easy desserts & recipes: caramel crunch bars

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!

easy desserts & recipes: caramel crunch bars

Recipe:
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

Directions

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.

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25 comments

  • March 19, 2012 at 6:27 pm //

    This like any other dorie recipe is just perfect. Love the texture of these bars.

    • March 19, 2012 at 8:07 pm //

      Thank you so much = )

  • March 19, 2012 at 9:01 pm //

    These are so pretty! I was just thinking of what to make for a friend who has just had a baby. I think I may try a batch of these along with a casserole. Thanks for sharing!

    • March 21, 2012 at 12:40 pm //

      Thank you so much Alyssa = )

  • March 19, 2012 at 10:33 pm //

    Fantastic looking bars!! So glad you dropped by my blog because of that I found yours and am loving everything about it :)

    • March 20, 2012 at 10:30 am //

      Thank you so much for stopping over, it’s wonderful to connect!

  • March 19, 2012 at 10:37 pm //

    Wow these look divine. I am sure a little goes a long way and I love your pictures :-)

    • March 20, 2012 at 10:30 am //

      Thank you = )

  • March 19, 2012 at 11:15 pm //

    Oh, these look fantastic! I adore crunchy treats, and caramel must be one of my all-time favorites. Wonderful!

    • March 20, 2012 at 10:29 am //

      Thank you so much Kiri, did your book arrive yet?

  • March 19, 2012 at 11:16 pm //

    Great history lesson! Thanks. I love toffee (and chocolate – as you point out, who can resist that combo?) – so I know I’ll love this recipe. And I really like the food styling on the top photo. Good post – thanks.

    • March 20, 2012 at 10:29 am //

      Thank you so much “wink”!

  • March 20, 2012 at 1:27 am //

    I can see myself making this, spending a lot of time in the kitchen, then my 2 sons (and hubby) come in, and then there’s none of the bars left. All in 2 minutes flat :)

    • March 20, 2012 at 10:27 am //

      Thank you so much Priscilla, that is too cute about the boys and hubby = )

  • March 20, 2012 at 3:42 am //

    These bars are absolutely stunning. Great photography and great recipe. I am adding these to the baking queue for sure!

    • March 20, 2012 at 10:27 am //

      Thank you so much Maggie = )

  • March 20, 2012 at 4:44 am //

    Toffee is by far my favorite candy. I Jiggle like a 2 year when I find a box of toffifay at the local grocery store.
    Your bars are definitely a must make!

    • March 20, 2012 at 10:26 am //

      Ooooh, do you remember the Skor Bar? Is that right? (sp)? I have not had one of those since I was a kid, but it was my favorite, chocolate and toffee.

  • March 21, 2012 at 9:46 am //

    Those bars look delicious! I love the use of espresso powder:-) Hugs, Terra

    • March 21, 2012 at 10:28 am //

      Thank you so much Terra.

  • March 21, 2012 at 1:37 pm //

    These look ridiculously good! I cannot wait to try them, and with ice cream! I think I’d just crumble them over a bowl of vanilla ice cream and eat it with a spoon. I wonder if it’d taste like Ben & Jerry’s Heath Bar Crunch ice cream….

  • March 22, 2012 at 2:58 pm //

    Dorie’s recipes have never failed me :) I keep meaning to pick up her baking cookbook. Great photos, as always!

  • March 23, 2012 at 5:15 am //

    i can never say no to anything with caramel in it..this looks absolutely delectable

  • March 24, 2012 at 4:30 am //

    Ooohh these look so good!! I love the chocolate pieces in the caramel crunchy part & the addition of espresso powder! This looks so good! I could see myself snacking on these bars all the time! Yum!