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Caramel Toffee Bars

(recipe, Caroline Cummins)

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This recipe comes from a 1994 collection titled Northwest Favorites, by the University of Washington Alumnae Board. It's a holiday classic: a soft, shortbready bottom layer topped with a chewy, caramelly glaze stuck all through with crunchy sliced almonds. You'll need a special pan — a 10-by-15-inch jelly-roll pan — to make these bars. If the pan isn't nonstick, line it with enough parchment paper to overhang the ends, so you can lift the cooled bars out of the pan before cutting them. Otherwise, use a wooden or flexible spatula to pop the bars out of the pan in one solid piece, then carefully slide them on a cutting board. This recipe makes two dozen 2-inch bars, although given the high butter content — an entire pound of butter — you may wish to cut the bars smaller. The bars will keep in a sealed container for a few days at room temperature.


    1. 3 cups flour
    2. 1½ cups confectioner's sugar
    3. 1½ cups (3 sticks) cold butter, cubed
    1. 9 Tbsp. (1 stick plus 1 Tbsp.) melted butter
    2. 1½ cups brown sugar
    3. 3 Tbsp. water
    4. 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
    5. 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
    6. 3 cups sliced almonds (see Note)


    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
    2. Make the crust: Whisk together the flour and sugar. In a large bowl with a pastry cutter, or in a food processor using the pulse button, cut the butter into the flour and sugar until you have a coarse meal. Pat the mixture evenly across the bottom of a 10-by-15-inch jelly-roll pan. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.
    3. Make the topping: While the crust is baking, put all of the topping ingredients (except the almonds) into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and stir in the almonds.
    4. Assemble the bars: Spread the hot topping evenly over the hot baked crust. Return to the oven for 12 to 15 minutes longer.
    5. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature before cutting into bars for serving.


    Don't bother trying to slice or otherwise chop the almonds yourself; just buy presliced almonds in bulk at the grocery store.