They’re like Millionaire’s Shortbread, but with sticky toffee apples. All the things we love most about these treat slices are here – buttery biscuit base, caramel layer, chocolate and then, tenderly sautéed apples. These Salted chocolate toffee apple bars are, as one would imagine, pure decadence. They’re sensationally good, playing on taste, flavour and texture. If you’re familiar with Nigella’s girdlebuster pie, I think you might get the idea of where we’re going with this.
Apples remain one of the most versatile fruits in the kitchen, especially when it comes to baking. They are heroes in several of the most famed desserts, my personal favourite being a classic, Tarte Tatin. Just across the channel, England’s contribution has to be the stalwart of homely bakes, apple pie. America also has a finger in the pie so to speak, with a fall favourite, apple crisp or crumble, if you prefer.
Back to the chocolate bars. The base is very similar to shortbread with a crisp texture and buttery crumb. Then comes a layer of caramelised apples smothered in amber caramel. Once cooled, I slather the top with glossy chocolate ganache. To counter the sweetness, finish with a scattering of Maldon sea salt. Not too much though, just enough to compete with the caramel.
Salted chocolate toffee apple bars
Makes 25 slices
- 125g (1 stick) butter, softened
- 70g (1/3 cup) golden castor sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 150g (1 cup) all-purpose cake flour
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 5 apples, peeled and cut into pieces
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon demerara sugar
- 150g golden castor sugar
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 125ml cream
Chocolate Ganache topping
- 200g 70% dark chocolate
- 1/3 cup cream
- Maldon sea salt, to finish
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Grease and line a 20cm square baking tin with parchment paper, extending the paper over the sides to form handles.
- Cream the butter and castor sugar together until light. Add the egg yolk and beat again to combine.
- Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Add the flour to the butter mixture and combine to form a soft dough.
- Press the dough into the base of the baking tin and smooth over with the back of a spoon. Bake for about 30 minutes until golden and cooked through. Set aside to cool.
- To make the apple filling, place the apples and water in a wide based pan. Simmer for about 15 minutes until soft with no water remaining. Add the butter and sugar, turn up the heat and cook until the apples are slightly caramelised.
- Set aside to cool before spreading over the shortbread biscuit base.
- For the caramel, place the sugar in a heavy based saucepan on a medium-high heat. Do not stir. Swirl the pan from time to time until all the sugar has melted and is a deep caramel colour. Add the butter and then the cream. Allow to bubble away until the caramel is smooth and glossy.
- Pour the hot caramel over the apples and smooth over. Place the baking tin in the fridge until the caramel is set and cool.
- Finally, make the ganache by gently melting together the chocolate and cream. Whisk until completely smooth. Pour the ganache over the apples and spread with an off-set spatula to cover the caramel. Scatter with sea salt flakes. Chill until the chocolate sets completely.
- Remove the entire bake from the tin by lifting the extended paper handles. Cut into bars or squares. Store covered in the fridge.