While the buttery flavor and crunchy texture of toffee are incredibly appealing, it can be a pain to make. No shame in this game: Commercial toffee bits can be great. Even so, most toffee bar recipes lack not only toffee flavor but also a solid balance of the sweet, salty, and crunchy elements that should define them. To mimic the flavor of toffee right down to the crust, we added brown sugar to the shortbread; dark brown had the most impact. We also stirred toffee bits right into the dough to up the toffee flavor considerably. When the crust was out of the oven, we sprinkled on a generous cup of chocolate chips, which promptly melted into a smooth layer; we preferred milk chocolate for its caramel notes. Toasted and chopped almonds and, of course, toffee bits created a final layer of crunchy, chewy goodness. Note that the bars need to cool for about 3 hours in order to set the chocolate. If you’re in a hurry, you can put the bars in the refrigerator for 1 hour, but don’t store them in the fridge much longer than that because the crust can become too hard.
- Yield: 24 bars
- 1½ cups (7½ ounces) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- ⅓ cup packed (2⅓ ounces) dark brown sugar
- ⅓ cup (1⅓ ounces) confectioners’ sugar
- ½ cup plain toffee bits
- 1 cup (6 ounces) milk chocolate chips
- ¾ cup whole almonds, toasted and chopped coarse
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Make foil sling for 13 by 9-inch baking pan by folding 2 long sheets of aluminum foil; first sheet should be 13 inches wide and second sheet should be 9 inches wide. Lay sheets of foil in pan perpendicular to each other, with extra foil hanging over edges of pan. Push foil into corners and up sides of pan, smoothing foil flush to pan. Grease foil.
- Combine flour and salt in bowl. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter, brown sugar, and confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 additions, scraping down bowl as needed, until dough becomes sandy with large pea-size pieces, about 30 seconds. Add ¼ cup toffee bits and mix until combined.
- Transfer dough to prepared pan and press into even layer. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking.
- Remove crust from oven, sprinkle with chocolate chips, and let sit until softened, about 5 minutes. Using offset spatula, spread softened chocolate into even layer. Sprinkle almonds and remaining ¼ cup toffee bits evenly over chocolate, then press gently to set into chocolate. Let bars sit at room temperature until chocolate is set, about 3 hours. Using foil overhang, remove bars from pan. Cut into 24 pieces before serving.