wanna toffee break?

I┬áheart it when I find a recipe and just can’t wait to try it. I mean, seriously, isn’t it great when you flip through a recipe book (or are surfing the inter-webz) and you find that one recipe that gets your taste buds going and your hands itching to pull out all those ingredients?!!

That’s how I felt about this recipe. That’s how I like to pick my recipes… sigh.

I’m back to the happy baker’s recipe book (well, she’s just so darn happy… and so am I, so why not right?)… Erin baked an (i’m not boy crazy) toffee maple shortbread… just the thought of maple and toffee together made my mouth water. There was only one thing… I didn’t have any maple extract. And I really try to stay away from imitation extract when possible… so I swapped out the maple for some vanilla. Am I ever happy that I did!!!

The shortbread ended up being nice and crunchy, with the surprise of the toffee bits (which luckily didn’t overwhelm the buttery base), and the vanilla was just a nice subtle compliment. I think I have a winner. AND I am totally inspired for my holiday baking (I know… it’s only May and I’m already thinking Christmas baking… sad, but true): cherry-chocolate shortbread. Yep. That’s right. I bet you can’t wait for me to share those with you eh? Well… knowing me, I’ll be making them sooner rather than later… I do need to test them out right?

If you’re in the mood for a delicious cookie (which I might add would go GREAT with ice cream and freezes well), turn on your oven and whip these together. Totally worth it. I promise.

Toffee Vanilla Shortbread
ingredients:
3/4 c. butter, room temperature
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. toffee baking bits

Preheat your oven to 300 F. Spray your 8-inch square baking pan with some non-stick spray and set aside.

In the bowl of your stand-mixer (using the paddle attachment), beat together the butter and powdered sugar; increasing the speed to medium, you want it to get like and fluffy.

Add the vanilla extract and the salt. Continue to beat together.

Lower the speed of the stand-mixer and stir in the flour and toffee pieces.

Erin’s recipe says not to over mix… I took that to mean that the batter should come together and be as smooth as possible (given toffee bits).

Once the batter has come together, put it in your square pan and gently pat the dough out (get it nice and even); I used my fingers… just wet them a little and the batter will spread nicely.

Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Place your pan on a wire rack and allow to cool before cutting them into squares.

note: you’ll notice that I use my zester as my guideline for cutting my squares… I was able to get over 2 dozen shortbread’s out of this recipe… and they were evenly cut and sized! Gotta love that trick :0)

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bang on fantastic bars!

I’m about to share THE recipe with you… and I promise it’s the kind of recipe that will have you planning to bake your next batch as you finish eating the squares in front of you!

Chocolate and toffee. Together in one bar. Seriously! There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. These are the types of bars that are not just fantastic – they are gobsmacking, tummy pleasing, lip licking wonderful bars. And if you don’t believe me… give them a try. I swear you’ll be itching to make another batch. They’re that good. (as a side note… I made two batches of these babies…in a 5 hour time frame)

Black and White Toffee Bars
ingredients:
1 c. + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla salt
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 c. dark chocolate chips
1 c. white chocolate chips
1/2 c. toffee candy pieces (quite small)

Preheat your oven to 375 F. Grease your 9-inch square pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.

You’ll need to combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer and with your paddle attachment (or a large bowl if using an electric mixer), beat the butter, sugar and vanilla extract together – about 3 minutes at a level 4/ medium speed. You want the result to be creamy and fluffy. Once you get to that stage you’ll beat in the egg.

You’ll then gradually beat in the flour – lower your speed for this part to the Stir level – you want everything to just combine.

Now, you’ll dump in the remaining ingredients: chocolate and white chocolate chips and toffee pieces. Grab your handy wooden spoon and stir – everything will be thick. Don’t worry, this isn’t a loose batter, it should feel like molasses…

Once you have distributed all the bits of goodness, spread the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for about 20 – 25 minutes. These should be golden on top, it’s hard to do the clean stick test… since the entire thing is made up of melted chocolate ;0) (your stick should not come out clean)

Allow the bars to cool in the pan on a wire rack. Before cutting into your desired bar shape, refrigerate for 5 to 10 minutes, this will allow the chocolate to set, making it easier to cut.

I ended up with 24 bars per batch – 12 squares that I then cut into triangles.

These babies were inspired by Starbucks, but conquered by me :0)

another use for meringues

I was invited to a bbq this weekend and wanted to bring along a dessert… both the hostess and another friend are gluten intolerant – and I’ve already baked my gluten free brownies for both of them… it was time to try something different.

I pulled out my copy of the golden book of patisserie and discovered their chocolate cream dacquoise recipe… meringue disks and chocolate cream. I used some dark chocolate toblerones in my chocolate cream – adding a little twist to this recipe. Really simple but impressive looking… not only did it turn out great but everyone at the table enjoyed indulging in it!

Toblerone Cream Meringue

Meringues
ingredients:
6 egg whites
1/8 tsp vanilla salt
1 1/2 c. white sugar
1 1/2 c. ground almonds
1 tbsp cornstarch

Preheat your oven to 300 F. Grab a couple of cookie trays and line with parchment paper. Now, trace 3 x 9-inch circles… I traced the circles with a black sharpy and then flipped the parchment paper over – you can still see the guide without having to worry about marking your baked goods ;0)

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites and salt with your electric mixer at medium speed until frothy. Then increase the speed and add the sugar – you want to get stiff peaks… beat until you can hold your bowl of meringue over your head and it doesn’t fall all out :0)

Put the ground almonds and cornstarch in the middle of the meringue and fold in with a large rubber spatula. Fill a LARGE Ziploc bag with the meringue… remember to zip it up completely (I didn’t and a decent dollop of meringue ended up on my kitchen floor). Cut the edge of one of the corners, and following your traced rounds fill in the circles completely. I actually had enough meringue to be able to make 4 disks – even though I only made 3.

Bake in the oven for about 75 minutes – you want them to be crisp. Remove from the heat and cool on the cookie trays for 10 minutes, then remove from the parchment paper and cool completely on a wire rack.

Once your meringues are cooling on the wire rack start making your chocolate cream.

Toblerone Cream
ingredients:
8 oz dark toblerone (I used the mini ones)
1 1/2 c. butter, softened
6 egg yolks
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. water
2 tsp vanilla
slivered almonds

In a double boiler over simmering water melt your mini toblerones. Remove from heat and set aside.

Over medium heat and in a deep saucepan combine the brown sugar and water together. Now, don’t stir the mixture, just allow it to get to that boiling point (that’s why the saucepan needs to be deep, so that it doesn’t overflow). You want it to get to the point known as the “soft-ball” stage. Take a glass of COLD water and drop some of the syrup into the glass. It should come together once it hits the cold water, and when you remove it from the water you can still mold it. That’s when you know you have reached the right stage.

While the sugar syrup is boiling away on your stove top, beat your butter in a bowl until it becomes creamy.

In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks until they thicken.

At this point your syrup should be ready, so remove it from the heat and slowly beat it into the yolks – do this slowly so that you can temper the yolks and prevent curdling. Once the syrup and the yolks are combined, add the butter, followed by the chocolate and vanilla. Beat until it cools down. You want the cream to thicken so that it is easily spreadable – while ensuring that it doesn’t run all over the plate.

Place one meringue disk on your serving platter and top with 1/3 of the chocolate cream. Repeat with the two other disks. I then topped the top layer of toblerone cream with slivered almonds. Place in the fridge to set. Allow to return to room temperature before you serve it.

We got 8 pieces out of this baby. It was really delightful!

*Note: I had about 3/4 c. of extra toblerone cream left over, so I packed it up and put it in the freezer. I’m sure I’ll be able to find another use for it soon…