These old school Toffee Cookie Bars are buttery, rich, and have a delicious chocolate and nut topping! Plus, they’re incredibly easy to make.
So, I had actually never heard of these cookies before, until I was shown a recipe by a friend that her grandma had written down. I had volunteered to make her some sweets for the holidays, so I told her I’d give these Toffee Cookies a go! But, upon looking at the recipe as written, I could tell the flour to fat to sugar ratios were wrong, far too little flour, and my first batch ended up in the bin.
Then, I thought to google it, because I remember a few years ago when MANY people realized their “family recipes” on recipe cards were just transcribed from various ingredients packaging, so they were all making the same thing. Once I search for toffee bars that contained no toffee (hence the quotation marks), I found that this looked to be a similar thing. Betty Crocker has a recipe for Toffee Bars that looked very close to this recipe card I was given!
It took a few tries to get what I wanted as a vegan version, changing the types of chocolate chips, quantity of flour, size of the baking dish, but on the fifth version I finally was happy with it! I feel like these cookies could have been the predecessor to blondies? But, they’re a little more on the shortbread-y side. And, because they use all brown sugar, they’re richer than your standard shortbread.
Substitutions + Tips:
- Soft vegan butter – this makes it easier to whip up with the brown sugar. Depending on what vegan butter you’re using the salt levels will vary, so adjust the added salt to your preference. I used Earth Balance Buttery Sticks for this recipe.
- Brown sugar – you want to use this – and not cane sugar – for the richness in flavor it adds (giving it that ‘toffee’ vibe).
- Ground flax meal egg – the OG recipe calls for an egg yolk, so this is what we’re using as a binder instead! Ground chia seeds can also be used. (I also added a touch of baking powder for leavening)
- Unbleached all-purpose flour – I have not made this with gluten-free flour, though I think it would work but you may have to make some adjustments (using more flour) and shortening the baking time. If you try this, let me know!
- Semi-sweet chocolate chips – I had originally used vegan milk chocolate chips and it was far too sweet (IMO), I think the semi-sweet chips taste much better.
- Walnuts – I used chopped walnuts, but this is absolutely optional. You can leave them off completely or use toasted sunflower seeds instead.
- Parchment paper – none of the original recipes I found called for this, but when I used it in my last couple of batches it was SO HELPFUL in getting the cookies out of the dish.
For more cookie recipes, try these out!
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) hot water
- 1 tablespoon (7 g) ground flaxseed
- 1 cup (226 g) soft vegan butter
- 1 cup (180 g) dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups (292 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of sea salt
- 9-ounce (255 g) bag semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips
- 2/3 cup (70 g) chopped walnuts, optional
- Preheat oven to 350F (176C or gas mark 3) and line a 9x13-inch (23 x 33-cm) baking dish with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, stir together flaxseed with water and let set for 5 minutes. Set aside. In a large bowl, using a whisk (furiously) or hand mixer, whip vegan butter and sugar, at high speed, until combined. Still mixing, add in flaxseed mixture and vanilla and beat until well combined.
- Sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Add dry mix to bowl, mixing at medium speed until cookie dough is evenly combined and forms a ball easily. No need to refrigerate this dough, just spread it out into an even layer across the bottom of the baking dish.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the edges start turning light brown. Place baking dish on cooling rack and sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top of the cookie base.
- Once totally soft, spread the chocolate into an even layer with either a spatula or offset spatula. Sprinkle nuts over the top of the chocolate, cut the bars while its still warm, but leave in the baking dish to cool for at least an hour. You can chill them in the refrigerator after about 30 minutes to help expedite the setting of the cookie and chocolate.