Monday, December 26, 2011

Gluten-Free Toffee Bars

New Traditions

Traditions are great, to a point. Sometimes, I feel the need to try something new.

A couple of years ago, I was trying to decide what cookies to make for giving (and eating) at Christmastime.

I was looking for something that would be tasty and easy to bake. A full sheet of cookies was even better.

Then I found some very cute white chocolate chips that were striped, some with red and some with green. I loved them and I needed to find a good use for them. I decided on these Gluten-Free Toffee Bars, which would be a perfect way to showcase those colorful, striped chips.

Everybody loved them!

That was the last time I ever saw those cute, striped chips. Bummer. I have kept looking for them every year since. I haven't seen them.

But in the process, I ended up liking the toffee bars so much, I have made them every year since then. These Gluten-Free Toffee Bars are great, even with just plain white chocolate chips!

Time to get baking....

Gluten-Free Toffee Bars

My baking day was supposed to be Saturday, but that Saturday got completely overrun with getting Christmas presents packaged up and sent in the mail. Saturday was not meant to be a baking day.

It would have to be Sunday. I would bake the gluten-free toffee bars on Sunday.

But before I could start baking, the Sunday sunrise happened. This is what I saw.

I couldn't resist grabbing the camera. The sky was getting pinker and pinker. Can you see the light dusting of snow we received that night? It's there, ever so light.

Soon, the sun was up for good and it was indeed time to bake.

When I found these toffee bars in some cookbook several years ago, I thought they looked good, but they needed to be modified in several ways. They needed to be made gluten-free. And I didn't want to use the chocolate fudge topping. I didn't want to use regular chocolate at all. That first time I made them, I wanted to use my red and green striped white chocolate chips.

Here's how I ended up making my gluten-free toffee bars, after all of the changes.

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 14-ounce sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbsp butter
2 tsp vanilla
white chocolate chips

First, I start by making the cookie layer by beating the butter, sugar, and salt with my stand mixer until thoroughly combined. Then mix in the gluten-free flours. Using your fingers, press dough into an ungreased 13x9-inch baking pan, pushing it all the way to the edges.

Bake for about 15 minutes in a 350º oven.

While the cookie crust is baking, cook the toffee layer on the stove. In a saucepan, cook and stir the condensed milk and 2 Tbsp butter over medium heat, stirring constantly until thick and bubbly. Cook and stir for 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in 2 tsp vanilla.

If things have gone well, you can time it so that the cookie layer goes in the oven, you start cooking the toffee in the saucepan, you pull out the toffee layer after 15 minutes and then the toffee is done and you can put it on the cookie layer. Just like clockwork. If you have everything ready and are focused and are paying attention.

When the cookie layer is done, pull it out of the oven. When the toffee is done on the stove, spread it over the baked cookie layer. There is no need to completely cool the cookie layer.

Then bake the whole thing again for about 12 minutes. That toffee layer goes from looking smooth to...

... brown and bubbly.

Immediately after baking the toffee layer, sprinkle the white chocolate chips over the toffee layer. This will soften the chips and they will melt a bit into the toffee layer and stick. They will not melt completely, but they will stick together.

After it completely cools, cut into squares. Some of the chips will pop off and these become instant fodder for the kids in the house. Well, in my house they do.

These are one of Dear Boy's favorites, which is probably why I've been making them every year since that first time with the striped white chocolate chips. Unfortunately, these don't pack very well, since more of those precious white chocolate chips tend to pop off. Of course, this could be viewed as a bonus, depending on your perspective.

These don't have to be a holiday cookie, Christmas specifically, but they certainly have been for us the last several years. These might even be a new tradition for us now.

You could even make these for a different holiday... say, New Years Day. Why not?! There's never a bad time for Gluten-Free Toffee Bars!

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