Shortbread Toffee Bars

One of my favorite things to bake (and other people’s favorite thing to eat) is shortbread caramel bars.  Even though I’ve made countless variations, I can never resist trying a slightly different recipe.  These Shortbread Toffee Bars are very sweet and rich, and a little goes a long way.  The shortbread bottom and chocolate topping are typical of this type of recipe, but the center is less chewy and less caramely and more toffee-like with a slight crumbly texture.  Risk takers who enjoy baking on the edge may especially enjoy cooking the toffee center as the longer you cook it, the more toffee-like and rich-flavored it will be, but you also run a high risk of burning it.

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Shortbread Toffee Bars

Makes one 9×13 inch pan of bars
(from the kitchn)
I’ve made a few tweaks to the original recipe and added more details to the original directions.

Ingredients

Shortbread 

1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces) salted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour

Toffee

1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces) salted butter
1 cup sugar
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
3 tablespoons maple syrup

Chocolate Topping

1 bag (10 ounces) good-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
Sea salt (optional)

Directions

Shortbread

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.  If you would like really easy removal of your bars from the pan, you can line the pan with parchment paper.  I did not do that, and my bars came out of the pan fairly easily, but next time I’ll probably line with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add the flour and beat on low speed until crumbly, making sure not to over-mix the dough.
  4. Press the dough into the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan and make sure to pack it down well.
  5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until light golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool while you’re making the toffee.

Toffee

  1. In a large saucepan over low heat, stir together the butter, sugar, condensed milk, and maple syrup until well combined.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  The mixture can burn quickly and easily, so make sure to keep stirring.  Continue to cook the mixture until it is thick and golden brown (but not burnt), about 8-10 minutes.  The deeper brown the toffee is, the more flavorful it will be.  Lighter colored toffee will taste more like sugar.
  3. Pour the toffee on top of the shortbread, and use an offset spatula to  spread the mixture to the edges.
  4. Allow the toffee to set at least an hour or overnight.

Chocolate Topping

  1. Melt the chocolate chips in a small saucepan over low heat or in the microwave.
  2. Pour the chocolate over the cooled toffee layer, and spread to the edges with and offset spatula.
  3. Sprinkle with sea salt (if using), and cool completely.  Since these bars are quite sweet, a sprinkle of sea salt would work well.  I forgot to sprinkle mine with sea salt.
  4. Once the mixture has a cooled a little, you can put the bars in the refrigerator to firm up the chocolate (this will also make cutting the bars a bit neater).
  5. Once everything has cooled completely, cut into squares (1 1/2 inch squares are a good size since these bars are so sweet and rich).  If you refrigerated your bars, let them sit out at room temperature to soften a little before cutting (if you cut the bars when they’re cold, the layers may separate and crumble).