{The Girl Kyle Bakes} Gooey Caramel Butter Bars

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I know the name is kind of long so for short you can call these crack bars.  They're impossible to resist and once you eat one it's a very slippery slope!  If you're currently on a diet then just move along... or check out my fro-yo recipe and come back when the diet is over.  I have no shame in telling you up front that this recipe has not one or two sticks of butter.  It has FOUR!  So you know these are delicious and will definitely be the hit of any summer BBQ.

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For the crust:

  • 1 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1.5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tbs. vanilla extract
  • 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt

 

For the filling:

  • 14 ounces Werther's soft caramels (about 50 individuals) unwrapped
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tbs. dark rum (optional)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup pecans, walnuts, cashews (optional)
  • powder sugar for dusting (optional)

To make the crust. In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugars.  Using an electric mixer set at medium speed, beat together until creamy.  Add the vanilla, salt and flour -beat until a smooth, soft dough forms.

Spray a 9x13 inch baking pan lightly with nonstick cooking spray.  Press three-fourths of the dough evenly into the pan to form a bottom crust.  Pat the remaining dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 F.   Bake until firm and the edges are a golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

While the bottom crust is baking and the remaining dough is chilling, make the caramel filling.  Place the unwrapped caramels in a microwave-safe bowl.  Add the cream, vanilla, rum (if using) and salt.  Microwave on high for 1 minute.  Remove from microwave and stir until smooth.  If caramels are not completely melted, microwave on high for 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until smooth.

Sprinkle the nuts (if using) over the bottom crust.  Pour the caramel filling over the nuts, using a small metal spatula to nudge the filling evenly over the crust.  Remove the remaining chilled dough from the refrigerator and crumble it 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 slightly golden, about 30 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Use a sharp knife to cut evenly into 15 large squares.  Remove the bars from the pan with a metal spatula and, if desired cut in half on the diagonal to form 30 triangle bars.

*From Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Conner*

Personal Notes:  This recipe was great, nothing I would really change.  Maybe sprinkle a few of the nuts over the top of the dessert BEFORE you place it in the oven the final time.  Or even a little sea salt for you salted caramel fans!   And I would DEFINITELY cut them into triangles.  With 4 sticks of butter, these treats are sweet and rich.  I also baked them for 35 minutes because I my dough had not turned golden as described in the recipe.  I was not using my own oven so I don’t know if it runs a little cool or not.

 

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I N S T A G R A M

 

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