: his graduation ceremony from Cordon Bleu culinary school is happening on the exact same date (yeah, proud mama, had to plug that one in!!!).

On Scone Monkey days, bakers bring in muffins, scones, sweet loaves and treats of all kinds. Everyone has their own yummy favourite recipes and it is difficult to resist!!!  Seems my recent decadent contribution created a bit of a sugar buzz In our department and a few have requested the recipe. So What better place to share than right here on my blog!  Now before anyone gives me a bunch of flack on this one, I admit right off the bat that the ingredients for this recipe are not as “clean” as what I normally cook with at home. A few years ago, I made the switch to organic and local for health reasons. However, I do have a few old family favourites & classics  recipes that simply cannot be converted  to organic. Skor™ bits, Oreo Cookie Crumbs™ and sweetened condensed milk have just not yet made the leap. I stay hopeful that some day, they will but until  then,  you know, everything in moderation and without guilt…

These scrumptious squares have been in my repertoire now for over 20 years; they are definitely “special occasion” squares. I cannot quite remember the source of the recipe but I believe it was from a culinary magazine pop-out calendar. The original recipe calls for graham cracker crumbs only and slivered almonds. I introduced the Oreo™ cookie crumbs about 12 years ago and I have not gone back. As well, whether I choose almonds or pecans, I always toast the nuts ahead of time. The recipe will also work with raw nuts as well if you are short on time. When toasting the nuts, make sure they have cooled off completely before using.

This recipe, like many I share here, is super duper easy to make and requires simple equipment. If you have a bowl, a spatula, a cake pan, a measuring cup, an oven and some parchment paper, you are good to go! But don’t even try doing this without parchment paper: you NEED parchment paper!!!

CHOCOLATE TOFFEE PECAN SQUARES (or almond)

Processed with MOLDIV

What you need

  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup graham cookie crumbs
  • 1 cup Oreo™ cookie crumbs (see note below recipe)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup each: chocolate chips, Skor™ toffee bits and toasted pecan pieces or slivered almonds

How to make it

  1. Heat oven at 350°
  2. Grease 9X13 pan with butter and line with parchment paper (very important to line pan with this recipe).
  3. In large microwave bowl, melt butter.

    Melted butter and all the ingredients
    Melted butter and all the ingredients
  4. Stir in graham and Oreo™ cookie crumbs until well blended
  5. Spread in prepared pan. Press preparation evenly and firmly using either the back of a measuring cup or palm of your hand

    Pressing the crust firmly into the pan
    Pressing the crust firmly into the pan
  6. Pour condensed milk evenly over crumbs

    Add the condensed milk
    Add the condensed milk
  7. Mix chocolate chips, Skor™ bits and nuts. Sprinkle evenly over condensed milk
  8. Press preparation down gently

    Processed with MOLDIV
    Press gently not to disturb the crust
  9. Bake for 22-25 minutes or edges and center start to bubble gently. DO NOT OVERBAKE otherwise, the caramel becomes very hard
  10. Using small spreader, quickly loosen edges from pan while preparation is still hot
    Let cool completely before slicing
  11. To slice easily: cool pan in fridge. Once cooled through, flip onto cutting board. You may have to loosen edges again, but the lined parchment should make this easy to do. Cut the squares while the crust is facing up to reduce crumbling of the crust. Cut in 16 slices: 4 cuts on the width and 4 cuts on the length.

Note: Depending where you live you may not have access to these brand name items: Oreo Cookie Crumbs™, for instance, is a fine crumb made of dark chocolate wafer cookies. Graham cookie crumb is the same type used in making cheesecake base. You could easily make your own cookie crumb base by using any type of dry cookie wafer. In Canada, Skor™ bits are little bits of toffee derived form a candy bar of the same name. These bits are sold in the same aisle as baking chocolate chips or morsels. If you do not have access to such a product, I guess you could use brittle toffee and smash it into little pieces. Or you take a plane and come and visit me: I’ll be happy to bake some for you LOL!!!

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