Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chocolate Caramel Bars

These chocolate caramel bars contain all that is good and holy in the world: butter, condensed milk, sugar, more butter, and chocolate.

This dessert was part of a very bittersweet weekend. I had the opportunity to visit with some of my favourite family members, but it was unfortunately because we were attending my granddad's funeral in Kelowna. 

On Sunday night, a few of us gathered in the kitchen to cook dinner.  Of course, I stayed the hell away from cooking, and instead opted to make dessert.

I had been eyeing these bars for quite some time, but had been afraid to be alone in the house with them, for obvious diabetes-inducing reasons.

But if there's one thing I have in common with my paternal family, it is our undying love for all things chocolatey, caramely, buttery, and all-round terrible for our asses and arteries. There was no better crowd to make this dessert for.  (My grandma even had one for breakfast the next day!).
Incredibly rich, the salt adds the perfect touch to the sweetness of the caramel and chocolate. They'd be perfect to have around the house during the holidays, as the recipe yields a rather large batch, and can be cut into small squares. 

Chocolate Caramel Bars
from lisa is cooking

Shortbread base:
2 c (300 g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (250 g) butter, softened
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar

Caramel layer:
1 c (250 g ) butter, cut into small pieces
1 c (200 g) sugar
4 tablespoons light corn syrup (I halved this amount)
2 cans (14 oz/400 g) sweetened condensed milk

Chocolate glaze:
8 oz chocolate of your choice, chopped
1 teaspoon light corn syrup (I left this out)
1/2 c (125 g) butter, cut into small pieces (This could probably be reduced slightly, if at this point you're at all concerned about a few more tablespoons of butter)
Fleur de sel for sprinkling

Shortbread base:
-Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F (170 degrees C) and line a 9-inch by 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper. (I greased and floured, and the bars turned out fine)
-Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Beat butter and sugar in a mixer on high speed until light and well-combined. Turn mixer speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients. Place dough in the prepared pan and press into an even layer. Placing plastic wrap over the top and pressing with a flat-bottomed glass helps to spread and flatten the dough. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden. Cool pan completely on a rack.

Caramel layer:
-Place butter, sugar, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Allow butter to melt, and stir to combine. Raise heat to medium-high and bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low again to maintain a simmer while stirring constantly. For this step, the time could vary a lot depending on the heat of your burner, so watch carefully. The mixture should become an amber, caramel color, and it should thicken a bit. You can drop a small amount onto a white plate to check the color and consistency while it's cooking. With this quantity, mine cooked for about 25 minutes, but if the recipe is halved, less time may be needed. When it reaches the desired color and thickness, pour mixture over shorbread, spread evenly with a heat-proof spatula, and allow to cool completely.

Chocolate glaze:
-In a large, heat-proof bowl, combine chocolate pieces, corn syurp, and butter pieces and place over a saucepan of simmering water. Cook, stirring constantly, until melted and well-combined. Remove from the saucepan and allow the chocolate glaze to cool for 30 seconds. Then, pour the glaze over the cooled caramel and spread evenly with an off-set spatula. Allow the glaze to sit and cool for a few seconds before sprinkling with coarse sea salt.

-Cut into narrow bars and serve with a little nostalgia on the side.


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