What's Baking: English Toffee Bars

One of my favorite aspects of the holiday season is baking cookies (to the detriment of my waistline, I'm afraid). Back in the day during my childhood, our typical Christmas cookie output included roll-out sugar cookies, cookie-gun (aka spritz) cookies, snickerdoodles, and peanut butter blossoms, just to name a few. One of my favorite decadent cookies that my Mom would bake were English toffee bars. What's not to love about a rich shortbread cookie topped with melted chocolate and nuts?

Luckily, my Mom included the recipe for English toffee bars in the cookbook full of recipes from friends and family that she put together as one of our wedding gifts. I only made one slight change to the original recipe by subbing in chopped hazelnuts for chopped walnuts (honestly, I think any chopped nut would do). Though these cookie bars are relatively simple to put together, they taste like you spent all day in the kitchen. And since the recipe makes 24 bars, there are plenty to share ... and plenty to stash away at home, too.

English Toffee Bars (printer-friendly version)
makes about 24 bars

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I like Guittard)
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (leaving an overhang on the narrow ends) and set aside.
2. With the use of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Mix in the egg yolk and vanilla extract until well combined.
3. Add in the flour in two batches, stirring between additions, and then mix until smooth.
4. Turn the dough out onto the prepped baking sheet. Use your (clean!) fingers or a spatula to press the dough into a large rectangle, about 1/4" thick. (If you are using a typical baking sheet, the dough will not completely fill the pan.) Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
5. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the baked dough. Use an offset spatula or thick knife to spread the melting chocolate evenly over top the cookie. Sprinkle evenly with the chopped hazelnuts.
6. Place in the freezer for about five minutes to allow the chocolate to set and then cut into bars. (The chocolate won't be completely set, but letting the chocolate harden slightly will make the cutting process less messy.) Then place back in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to allow the chocolate to set completely if you are in a hurry, or if time allows, just let the bars cool on a wire rack.
7. Store the bars in an airtight container at room temperature.


  1. I can't wait to make these- thanks for sharing your mom's recipe!

    Even if I didn't like toffee, I'd be compelled to make it because of your gorgeous photos. :)

  2. I am a hopeless baker and I just tried these for my cookie exchange and I think they came out! I will let you know. Thank you SO much!

  3. Yay - I hope everyone likes them! :)

  4. Susan - you are a genius! They are great and everyone REALLY liked them. These will be my go to holiday cookie from now on!! Thank you again! Happy holidays! (The bark looks delicious, too!)

  5. Would the crust, for the English Toffee Bars, fill a 10X15 inch jelly roll pan. I'm thinking a baking pan with side may be easier and neater to form the crust.

    1. If I remember correctly, the baking pan I used was 11x17, so I think a smaller-sized jelly roll pan might work well. You'll have to let me know how they turn out!


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