White Chocolate Toffee Bars (Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap)

Sometimes it’s hard to get into the swing of Christmas – there’s so much to do, so much going on, that it seems like the whole season just swoops on by before I’m ready! But one thing I have managed to get done this year, at least, was one good cookie swap.

logo for Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2011The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, that is! This was a fun event dreamed up by Lindsay of Love and Olive Oil, and Julie of The Little Kitchen. With their hard work and amazing organizational skills, they coordinated over 22,000 cookies getting sent around the world as part of this swap! Thanks to both of them for putting together this opportunity for me to participate in a cookie swap, even though most of my close friends are in another state. If you would like to be notified when they do this again next year, go to this page to sign up.

So, each of us were to make 3 dozen cookies of one recipe, then send 1 dozen to each of 3 bloggers, whose contact info we received from Julie and Lindsay. In return, we would receive 3 dozen cookies different cookies. Then, we will all post our recipes on the appointed day (today). A great way to stock up on delicious goodies for the holiday season AND get some yummy new recipes.

I had planned to take pictures of the cookies I received to put up here, but alas, they were gone so fast, no pictures got taken (my boyfriend, the King of Sweet Teeth, was in hog heaven with all those cookies around). Somehow, a picture of the empty containers wouldn’t quite have the same impact. Thank you to Lauren of West Coast Girl, East Coast Life for some seriously delicious Eggnog Snickerdoodle cookies. Can’t wait for that recipe to get posted!  And also many thanks to Anh-Chi of Foodie Next Door for the yummy ginger snaps!

I agonized for a long time about what kind of cookies to send. My first couple of thoughts were, of course, recipes I’ve made for friends that were popular. But they weren’t really appropriate for shipping. Finally, I settled on these toffee bars. Beautiful, delicious and festive, AND they (hopefully) travel well, being firm bars.

I hope that the recipients of my cookies received them in reasonable condition. I stuffed the boxes with so much parchment paper and bubble wrap, there was barely enough room for the cookies!

Enough rambling – here is my recipe for White Chocolate Toffee Bars.  These are easy to make, make a bunch, and can be easily customized with toppings of your choice.  Enjoy!

Secret Layer Ginger Cheesecake

Ingredients

    Crust
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
  • Gingersnap cookies to get 2 cups crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 pinch salt
  • Filling
  • 2 pounds cream cheese (4 8-oz blocks), room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 6 large eggs
  • 4 cups frozen peas, blanched and drained
  • Zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 4 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325. Spray a 10″ springform pan with baking spray or coat with butter and flour. Wrap bottom of pan with double layers of foil.
  2. Process gingersnap cookies to get 2 cups finely ground crumbs. Whisk crumbs with sugar, ground ginger and salt until well mixed. Add melted butter and mix until all crumbs are moistened.
  3. Press crumb crust into bottom and up side of springform pan and bake for 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  4. While crust is baking, process peas in a blender or food processor until smooth. Press pea puree through a strainer to achieve a fine puree. 4 cups of unstrained puree will produce about 1.5 to 2 cups of fine puree (unless you’re a lot more tenacious than I am!) . Then press the grated fresh ginger through strainer to remove the fibrous ginger bits and get 3 tablespoons of ginger juice. This straining step is the most tedious and un-fun part of this recipe, but it is necessary to get a smooth cheesecake texture.
  5. Mix cream cheese and sour cream with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add sugar and vanilla and mix just until incorporated. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in lemon zest.
  6. Separate batter into two equal portions. Mix 1 1/2 cups of strained pea puree into one half, and the ginger juice into the other. You can taste both of these portions and add a little sugar, if needed, to adjust the flavor. I didn’t think it needed any.
  7. Pour the pea cheesecake batter into the pan, then top with the ginger cheesecake. You can try to mix and marble them, but I found that the pea puree was heavier and sank to the bottom anyway.
  8. Cover top loosely with foil, place into a roasting pan and place the roasting pan into the oven. Pour hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan. Bake covered for 1 hour.
  9. Remove cover and bake for another 45 minutes (start checking at 30 minutes). Remove when sides of cake are set, but very center still seems loose. Allow to cool completely, then chill in refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight.
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