Long-time readers know I love shortbread – both the baking of it and the eating of it. I love how easy it is to bung out a fresh batch whenever a craving hits and how widely available it is in my part of the world. I love how you could eat it on its own and how you can slather on ganache or Nutella or even orange (or lemon) zest-infused cream cheese on top. And I also love how you can tweak the ingredients to make it a bit healthier yet just as tasty as the fully-loaded original.
Towards the tail-end of the Holiday season, I gave my favorite toffee bar (chocolate-topped shortbread bars) recipe a different sort of twist. The base is now richer-tasting due to the use of salted butter instead of margarine and the texture is now moreishly crumbly because of a mix of wheat flour, cornstarch, and glutinous rice flour (mochiko). To add further oomph to this dessert, a layer of creamy peanut butter goes on after baking before the chocolate is scattered over the top to melt. Honey-roasted sunflower seeds add little popping bites of sweet, salty crunch to the finished product.
These fantasy bars went over well with friends and relatives as both presents and as part of a family buffet on Christmas day. I’ve no doubts that you and your family will enjoy these, as well. 😉
- 1 cup salted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 cup glutinous rice flour (mochiko)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 egg
- generous 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 100 grams dark chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 cup honey-roasted sunflower kernels
Preheat oven to 350 degrees / Gas Mark 4. Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish or a standard cookie sheet; set aside.
Cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract; mix until well combined. Add the flours in 1/4 cup batches and mix until a soft dough is achieved.
Press the dough into the prepared dish or cookie sheet. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes. Evenly spread the peanut butter over the surface of the shortbread base and scatter the chocolate over the top . Return to the oven and bake for an additional five minutes. Remove from oven and smooth the now-melted chocolate over the base until evenly covered. Scatter the sunflower kernels evenly over the chocolate topping. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.
Makes approximately 36 to 40 squares.