Thanks to my beautiful French friend, Bernadette, we had the great pleasure of indulging in her freshly baked New York Times version of classic (and decadent) Toffee Bars! While these bars have nothing to do with her French heritage, I mention it because when it comes to anything delicious and special, it seems to me that it’s the French in Bernadette that introduces me to yet another way to experience beauty (which is just so French!). Merci beaucoup Bernadette!
Bake them! They’re beyond delicious!
Bernadette’s Toffee Bars
(From the NY Times, and originally adapted from “Stir, Bake” by Charlotte Druckman)
Yield: About 2 dozen bars
1 cup unsalted butter, cold, plus more for buttering the pan
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup soft-packed dark brown sugar
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup slivered or sliced almonds, toasted, or 6 ounces chocolate chips or chunks
Heat oven to 350°F. Position rack in the center, and place a 10-inch cast-iron skillet on it.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a 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 a small lump of butter in it. As butter melts, brush it onto the bottom and sides of the pan until evenly coated.
Dump dough into skillet and press it out evenly to 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.
Return skillet to oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
Remove from oven and let cool in the pan. If necessary, run a butter knife around the sides of the pan to loosen. Cut bars into squares or diamonds.
Let the bars cool completely before removing from pan. Use a small offset spatula or butter knife to transfer them to paper towels to blot the buttery bottoms.
Ready to serve, or store in an airtight container, where they’ll keep well for up to 1 week.