ENGLISH TOFFEE BARS – Sweet Indulgence!

english toffee textWhen I harken back to Christmases past, one thing that stands out is the English Toffee Bars my best friend’s mother made every year. Besides my mom’s fudge, English Toffee Bars were a favorite.

Not only are they very easy to make, but they freeze well. As Queen of Freeze – this is a major bonus for me! And, while we’re on the subject, don’t forget to freeze the unused egg white that comes with the used egg yolk.

ENGLISH TOFFEE BARS

  • 1 cup butter, soft
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed (I use dark brown)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • about 7 oz milk chocolate candy bar, broken into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped well & lightly toasted

Preheat oven to 375º Fahrenheit.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar for 3 minutes. englishtoffee8Add the yolk, vanilla, and salt. Beat 1 minute. english toffee9Add the flour and mix on low speed, just until flour is incorporated. english toffee10Place dough on a piece of parchment paper, and pat it out to 11.5″ x 11.5″, trying your best to keep it of even height.english toffee2 Slide parchment on onto a rimless cookie sheet. Place in preheated 375º F oven. Bake 11-14 minutes, rotating once, until browned. Remove from oven. english toffee3Immediately, top hot dough with chocolate bar pieces and let sit for 2-3 minutes , until chocolate softens.english toffee5Spread chocolate. english toffee6Sprinkle with toasted nuts, pressing very lightly so nuts adhere to chocolate.english toffee1 Cool bar on cookie sheet about 20 minutes so it sets. Slide parchment onto counter. Slice off uncoated edges, then cut slab into squares while still soft (if you wait until they’re hard, they’ll break when cut). Once bars are completely cool, refrigerate to firm up.

NOTE: The cut-away edges still make good eating – they’re just not very pretty.

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PORTOBELLO CHEESE SOUFFLE – Savory & Easy!

souffle topped porto textSometimes advice passed on through the ages is wise and true. BUT, sometimes one needs to re-examine it, thus finding it no longer (if ever) viable.

Which brings me to the SOUFFLE TOPPED PORTOBELLO – a cheese soufflé baked directly on a portobello mushroom. Many people refuse attempting to make a soufflé, having heard they’ll collapse from loud noises or that they need kid-gloves whilst gently folding in the egg whites.

American’s Test Kitchen put those rumors to the test….and debunked them. (I actually screamed “NOOOO!” at the screen when the beaten egg whites were poured into the mixer with the batter.) To my shock and delight, the soufflé rose beautifully.

Yet I was still skeptical when I tried it for myself. I’ve made this recipe 3 times now, and they’ve come out beautifully each time.

Do not be afraid!!! This is a very easy and quick recipe to make.

SOUFFLE TOPPED PORTOBELLO – makes 4

  • 4 large Portobello mushrooms
  • 5 T butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated, divided
  • 2 T shallots, minced
  • 1 large garlic clove, pressed
  • 3 T flour
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup milk, preferably whole milk
  • 5 oz Gruyère cheese, shredded
  • 4 eggs,
  • pinch cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit. This is important!

Thoroughly clean mushrooms, discard stems, and dry gills up. skillet 1In a saucepan, melt 3 T butter. Sauté shallots over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Add in garlic and cook for 30 seconds more, just to bloom the garlic. Remove pan from heat. strata13In a small bowl, mix together the flour, paprika, salt, cayenne, white pepper, and nutmeg. Blend into the butter mixture, smashing out any lumps – this is your only chance to do so! porto souff1Return pan to heat and cook roux (that’s what this paste is called) for 2 minutes over medium/low heat. (This will get rid of the flour taste.) porto souff2Pour in the milk and cook over medium/low until thickened, stirring constantly. Turn off burner but leave pot in place in order to use residual heat. porto souff3Stir in Gruyère and 1/4 cup Parmesan until melted. porto souff4Remove pot from warm burner and let cool 5 minutes.  porto souff5Meanwhile, build a foil cylinder around each mushroom – heavy or regular aluminum foil will work. Cut 4 pieces of foil – 8″ long if using  heavy foil, and 12″ long if using regular. porto souff13For the heavy foil, fold in half lengthwise; for the regular, fold in thirds lengthwise. The goal is to make a 4″ high strip that will surround the Portobello. Grease one side of the strips with the remaining butter (You may not need all of it, but don’t be stingy – this will prevent the soufflé from sticking.) Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan on the greased strips, lightly patting down to make it adhere to the butter. porto souff14Surround each Portobello snuggly with a foil strip, coated side facing the mushroom. Secure it with a paperclip at the top. porto souff7Place mushrooms on a parchment lined cookie sheet and set aside.

Make sure the oven is preheated by now! 

Separate eggs. Stir the yolks together in a small bowl, then mix into the cheese sauce, stirring as you pour. porto souff6Let cool.

Place egg whites in the large bowl of your electric mixer. Begin mixing the whites on medium speed, adding the cream of tartar once they’re foamy. Continue beating on high until stiff peaks form. porto souff9Deep breath! Pour the cheese sauce into the beaten whites. Turn the mixer on low and mix until just combined. porto souff10Pour mixture on top of Portobellos, dividing as equally as you can – don’t get crazy about it, though. porto souff11Bake at 350º F for 25 minutes – don’t open the oven door to check before that time. The soufflé should be golden and jiggly. porto souff12Remove paper clip (take care – it’ll be hot!) and foil collar. Serve immediately.