There is a bakery in the North End (Boston’s Little Italy) called Bova’s and it’s open 24 hours a day. It’s the best place to visit after a nice Italian dinner, and an even better place to crash after a fun night that may or may not involve alcohol. I LOVE their napoleons but it’s not always available so sometimes I am forced to get something else (forced, I say!) Sometimes I’ll get cheesecake, or a cannoli, or a cookie. The last time I was there, I was with a friend visiting from out of town, and I think we bought six different desserts to share (what? He likes to eat, and I like dessert). One of the desserts I got was a chocolate toffee bar, and it was so good, I immediately kept it in my freezer to savor for several days.
As you can imagine, savoring one bar (one bar!) for several days takes a lot of willpower, because I have been known to consume an alarming amount of sweets in one sitting. But it was just so… perfect. Sweet chocolate with a graham cracker crust and crunchy buttery toffee bits.
Finally, I decided to make my own. And obviously making my own results in multiple bars – 16 bars to be exact, most of which I gave away to my lovely friends, but a few of which are still residing in my freezer. This gives me plenty of joy knowing that any time I want a piece of this chocolate treat, it’s just there, 24 hours a day.
I had a baking day scheduled with one of my co-workers, Ashley, because she and I became fast friends. You know when you meet someone and you realize you have a lot of things in common (love for food, dessert obsession, soft spot for tall guys) and you immediately click? That’s us, and after a quick brainstorming session for our baking day, we decided to make our version of Bova’s chocolate toffee bar. Except we wanted to make it even better, if that’s even possible?
Why, yes, that’s possible, if you add some teeny tiny peanut butter cups:
There are my favorite peanut butter cups from Trader Joe’s, but if you don’t have a TJs near you (sorry), it’s easy to substitute with little Reese’s cups or even Reese’s pieces.
So now you have a buttery, slightly salty graham cracker crust, sweet and creamy chocolate fudge made with condensed milk and bittersweet chocolate, a sprinkle of graham cracker crumbs, crunchy toffee bits, and adorable milk chocolate covered peanut butter cups. Sweet, salty, buttery, chocolatey perfection, right?
This could easily be a no-bake recipe because you don’t have to bake the graham cracker crust, but we thought baking would make it more crunchy. It did, but it also made it more crumbly. So you can go either way. The hardest part about this recipe is waiting for it to set properly so you can cut it into neat little squares. Looking at these photos, my bars weren’t exactly neat and clean.
But no one ever complains about crumbly crust when it’s topped with this much decadence. And as I like to say, sometimes the messiest things are the best things to eat.
Chocolate Fudge Bars with Toffee Bits and Peanut Butter Cups
2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
1 can (14 oz) condensed milk
1 1/2 cups (12 oz) dark chocolate (I used Trader Joe's Pound Plus Bittersweet Chocolate)
1/2 cup mini peanut butter cups
1/2 cup toffee bits
2 tablespoons finely ground graham cracker crumbs
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Make the crust. In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and and melted butter. Transfer crumb mixture to a foil lined 8x8 baking pan, pressing evenly onto bottom with a wooden spoon. Bake until crust is lightly golden, about 10 minutes.
- Make the fudge. Combine dark chocolate with condensed milk in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Heat on full power for 1 minute, then remove and stir. Everything would have started to melt but you’ll still have some lumps. Heat again in 30-second intervals and stir until the mixture turns smooth. I heated everything for a total of 2 minutes. Scrape the mixture on top of graham cracker crumb.
- Sprinkle top with graham cracker crumbs, toffee bits, and mini peanut butter cups. Press gently with your hands to adhere toppings to fudge. Chill in the fridge for at least two hours, or in the freezer for 30 minutes, before cutting into squares.
These bars are really good served with red wine. Or milk.