Caramel Crumb Bars – 2010 Cookie Challenge
I had my doubts here…not that the combination of caramel and shortbread isn’t delicious, but frankly, caramel scares me. I’ve washed far too many scortched pots as a cooking class assistant for it not to. But, despite my trepidation, these actually turned out well. I followed my fellow baker Judy’s lead suit and added nuts to half of them (walnuts in my case), which I think cut down on the pure ::SWEET:: sensation that comes with biting into one of these.
They ended up at both a holiday bake-off and another friends party, both to grand acclaim. I can’t say they’ll make the cookie tray next year, but at least I’ve overcome some of my fear of caramel.
Caramel Crumb Bars
based on a recipe from Saveur
20 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
2 1/2 cups flour, plus more for pan
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup lightly chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
Heat oven to 350°. Line a 9″ x 13″ baking dish with parchment paper; grease and flour (the Baking version of Pam was very handy here).
In a stand mixer with a paddle, beat together 16 tablespoons of the butter, the sugar, vanilla, and salt. Beat until fluffy. Add 2 1/4 cups flour; mix. Transfer 3/4 dough to pan, a handful at a time. Press it into the bottom in an even layer, and refrigerate.
Take the remaining dough and work with your fingers until it forms into large crumbles – set aside.
Combine remaining butter, brown sugar, syrup, and milk in a 2-qt. saucepan. Cook, stirring, over medium-high heat to make caramel, 8–10 minutes. Pour over dough; scatter crumbles and nuts over top. Bake until golden, 25–30 minutes. Let cool. Cut into 1 inch squares.
I’m joined in the effort by: Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes, Courtney of Coco Cooks,Di of Di’s Kitchen Notebook, Judy of No Fear Entertaining, Kelly of Sass & Veracity, Michelle of Big Black Dogs, RJ of Flamingo Musings, Sandy of At the Baker’s Bench, and Tiffany of The Nesting Project.