Christmas Cookie Day: Toffee Bars

toffee cookie bars

toffee time

These aren’t your typical Christmas cookies. But who says you need to be typical? The holidays deserve something special, and there’s something very special about toffee and chocolate and a few well placed flakes of sea salt.

Toffee Bars
1 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon of baking powder
½ teaspoon of salt
1 ½ sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cups of brown sugar
1 egg
½ vanilla
1/4 cup toffee bits
1 ½ cups of Heath candy bar bits*
½ teaspoon of flaky sea salt

Heat your oven to 325º.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, and then add the eggs and vanilla. Add the flour mixture a little at a time until well combined. Stir in the toffee bits.

Lightly grease an 8×8 (or similar) baking dish. Line with parchment paper, leaving extra that hangs over the edge, and lightly grease the parchment. Spread the batter into the dish in an even layer. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Sprinkle the Heath bits over the top and bake a few minutes more until the chocolate is melted. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the sea salt, and let cool completely in the dish. When cool, use the parchment paper to lift out the bars and then cut into squares. Then eat.

*I used 30 miniature Heath bars, which I unwrapped, placed into a large ziploc bag and then smashed with a rolling pin. It was very therapeutic.

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Pecan Turtle Power

pecan turtle cookies

cowabunga!

Everybody knows what turtles are, right? No, I’m not talking about those shelled reptiles, regular and/or the mutant ninja variety, although those are all pretty awesome. I mean those incredible chocolate-covered clusters with caramel and nuts. It’s the type of treat usually found at quaint candy shoppes alongside homemade fudge and peanut brittle. But if you don’t live near one of these shoppes, they can be hard to find. So in a totally radical move, I decided to reinterpret those candies into cookie form. And add peanut butter, toffee and – since it’s National Pecan Month! – some pecans. Dude, I know. I have a slight obsession with making cookies that include every flavor under the sun. I also made my very own salted caramel sauce because, well, why not? It’s way easier than you could imagine, and makes for a bodacious treat all its own.

Pecan Turtle Cookies
For the cookies:
½ cup of unsalted butter, softened
½ cup of sugar
½ cup of brown sugar
2/3 cup of chunky peanut butter
1 large egg
2 cups of all-purpose baking mix
1 cup of milk chocolate toffee bits
1 cup of salted caramel sauce (see below)
1 cup of pecan halves
2/3 cup of semisweet chocolate chips, melted

For the salted caramel sauce:
1 cup of sugar
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened and cut in pieces
½ cup of whipping cream
2 teaspoons of Maldon flaky sea salt

Heat your oven to 350º.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugars and peanut butter until light and fully. Add the egg and beat until smooth. Add the baking mix a little a time until well combined, scraping down the sides as needed. Stir in the milk chocolate toffee bits.

Roll the dough into tablespoon-sized balls, place on an ungreased cookie sheet and then flatten with the bottom of a glass (or your fingertips). Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Meanwhile, make the salted caramel sauce. Place the sugar in a saucepan and cook over medium-high heat. When the sugar starts to melt (keep an eye on it – it could burn quickly), whisk to remove any clumps. When the sugar turns a deep amber color, carefully whisk in the softened butter. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cream until smooth. Then whisk in the sea salt. Let the caramel cool to room temperature, and then place in the fridge to cool completely. The sauce will thicken as it cools, but should still remain sticky and liquidity. (Any unused sauce can be kept covered in the fridge.)

Once the cookies are cool, pour a spoonful of salted caramel sauce over each one and top with one or two pecan halves. Drizzle with melted chocolate chips and let set.


Peanut Butter Somebody Up Today

peanut butter toffee cookies

love is peanut butter cookies & milk

It can’t be St. Whatever-tine’s Day without showcasing something everybody loves: peanut butter. Ohhh .. I bet you thought I was going to say chocolate. Gotcha! (There’s some of that in these cookies too, so don’t worry.) Throw in some milk chocolate toffee bits and they’ll really know how much you care.

Peanut Butter Toffee Cookies
¾ cup of flour
¼ teaspoon of baking soda
⅛ teaspoon of salt
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup of sugar
½ cup of smooth peanut butter
1 large egg
1 8oz bag of Heath milk chocolate toffee bits

Heat your oven to 350º.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fully. Add the peanut butter and egg and beat until smooth. Add the flour mixture a little a time until well combined, scraping down the sides as needed. Stir in the milk chocolate toffee bits – as little or as much as you like, but save some to sprinkle on top.

Roll the dough into balls and place on a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Flatten with the bottom of a glass (or your fingertips) and then sprinkle each with a few chocolate toffee pieces. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Then share with someone you love.