Toffee Crack

Happy Belated 4th of July!! Like many people I attended a cookout and brought some dishes that I hoped would be a hit. I started baking on Friday. Perhaps I should have started on Saturday. Have you ever had a day that you struggled in the kitchen and routine things just were not successes? That was my Friday. I wanted to bring a Pavlova with strawberries and blueberries to carry out the American flag theme. My first, (yes first) meringue was a flop. I didn’t have white vinegar so I used strawberry balsamic vinegar. Yeah, don’t do that. It was a flat brown, overcooked meringue. It tasted ok but it was not pretty, AT ALL. So I made another one using the white vinegar. The second was better but the kitchen had become hot and humid. The meringue spread out in the oven. It ended up being just okay. I planned to smother it in whip cream and berries so all mistakes would be covered up in sweeten whipped cream. Onto the next thing to be cooked. I tried to make a lemon buttermilk cake, from an expensive mix that not only stuck to pan, it was way too dark. Good-bye European butter and 4 eggs.My family will be eating this cake and pulling off the darkened shell. I needed one more dessert, so I decided to try something I saw on a blog. This cookie bar came out better than I had hoped. Maybe because I made it early Saturday morning. Maybe I shouldn’t ever bake on Fridays. Who knows! All I can tell you is this was a hit at the cookout. Try it. You will thank me!

Shortbread Toffee Bars

Shortbread crust:

¾ cup light brown sugar

¾ cup softened butter

1 ½ cups flour

Filling:

1 cup sweetened condensed milk

2 tbsp. butter

Topping:

2 cups milk chocolate chips

1 ½ cups toffee bits

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place parchment paper in a 9 X 13 pan.

For the shortbread, beat the butter and brown sugar together until combined, about 1-2 minutes. Mix in flour. This mixture will be slightly dry. Evenly press this mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes. It should be lightly browned. Let it cool for a couple of minutes.

To prepare the filling, heat the sweetened condensed milk with the butter in a saucepan. Make sure the butter is completely melted. Pour over the crust, spread evenly. Bake this for about 12-15 minutes. The filling should be bubbling and look like light caramel. Remove from oven.

Immediately sprinkle the milk chocolate chips over the hot filling. Place back in the oven for 2 minutes so the chocolate chips can soften.

Carefully spread the softened chips over the filling with an off-set spatula. Sprinkle the toffee bits over the melted chocolate. Press them down into the chocolate.

Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares. I think they taste the best if they are chilled in the fridge. I like to cut them in longer, thin rectangles than squares. It makes them look delicate and pretty. I cut some of them into irregular sized tiny pieces, as if they were just broken. This is nice if they are cold, because they are a bit hard and the small pieces work better, unless you want to lose a tooth. Just kidding!

Here is the original recipe with step-by-step pictures. We ate it before I had a chance to take pictures.

Mud Hen Bars

 

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I found this recipe last week online. Let me tell you, these are the best cookies I’ve made in a long time, if not ever. Truly. We devoured the pan in one day. Well, I brought a few over to a friend’s house, but mainly we ate most of the pan. They are like a drug. You have a little and you just want more. I just made another batch. I’ll divide them for home and work. Then I will hide both containers! If you are going to a holiday party and what to win points with your friends. Bring these cookies. They are amazing.
These cookies are simple, but you have to be organized. I suggest having two mixing bowls, beaters, spatulas, and offset spatulas. Read the recipe through. You have to separate the yokes from the whites in two of the three eggs. You use the whole third egg. The whites are whipped up and then the brown sugar is folded into the egg white meringue. I forgot to mention there are two sugars being used: white granulated and light brown sugar. Don’t mix them up. I also used parchment paper in the pan. It makes lifting it out the pan easier. I thought there was potential for a gooey mess if I just greased the pan. I’m pretty sure I’m right.
You first make a cookie-like layer, topping it with mini-marshmallows and chocolate chips. The last step is covering this bad boy with the meringue and brown sugar mixture.
The name of these cookies is very odd. The website I got this recipe from discusses the origin of the cookie name. I think they are named after hens that got muddy. First they are a light brown, and then they become brown with specs. The name will definitely stimulate a conversation.

½ cup of butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, divided (1 egg, 2 yolks, and 2 egg whites)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup mini marshmallows
1 cup light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper, cutting the corners to fit into pan.

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In a bowl, beat together butter and granulated sugar until creamy. Beat in 1 whole egg and 2 egg yokes. (Put the egg whites in another bowl to be made into meringue later.) Beat in the vanilla extract.
Add the flour, salt and baking powder to the butter mixture. Blended until just combined. This will be a thick batter. Place dollops of the mixture in the pan.photo This makes it easier to spread the dough. Spread evenly with a spatula or a knife. You may have to hold the parchment paper as you spread the batter. photoSprinkle with marshmallows and chocolate chips.

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Beat the egg whites in a clean bowl, with clean beaters until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the brown sugar. Make sure you fold it and not stir it. You don’t want to deflate the egg whites. Try to contain your bliss at this point. Spread mixture evenly over marshmallows and chocolate chips. photoBake for 30 minutes or until bars are a deep golden brown. If you can, let the bars cool completely. I find this to be rather a test of patience, but do try. Cut into squares and squeal with delight.
Store them in airtight container if there are any left. You will thank me later. The meringue will fall a little and crackle when you cut it. That means you did a great job and they are perfect.

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Here is the original recipe. This is a fabulous website. Please visit it!