These treats aren’t really candy but they could play one on TV (always wanted to say that). They’re actually just indulgent gooey caramel chocolate cookie bars. Though they seem at first glance like they might be a lot of work, they are not.
Cutting them into small bites makes good sense since they contain butter by the ton. The biggest challenge is being patient enough to wait until they’re cool so they slice properly. But it is worth the wait. It helps to make them in the evening. That way they can rest overnight and be ready in the morning.
Patience should probably be the first ingredient in this recipe. Having made several batches I can tell you that without a doubt if you try to slice them too soon, it’ll be a gooey mess. Having no patience for being patient, a few other valiant efforts were all about chilling them quickly. Using the freezer and refrigerator only resulted in bar-shards or crackly caramel that could serve as a house foundation. The simplest method – just letting them rest for a very long time seemed to do the trick.
Speaking of tricks- there’s a trick to making the chocolate topping look swell. Following the instructions, once the pan is out of the oven and the chocolate chips are added to the top and softened, smoothing them is easy, but the pesky butter will leach to the top and look slightly annoying (read: greasy). No matter how much you move the melty chocolate around, the butter will remain.
Have no fear. Just sit the little pan on a rack and walk away. Don’t even look at it for two to three hours. By then, the bars are still warm (caramel is so stubborn that way) but now you can rework the chocolate. Spreading it around using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon, it’ll look perfectly shiny. The butter will have resettled into the caramel by then.
Just a guess but these could serve as a fun Halloween treat if they were topped with holiday sprinkles. After all, if there ever was a holiday that was over-the-top-treat-indulgent, it is Halloween which is why it might be my favorite, said the candy cookie monster.
|Caramel Chocolate Bars||
- 90 grams Spectrum Organic Shortening (8 tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 50 grams granulated sugar (1/4 cup)
- 150 grams Canteen flour blend (1 cup plus 3 tablespoons) (see notes)
- 225 grams roughly chopped toasted almonds (1½ cups)
- 230 grams unsalted butter (1 cup or 2 sticks)
- 200 grams brown sugar (1 cup)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 340 grams semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Line an 8×8 pan with heavy-duty foil.
- In a medium bowl blend together shortening with vanilla, salt and sugar until combined. Add flour and stir until mixture is blended and comes away from the sides of the bowl. Place dough in the bottom of the prepared pan and flatten evenly, pressing to make sure no air pockets are formed. Distribute almonds onto the top of the dough, gently pressing so they adhere but don’t crack the dough. Bake 12-15 minutes. Prepare filling while crust bakes.
- In a deep sided saucepan heat the butter, sugar and salt together over a medium flame, stirring until the mixture is combined. Once combined, let mixture come to a low bubbling simmer and let it cook for two to three minutes without stirring. Off the heat, stir in vanilla and milk – being careful – because the hot mixture will bubble up. Immediately pour the caramel over the top of the almonds and crust.
- Turn oven temperature up to 350°F. Bake 25-30 minutes until the caramel filling is bubbling all the way to the center. It will look like it is boiling. Remove from the oven and let the pan cool almost ten minutes. Cover with chocolate chips. Leave it to sit for 3-4 minutes without touching. Use an offset spatula to smooth the melted chocolate into an attractive pattern across the top of the bars. If the butter seems to be bubbling up over the chocolate, give it a rest for about 2-3 hours (at room temperature) and then using an offset spatula, smooth the chocolate again – it should still be warm and easy to spread. Then let the bars sit until the chocolate is set and the pan is cool to the touch – about 4-6 hours but overnight is best.
- Slice into 16 bars – and those can be cut in two if you want to serve one-bite-ish bars (32 bars). Wipe the knife between slices for the best result. Store in a tin at room temperature if you have any leftover (ha).