Thursday, December 29, 2011

#51 New Recipes - Salted Caramel Butter Bars

These are the most delicious things I've ever made. And it's a good thing I didn't really read the recipe before I responded to a pot-luck party that I was bringing these, because once I did and saw the amount of butter in it I was horrified. But SWEET JESUS they are AMAZING. They are worth every little clog that I felt building up in my arteries as I was eating them. Katieschmatie and I seriously debated eating the entire pan and just telling everyone at the party that I ended up not making them.  But I kept saying "ONE POUND OF BUTTER." Otherwise we might have.

For the Crust:
1 lb salted butter at room temperature (that's FOUR STICKS people!)
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
 2 Tablespoons Vanilla
4 cups all purpose flour

For the Filling:
1 bag (14 oz) caramel candies (about 50 individual caramels), unwrapped (I found bags of cooking caramels at the store that worked just fine, and no unwrapping needed!)
1/3 cup milk or cream (I used 2% milk)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt (Optional - obviously by the title of this blog post, I used it, I just lightly sprinkled some special smoked chardonnay sea salt from William Sonoma)

1. Preheat oven to 325F. In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugars. Using mixer on medium speed, beat together until creamy.
2. Add vanilla and beat until combined.
3. Sift the flour into the butter mixture and beat on low speed until a smooth soft dough forms.
Just a note: you REALLY want to use a large bowl because the flour is going to fly EVERYWHERE.

4. Spray a 9x13 inch baking pan lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Press one-third of the dough evenly into the pan to form a bottom crust and place the remainder of the dough in the fridge to chill. Bake the dough in the pan until firm and the edges are a pale golden brown - approx 20 minutes according to the recipe, but it took mine closer to 35.
Transfer to a wire rack and let cool about 15 minutes.

5. While the bottom crust is cooling, make the caramel filling. (It takes almost no time at all, so wait until the crust has already been cooling 10 minutes). Place the unwrapped caramels in a microwave-safe bowl and add the cream/milk. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir until smooth. If caramels are not completely melted, microwave on high for 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval until smooth.

6. Pour the caramel filling over the crust. If you are going to salt the caramel, sprinkle it on the caramel layer now.
7. Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and crumble it evenly over the caramel.
8. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is bubbly and the crumbled shortbread topping is firm and lightly golden, about 25-30 minutes. Let cool before cutting into squares.

Now... if you start gnoshing before it's completely cool and it's still a little warm, I will warn you... it's like crack. Katieschmatie and I were making sounds normally reserved for the bedroom. All conversation stopped and as soon as we'd each finished our first bar our eyes drifted, inexorably, to where the rest of the bars lay waiting for the party...

Once completely cooled they are still incredible, but if you've eaten them warm you'll find them very slightly easier to resist. Sort of. Mostly. And you very quickly find yourself forgetting what they're made out of, because you must, because you're going to eat more than just that first bar. A LOT more.

If you're interested in other awesome sweets check out this fantastic blog that I linked this recipe up to =)

1 comment:

  1. Those would definitely be worth every calorie. I have a sweet treat linky party going on at my blog till Monday night and I'd love it if you'd come by and link your bars up.