Clearly I've got smart eating on the brain for 2016. I bring you another post that is just the picture of health.
There are so many things I could tell you about these bars. I should start at the point where I tried to make the caramel on the stovetop and subsequently kept burning it (twice!). Do you know what burnt caramel smells like!?!?!?!? I do. I know it too well. Ordinarily, I would have given up on these bars for the day, but I had already made the shortbread, so I was committed to this!
I could also tell you how I was making these at 9pm on a Saturday night and had to trudge out to the grocery store to pick up $15 worth of sweetened condensed milk so I could attempt the aforementioned caramel several more times without having to return to the store. Of course the next time I made the caramel layer, all went swimmingly well and I now have 3 extra cans of sweetened condensed milk in my pantry. Like you do.
Anyhow...I'm suuuper excited to tell you about how awesome these are. I had been meaning to make these bars since around the time I started my blog @#$^@#% years ago. I could have eaten these all myself but I ended up taking most of them to my office to "share the wealth" (and calories!).
As long as you're not scared of a potential caramel-making debacle and you have backup caramel ingredients, then I would recommend making these bars. They're just too good to pass up!
slightly adapted from Got It, Cook It
For the shortbread:
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 3/4 cup flour
For the caramel:
- 1/2 cup butter
- 4 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1 14-ounce cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1-2 teaspoon crushed sea salt, optional
For the topping:
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- crushed sea salt, optional
Make the shortbread:
1) Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
2) Line an 8 x 11 pan with parchment paper or foil, allowing some of the material to overlap the edges of the pan. This will be used to remove the cookies easily once they are done.
3) Combine the butter and sugar until incorporated.
4) Add in the flour. Knead the dough for at least 5 - 10 minutes. This step is important so don't skip it!
5) Push the dough into the prepared pan in an even layer, then prick all over with a fork.
6) Bake for 30 minutes, or until the shortbread is golden and just starting to brown.
Make the caramel:
1) Melt the butter in a large, microwave-safe bowl. Once the butter is melted (about 1 minute), pour in the sweetened condensed milk, the corn syrup, and the salt if you are using any. Whisk together until the butter is blended into the mix.
2) Microwave for 6 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. Here are some notes on this step! -- For the first few minutes, the mixture will look fine. Then, the butter will separate and the mixture will foam up. Keep going! Continue to use a whisk to stir the mixture every 30 seconds. After about 6 minutes, stir everything vigorously and allow the residual heat to bring the caramel together. The mixture will be a golden brown or caramel color when it is done.
3) Pour the caramel over the shortbread and allow this layer to set and cool to room temperature.
Make the chocolate topping:
1) Pour the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments. When the chocolate chips are mostly melted, continue stirring the chocolate so the residual heat melts the chocolate completely. Otherwise, you risk burning it.
2) Spread the chocolate over the cooled caramel layer. Sprinkle with salt, if using. Let everything cool completely.
3) Use the parchment paper or foil to remove the dessert from the pan. Once removed, peel back the paper or foil from the sides and slice bars into equal portions.