Well, I feel like a stranger on here since I have been MIA from posting here since the fall, mainly due to getting carried away with Christmas, hosting guests and trying to get the finishing touches on yet another renovation, but here I am!
A week ago I realized that I still needed to share my cookie recipe for our 1st (hopefully annual) Christmas cookie exchange. Here it is – Caramel Toffee Squares – these lovely little squares look pretty on the cookie try, and are a nice marriage of shortbread/toffee/chocolate flavour. This recipe comes from the November 2006 Chatelaine issue, which was the year Chatelaine held a cross-Canada cookie contest and also when we finished our kitchen renovation. After painstakingly bringing our 1950’s “Pepto-Pismo Pink” kitchen to the 21st century, I was a little zealous to try out recipes, so I made many of the cookies that were in this issue. I am not stretching the truth when I say every cookie recipe in this issue is a keeper. I guessing this is because 80% of the contest winners were family recipes passed down. This particular recipe was submitted by Cara Kosie-Beeson from Port Colbourne, Ont, and every time I make these squares I love the read the story behind the recipe. The recipe was passed down to Cara from her German-Grandmother who once owned a Tavern in Balmerton, ON., famous for its schnitzel, among other recipes. I remember reading that at 11pm at night and I having to bake them immediately. When I hear of a recipe that has been passed down generations and crosses an ocean, I must try it. As a side note, I’ve tried using milk, dark and semi-sweet chocolate with this recipe – it’s all chocolate heaven to me. Also, I recommend cutting them in small squares as they are sweet and make nice bite size treats. Enjoy.
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp each salt and cinnamon
1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 tbsp corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
2 squares semi-sweet chocolate
1/3 cup butter
- Preheat oven to 350F. For base, whirl flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon in a food processor. Add butter. Pulse just until mixture starts to come together. Or, in a medium bowl, stir flour with sugar, salt and cinnamon. Add butter cubes. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter until coarse crumbs form. Pat on bottom of an ungreased 8-in (2L) square baking dish. Bake in centre of oven until lightly browned around edges – 15 to 20 min.
- Meanwhile, prepare filling. In a large saucepan over medium heat, stir brown sugar with butter condensed milk, corn syrup, vanilla and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring constantly, 5 min. Remove from heat. There may be some brown spots in mixture. Pour filling over hot base. Refrigerate, uncovered, until firm, at least 2 hours or overnight.
- For topping, coarsely chop chocolate. Cut butter into cubes. Place both in a small bowl. Microwave on medium until almost melted, 2 – 3 min., stirring halfway through. Then, stir until melted. Pour over cooled filling and tilt pan to even cover. Refrigerate until firm, 30 min. Before cutting, let stand at room temperature to soften a little, about 5 minutes. Cut into squares or bars. Cover and refrigerate up to 1 week or freeze up to 1 month.