Mmmmm.  Caramel.

It really has always been one of my favorite things on this earth.  I used to go through bags of those Werther’s candies when I was in college.  Back when I could eat anything without consequence.  When I would tell people I would only “go out for a run” if I was being chased and the person planned to kill me.  If their plan was to maim, I was going to stand there and take it.

Post three children, I now run willingly.  And dream about the caramel and chocolate that I’m earning.  Or coax myself into more mileage because I fully plan to make these bars, and the amount of butter in them is probably something none of us should spend time thinking about.

Here is what’s amazing about caramel:
1) If you are anyone in my house, you could eat it on cardboard.
2) We’ve all been known to dip a finger in the pot while it’s cooking, regardless of the fact that it’s hot sugar.  So, you know, it scalds.
3) If you serve it over cookies/crackers and top with some chocolate, we refer to it as crack.  Literally. Because Chris and I imagine this is about as addicting.

So, while this recipe is officially titled “Caramel Cookie Bars”, my husband has dubbed it “Crack on a Cookie.”

The prep of this dessert is fast and straightforward.

caramel cookie barsLike almost all baked things, you can preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Start by tossing your flour and salt together in a bowl and set aside.  In the bowl of a mixer, cream together the granulated sugar and first two sticks of butter. Once the butter and sugar become a bit fluffy, add the dry ingredients to the mixer and combine.  The batter will out come out crumbly – very much like the picture on the left.

Use your hands to press the batter onto a greased jelly roll pan until the whole pan is covered.  Bake the crust for 15 min or until golden brown.

caramel cookie barsWhile the crust is baking, combine the remaining two sticks of butter (remember, don’t dwell), the corn syrup and brown sugar in a saucepan over low heat.  This needs to come to a simmer, and cook for about 5-8 minutes. You want it to thicken, but don’t want it to get to a hard candy stage.

Remove the pan from its heat and mix in the vanilla. Don’t try to add the vanilla while the pan is on a live burner – it will sizzle up over edge.

caramel cookie barsPour the caramel over the browned crust, and place your pan in the refrigerator.  It will take about 2-3 hours to set up.  You can speed this process in the freezer, if you are under a time crunch, or just REALLY want some caramel bars.  The caramel doesn’t cool quite as evenly, but it’s still good.

A chocolate choice is up to you.  I think that my mom has always used semi-sweet chocolate chips, but I happen to be a huge fan of dark chocolate.  The caramel adds the sweetness, so, in my opinion, dark chocolate melted over the top of these bars is amazing. Totally up to the baker.

Take your chocolate of choice and melt it in the microwave with a tablespoon or two of butter.  You can just use the chocolate, if you can’t imagine adding any more butter to this dish.  Which I get.  It makes the chocolate a bit smoother, which is why I usually opt in.  At this point, I honestly don’t know that 2 more tablespoons are going to do more damage.

Spread the melted chocolate over the cooled caramel.  The pan needs to go back in the refrigerator for an additional 1-2 hours to finish setting.  To serve, cut them into squares.  And maybe time how long they last.

Caramel Cookie Bars

Caramel Cookie Bars

Ingredients

    For the crust:
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 sticks of butter (softened)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
    For the topping:
  • 2 sticks butter (softened)
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 12 ounces (1 bag) chocolate chips

Instructions

    To make the crust:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Sift together flour and salt in a mixing bowl and set aside
  3. Cream together sugar and butter in a mixer
  4. Add dry ingredient and combine - mixture will be a bit crumbly
  5. Press into a prepared jelly roll pan
  6. Bake for 15 min, or until golden brown
    To make the caramel:
  1. Combine butter, corn syrup and brown sugar in a saucepan over low heat
  2. Slowly bring to simmer and cook for approximately 5-8 minutes (you want it to thicken, but don't want it to get to a hard candy stage)
  3. Remove from flame and add vanilla - this will cause the pan to sizzle/bubble up a bit
  4. Spread over cooled cookie crust and place in refrigerator
  5. Allow the caramel to set, about 2-3 hours
    Chocolate topping:
  1. Melt remaining 2 tbsp of butter and chocolate chips in a microwave safe container
  2. Stir together until smooth and spread over the top of the set caramel
  3. Place back in refrigerator for another 1-2 hours
  4. Cut into squares to serve
http://www.nestledonnorway.com/caramel-cookie-bars/