Old-Fashioned Bake Sale ~ Salted Caramel Butter Bars

Friday, September 30, 2011

If you haven't already, enter to win TINY TIPS from Gooseberry Patch -- ends Monday 10/3.

I was determined that this week's baking feature would be a recipe from my Pintrest to-try list. After looking over all that was PINNED my daughter declared she wanted to take goodies to the girls at work on Friday -- How about bars? Yeah, I have an occasion to try Salted Caramel Butter Bars from www.cookiesandcups.com. One thing I want to say is that I *think* I may have invented the salted caramel craze many years ago. I figured why make caramel apples (my oldest daughter's favorite treat) when I could just make homemade caramels and eat them with a cut up apple sprinkled with SALT -- YUM!! Okay, so not my invention but I will say that there is *something* about caramel combined with salt.

My sampling of these bars made me VERY glad they had a place to go -- too good to be trusted around. This also makes A LOT -- you might want to plan on baking them when you have plenty around to share with. Happy Baking (and Pinning too)!!

Salted Caramel Butter Bars
(Printable Version)

For the Crust:
1 lb. salted butter room temp (I used unsalted - it is what I buy)
1 cup sugar
1½ cups powdered sugar
2 Tbs vanilla
4 cups flour
For the Filling:
1 bag (14 oz.) caramel candies (about 50 individual caramels), unwrapped
1/3 cup milk or cream (I used cream)
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 Tbsp coarse sea salt (optional)

In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugars. Using mixer on medium speed, beat together until creamy. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. Sift the flour into the butter mixture and beat on low speed until a smooth soft dough forms. Spray a 9×13 inch baking pan lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Press one-third of the dough evenly into the pan to form a bottom crust. Preheat to 325°F. Bake until firm and the edges are a pale golden brown approx 20 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool about 15 minutes. While the bottom crust is baking and the remaining dough is chilling, make the caramel filling. Place the unwrapped caramels in a microwave-safe bowl. Add the cream. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove from the microwave and stir until smooth. If caramels are not completely melted, microwave on high for 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until smooth (I did the melting in a saucepan stovetop since I don't microwave). Pour the caramel filling over the crust. If you are going to salt the caramel sprinkle it on caramel layer now. Remove the remaining chilled dough from the refrigerator and crumble it evenly over the caramel. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is bubbly and the crumbled shortbread topping is firm and lightly golden, about 25 – 30 minutes. Let cool before cutting into squares.

Sharing at Michael Lee's Foodie Friday and Kim's Sweet Indulgence Sunday AND Yvonne's On The Menu Monday!