Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Caramel Crumb Bars

        I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine's Day! My husband and I went to see "True Grit" and it was awesome! It's a must see : )
     He also surprised me with a beautiful bouquet of flowers! One of the reasons I love it here so much is because of the seriously beautiful cheap flowers! I wish they had more affordable flowers in the U.S. because women there deserve to have them more often :) So lets talk bars!!
     These caramel bars are sooo addictive. The shortbread-like crust is buttery delicious and the homemade caramel filling is to die for. I made these for my husband's weekly meeting and I think they are going to go nuts over them. I told my husband to remember to tell them that this was it for 2 whole weeks. Our two sons have next week off and my husband took 2 weeks off so there will be no goodies to send in. I'm looking forward to having everyone home. There will be seed planting going on for our container garden,lots of DIY around the house and backyard,day trips,sleeping in,and fondant rolling and cake baking! I must be seriously crazy for attempting a fondant cake..but it's not due until June so I figured I would start now and get all the kinks worked out before the big day!

You must make these must. They are not hard to make and my only advice would be to make sure that the caramel is covered in the crumb topping. I had to trim the sides because the caramel became to dark around those edges and was super chewy and hard to eat. I subbed the corn syrup for honey without any problems and thats only because they don't sell it in the stores here and my attempts at making it have failed so far. You can get away with cutting the bars into small pieces because of how rich they are. I will for sure be making these again! Thanks to Tracey's Culinary Adventures for posting the recipe!

Caramel Crumb Bars

1 cup Butter; Softened
1/2 cup Sugar
1/4 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Vanilla
2-1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour

Caramel Filling:
4 TBS(1/4 cup) Butter
1 TBL Light Corn Syrup or Honey
1/4 cup Packed Dark Brown Sugar
1 (14 oz) can Sweetened Condensed Milk

Place oven rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat oven to 350F or 180 celcius. Spray a 13x9 pan with cooking spray, then line pan with either foil or parchment paper making sure to leave an overhang so you can pull the bars out later on. Spray the foil with cooking spray and set aside.

Beat butter, sugar and salt on medium speed until soft and light, about 2-3 mins. Beat in vanilla. With the mixer on low, add 2-1/4 cups of the flour, beating just until the dough is smooth and flour has been absorbed, and stopping to scrap the sides of the bowl and beaters as necessary.

Transfer 3/4 of the dough into prepared baking pan. Press the dough evenly into the pan to form the bottom layer. Transfer pan to fridge while you make the filling and top crumb layer.

Add remaining 1/4 cup flour to the remaining dough in the mixer bowl and work it in with your fingers until 1/8-1/4-inch crumbs form. Set aside.

Filling: In a medium sauceapan, combine the butter, corn syrup or honey, dark brown sugar and condensed milk. Bring to a simmer, whisking occasionally. When the mixture begins to boil, whisk frequently until it begins to thicken and darkens in color slightly, about 10 mins. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 mins.

Remove pan from fridge and pour filling over the bottom crust. Use an offset spatula or whatever you have to spread it evenly- then distribute the crumb topping over the filling. The caramel can be slightly hard to spread out but keeping working at it and it will go into place.

Bake for about 30mins, or until the filling is gently bubbling and a dark caramel color. Cool the bars in the pan on a wire rack until lukewarm, about 15-20mins. Use the foil to lift the bars out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Once completely cook, cut into 2 inch squares.

**My bars never did the gentle bubbling thing. I let them bake slightly over 30 mins to see if they would do that. They were a beautiful caramel color so I decided to pull them out at that time and it was perfect**