December 22, 2009

This one sneaks up on you: NaCoBakMo, Day 20.

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:48 am by the Green-Eyed Siren

On Day 20 with the Christmas crunch hard on my heels I was in serious need of another bar cookie that would bake up pretty quickly, so I turned to another toffee square recipe. Not wishing to come too close to repeating Edna’s Toffee Squares (Day 4) I went in search of something with a distinctive flavor and texture.

This recipe comes from a book I strongly recommend: Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts. There is a lot of very good stuff in there—and she is fantastically detailed in her preparation descriptions—so it’s well worth making space for it on your cookbook shelf. I substituted pretzels run through the food processor for the walnuts, and it worked out quite nicely. Just don’t over-crush the pretzels, because you’re not looking for a powder here. When I first tasted this cookie out of the oven, I was a little underwhelmed. That didn’t last too long, though, because pretty soon I was eating up the ones that were just slightly burned (and therefore unacceptable for shipping out to you lovely people) with astonishing speed. I found myself thinking about them at random moments and wondering how many were left; pretty soon, that number was zero. They improve with a day of aging, I’d say. They are very crispy and crunchy and are quite possibly dangerously addictive.

Dolly’s Crisp Toffee Bars

1 c (two sticks; 1/2 pound) butter
1/2 t salt
1 t vanilla extract
1 c light or dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 c sifted all-purpose flour
4 oz (generous 1 c) walnuts, cut into medium-sized pieces (or substitute pretzels for nut-free baking)
6 oz (1 c) semisweet chocolate morsels

Preheat oven to 350º.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer cream the butter. Add the salt, vanilla, and sugar and beat well. On low speed gradually add the flour, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula and beating until the mixture holds together. Add the nuts (or pretzels) and chocolate morsels and stir until they are evenly distributed.

The dough will be stiff. With a teaspoon or with your fingers place small mounds of the dough in an unbuttered 10.5 x 15.5 x 1-inch jelly-roll pan. With floured fingertips press the dough firmly to make an even layer—it will be thin.

Bake for 25 minutes, reversing the pan front to back once to insure even baking. The cake will be golden brown.

Let cool in the pan for only a minute or so. Then, with a small, sharp knife, cut into bars. Let stand in the pan until cool.

With a wide metal spatula transfer the cookies to paper towels to dry the bottoms. Wrap them individually in clear cellophane or wax paper or store them in an airtight container.

NOTE: I used my 11 x 17-inch cookie sheet, not being in possession of a jelly-roll pan. They turned out very well, although a little more brown around the edges than was ideal. I recommend reducing the baking time a bit if you go that route. Also, I never do very much to sift my flour. At most I’ll gently combine the dry ingredients with a whisk, because I am lazy.

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