Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sepia Tones and Toffee Bars

I am striving to learn new things on my camera all the time. One of my goals this year is to read the entire manual for my Nikon D40. Last month I learned how to take photos with an infrared remote control. This month I am learning how to convert photos to sepia and black and white on the camera itself before I download them to edit in GIMP. So please forgive the sepia heavy posting; once I started, it was hard to stop!

This Toffee Bar recipe is straight out of Better Homes and Gardens. I LOVE this recipe. It is so easy but whenever I take it to a party, people are always impressed and think I must have slaved over this dish. Ha! The secret ingredient is fat-free sweetened condensed milk. I always try to keep a can of this in the pantry. It comes in handy in many dessert recipes.
These simple bars are made in three stages: the bottom cookie layer, the center caramel layer, and the top is covered with chocolate.

Toffee Bars

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk (fat free ok)
2 Tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips (1/2 standard sized bag)

Cream 1/2 cup butter, sugar, and salt until well blended with an electric mixer.

Stir in flour thoroughly and press into bottom of ungreased 9x13 pan. Bake in 350 oven 12-15 minutes or until edges turn golden.

While cookie layer is baking, combine sweetened condensed milk with 2 Tablespoons butter in heavy sauce pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until bubbly and then cook for 3-4 minutes more. Pay close attention here, it will start to turn into brown caramel if you cook it too long. You want it to be nice and creamy.

Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla and mix well and then pour over your baked layer that has just come out of the oven. Pop back into the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes more. You want it to turn golden brown, not black, so watch carefully; it cooks fast!

Remove bars from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips all over.

Wait a couple minutes and then smooth out chocolate with the back of the spoon. (You could also melt 2 squares of unsweetened chocolate with more butter and then add sugar and vanilla and then spread it on, but that is pretty labor intensive compared to this quick and easy chocolate chip trick! )
After spreading out chocolate, cut into bars immediately while the dish is still hot. Otherwise you will end up with a toffee brick! Even better the next day with your morning coffee.

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