Toffee Bars With Chocolate, Nuts and Cranberries
These toffee bars are a twist on the popular graham cracker toffee bars. Buttery and crunchy – and jazzed up with chocolate, nuts, dried cranberries and sea salt. Crave-worthy!
Are they worth the calories? Well, they are not for a low calorie diet, but you decide. I say yes, definitely. A rich and mouthwatering treat.
I make some version of these yummy treats every year before the holidays. They keep for a long time in the freezer and I like to have a few things to pull out when I need them.
So they’re a great make-ahead recipe and perfect for gift giving. One of my favorite recipes for the holiday season.
What to expect
You can make the basic easy recipe with only 3 ingredients – graham crackers, butter and brown sugar. I add texture and color contrasts with dried cranberries, nuts and white and semi-sweet chocolate drizzle.
But honestly, the recipe is foolproof and delicious. Any tweaks are just a bonus. And, as always, there are a several variations you can experiment with.
I have never met anyone who doesn’t like these dessert bars. And they take less than 30 minutes to make, not including chilling time. If you’re looking for great recipes that are easy and festive, check this one out.
Ingredients – tailored to your taste
Graham crackers form the foundation of the chocolate toffee bars. They can be substituted with soda crackers or saltine crackers. You can use gluten-free or sugar-free graham crackers if you can find them. For a Passover version, use Matzo crackers as we do in our Matzo Chocolate Toffee Bar (trademark recipe).
Brown sugar and butter create the buttery toffee mixture. Before pouring the mixture over the graham crackers, feel free to add a teaspoon vanilla extract for extra flavor. I like to use dark brown sugar as it has a deeper flavor but light brown is fine too.
Nuts: Use whatever toasted chopped nuts you like – hazelnut, almonds, pecans, pistachios, macadamia nuts. I used pecans in the pictures.
Cranberries: I love adding the slightly tart dried cranberries to balance the sweetness of the brown sugar and chocolate, but you can leave them out if you like.
Chocolate drizzle: I use semi-sweet chocolate chips and white chocolate chips (or disks). You can, of course, use just one or the other. Or try dark chocolate chips instead. I don’t suggest milk chocolate chips as I find them too sweet with the toffee.
Other garnish: I like to incorporate chopped dried cranberries, but you can substitute these with raisins or other dried fruit. Or leave them out altogether. Shredded coconut is another option. Or go super decadent and sprinkle on 1/2 cup toffee bits (too sweet for me). I love a light sprinkle of sea salt too. Up to you.
Christmas version: Instead of the chocolate drizzle, sprinkle red, white and green sprinkles on the toffee bars. Or skip the dark chocolate and just use white chocolate and cranberries.
Step by step instructions
Spread the toffee evenly over the buttery crust layer. Sprinkle on your toasted nuts.
- Parchment: Lining your pan with parchment paper will result in effortless removal of the full sheet of toffee bar for the easiest cutting or breaking. Leave a bit of an overhang on two opposite sides. Use aluminum foil sprayed with cooking spray if you don’t have parchment paper.
- Pan size: If you want a decent layer of toffee, use a 10 x 15 inch/25 x 31 cm (as pictured) or a bit smaller. A larger pan will still taste good but the toffee layer and graham crackers will blend together.
- Toffee mixture: You must boil the brown sugar and butter for the full 3 minutes or the mixture will not harden well. (It will still tastes good though!). Use a timer.
- Chocolate drizzle: To make it easier to drizzle, stir a few drips of vegetable oil into the melted chocolate.
The ingredients and taste are similar. Christmas crack usually uses saltines or soda crackers instead of graham crackers. And the chocolate is spread over the toffee mixture instead of drizzled. It’s called crack because it’s crunchy.
Put it back in the microwave for 20 seconds and stir until smooth again.
Here’s an article on how to toast nuts in the microwave, stove top or oven. The microwave is fastest (about 2 minutes). I like the dry pan method on the stove top as it’s easier to cook the nuts evenly, it’s quick and you are right there to make sure they don’t burn. I like the oven method as well but it takes a bit longer.
Yes, this is more traditional. Add melted chocolate to the warm baked toffee bars and spread evenly. Use a fork or knife to create a zig zag pattern with the two chocolates if you like.
Skip the garnishes including the two-chocolate drizzle and cranberries.
Make ahead/store toffee cookie bars
The recipe can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container, plastic wrap or ziploc bags at room temperature for 4-5 days or in the fridge for a week or two.
It freezes well for up to to 3 months.
The bars are best served at room temperature (if you have the patience to let them thaw). Actually, I like the chilled and crunchier.
Other sweets and treats
Looking for new recipes that have quick and easy prep? Check these out.
- chocolate rice crispy treats
- microwave brownie recipe in 8 minutes Ok, you need a microwave for this one
- easy chocolate fudge (3 minutes)
- strawberries in white chocolate (for beginners)
- white chocolate bark (5 minutes)
- white chocolate brownies with raspberry glaze
- peanut butter rice krispie treats (with chocolate)
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Toffee Bars With Chocolate, Nuts and Cranberries
- graham crackers, Note 1 (about 15 doubles for a 10 x 15 inch/25 x 38 cm pan; less for smaller pans)
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup toasted nuts, Note 2 (hazelnuts, almonds, pecans, macadamia, pistachio)
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips (semi sweet or dark)
- 1/2 cup white chocolate chips or disks
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil (1/2 tsp for each chocolate) to thin it out for drizzling
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional) I roughly chop them
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (like Maldon)
- Heat oven to 375F/191C
- PREPARE BASE: Line a 10 x 15 inch /25 x 38 cm pan with parchment paper. Lay out graham crackers in a single layer to cover the whole pan. NOTE: You can use a larger pan, but the toffee layer will be thinner. Or a smaller pan and toffee layer will be thicker.
- MAKE TOFFEE COATING: In a medium pot, heat butter and brown sugar to medium high heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until melted and allow it to come to a boil. Lower heat to medium and boil for a FULL 3 minutes undisturbed. Important to harden properly. Pour toffee mixture over graham crackers and spread evenly with a spatula.
- ADD NUTS AND BAKE: Sprinkle nuts evenly over the toffee layer. Bake for 9-10 minutes until bubbly. Remove from oven.
- ADD GARNISHES: Microwave chocolate and white chocolate chips in two separate small bowls for 90 seconds on high. Stir until smooth. If still not melted, add 30 seconds. Stir. For easier drizzling, add a few drops vegetable oil (about 1/2 teaspoon). Using a fork, splatter/drizzle each over the graham toffee bars. Sprinkle on cranberries if using, pressing with fingers to make them stick. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt or finishing salt. Don't over do it.
- SET AND BREAK INTO PIECES: Let bars set in pan for an hour to cool. Or put in freezer for 20 minutes or fridge for 40 minutes. Break into pieces with your hands or with a large knife. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
- Graham cracker substitute: The flavor will be a little different, but you can use saltine or soda crackers instead. The bars will be a bit crunchier.
- How to toast nuts: Toasting nuts adds a deeper nuttier flavor. Here’s an article on how to toast nuts in the microwave, stove top or oven. Microwave: place nuts on flat plate in single layer. Heat on high in 1 minute increments, stir in between. Repeat if necessary. Dry pan: place nuts in dry pan on medium heat. Shake pan or stir for 4-5 minutes until nicely toasted and fragrant. Oven: heat on tray in 350F/177C oven for 5-7 minutes, shaking once half way through.
- Other garnish: You can substitute the dried cranberries with raisins or other dried fruit. Or leave them out altogether. Shredded coconut is another option.
- Christmas version: Instead of the chocolate drizzle, sprinkle red, white and green sprinkles on the toffee bars. Or skip the dark chocolate and just use white chocolate and cranberries.
- To store/make ahead: Make ahead and store in an airtight container or ziploc bag at room temperature for 4-5 days or in the fridge for a week or two. It freezes well for up to to 3 months. Serve at room temperature or chilled from the fridge.