Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The only crisp thing about Fall around here

It's midnight, and the temperature in my kitchen right now is 82 degrees.  Yes, that is correct. The absolute coolest it has been today is 82 degrees, and I had to stay awake until now to experience it.

I've been "glistening" for weeks, along with the rest of LA, as Fall has apparently been kicked to the curb so that summer can just hang out here for a bit while the rest of the country gets to have soup and break out the flattering knitwear.

Toffee Bars | Cheesy Pennies

Not that I'm bitter or anything.  I just want to want to get under the covers sometime soon, that's all.

In lieu of the elusive crisp autumn days, I had to settle for these crisp shortbread bars. Mind you, my idea of settling involves brown sugar, pecans, and chocolate.

Toffee Bars | Cheesy Pennies

Glistening burns a ton of calories.

Toffee Shortbread Bars
Toffee Bars | Cheesy Pennies
by Sharon Graves
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
From Alice Medrich's fabulous Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-your-Mouth Cookies, one of my go-to-books for cookie inspiration.  After getting rave reviews with my office testers, these were a seasonal special in the Mom in the Mail box this week.

For the crust:
  • 12 Tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) butter
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/4 c. flour
  • 2 c. pecan pieces
For the topping:
  • 1 Tbs. water
  • 3/4 c. light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, cut into four pieces
  • 1 c. milk chocolate chips, or 6 oz. milk chocolate bars, chopped
Preheat your oven to 350. Line the bottom and all four sides of a 9x13 pan with foil.

Make the crust:
Cut butter into smaller pieces and melt it in a large saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat, and either transfer melted butter to a large mixing bowl, or, if you have room in your pan, add ingredients in directly. Start by adding the sugar, vanilla and salt, and mixing well by hand. Then add the flour, and stir just until incorporated. Dough should just barely hold together.

Press the dough into the prepared pan, using your fingers to spread it out evenly. It will look like you don't have enough, but persevere. The shortbread layer is pretty thin on these.

Sprinkle the pecan pieces evenly out over the dough, but don't press them in. Lay a sheet of foil directly on top of the pecans, and then transfer the pan to the oven. This way, the pecans are getting toasted and yummy at the same time as the bottom layer bakes.

Bake for about 20 minutes, just until edges are beginning to brown. While the crust is in the oven, work on the topping.

The topping:
Combine water and brown sugar in a smaller pan, and stir until the sugar is moist. It will still look like sugar, just damp. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar has melted. Continue cooking until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. You can set this aside until the crust comes out.

When the crust is ready, take off the foil, stir the topping again until smooth, and then pour it carefully over the hot pecans and the crust. Again, you'll have a fairly thin layer, but you should be able to cover the base completely. Put the pan back in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until topping is bubbling vigorously and is a deep golden brown.

Take the bars out, and scatter the chocolate chips/chopped chocolate on top. Allow the sugar mixture to cool for a few minutes, then use a spatula to gently spread the melted chocolate out over the bars. It won't cover every bit, but you'll have enough so that each bar has plenty of chocolate on top.

Cool completely in the pan, and then use foil edges to lift the bars out. Use a sharp, clean knife to cut into squares.

Toffee Bar Bits and Pieces | Cheesy Pennies
I may have settled for a bunch of these crispy edge bits while I was boxing up treats this weekend.  Just FYI, it was at least 95 degrees in that kitchen at 9 am before I turned on the commercial ovens.

The cookies will keep nicely in an airtight container for up to a week.

Toffee Bars | Cheesy Pennies


  1. I had said I was quitting sugar, but this recipe may have kicked that idea to the curb, just like fall in L.A. Thanks a lot, Sharon! :) P.S. It looks like I'll be in L.A. for an extended stay in January, and would love to see you if you're around.

    1. I would love love love to see you when you are here. Let's plan on it!

  2. I am the edge girl. I eat those before anyone knows they are even there for the taking.

  3. this is primo candy--buttery toffee, nuts, and a bit of chocolate is my ideal combination! glisten on!

    1. Exactly! These are completely addicting, and fortunately, are appropriate even on days that are actually crisp!