These Toffee Bars with Shortbread are an easy holiday dessert full of chocolate flavor! A buttery crust covered in creamy caramel and salted dark chocolate, they’re totally vegan and easily gluten-free.
I can’t believe Christmas is about a week away! Having Thanksgiving later in November this year threw me for a loop for sure. Just a couple of weeks ago we were sitting down to my favorite meal of the year, and now I’m gearing up to fly back to the East Coast for more holiday festivities.
One thing that’s for sure: baking Christmas treats has been low on the priority list. While I normally like to have a large selection of cookies to bring to family and friends, this year with so much travel it does not make much logistical sense. Additionally, with the large amount of ingredients most recipes require, there is a lot of thought that goes into traditional baking.
Do I still have molasses from last year?
Where can I purchase Cream of Tartar?
Where did I put the cookie cutters?
Am I willing to spend $12 on pink sanding sugar?
You see what I mean 😂.
Enter: one of the simplest dessert recipes I’ve made in a while: Toffee Bars with Shortbread Crust.
I can understand the merits of a traditional shortbread cookies (they are a classic, after all), but it’s safe to say they typically don’t visually stand out on the cookie exchange table.
These bars are a different story. Just look at the layers!
How to make Toffee Bars
First we blend together butter and flour, making a quick shortbread crust that forms the base of our bars.
After that, you have the option of creating a classic brown sugar topping OR going the unrefined route with date caramel.
Finally, once both layers have cooled, we add a topping of melted dark chocolate sprinkled with seas salt. That’s it!
Serving, Substitution & Storage Ideas
I’ll be the first to admit that these bars taste very decadent. I recommend cutting them into very small square when serving, as one bite packs a lot of flavor and sweetness.
If you’d rather not go to the trouble of making a caramel, feel free to substitute store-bough caramel sauce or even strawberry jam.
Storing these in the freezer is the safest bet, as they’ll keep for the longest period of time and the layers will easily hold up. Feel free to enjoy them cold as well!
Want more cookie/bar content? Check out these recipes for simple holiday treats!
- 1 cup fine oat flour (all purpose works as a substitute)
- 1/2 cup + 2 TBS cold vegan butter or soft coconut oil
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- Pinch of salt
Caramel (For refined sugar-free, use recipe here)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup vegan butter or soft coconut oil
- 2 TBS almond milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 and 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
- 2 TBS melted coconut oi
- Flaky salt for topping
- In a food processor, combine all shortbread ingredients. Blend until a ball of dough forms. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line a square baking dish with parchment. Press dough into pan and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden. Remove from oven and chill completely.
- Prepare date caramel or combine all above caramel ingredients in a small pan on the stove over medium heat. Stir constantly until sauce begins to bubble and thicken, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Pour cooled caramel onto shortbread crust and chill once more.
- Melt chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring each time until completely liquid. Pour melted chocolate on top of caramel and cool bars for the final time, until chocolate is solid. I do this in the freezer to save time. Slice into 16 squares and enjoy! Store in the freezer for best results.