easy desserts & recipes: caramel crunch bars
Toffee is the delicious buttery, rich confection that is hard to resist. The word toffee comes from the southern British dialect (tuffy, toughy) and is a variant of the word taffy. By definition, toffee is a “sweet made from sugar or treacle boiled with butter, nuts, etc.” Toffee is made when sugar is caramelized and butter is added. The butter and sugar heat until the mixture reaches the hard crack stage. It can be flavored or aerated, which is when toffee is made into sponge candy.
Walker’s Nonsuch, a family owned and operated company, have been the producers of wonderful English Toffee since the late 19th century. The name, “Nonsuch” was taken from Henry VIII’s “Nonsuch Palace which was “crowned the ‘palace of all palaces’ for its exquisite splendor there was ‘nonsuch’ lit it” (from the Walker’s website). Walker’s has some of the best toffee flavors, such as nutty Brazil, banana split éclair and milk chocolate éclair.
Many would agree that toffee and chocolate go hand and hand. Dorie Greenspan’s caramel crunch bars will satisfy cravings for toffee and chocolate as well as coffee. In her book, “Baking: From My Home to Yours” Dorie Greenspan notes that the caramel crunch bars can be used to form ice cream sandwiches. Now if that doesn’t just satisfy every craving!
Caramel Crunch Bars (Recipe by Dorie Greenspan)
For the Base
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp instant espresso powder*
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon*
2 sticks butter, at room temperature
½ cup brown sugar (packed)
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla*
3 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
For the Topping
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
¾ cup Heath Toffee Bits
1. Preheat your oven to 375F. Butter a 9×13 inch baking pan and line with parchment paper.
2. In a bowl, whisk together flour, espresso powder, salt and cinnamon.
3. Beat butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat for another 3 minutes or until the mixture is light and creamy. Beat in vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix until almost incorporated.
4. Add the chopped chocolate and mix only until dry ingredients disappear.
5. Using spatula or fingertips press dough into buttered pan into a thin, even layer.
6. Bake for 20-22 minutes until base is bubbly. Remove pan and turn off oven.
7. Scatter chocolate evenly over hot base.
8. Return pan to hot oven for 2-3 minutes until chocolate is soft.
9. Remove from oven and immediately spread chocolate over bars using spatula or back of spoon.
10. Sprinkle toffee bits over chocolate and allow to cool to room temperature.
11. If chocolate hasn’t set by the time the bars are cool, place in refrigerator briefly until chocolate firms up.
12. Cut bars into rectangles or squares.
These ingredients can be substituted for other flavoring. For instance, try using this combination: 1 tsp espresso, ½ teaspoon orange extract (or 1 ½ teaspoon orange zest) and ½ teaspoon vanilla.