Monday, June 8, 2009

Gooey Caramel Butter Bars

This recipe is from my book "Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey". It's actually the first recipe that I've made from this book. I absolutely LOVED this recipe. Caramel is my favorite flavor in the world and this really showcases the caramel! But of course I had to make one big change in the recipe and that was to double the caramel filling. I left the crust amount as is but doubled the filling. I'm glad I did because it was just right. I can't imagine having half the amount of caramel - it just wouldn't be enough. Took a darn long time to sit and peel almost 100 caramels though! I just sat and watched the news while I did it. These had to bake a lot longer than the recipe stated. When I took them out, the top looked golden brown like it was supposed to. But after they cooled and I cut them, I sliced all of the sides off because the caramel touching the foil sides had gotten too brown. I should have taken a little bit thinner section off the sides because I cut too far in I think. But besides that, everything was perfect. Oh, other than the fact during the baking, my cat Oshi decided to bring me a "gift" in the kitchen. A gift meaning a MOUSE! And the mouse was not yet dead. We have 2 cats and they have brought home every sort of live creature you can imagine. My husband happens to be out of town at the moment and he is the one who handles this sort of emergency. I hate to be such a wimp about such things but.......I am. I screamed and told my 4 & 5 year old boys to catch it. Yeah right. So I called my father, who lives about 1/2 mile away and told him to come and catch the mouse. My brother, who is 38, happened to be visiting my parents, so him and my father came down and helped my 3 boys catch this poor little mouse. The cat had given up on the mouse because the mouse had ran and hid under a blanket near the couch. Well, in the end, the mouse was basically directed outside and is still alive and well. Whew! That was such excitement for the boys.

But back to the caramel bars.....I highly recommend this recipe and I also recommend doubling the caramel filling. I will type the recipe as it is in the book though.

The crust is baked before the caramel filling is added. Since it's made with powdered sugar, it gives it a nice crisp shortbread like buttery texture. 4 sticks of butter in the crust!

I made such a sloppy mess when I was heating the caramel & cream in the microwave. Every time I went to stir it, it splashed all over me. I did it 3 times in a row! I had on a new white tank top that is now splatted with caramel! It seemed like this mess would never come together.

Soon it all blended together wonderfully!

After the caramel filling is poured on top of the warm crust, you crumble up the remainder of the crust dough on top. It seemed like a lot.

I trimmed all of the sides off of the caramel bars. Notice the stip on the bottom that's super dark - that where the crust was touching the foil. It didn't taste burnt but was almost brittle and crunchy from getting too dark. The one resting on top of it is the inside of one of the side strips.

I was surprised at how quickly these bars cooled but I did cut into them when they were still slightly warm.

Look at how buttery they look. You can taste the butter bigtime! The recipe gives the option of adding nuts onto the crust before you pour in the caramel. I know many folks who would love that combination. Nuts aren't for me.

Oh my goodness! Just look at that gooey caramel! I ate 2 of them when I was cutting them.

Double the filling folks! Double the filling! That's the way to go.

This is the troublemaker Oshi who brought me a "gift" during baking. Then, when she couldn't find the mouse after it had hidden under a blanket, she got bored and walked outside again!

Gooey Caramel Butter Bars
from Sticky Chewy Messy Gooey

4 sticks unsalted butter, room temp.
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour

Filling: (I doubled all of the filling ingredients)
1 bag (14 oz) caramel (about 50 candies)
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons dark rum (optional) (I did not add this)
Pinch of salt
1 cup pecans or walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Line 13x9 inch pan with foil & spray

To make the crust:
In large bowl combine the butter and sugars. Beat until creamy. Add vanilla & salt and beat until combined. Add flour and mix until soft dough forms.

Press 1/3 of the dough evenly into the pan to form a bottom crust. Refrigerate the remainder of the dough.

Bake the crust until firm and the edges are a pale golden brown. 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack.

For the filling:
Place unwrapped caramels in a microwave saft bowl. Add cream, vanilla, rum (if using) and salt. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove and stir until smooth. Microwave at 30 second intervels, stirring each time until smooth.

If using nuts, sprinkle onto the bottom crust. Pour the caramel filling over the nuts & crust, using a spatula to nudge the filling evenly over the crust. Crumble the remainder of refrigerated dough evenly over the caramel. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is bubbly and the crumbled shortbread topping is firm and lightly golden - about 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before cutting into squares.


Joyce said...

OK this recipe is so over the top I have to make it on a day that everyone is out of town so I can eat it all myself! I like double the caramel:)

justine said...

Ha! Larry called me last night - i heard about P talking to the "mousey" and all - I am glad it got taken care of.
I like it that you put Oishii's pic last. She deserves it. She was just trying to help :)
I am packing and thinkin of all the good baked goods i will get to taste when i FINALLY get to Renton.