Caramelitas!

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I made these bars for Valentine’s day dinner. No typical Valentine desserts like flourless dark chocolate cakes or chocolate dipped strawberries – because I have a guy that LOVES caramel. Whenever I’m done making a batch of caramel Pete takes the sticky, mostly empty, caramel pot and dumps in pretzels and nuts and then eats it all with a spoon.

So when I saw this recipe on Our Best Bites I knew I had to try it, and it was a big hit. When we both bit into our first square we looked at each other and just nodded. Soooooooooo so so good. Especially with a big glass of milk, a blanket and some olympic replays to watch. This is officially my favorite bar, and that is saying something, because I love almost all bars.

The original recipe was great, but I did change a few things. The first thing I did was cut the recipe in half. We are only two people, and eating 16 of these seemed like a bad idea… The second thing I changed was the caramel. The original recipe says to use baking caramels, melted down with some milk. Instead I made my own caramel and added a touch of sea salt – homemade always tastes better. But if you’re uncomfortable making caramel, definitely feel free to use the pre-made stuff, or you can watch a YouTube video about how to make caramel. YouTube videos have taught me probably 60% of what I know about pastry – I’m really not kidding you.

This is an amazing and simple recipe, great for pot lucks, parties or solo movie nights on your couch. So here we go!

Caramelitas! 

Adapted from Our Best Bites

For the Caramel

  • 85g white sugar
  • 75ml heavy cream (warmed slightly)
  • pinch sea salt
  • 10g butter

For the Cookie Part

  • 1/2 cup (one stick) butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1 1/4 cup AP flour
  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped

Pre-made caramel option: 15 caramels (4.5 oz) + 1.5 Tbsp of milk, heat and stir on the stove until smooth and combined. 

First make your caramel, whichever method you prefer. For the homemade method, put your sugar in a small sauce pan over medium heat and DO NOT touch it. You can swirl the pan a bit if necessary, but don’t you dare put a spoon in there! Once it’s the color of a very rusty penny, turn off the heat and add in your warmed cream (we warm the cream so that there is less of a shock when poured into the super hot sugar – it is way less likely to seize).

Now stir stir stir! The sugar will bubble and boil and gurgle like crazy but just keep stirring/whisking all the bubbles. Stir in the butter and the salt, and at this point, if you have any large chunks, turn the heat on low and stir until they melt into the rest of the caramel.

DSC_0019Now grease and line an 8×8 pan, and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Make the cookie dough by creaming together the butter and sugar, then add the egg and vanilla. Once that’s all combined, add the baking soda, salt, AP flour and oats. And then dough is born! That easy.

DSC_0017To assemble, press about 2/3 of the dough into the bottom of your prepared pan, then top with chocolate chips, nuts and caramel. Then plop the remainder of the dough on top of all of that, don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be even or pretty or cover the whole thing… basically it can be a mess.

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DSC_0027Bake the bars for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown around the edges.

DSC_0034I know it’s hard… but let them cool completely before you dig in, they may just fall apart if you don’t. Yes, you can refrigerate them, or if you’re in a real hurry, put them in the freezer.

Then slice and chow down.

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The kitties were EXTRA jealous of this one… and therefore extra cute.

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