I’m a total sucker for anything “salted caramel”–gelato, macarons, chocolates–you get it. So when Anna showed me this recipe, I immediately rearranged my schedule so I could make (and eat) these bars ASAP. Please note that when I say “rearranged my schedule,” I mean “took this opportunity to justify skipping out on the gym.” Bad, I know. But eating butter and sugar while watching the predictably melodramatic series finale of Desperate Housewives is basically equal to working out, right? (Yes, I said Desperate Housewives. I’m also a sucker for crappy TV, but no need to discuss that now.)
Anyway, my laziness was rewarded because these bars were delicious . . . one coworker may have used the term “phenomenal.” (Hey I’m not trying to brag, just trying to convince you that you need these bars in your life.) So I guess what I’m saying is this: stay home from the gym, or toss out your to-do list, or procrastinate those errands, or just do whatever you need to do to make these salted caramel bars your highest priority. I promise they’re worth it!
Salted Caramel Butter Bars
from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth
2 c salted butter (room temp)
1 c sugar
1 1/2 c powdered sugar
2 T vanilla
4 c flour
1 bag (14 oz) caramel candies (about 50)
1/3 c cream or milk
1/2 t vanilla
1 1/2 t coarse sea salt
Spray a 9×13 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray and preheat your oven to 325 F.
In a large bowl, combine butter and sugars. Beat together on medium speed until creamy. Add vanilla and beat until combined. Sift the flour into the butter mixture and beat on low speed until a smooth, soft dough forms. Press on-third of the dough evenly into the pan to form a bottom crust. Bake until firm and the edges are a pale golden brown, approximately 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for about 15 minutes.
While the bottom crust is baking and the remaining dough is chilling, make the caramel filling. Place unwrapped caramels in a microwave-safe bowl. Add the cream and 1/2 t vanilla. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove from the microwave and stir until smooth. If caramels aren’t completely melted, microwave on high for 30-second intervals until smooth, stirring after each interval.
Pour the caramel filling over the crust. Sprinkle salt over caramel layer.
Remove remaining chilled dough and crumble it evenly over the caramel. Then return the pan to the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the topping is firm and lightly golden. Let cool before cutting into squares.