I like to think I’m somewhat up on trends. I love riding boots, long sweaters, and scarves. I get that. But sometimes I think I missed the boat on certain trends. Like furry vests (really?), platform heels (ouch!), or hipster anything (uhh, no thanks.). But, a trend I do get is browned butter. Oh man, do I get browned butter.
Yes, there are food trends too. Think fad diets, the cupcake craze, and new-fangled kitchen gadgets. All trends. And so is sweet, nutty, and oh-so-addicting browned butter. I have seen it all over food blogs and Pinterest, from cookies to pasta.
Somewhere I didn’t expect to see it was my great grandma’s recipe notebook, but there it was! Some 70 plus years ahead of the times, my great grandma was putting browned butter in her desserts. So, it’s not surprising why I’m so drawn to browned butter. It’s in my blood!
And in the frosting of these Toffee Bars! A super simple cookie base is topped with a mixture of sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and butter and baked until chewy. Then the bars are topped with a healthy layer of browned butter frosting. I foresee this trend lasting a long, long, looooooong time. Too bad these bars didn't last that long. Sigh.
Toffee Bars with Browned Butter Frosting (recipe courtesy of my great grandmother, makes 16 bars)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
¾ tsp. salt, divided
1 cup flour
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8 pan with baking pray and line with parchment paper, set aside.*
In a medium bowl combine ½ cup (1 stick) of the softened butter with the sugar and whisk until combined.
Whisk in egg until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in ½ tsp. salt and flour and stir until combined.
Press dough into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven 12 – 15 minutes, or until crust is set and golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool while making the toffee filling.
In a medium sauce pot combine the milk, vanilla, ¼ tsp. of salt, and 2 TBSP of butter and cook over medium heat until butter is melted and mixture begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Stir constantly so mixture does not scorch.
Pour filling over baked crust (set sauce pan aside, you’ll be using it again in a few minutes). Bake in preheated oven until filling is set, brown and bubbling. 10 – 12 minutes for softer bars and 15 minutes or longer for hard, crunchy bars.
While the bars bake, brown the butter and prepare the frosting. Place the remaining 6 TBSP of butter in the sauce pan that was set aside and place over medium heat. Melt butter until it begins to bubble. Once the butter beings to bubble and foam, swirl the pan so the butter does not burn. Continue swirling until brown specks begin to appear, about 5 minutes. Voila! Browned butter!
Pour butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and allow to cool until bowl is just warm to the touch, another 5 minutes. Sift in powdered sugar and salt and whisk until smooth. Spread on still warm bars.
Allow bars to cool to room temperature before cutting.
Bars can be stored in in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
*My great grandma called for using a 9x13 pan in the recipe, but I have yet to make it in that size. By all means, feel free to make them in a larger pan – just adjust the cooking times (about 2 – 3 minutes less for both the crust and toffee filling). The result will be thinner, crispier, crunchier bars.
My great grandma, ever the trendsetter.