These brown butter toffee bars were featured on Martha Stewart recently in promotion of her new Cookie book. Brown butter is very in these days. It's simply butter than has been melted and then taken further, and cooked until the milk solids brown. You thought butter was rich enough, right? This is butter taken to the next level. It's caramely and nutty. (To learn more about brown butter, check out Michael Ruhlman's primer.)
These toffee bars are suh-weet, but addictive. The nuttiness of the brown butter layered with the toffee bits tastes like pure gold. If you like blondies, these are the ultimate.
The toffee bits were a bit hard to find. In Austin, I found some at Randalls. Also, I substituted pecans for the walnuts in Martha's recipe just because I like them better. I toasted them first to bring out their flavor. Her recipe uses parchment in the bottom of the pan, which is then buttered and floured. I was out of parchment, so I just buttered and floured the pan itself. I had no trouble with sticking, but did find the bars a bit awkward to remove. Next time, I'll try baking them in a square pan and making them a little taller. They'd be much easier to get out of the pan without cracking that way.
The bars will seem underdone when you first remove them, but they firm up after completely cooling. You'll love their denseness.
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup lightly toasted and chopped pecans
1 cup toffee bits
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter and flour a 9x13 baking pan.
Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
Brown the butter: over medium heat, melt, then brown the butter to a deep golden color. For me, this took about 4 minutes. Don't get distracted. The butter can go from golden to burned pretty quickly. To stop the cooking, pour into a bowl set in an ice bath until cooled.
In a mixer, combine cooled brown butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat on medium about 3 minutes.
Add flour, pecans and toffee bits and mix until combined.
Pour into pan and bake 40-45 minutes. Let cool completely before placing a cutting board over the pan and flipping it out. Flip again on another board to turn them right side up and cut into squares.
These are almost as good 3 days later, if they last that long.
Adapted from Martha Stewart.