Monday, March 23, 2009

Toffee Bars

A borrowed my Silver Palate cookbook recently and when she returned it, I flipped through it. I hadn’t looked at it in years. I was surprised to find a lot of really good recipes and wondered, at first, why I had never tried any of them. Then I remembered. It had been a gift many years ago from a cook that I greatly admired. At the time, I was still cooking for an extremely fussy eater. Trying out new recipes was difficult enough. Ones calling for exotic ingredients were out of the question.

These days, I’m cooking for a very adventurous eater: me! I love sampling new dishes, especially if they feature new flavors. Or old favorites that were not on the fussy eater’s approved menu. For my first stab at cooking from The Silver Palate, I decided to go with Toffee Bars. I love toffee, especially with chocolate.

My only quibble with this recipe is that it calls for an egg yolk. One egg yolk. You know how much I hate to waste ingredients. What am I supposed to do with a single leftover egg white? The cake part of the batter came together beautifully and spread without much difficulty in the pan. The chocolate melted on cue and also spread with much difficulty in the pan.

The recipe calls for the cake to be cooled completely in the pan. Yes, the cake cools, but the chocolate is still runny. It needs to be refrigerated to prevent it from oozing all over your dish and fork (or fingers in my case). And therein lies the problem. After cooling but before refrigeration, the cake part of the bars is delicious. It’s fluffy and toffee-y. After refrigeration, the bottom layer becomes hard and sandy, without a distinctive flavor.

I couldn’t decide. I don’t dislike this recipe but I don’t love it. Easy to make but tastes only “eh”.

Verdict: Not bad, but I won’t be making this again.

Toffee Bars
(source: The Silver Palate Cookbook: Delicious Recipes, Menus, Tips, Lore from Manhattan's Celebrated Gourmet Food Shop)

½ pound (2 sticks) sweet butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 egg yolk
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup shelled walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 12 inch baking pan.

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg yolk; beat well.

Sift in flour, mixing well, then stir in vanilla. Spread batter in the prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes.

Cover cake layer with chocolate chips and return to oven for 3 to 4 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and spread melted chocolate evenly. Sprinkle with nuts. Cool completely in pan before cutting.

About 30 bars.

Recycle: vanilla bottle

Compost: eggshell

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