Toffee Bars

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The Christmas baking season has started for us. We were busy baking last weekend and already have gingersnaps, almond shortbreads and chocolate chip doodles in the freezer. When we were planning what to bake this year, we thought we would add a few different recipes to the mix, in addition to our old standbys.

Toffee bars are an old favorite that we haven’t made for a few years. I first made them when I was in high school and then somehow lost the recipe. Rich and I later found a similar recipe on the back of a condensed milk can. Since then we have tweaked the recipe and directions a bit.

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The bars start with saltine crackers as the base. I love how the crackers’ layers separate a bit as they soak up the butter from the bottom and the toffee from the top. Butter and sugar elevate most anything, even plain Jane saltine crackers.

The toffee bars really play up the contrast between salty and sweet. I prefer to use salted butter and ordinary saltines in these bars, to offset the sweetness of the toffee and the chocolate. If you really don’t like the salty-sweet thing, you could use unsalted crackers and unsalted butter, but the bars might taste a little flat.

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As we have made these over the years we have reduced the baking time again and again. The shorter baking time helps the toffee layer to stay soft instead of chewy and overly sticky. We like the texture contrast between the crispy cracker, the soft toffee and the harder chocolate layer.

These go together in minutes and are pretty much foolproof. They are different than the usual Christmas cookie offering and they just plain taste great. You can’t go wrong with buttery, sweet toffee and chocolate.

Print the recipe here.

Toffee Bars
From The Cook’s Life
Makes 50-60 small bars

Don’t be tempted to try these with anything but butter. You need it for both the flavor and the texture.

1¼ cups butter (2½ sticks), NO substitutions
45-50 saltine crackers
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1½ cups semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Melt ¼ cup (½ stick) butter in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Pour into 12 by 17 inch baking sheet, or two 9 by 13 inch pans. Tilt pan to cover evenly with butter. Arrange crackers over butter in one layer, breaking crackers if necessary to fit.

In the same saucepan, melt remaining 1 cup (2 sticks) butter over medium heat. Add brown sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add condensed milk, stirring until combined.

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Pour toffee mixture slowly over crackers and spread evenly. Bake for 5-10 minutes. Keep a close eye on them after 5 minutes. When the bars are done the entire top will be bubbly and the edges will just be starting to darken slightly. Don’t cook longer, or the toffee will have a burned taste and be too chewy at the edges.

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Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top of the hot toffee. Let stand 5 minutes, until chips are glossy and soft.

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Spread melted chips evenly over the bars. Let cool at room temperature for several hours until chocolate is set. Refrigerate or freeze to set chocolate faster.

Cut into small squares once the chocolate is set. Store bars in an airtight container, with parchment or waxed paper between layers. These keep at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.

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13 thoughts on “Toffee Bars

  1. Sarah, when you melt the butter , add brown sugar and the condensed milk does this caramel harden up a little bit without baking it ? I wonder if I could use it for my “stroopwafels” (See pictures on my page on KAF community) I did not like the syrup I used before.

    • Ria, it doesn’t really harden. It stays creamy and liquidy and takes a bit of stirring to get all the melted butter mixed in. You might need something with less butter for your stroopwafels.

      I am intrigued. We had some from Trader Joe’s and they were a bit underwhelming. I’m sure homemade would be better, as always. Do you have the recipe posted anywhere? Do you need a special stroopwafel maker?

  2. Yes you do need a special stroopwafel iron. I think a pizelle iron might work.You need to cut them as soon as they come off the iron, so you have the 2 halves to put the syrup (stroop) in between. I do have the recipe somewhere. I will look for it.

  3. Sarah,mine is Palmer electric cookie iron, model 1110. I ordered it from Fante’s Kitchen shop. When you look at their page go all the way down to “waffles” They also have a stroopwafel recipe there.

  4. Sarah,
    I am excited to try this recipe. I’ve made a similar bar with boiling the butter and brown sugar (no initial layer of butter and no sweetened condensed milk) but this recipe would have more of the toffee part that I love! Must share on FB with my friends who were trying to make a Today show graham cracker version that Orlando Bloom liked, and were disappointed in how little detail was in the recipe. Long winded way of saying thanks both for the number of crackers and the pan size.

    • That was the recipe I made the first time! We have since lost it. I have wondered about using graham crackers, but I like the contrast of salty and sweet. The toffee layer is so sweet, I think graham crackers would send them over the top on the sweetness scale.

  5. this post made me laugh right out loud: it’s not you, it’s me. my family has a history of toffee: a history which involves cursing, and bulk hershey bar-buying, and other things unmentioned. It’s my mom’s favorite and least favorite thing to make, and it marks one of the only times of the year my mom sounded like a sailor. We make/made the old school toffee (with sugar, no saltines) and it’s HARD. i tried the saltine version last year, and i like it, AND bonus: it’s the only one i have ever successfully made. 🙂

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