Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hula Bars

I started out naming these cookies, Brown Butter~Macadamia~Chocolate Chip Bars.  What a mouth-full! And, even though it tells you what's in them, it just didn't relay the memory to me, and that's what was important.

When I was seven, my mother enrolled me in an after school ballet class offered by Parks & Rec.  I loved it and my mother thought it made me more graceful.  (I was told, I had the habit of running instead of walking and we all know what that leads to--a lot of skinned knees.)  When the program ended, but I wanted to continue, she found a dance school for me.  For the next eight years of my life, on Saturday morning and then, an added Thursday evening, I took ballet, jazz, and Hula.  My mother sewed costumes for all my recitals and she and my dad took turns taking me to classes.  I never missed a class, even though, when I was 12 and had injured my legs at school one day.  I was diagnosed with traumatic arthritis and couldn't walk for three weeks. However, that didn't stop Dad from carrying me into class to watch the steps for our upcoming recital in a few months.  I finished with 8 years of perfect attendance because of the dedication and support of my parents...and I'd like to think I'm a bit more graceful!

However, these aren't called Ballet Bars, but Hula Bars.  It was my mother's memory of living in Hawaii, when my grandfather was stationed at Pearl Harbor, that led me to take hula.  I have to admit, I loved it just as much because of the story the dance would convey.  I was good enough to be part of a troupe the school singled out to do mini-recitals for clubs and organizations (i.e., Knights of Columbus, USO, etc).  A funny coincidence, but my future father-in-law told me he once remembered our troupe coming to the Knights of Columbus for Hawaiian Night and lucky his son was!

Hula Bars
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and browned 
2 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 T Vanilla extract
4 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. Kosher salt
2 cups Macadamia nuts
1 3/4 cup Bittersweet (or Semi-sweet) chocolate chips

Preheat oven 350F-degrees.  Brush with melted butter, a 12" x 17" or 13" x 18" rimmed baking, then, line with parchment paper and brush with the melted butter again.  Set aside
Coarsely chop, then, lightly roast the Macadamia nuts in the oven for 5 minutes.  Let cool.
Brown the 4 sticks of unsalted butter, using at least a 3-quart sauce pan.  Set aside to cool.

In a stand mixer, combine the sugars.  While the mixer is running, pour the browned butter over the sugar and mix until completely combined, 3 to 5 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Mix in the Vanilla.

Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and whisk.  Fold the dry ingredients into the sugar/butter/egg mixture.  Fold in 3/4 cup each of the Macadamia nuts and chocolate chips.  Blend until all the flour is incorporated.  Use an off-set spatula to spread batter onto the prepared baking sheet.  Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/4 cup of Macadamia nuts and 1 cup of chocolate chips on top.  Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.  Lower temperature to 325F-degrees, rotate baking pan, and bake another 16 to 18 minutes.  (Mine went the full 18 minutes).

Cool in the pan for 30 to 45 minutes before cutting into bars.

My hips are a bit wider and I'm not sure I could dance on point in toe shoes anymore, but the experience will last a life time.  I'm forever grateful for wonderful parents that allowed me to follow my dreams...isn't that what we do as parents for our children.  Enjoy!


  1. Oh, Susan, now I know why I took piano lessons!! You were (are) so graceful with lovely arms and shapley legs. (Needless to say, I was always very envious.) And I do remember your dedication to dancing and Mom and Dad making sure you got to your classes and recitals. I can say that I helped Mom sew your costumes. I love the hula photograph---also noticed the familiar portrait on the wall!! Love & Hugs and thanks for the memories!!

  2. PS---The cookies look wonderful!!

  3. Awesome story and pictures...i didn't know all that! Can't wait til Maddie takes dance and follows in your footsteps!

  4. Next time I see you I fully expect a hula lesson!!! In the meantime, I'll have to make Matt these Hula Bars to help his recuperation.

  5. I need some Hula you deliver?

  6. I could send some...drop me your address! XOXO

  7. Darn it...I gained about two pounds just reading this.

    Will I EVER wear a bathing suit again?

    Love you,


  8. We all have been missing Hawaii so much lately. In fact, I just looked into signing Kathryn up for Hula lessons this week!! Its our psychic connection in action once again :)