Salted Caramel Butter Bars

So, I’m sure its pretty obvious, if you look through the archives here, that I didn’t do a lot of cooking for a while. Funny how Culinary School will do that to you. Now that I’m out of school for the summer, the cooking bug has bitten me again and I’ve been busy in my kitchen! Today I worked on a little project for Boyfriend and his coworkers. My boyfriend loves three things. Peanut butter, Salted caramel and… well, me! (Even more so for making him these bars, I suspect!)

I wish I could take credit for this recipe. I really do. But alas, I did find it on another food blog, Cookies and Cups and after reading her blog, I found out she found it on another blog as well. But I tweaked the original recipe just a hair, so I thought it’d be ok if I posted it here too, just as long as I give credit where its due. (thanks for the recipe Shelly!)

Salted Caramel Butter Bars

1 pound of butter (4 sticks), room temp.
1 cup packed brown sugar
1½ cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla
4 cups all purpose flour
Caramel Filling:
1 bag (14 oz.) caramel candies, unwrapped
1/3 cup milk (cream would also work, if you have it on hand)
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 T. coarse sea salt (I would assume kosher salt would work too, but sea salt was only a few bucks so I just grabbed some when I was at the store)
To make the crust:
Preheat your oven to 325F.
In a large bowl, mix together the butter and the sugars on medium speed, beating until creamy and fully combined. Add the vanilla, beat to combine. Sift in the flour and mix on low until just incorporated. (be sure to scrape the bowl, the bottom may be kind of dry).
Line a 9×13 baking pan with a piece of tin foil or parchment (if tin foil, be sure to lightly grease it). The foil/parchment should hang over the edges just slightly, this will help you lift the bars out when they’re done baking, which makes for easier cutting. Press about 1/2 of the dough evenly into the pan and place the remainder of the dough in the fridge to chill.
Bake until firm and the edges are a pale golden brown. The original recipe says 20 minutes, but it took my oven closer to 30. Check after 20 and adjust accordingly. The original recipe also says to transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool about 15 minutes, but I forgot that step and they still turned out fine. My bottom crust cooled for about 5 minutes before adding the filling.
Speaking of filling…
While your bottom crust is cooling, unwrap all of your caramels and place in a microwave safe bowl. Add the milk and vanilla, microwave on high for 1 minute, then stir. If your caramels have not melted, microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until it has melted completely, my caramels took about 3 minutes. Pour your caramel onto the bottom crust, spreading evenly. Then salt! I won’t lie, I didnt actually measure my salt, I just poured some into my palm and sprinkled till I thought it looked good. Since I didnt have any salted butter to use, I figured I could be a little bit more liberal with the salt on the caramel. After its good and salted, grab the rest of your dough from the fridge, and crumble it over the top. Bake for another 25-30 minutes, or until the crumble topping is lightly browned. Don’t be afraid if your bars look a little wiggly when you take them out of the oven, the caramel will set up as it cools. Place your pan on a wire rack and allow to cool until they are just warm to the touch (about 15-20 minutes, trust me, it’ll be worth the wait!) Pull your parchment/foil out of the pan and place on a cutting board and cut into desired sized squares. (or don’t cut it at all, eat it as one big piece. I won’t judge.)
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