Crisp Toffee Bars

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
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Place a rack in the middle and place a 12-inch cast-iron skillet on it.
  2. 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.
  3. With the mixer running at low-speed, add salt and vanilla.
  4. 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.
  5. With the mixer running at low-speed, shake in flour, beating just until dough holds together. Mix in nuts or chocolate just until combined.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.)
  10. 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.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Four Years Ago:

Speculoos-Toffee Cookies

These were a perfect choice for a Father’s Day dessert for my husband. Two of his absolute favorite flavors combined in a crispy on the outside- chewy on the inside cookie. Their flavor was reminiscent of Pepperidge Farm “Bordeaux” cookies- a childhood favorite of my husband’s and mine. Delicious!

This recipe was adapted from Food.com, via Jess @ Cooking is my Sport. I made them slightly smaller and used Trader Joe’s chunky Speculoos cookie butter. They would also be insanely delicious as a cookie-wich!

Yield: 4 dozen 3 1/2-inch cookies

  • 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup creamy or chunky Speculoos cookie butter (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup Heath toffee bits
  1. Cream together both sugars, the butter and the Speculoos cookie butter until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the eggs, vanilla extract, and salt and stir to combine.
  3. In separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and corn starch together with whisk until well combined. Slowly add it to the wet mixture, mixing until well incorporated.
  4. Using the lowest speed of mixer, or by hand, stir in the Heath toffee bits.
  5. Refrigerate cookie dough at least one hour, preferably overnight.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Line two rimmed baking sheet pans with parchment paper.
  7. Using a large cookie scoop, spoon out portions of dough. Place onto sheet pans about 2-inches apart.
  8. Bake cookies for 11 minutes, rotating the baking pans halfway through, or until the edges are lightly browned.
  9. Allow cookies to sit on the baking pans for about 3-5 minutes, before moving to cooling rack to cool completely.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Pumpkin Pie Dump Cake

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I may have overdone it… I made Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Bread for breakfast and Pumpkin Pie Dump Cake for dessert on the SAME DAY…. BUT, I have never made a “dump cake” (or heard of a “dump cake”) and I really wanted to try this one! 🙂 A “dump” cake is named for its simple preparation- dumping ingredients into a bowl, stirring, pouring into a pan and then coating with toppings prior to baking. The bottom layer of the cake is custardy and the top crunchy- great.

I knew that this “pumpkin-overload” in my menu planning was okay when my son called this cake “heaven on a plate.” My husband said that it was the best pumpkin dessert he had ever had! What rave reviews!! 🙂 This recipe was adapted from AllRecipes, via Nancy Creative. It is a wonderful autumn dessert and would be a great part of a Thanksgiving menu as well. We ate it with a dollop of whipped cream.

Yield: Makes one 9 x 13-inch cake

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  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 (16.5 oz.) package yellow cake mix (or use spice cake mix) (I used Dunkin Hines Classic Yellow Cake Mix)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup toffee bits
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
  • whipped cream, for serving, optional
  • salted caramel sauce, for serving, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (on convection). Grease and flour a 9 x 13-inch pan.
  2. In large bowl, mix pumpkin, light brown sugar, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and salt, blending well. Stir in the evaporated milk, then beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well. Pour pumpkin mixture into prepared pan.
  3. Sprinkle all of the dry yellow cake mix evenly over the pumpkin mixture, then sprinkle the chopped pecans and then the toffee bits evenly over top of cake mix. Drizzle melted butter evenly over everything.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes (on convection) or up to 60 minutes in a standard oven, until edges are lightly browned (it may be a little soft in the center, but will set as it cools; also, the cake may sink slightly as it cools). Cool for 30 minutes before cutting and serving. You can serve just as it is or with a dollop of whipped cream. (maybe even a drizzle of salted caramel sauce on top if you really want to make it decadent!) Refrigerate any leftovers.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Brown-Butter Toffee Blondies

We have been taking a break from desserts – these were worth the wait. I have been desperate to make these blondies ever since I saw the recipe. Now that I have finally made them, we were not disappointed. We LOVED them! We ate them warm from the oven – gooey and DELICIOUS. They just might be the best blondies I have ever made. This recipe is from MarthaStewart.com.

  • Yield: Makes about 1 dozen
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 cup toffee bits
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees on convection. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper; butter parchment paper. (I used cooking oil spray.)
  2. In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the butter until it turns golden brown; remove from heat, and let cool.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine browned butter and both sugars; stir with a wooden spoon until combined.
  5. Attach bowl to mixer; add eggs. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add vanilla, and beat to combine.
  7. Add flour mixture, walnuts, and toffee bits. Mix until thoroughly combined, and pour into prepared pan.
  8. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 minutes on convection, or up to 40 minutes in a standard oven. (Do not overbake!).
  9. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before turning out of pan onto a cutting board. Peel off parchment paper; cut blondies into 3-inch squares or with 1 1/2- to 2-inch cookie cutters.
  10. Just before serving, dust half with confectioners’ sugar, if desired.

Blondies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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