I am a huge fan of a skillet-baked dessert. Irresistible. These blondie-esque, nutty cookies were crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. The edges were fabulously crumbly too. In the original recipe, the edges are removed prior to serving… What on Earth?! 😉
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Julia Moskin. I weighed all of the dry ingredients, included both of the add-ins, increased the skillet size, and reduced the baking time. The article cited that the original recipe for these buttery, basic toffee bars belongs to Maida Heatter, the great American dessert maven of the 20th century. It was adapted for a cast-iron skillet by Charlotte Druckman, who wrote a book on cast-iron baking in 2016. Wonderful.
Yield: 2 dozen bars
- 2 sticks/225 grams unsalted butter, cold but not frozen, plus 1 T more for buttering the pan
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup/210 grams soft-packed dark brown sugar
- 2 cups/240 grams unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup/100 grams unsalted slivered almonds, toasted
- 6 ounces/170 grams chocolate chips or small chunks
- Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Place a rack in the middle and place a 12-inch cast-iron skillet on it.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on low-speed for about a minute, until softened. Scrape down the bowl and the paddle.
- With the mixer running at low-speed, add salt and vanilla.
- Add the brown sugar, then turn the speed up to medium and beat until mixture is the color of peanut butter and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl again.
- With the mixer running at low-speed, shake in flour, beating just until dough holds together. Mix in nuts or chocolate just until combined.
- Remove the hot skillet from the oven and place 1 T of butter in it. As butter melts, swirl it over the bottom and sides of the pan until evenly coated.
- Dump dough into skillet and press it out to evenly fill the skillet. You can use your fingers (being careful to avoid touching the hot pan), a potato masher or the bottom of a measuring cup. Press dough down firmly to make a compact, even layer.
- Transfer to oven and bake for 25 to 40 minutes, until the top is walnut brown. You may be tempted to take it out when the edges have begun to darken, but let it continue to cook so the entire surface can take on that color. There may be bubbles visible on top of the dough; that’s a good sign.
- Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan. If necessary, run an offset spatula or butter knife around the sides of the pan to loosen. Cut into bars, squares or diamonds. (I cut them after they had completely cooled.)
- Let the bars cool completely before removing from pan. Store in airtight container; they keep well for up to 1 week.
Note: This recipe can be adapted to bake in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
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