Learn how to make chocolate covered toffee shortbread bars the easy way with simple ingredients. These toffee pecan shortbread bars make a festive addition to any tea party, holiday gathering, or special event. The bar shape of this chocolate covered toffee shortbread makes them easy to transport to potlucks, too. Ready for the best chocolate covered toffee shortbread bars? Let’s get started!
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My Chocolate Toffee Shortbread Bars Backstory
Shortbread cookies are a holiday and teatime favorite. For years, my dad has made some wonderful shortbread cookies at Christmas. Why do we have shortbread at Christmas? In Scotland, where shortbread originated, the butter and sugar needed for the recipe were luxuries. Consequently, shortbread was a special treat reserved for special days, such as Christmas. In my family, although we are not of Scottish descent, we do have many Canadian relatives.
My dear late Canadian grandmother loved her tea, and shortbread was a natural accompaniment. The addition of pecans, toffee bits, and melted chocolate topping makes these shortbread bars with chocolate topping extra special. This chocolate toffee shortbread bar cookies recipe is a compilation of a variety of shortbread recipes from my family as well as from cookbooks. It was initially inspired by the series Downton Abbey and my visit to Highclere Castle. I’ve simplified the process as much as possible so that everyone can have a successful chocolate covered toffee shortbread bars baking experience.
Equipment for Chocolate Covered Toffee Shortbread Bars
***Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.*** Already know what you’d like to get from Amazon? Here’s a handy way to get to the website, linked to a the complete Downton Abbey series. If you have other things you need to order, just click on the link, then browse around and do your shopping.
To make these chocolate toffee covered shortbread bars, you will need a few kitchen items to make the process go more smoothly.
An 11-cup food processor like this one from Cuisinart. It is very versatile and comes with multiple attachments. It has been an amazing addition to my collection of small kitchen appliances, and is well worth the space it takes in my pantry where it is stored when not in use.
No food processor? You could also make this recipe using a pastry blender. My favorite sturdy pastry blender is a vintage one made by Androck. Every time I see one in a second-hand store, I snap it up. Just make sure the handle is screwed on firmly. Here’s my vintage pastry blender in action.
If you can’t find a vintage sturdy pastry blender, here is a heavy duty one that might work well.
You will also need a 9-inch square baking pan. My favorite is the classic Pyrex glass bakeware. I wish mine had a cover like this one does.
Plan to use a microwave-safe bowl for melting the chocolate. If you do not already have one, the small bowl in this set is a nice option. I have a set that is similar, and I love that they have covers as well.
Another item that makes this recipe go more smoothly (literally) is having a nice spatula on hand to spread the melted chocolate topping. Since the chocolate topping will be hot, a heat resistant spatula like one of these would be a good choice.
Ingredients for Chocolate Covered Toffee Shortbread Bars
1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 cup flour
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 and 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup Heath toffee bits or homemade toffee bits
1 cup milk chocolate chips for the melted topping
2 teaspoons shortening (I use butter flavored Crisco)
Directions for Chocolate Covered Toffee Shortbread Bars
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan.
Using a food processor, combine the flour, brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Process until blended, about 5 seconds. Sprinkle the chunks of cold butter over the flour mixture, then add the vanilla. Using pulses, process until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add the pecans and process until finely chopped. Add the toffee bits and process just until incorporated.
Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan. Bake the shortbread just until it begins to color and the edges become golden, about 20 minutes.
About 5 minutes before the shortbread is done baking, melt the chocolate and shortening in the microwave. Stir after 45 seconds, then return to the microwave for 30 more seconds. Stir again to melt the chips. Return to the microwave for another 30 seconds if needed.
After removing the shortbread from the oven, spread the chocolate on top. Let cool completely, then cut into rectangular bars. Makes 16 bars.
Chocolate Covered Toffee Shortbread
- 1 Food processor or pastry blender
- 1 9-inch square baking pan
- 1 microwave safe bowl for melting chocolate
- 1 Heat resistant spatula for spreading the melted chocolate
- ½ cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1 cup flour
- ⅓ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 2½ tablespoons cornstarch
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- ⅓ cup Heath toffee bits or homemade toffee bits
- 1 cup milk chocolate chips for the melted topping
- 2 teaspoons shortening I use butter flavored Crisco
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan.
- Using a food processor, combine the flour, brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Process until blended, about 5 seconds.
- Sprinkle the chunks of cold butter over the flour mixture, then add the vanilla. Using pulses, process until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
- Add the pecans and process until finely chopped. Add the toffee bits and process just until incorporated.
- Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan. Bake the shortbread just until it begins to color and the edges become golden, about 20 minutes.
- About 5 minutes before the shortbread is done baking, melt the chocolate and shortening in the microwave. Stir after 45 seconds, then return to the microwave for 30 more seconds. Stir again to melt the chips. Return to the microwave for another 30 seconds if needed.
- After removing the shortbread from the oven, spread the chocolate on top. Let cool completely, then cut into rectangular bars.
A Tip about Melting Chips for Toffee Shortbread Bars
When melting chocolate chips, or any other flavor of chips, in the microwave, it’s important not to overheat them. If you heat the chips too long, they will harden rather than melt. If this happens, just add one teaspoon of cooking oil and return the mixture to the microwave for about 15 seconds. Stir until the mixture becomes smooth. If you need to add another teaspoon of cooking oil to the mixture and heat for another 15 seconds, do so. Whatever you do, DO NOT add water. Cooking oil is what you need to use to remedy this problem.
Heath Toffee Bars Shortbread Variation
Can you use Heath toffee bars in this recipe instead of the toffee bits? Yes, you certainly may make this into a Heath toffee bars recipe. You may also use Skor bars. You will want to crush the toffee bars beforehand, as I do for the death by chocolate recipe. Here is my favorite tip: To crush the candy, keep the bars in their wrappers, place on a cutting board and pound with a rolling pin. This is a great way to burn off extra energy or to take out frustrations. After crushing, when you open each candy wrapper, you can easily sprinkle the little candy pieces wherever they need to go. For this recipe, you will need two regular sized Heath bars, crushed, or 8 mini Heath bars, crushed.
Other Chocolate Toffee Shortbread Bars Variations
Dark Chocolate Toffee Shortbread Bars
Feel free to substitute the milk chocolate chips in this recipe for dark chocolate chips. Rich dark chocolate would complement the toffee flavor of the shortbread just as well as the milk chocolate chips.
White Chocolate Toffee Shortbread Bars
I am a big fan of white chocolate, so using white chocolate chips as a topping for this toffee pecan shortbread recipe. Just follow the same steps for melting the white chocolate in the microwave for a smooth, creamy, spreadable white chocolate shortbread topping.
Toffee Bits Shortbread Without Pecans
What if you are allergic to tree nuts? No problem! The pecan flavor in this chocolate covered toffee shortbread is very subtle. If you decide to omit the pecans, just increase the amount of toffee bits to 1/2 cup.
Common Shortbread Questions
What is the Difference Between English Shortbread and Scottish Shortbread?
Although tradition holds that shortbread originated in Scotland, it is popular all over the United Kingdom, and is produced throughout England as well. Sometimes different varieties will omit the baking powder, and the product will be more crumbly. Denmark exports large quantities of butter cookies, which are similar to shortbread cookies.
What Makes Shortbread Different?
Shortbread and shortbread cookies are different from most other cookies in that they do not require eggs. If you are interested in an eggless cookie or eggless dessert, shortbread is a simple option.
Is Shortbread Scottish or Irish?
Shortbread originated in Scotland. Soda bread originated in Ireland. Soda bread is a type of bread that is made with baking soda instead of yeast, which gives it a distinctive texture and flavor. Shortbread and soda bread have similar sounding names. Perhaps that is the reason there is sometimes confusion.
Is it Better to use Powdered Sugar or Granulated Sugar for Shortbread Cookies?
It depends on the desired texture and flavor of the shortbread cookies. Powdered sugar, also known as confectioners’ sugar, is finer and smoother than granulated sugar, so it can help to create a smoother, more delicate texture in shortbread cookies. However, granulated sugar will provide a slightly crunchier texture, which some people may prefer. The choice of sugar can also affect the flavor of the cookies, with granulated sugar providing a slightly more pronounced sweetness. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and the specific recipe being used. I prefer to use granulated sugar in shortbread.
Why do you Chill Shortbread Before Baking?
There are several reasons why shortbread dough is often chilled before baking. Chilling the dough can help to firm it up, which can make it easier to handle and shape. This can be particularly useful if the dough is sticky or soft, as it can help to prevent it from sticking to your hands or the work surface. Chilling the dough can also help to prevent the cookies from spreading too much during baking, which can help to maintain their shape. Additionally, chilling the dough can help to develop the flavor of the cookies, as the flavors have time to meld and intensify. Overall, chilling the dough can help to ensure that the shortbread cookies turn out slightly crispy on the outside, while slightly soft and crumbly on the inside every time you bake them.
Should Shortbread be Hard or Soft?
Shortbread is supposed to be tender and crumbly, but not hard. The high proportion of butter in the dough gives shortbread its distinctive rich, buttery flavor and crumbly texture. However, if the cookies are overbaked or underbaked, they can become hard or soft. To ensure that the shortbread is perfectly tender and crumbly, it is important to follow the recipe carefully and bake the cookies until they are just golden around the edges. This will give them the perfect texture.
Why do you Poke Holes in Shortbread?
There are several reasons why holes are often poked into shortbread before baking. One reason is to help the heat to evenly penetrate the dough, which can help to prevent the cookies from puffing up during baking. This is especially important with the pan shortbread variety. Poking holes in your shortbread dough can help to maintain the flat, even shape of the shortbread, which is characteristic of this type of biscuit. Additionally, poking holes in the shortbread can help to release any air bubbles that may have formed in the dough, which can help to prevent the cookies from developing cracks or other imperfections. Finally, poking holes in the shortbread can add an attractive decorative element to the cookies.
What was Shortbread Originally Called?
Shortbread was originally known as “biscuit bread” or “biscuit cake.” The term “shortbread” likely originated from the fact that the dough is made with a high proportion of shortening, which gives the biscuits their distinctive crumbly, short texture. Over time, the term “shortbread” came to be used exclusively to refer to this type of biscuit, and it is now the most commonly used name for this delicious, buttery treat. Since real butter is the only way to go for the best flavor, I would be tempted to call them “butterbread” cookies.
More Food Inspiration
Thinking of making this toffee bits shortbread recipe? Maybe you are inspired to make an entire homemade treat gift basket with dark chocolate peppermint bark, peanut butter fudge, milk chocolate toffee, white chocolate raspberry truffles, dark chocolate raspberry truffles, and chocolate scotcheroo bars. Any of these treats would be perfect for a tea party as well. Whether you are planning a tea party, making a treat, or making a meal, it’s always nice to have a plan. If you’re looking for a way to get more organized with your food planning efforts, I’ve got something for you. Free, editable meal planners! The templates can be used over and over, as often as you need them. You can make as many duplicates as you like, and you’ll be able to save old meal plans for future reference. I hope it simplifies things for you.
I hope you enjoy making dark chocolate raspberry truffles. May all of your treat-making endeavors meet with great success!
Lisa Mitchell is a wife, mom, and school librarian who likes to create and share recipes, often using fresh ingredients from her family’s small Pacific Northwest farm. To learn more about what this website has to offer, click on over to the Welcome page.
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