Break-Up Bars and Getting Even

Friday, September 11, 2009

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Few things in life are certain.  We’re born.  We die.  And somewhere in between the two, we all get our hearts broken at least once.  There’s no escaping it.  It’s as inevitable as the rising and the setting of the sun.   This is the risk we take for that giddy, glorious feeling of being in love.

I’ve certainly experienced my share of heartbreak, beginning in the 5th grade when Benny Buffamante threw me over for Mary Rose Kelly.  Who could blame him, really?  With her big blue eyes and long, golden curls, she was adorable.  Plus, she had three first names!  How could I compete with that!?!?

I survived being spurned by Benny and lived on to love again.  And of course, my heart got stomped on many more times in the process.  I’d like to think that it made me stronger and more resilient.  I’d like to think that, but the truth is that each time I lost in love, it hurt just as much as the time before.  Thank heavens I met Mr. SGCC before my tender heart was completely pummeled into a quivering, bleeding mass of mush!

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I’m not mentioning any names, but someone here in SGCC-land has recently checked into the Heartbreak Hotel.  A close friend of mine recently got dumped in a cruel and unusual way after giving some jerk a few of the best years of her life.   It sure is hard to stand by helplessly and watch someone you care about suffer!  Although I don’t advocate self-medicating with food, there are some situations where a decadent, sticky, gooey, creamy and chewy dessert is just what the doctor ordered – and a broken heart is one of them.  Allow me to introduce you to just such a treat – Break-Up Bars!

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Break-Up Bars have a tender, buttery shortbread base which is studded with crunchy toffee bits and topped with layers of voluptuous, golden caramel and creamy, deep, dark chocolate.  I was first introduced to the first cousins of these bars, called Millionaire’s Shortbread, in Scotland.  The only real difference between the two is that I put toffee bits in my Break-Up Bars, and I make them when I’m sad.  I also have a handy, dandy little trick for making the most perfect light and crumbly shortbread that I learned from a lovely Scottish lass in Inverness. The secret is adding cornstarch to your dough.  I kid you not.  For some reason mixing in a healthy dose of cornstarch works some kind of shortbread magic like I’ve never seen before!

If you’re feeling blue, why not give my Break-Up Bars a try?  I’m not saying they can mend a broken heart, but they’re a damn good distraction!

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98 responses to Break-Up Bars and Getting Even

  1. On September 11, 2009 at 2:31pm, Maria said...

    Break ups are hard, these are the perfect pick me up!

  2. On September 11, 2009 at 2:34pm, The Trinigourmet said...

    OMG!! These look AMAZING :D Have bookmarked to try :) Won’t need a breakup as a reason lolol :D

  3. On September 11, 2009 at 2:36pm, Jen Yu said...

    Oh no!!! Poor baby :( It’s tough and it feels like the end of the world… but as you and I know, it isn’t :) You’re such a sweet mom. I’m glad you found Mr. SGCC. And I cannot wait to meet you and hug you in person in 2 weeks! xxoo

    • On September 12, 2009 at 11:19am, Susan said...

      Thanks, Jen. That’s what I keep trying to tell her. Hope it sinks in soon.

      Am counting the days for SF! Can’t wait to finally meet! :D :D :D

  4. On September 11, 2009 at 2:38pm, Katrina said...

    Great post. Yummy bars! Whoa. Love the caramel and the chocolate and the…..well, you get the picture! You took the pictures! ;)

  5. On September 11, 2009 at 2:56pm, Jeannette said...

    sounds like the kind of pick me up i need after a baaaaaad day. i bake when i’m stressed or sad, these look like they require a bit of work and an end result that’s sure to make me go “ahhh” thanks for sharing :)

    • On September 12, 2009 at 11:16am, Susan said...

      Actually, these weren’t as much work as I thought they’d be. The shortbread and chocolate layers took no time at all. The caramel layer only took about 10 minutes. You do have to wait a few hours for the caramel to set, though.

  6. On September 11, 2009 at 2:57pm, Jen @ MaplenCornbread said...

    So sorry to the one battling the break up blues! But these bars sooooooooooooooooooo offer some comfort! WOW they look incredible!

  7. On September 11, 2009 at 3:36pm, Karen@Mignardise said...

    I will not be waiting for any break-ups to make these. They look too good!
    Your sweets always look so decadent – thanks!

  8. On September 11, 2009 at 4:03pm, Jennifer said...

    YUM! These look so good!!!!

  9. On September 11, 2009 at 4:33pm, Angela {YourEverydayMama} said...

    Girl, these look awesome, just what you need when you’re down.

  10. On September 11, 2009 at 4:53pm, Gera @ SweetsFoods said...

    Just amazing I need urgently a bite on this incredible bars!!!! Sending to twitter right now :)

    Cheers!

    Gera

  11. On September 11, 2009 at 6:10pm, Rosa said...

    So sad…

    Those bars are surely very soothing. They look ever so tempting and scrumptious!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  12. On September 11, 2009 at 6:14pm, Bellini Valli said...

    We need plenty of distractions over the years Susan and these would definitely fit the bill.

  13. On September 11, 2009 at 6:15pm, patsyk said...

    oh, yes, we’ve all had to suffer through at least 1 heartbreak. these bars would make those sad times seem a bit more bearable though!

  14. On September 11, 2009 at 6:18pm, Diane said...

    OMGOSH!! These look Amazing . I will try these for sure.
    I have no break-up to blame the extra calories on but Im making these anyway!
    Thanks for sharing the recipe and I enjoyed the childhood story to !
    Diane

    • On September 12, 2009 at 11:13am, Susan said...

      :) :) :)

  15. On September 11, 2009 at 6:35pm, LizAnderson said...

    I would derrive great comfort from just spending time in your pantry, I think! But those bars? Over the top! Mr. What’s-His-Name couldn’t compete.

    So, cornstarch in the shortbread, eh? That alone bears a test run. Thanks for the tip!

    • On September 12, 2009 at 11:12am, Susan said...

      Honey, we’d have to send out a search party for you if you wandered into my pantry! The Hubs calls it the Bermuda Triangle. ;)

  16. On September 11, 2009 at 7:20pm, Peter said...

    I’m all about self medicating with food. I’m pretty sure that’s what keeps Haagen Dazs in business.

    I have to say, I feel a bit hard done by these break-up bars of yours. On the one hand, the look absolutely incredible and I’d probably be unable to refrain from eating the entire batch in one go. But at the same time, I now feel obligated to wait until I get dumped to make these. I can hardly wish for such circumstances, but I don’t want to wait to try these…

    • On September 12, 2009 at 11:09am, Susan said...

      Lol! Go ahead and live dangerously. Make the bars! ;)

  17. On September 11, 2009 at 8:12pm, peabody said...

    Those look awesome!

    BTW- way to move over to wordpress. Blogger drives me insane. ;)

    • On September 12, 2009 at 11:08am, Susan said...

      Thanks, Peabody! But, I’m already on WordPress. :D

  18. On September 11, 2009 at 9:36pm, susan from food blogga said...

    This post is freakin hilarious! Break-up bars. You kill me.

    • On September 12, 2009 at 11:07am, Susan said...

      Hehehe! :D

  19. On September 11, 2009 at 10:04pm, Cynthia said...

    And a distraction they are indeed!

  20. On September 11, 2009 at 10:36pm, Lori @ RecipeGirl said...

    These are absolutely gorgeous, dear. Love the idea of a break-up bar… I think I’d eat them all myself!!

    • On September 12, 2009 at 11:06am, Susan said...

      Ugh! I can’t stay away from these! Hope this doesn’t mean I’m destined for heartbreak! ;)

  21. On September 12, 2009 at 12:35am, Haley J. said...

    Well, I am dying to try these, but I’m not jonesing for a break up. So, I think I might have to make them just ’cause.

    And the corn starch really does work, doesn’t it? I use it in my cinnamon brown sugar shortbread, and it turns out the most beautiful, crumbly texture.

    • On September 12, 2009 at 11:05am, Susan said...

      Lol! Luckily, a broken heart is not a prerequisite.

      The cornstarch works great. Never making shortbread without it again! :)

  22. On September 12, 2009 at 12:55am, Elizabeth said...

    Oh these are definitely getting bookmarked! Awesome…I’m drooling.

  23. On September 12, 2009 at 1:47am, Avanika (Yumsilicious Bakes) said...

    Aww, poor girl! I’m in the phase where I’ve suffered my share of heartbreaks, with many more to come, for sure, but the first one is always the hardest! Glad she has a mom like you, who along with being a sounding board, makes these awesome things to cheer her up! Enough chocolate, and I feel soo much better!! :)

  24. On September 12, 2009 at 8:34am, grace said...

    how many times have i soothed a broken heart with chocolate? too many to count. glorious treat, susan–your addition of the toffee chips is brilliant.

    • On September 12, 2009 at 10:59am, Susan said...

      Thanks, Grace. I’ve too have drowned out my sorrows in chocolate many, many times. Hmmm. I also seem to celebrate my successes that way too. ;)

  25. On September 12, 2009 at 10:27am, Amy J said...

    I’m happily married but I’ll take one for the team – for all the heartbreaks out there.

    Cornstarch… good to know.

    • On September 12, 2009 at 10:56am, Susan said...

      What a sport! ;)

  26. On September 12, 2009 at 2:22pm, Dawn said...

    I luv,luv,luv the idea behind this. I think it is a great way to remind people that for every heartache there will be something to make you smile again (and these will make anyone smile).

  27. On September 12, 2009 at 3:18pm, Lucy said...

    I didnt think Millionare Shortbread could get any better – but this toffee chip idea is pure culinary genius! JUST the after break up ticket :)

  28. On September 12, 2009 at 6:23pm, pity said...

    these should be prescribed by the shrinks, a perfect way of getting over with it! they look deliciously comforting and amazingly chocolatey, the ideal treat for….ME!

    love your photos as always,

    cheers from london,

    pity

  29. On September 12, 2009 at 7:33pm, Farmer Jen said...

    Yummy! I will try that corn starch in the shortbread trick. Soon.

  30. On September 12, 2009 at 9:58pm, Joan Nova said...

    Great story and luscious looking treat.

  31. On September 13, 2009 at 12:35am, The Italian Dish said...

    A nice way to comfort yourself! These are beautiful. Cornstarch in the dough – interesting – I will have to look that up in my McGee!

  32. On September 13, 2009 at 11:28am, Dana said...

    Those bars are everything I love in a baked good. And I’m sure they would make anyone feel better no matter how bad the heartbreak. You are a good friend to pass them on.

  33. On September 13, 2009 at 2:18pm, Jen of a2eatwrite said...

    These look completely amazing! I might cast about for someone to break up with me just to have them in the house! (Just joking). Truly, though, they look absolutely lovely.

  34. On September 13, 2009 at 2:58pm, noble pig said...

    These would heal my heart in a moment. What a god friend you are.

  35. On September 13, 2009 at 4:20pm, MaryBeth said...

    These would so make me feel better…

  36. On September 13, 2009 at 7:32pm, Wendy said...

    Oh, man. I could really use some break-up bars. They would definitely make me feel better.

  37. On September 13, 2009 at 10:13pm, ingrid said...

    Ha-ha-ha! I loved all the comments of encouragement you gave in the recipe. :)
    ~ingrid

    • On September 15, 2009 at 8:16am, Susan said...

      Hehehe! Thanks for noticing that! ;)

  38. On September 14, 2009 at 12:16am, thecoffeesnob said...

    These bars look like they’ll be perfect for brightening up someone’s day- heartbroken or not!

    Anyway I’m sorry to hear about your friend’s heartache. I hope she feels better soon.

  39. On September 14, 2009 at 10:36am, Cate O'Malley said...

    They look like just what the doctor ordered – delicious!

  40. On September 14, 2009 at 10:50am, Rachel (S[d]OC) said...

    Yum. If you ever read Lynn Harris’s book “Breakup Girl to the Rescue” she has a section of “getting over it” recipes. I think they pale in comparison to this one.

    Shortbread, caramel, toffee, chocolate. I’m so there. You can’t put too much more deliciousness into these.

    • On September 15, 2009 at 8:17am, Susan said...

      Thanks, Rachel! I’m going to see if I can find that book. :)

  41. On September 14, 2009 at 3:07pm, Sam@BingeNYC said...

    MMM these look divine! What a lovely friend friend you are – and what a lovely way to nurse a broken heart! The recipe directions made me laugh!

    • On September 15, 2009 at 8:18am, Susan said...

      Lol! Glad you liked my recipe for “sweet revenge”! ;)

  42. On September 14, 2009 at 3:32pm, Eliana said...

    These are sure to cheer anyone up. They look incredible.

  43. On September 14, 2009 at 5:49pm, Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen said...

    Wow, Susan, these really sound great!

  44. On September 14, 2009 at 8:05pm, Marti said...

    My exfiancee dumped me on text message… after wrecking my career. Does your SGCC-lander have a worse story? Good luck to them… there is LIFE AND LOVE ahead.

    The cornstarch improves the texture because it has no gluten. It keeps the shortbread from developing any gluten strands and thereby keeps the cookie texture. No bread “crumb” or chewiness to it.

    These look amazing. I think I’ll make ‘em for my new man. :)

    • On September 15, 2009 at 8:23am, Susan said...

      I hear you, sistah! In grad school, my former fiance moved to a new apartment in a new town, got an unlisted phone number and never contacted me again. :( After 4 years, that was it! I eventually tracked him down, but by then, there was no point. May he rot in hell!

  45. On September 14, 2009 at 8:09pm, Patricia Scarpin said...

    Dearie, my heart is safe and sound – thank heavens! – but I want these anyway! :D

    I hope your friend gets well soon.

  46. On September 14, 2009 at 11:41pm, Tessa said...

    These look delicious! Great photos. My girlfriends and I used to go out to BJ’s restaurant and order only pizookies and tell the waiter one of our boyfriend’s broke up with us.

    I love your blog!

  47. On September 15, 2009 at 3:26am, Daydreamer Desserts said...

    These look so yummy! Can you bring some to SF with you? :) You won my vote of overall best blog, what can I say… I’m partial to sweets.

  48. On September 15, 2009 at 10:39am, Lynn said...

    I think I’ll skip the broken heart and go straight for the bars. Yum!

  49. On September 15, 2009 at 12:22pm, oneshotbeyond said...

    the prettiest dessert bars ever!

  50. On September 15, 2009 at 3:36pm, Niko said...

    these bars are great! my friend recently went through a break up, so i packed up all the ingredients and headed over to her house
    i especially love the little captions within the recipe, we acted them all out
    although i must say, she took too much enjoyment when cutting the bars hahah

    • On September 17, 2009 at 10:53am, Susan said...

      Lol! Hope it was good therapy for her! ;)

  51. On September 15, 2009 at 8:28pm, Jill said...

    What a fun post, even with a sad topic. I hope it and the bars cheered your friend up! She will find someone better!

  52. On September 15, 2009 at 10:32pm, annie said...

    I feel like breaking up with someone now just to try these…. I think it might just be worth it ;)

  53. On September 16, 2009 at 11:58am, Quiltingdaisy said...

    What is golden syrup?
    I really hate to sound ignorant but I would like these to come out right when I’m doing it myself.

  54. On September 16, 2009 at 4:13pm, PatW said...

    The day after I read this recipe, one of my son’s younger friends broke up with his GF. This seems a perfect occasion to make these! And I JUST happen to have some real honest-to-goodness golden syrup.

    For Quiltingdaisy– Golden syrup is a Brit and Caribbean thing that you’ll sometimes see in big supermarkets and places like Whole Foods. I’m trying to think what might be an acceptable substitute, because it’s sweeter than corn syrup– it’s a cane sugar product. Possibly corn syrup with about 1/4 cup of brown sugar per cup added.

    • On September 17, 2009 at 10:55am, Susan said...

      Thanks Pat! I’ve found that a honey/corn syrup combination also works well for the caramel.

  55. On September 17, 2009 at 8:38am, steph (whisk/spoon) said...

    they look delicious! they would certianly cheer me up if i was feelining blue!

  56. On September 18, 2009 at 12:30pm, Nicole Spasiano said...

    I love the little commentary that you added to the recipe. Genius.

  57. On September 18, 2009 at 9:38pm, PatW said...

    I made these last night. Just sampled one, and they are EXCELLENT!!!! I had some misgivings about the caramel– took forever to come to the specified temperature, and burnt a bit on the bottom, but the proof of the cookie is in the eating, and it tasted great. It’s nice and soft and not too sticky, and isn’t overwhelmed by the chocolate.

    Had fun reading the instructions to our broken-hearted friend.

  58. On September 19, 2009 at 10:13pm, maris said...

    These sound worth breaking up for :)

  59. On September 19, 2009 at 11:59pm, Lisa said...

    I can sympathize with your friend, as I was also dumped in a cruel and unusual way several months ago, after many years together. Problem is, a broken heart has the opposite effect on me – I can’t eat a thing! Thankfully, I’ve healed enough that I’m looking forward to giving these bars a try! They look so decadent and scrumptious! Thanks for posting such a great (and helpful) write up and recipe :)

  60. On September 20, 2009 at 12:02am, Lisa said...

    Ha ha! Just read the recipe directions! LOVE IT! May I post this recipe, after I make them, on my blog (with full credit to you, of course)?

    • On September 20, 2009 at 12:44am, Susan said...

      A broken heart is always hard to heal. I remember them well. Hope you find your Prince Charming soon! And, you may absolutely reprint the recipe. I’m glad you enjoyed it! ;)

  61. On September 21, 2009 at 6:31am, Janet @ bigjobsboard.com said...

    Yummy! I love this blog. I am sure my kids will love this for their desserts.

  62. On September 21, 2009 at 10:15am, PatW said...

    I think they worked their magic. My son’s friend said “Sarah WHO” on the second bite! :-)

  63. On September 21, 2009 at 2:11pm, Kelly said...

    Wow, these looks dangeriously good! I don’t think I’ll share these if I make them, I’ll save them just for me! MMM! :)

    *Kelly*
    http://fondlyoptimistic.blogspot.com/

  64. On September 22, 2009 at 11:20pm, Renee said...

    These look delicious! Question though: What is golden syrup?

  65. On September 25, 2009 at 1:09am, Cakelaw said...

    These look fab, although I seriously don’t want to have to go through a break-up to have them.

  66. On October 05, 2009 at 9:37am, Olive said...

    Thanks for this recipe, it looks soooo yUMMY! what a delicious way to make someone forget an old love

    BTW, I love your site, love the name- sticky,gooey,creamy,chewy -YUMMY! :)

  67. On October 22, 2009 at 9:56am, Ayse said...

    I made these the other day, and in addition to exclaiming, “If a guy doesn’t immediately propose to me after eating these, I would be surprised,” they were completely gone later that day.

    I have a question about the chocolate step, though. I found that the melted chocolate came out very thick, and it was hard to spread it out evenly. Could this just have been the kind of chocolate I used, or is there a trick to it? Irregardless, they were amazing!

  68. On October 24, 2009 at 2:16pm, Jane said...

    Hi, I love your blog! Can I ask, how much better is this caramel filling, than say using Dulce de Leche?
    I am thinking of being lazy, but yours looks soooo good!

  69. On December 06, 2009 at 5:30pm, Monica said...

    So my husband and I just had to have these last night! I had no toffee and no sweetened condensed milk! But I would not be deterred! I made a pecan shortbread and a pseudo-homemade sweetened condensed milk by mixing 1 c. + 2 tbsp. non-fat dry milk, 3/4 c. sugar, and 1/4 c. hot water in my food processor. Also didn’t have any golden syrup so subbed 4 T of honey and had to use a half sheet pan which I lined with foil (enough to come up all the sides.) Mixed according to instructions (not so vehemently, tho, as we aren’t breaking up. LOL) and kept my fingers crossed. Sprinkled with a little kosher salt after coating with the chocolate.

    I’m sure yours were much better, but these were so delicious I probably couldn’t take them if they were any better! Very intense and incredibly delicious!

  70. On January 11, 2010 at 4:38pm, Jenna said...

    They look sooo good:)

  71. On January 13, 2010 at 1:41pm, Megan said...

    Those look absolutely delicious! I bet they could mend a broken heart, but I’m sure they’re good any time. I wish I had made it to the swap just so I could try these!

  72. On March 27, 2010 at 5:41pm, Breaking Up said...

    While there are many signs of a doomed relationship with your treats, it doesn’t mean the relationship is over or even has to end. All these signs have reverse buttons if you make a change. And even if one snack makes a change, it can be significant enough to improve the relationship overall. So keep that in mind.

  73. On March 30, 2010 at 7:54pm, san diego screen printing said...

    Yum! I got hungry by just looking at it. I’m pretty sure that my kids will love it and I actually saved it. Thanks.

    Best Regards,
    san diego screen printing

  74. On May 07, 2010 at 2:01am, business card maker online said...

    Yum. I really love it and its my favorite. Now, I must go and grab some chocolate bars. hehehe. lol. Thanks.

  75. On October 03, 2010 at 10:04am, Rick Rofihe said...

    Your recipe sounds more scrumptious than mine, but here goes…
    http://www.fictionaut.com/stories/rick-rofihe/break-up-bars-a-recipe

  76. On September 30, 2011 at 10:07pm, caroleena said...

    Wow — I just stumbled here & I’m in love with your blog. I was all set to jump up & make these, but alas! No Golden syrup. Here’s hoping the heart is healed by now & thanks for this great looking recipe.

  77. On October 31, 2011 at 3:26pm, stacie said...

    Jotted this recipe down for hopefully sometime in the near future! They sound delicious, waiting for the perfect ‘sad’ moment to make them, although I’d rather just make ‘em :)

  78. On November 19, 2011 at 5:24am, pnr status said...

    I like your blog thanks for sharing . railway pnr status

  79. On December 21, 2012 at 2:18pm, Kathleen said...

    1/2 C of cornstarch in the shortbread recipe doesn’t sound right. I checked other shortbread recipes and no cornstarch listed but instead 2 tsp baking powder. As a precaution I’m using the 2 tsp baking powder and avoiding the cornstarch. Please confirm the 1/2 cup cornstarch ingredient and I’ll include it at another baking.
    I know this recipe was posted a couple of years ago, but this recipe sounds perfect for what I needed.

    Thanks, just curious

  80. On July 10, 2013 at 11:03am, けぃぬぱ said...

    私はそれを本当に好きだ。あなたは私の心に触れた!

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kiss the cook!

Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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