Tag Archives: salted caramel

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsFor a short week, this one has seemed endless. There has been change and growth and letting go and construction and a migraine that began on Tuesday night and continued well into Wednesday afternoon.Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsWhat I’m saying is that I could use a treat. Luckily, I have a refrigerator full of these Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars, which are the perfect chewy, gooey, crispy-edged, chocolate-studded sweet to counteract all the negative energy in my immediate vicinity.Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsIn addition to being a perfect flavor and textural combination, these bars are super easy to make. The cookie layers are simply a chocolate chip cookie play on the crumb I used in my Sweet Cherry Sugar Cookie Crumble. It comes together in five minutes and only requires one bowl—score!Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsA little more than half of the cookie mix gets pressed into the bottom of a 9-inch square pan. Then comes the salted caramel, which is simply a bag of soft caramel candies that are melted with salt and heavy cream.Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsSalted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsThe remaining cookie mix is scattered over the top of the caramel and then everything is baked until the edges are crisp and the caramel is starting to bubble up through the cookie crumble.Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsLet your bars cool completely before slicing. If you try to cut them before they’re cool, you won’t get the satisfaction that comes with clean edges and beautiful layers (if not perfect evenness).Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsAnd that’s to say nothing of the buttery chocolate chip cookie layers and the gooey, salty caramel filling, which are a match made in dessert heaven. So, so delicious.Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsI logically know that dessert is not going to change the world, but I can’t seem to look at these and see anything but goodness. Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars can’t solve my problems, but four bites of salty-sweet caramel sandwiched between layers of crisp cookie can certainly help soften the blow, am I right?!Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars
makes about 16 bars

Chocolate Chip Dough:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 reaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Salted Caramel Filling:
1 11-ounce bag caramel candies, unwrapped
6 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (or 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8- or 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil and grease with butter. Set aside.

Make the chocolate chip dough. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add vanilla and melted butter and whisk until combined. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in mini chocolate chips. Set aside. Dough may seem crumbly.

Make the salted caramel layer. Combine caramels, heavy cream, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Set aside.

Firmly press about 1 1/2 cups of the chocolate chip dough into a thin, even layer at the bottom of the prepared pan. Pour caramel over the top and smooth to the edges. Scatter remaining dough mixture over the top. Try not to leave any huge areas of caramel uncovered, lest it burn.

Bake full pan for 23-26 minutes, or until turning golden at the edges. Caramel will be liquid straight out of the oven, but will set as bars cool. Let cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Slice bars with a lightly greased chef’s knife, wiping the blade clean between cuts. Do not try to slice bars until they are completely room temperature.

Bars will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days. Layer them with wax paper to keep them from sticking together.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsSalted Caramel Chocolate Chip BarsSalted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars

Salty Maple Caramel Corn

Salty Maple Caramel CornI’ve got maple syrup on my mind, y’all! Last week, it was in the form of a Maple Layer Cake. Today, it’s Salty Maple Caramel Corn!Salty Maple Caramel CornY’all—this stuff is phenomenal. Phe-nom-e-nal. Crispy, crunchy, sweet and salty. Oh, and easy. Salty Maple Caramel Corn comes together in four simple steps.Salty Maple Caramel Corn

Pop some popcorn.

I pop my popcorn in a heavy-bottomed pot on the stove. Just heat a tablespoon of oil with a few kernels in it over medium heat. When they start popping, add the rest of the kernels, put a lid on it and jostle until all your corn is popped!Salty Maple Caramel Corn

I used Pop-Secret Jumbo Popping Corn in all my testing. I found that 3/4 cup unpopped kernels usually yielded 12 cups of popcorn, but I know that other brands act differently. I’ve seen some that purport to make 16 cups from 1/2 cup kernels! Basically, what I’m saying is to measure your popped popcorn to make sure you have the necessary 12 cups for this recipe 🙂 Salty Maple Caramel Corn

Make the salty maple caramel.

This is one of the easiest caramels you will ever make. There is no pot-watching or streaming heavy cream into molten sugar. You don’t need a candy thermometer either!

Just put sugar, maple syrup, salt, butter, and water in a pot and boil for five minutes. Don’t stir, swirl, or otherwise agitate the pot in any way—this will lead to crystallization and sad, dull caramel corn. No, thank you! Just add the ingredients to the pot (without stirring) and turn on the heat. I promise you, the caramel will form properly on its own.

Once the boiling time is up, turn off the heat. Stir in some vanilla and baking soda. The caramel will bubble up once the baking soda dissolves.Salty Maple Caramel Corn
Two quick recipe notes:

  • I chose to use granulated sugar in this recipe, rather than the usual light brown sugar. While brown sugar is very delicious in caramel corn, I found that the molasses in it competed too much with the maple syrup. If I’m going to use pricey maple syrup in a recipe, I want to be able to taste it!
  • This recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of salt. It will give the finished caramel corn a salty finish, but shouldn’t be overwhelming. If you think it’s too much for you, feel free to reduce it to 1-1 1/2 teaspoons.Salty Maple Caramel Corn

Toss the salty maple caramel with the popcorn.

This sounds mindlessly easy, but I’m going to talk about it anyway.

This recipe calls for tossing the popcorn and caramel together in a large oiled bowl with oiled silicone spatulas before spreading it onto oiled rimmed sheet pans. Don’t be tempted to skip the bowl and do the tossing on the pans. Many recipes recommend this, but I burned the everliving crap out of my hand using that method. If you think hot oil burns are the worst, it’s only because you haven’t experienced the unrelenting torture of a molted sugar burn.Salty Maple Caramel CornFor the same reasons, don’t touch any pieces of coated popcorn that fly out of the bowl during mixing. Wait until they cool for a few minutes before picking them up.Salty Maple Caramel Corn

Bake at a low temperature and stir occasionally.

This is the easiest of all the steps. Bake the coated caramel corn at 250F for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes to prevent burning. It’s a lot like making granola.Salty Maple Caramel CornSalty Maple Caramel CornThe caramel corn will seem very wet at first, but will harden to a crispy, glossy finish. Once the hour is up, scatter the caramel corn onto a big piece of parchment and let it cool to room temperature. After that, snack away!Salty Maple Caramel CornYou’re going to love this Salty Maple Caramel Corn! It’s a great sweet & salty snack or dessert. I think it would make for a wonderful finishing touch on a bowl of ice cream. You could even pile it high as a finishing touch on a Maple Layer Cake!Salty Maple Caramel CornI highly recommend making a batch over the next couple of days. It’s a guaranteed way to upgrade your weekend ❤ Salty Maple Caramel Corn

Salty Maple Caramel Corn
makes 12 cups

1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil
3/4 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, sliced into 8 pieces
3 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda

Pour oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Add 4-5 popcorn kernels. Heat over medium heat until kernels begin to pop. Add remaining kernels and cover with lid, leaving it a little bit ajar. Jostle constantly while popcorn pops, until pops are 2-3 seconds apart. Do not burn.

Remove pot from heat and pour popcorn into a bowl. Measure popcorn to ensure there are 12 cups. Set aside excess or pop more, as needed to meet the 12-cup requirement for this recipe.

Preheat oven to 250F. Heavily grease two rimmed sheet pans, your largest mixing bowl, and 2 silicone spatulas with oil or non-stick spray. Put popped popcorn in the bowl. Set aside.

Without stirring or jostling, combine sugar, maple syrup, salt, butter and water in a 4-quart pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Let boil 5 minutes. Do not stir. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and baking soda; mixture will bubble up.

Pour maple caramel over popcorn and use greased spatulas to toss together. Do not touch any coated pieces that fly out of the bowl—the molten sugar will burn you. Wait til they cool a bit before picking them up.

Divide coated popcorn among sheet pans. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Line a sheet pan or a surface with parchment. Pour baked popcorn on top. Let cool to room temperature. Serve

Leftover Salty Maple Caramel Corn will keep in a ziptop bag for up to 2 weeks. It may soften slightly on humid days.
Salty Maple Caramel CornSalty Maple Caramel CornSalty Maple Caramel Corn

Salted Caramel Chocolate-Covered Pecan Cookies

 I’m not sure how my dad found out about Leonard Farms Chocolate-Covered Pecans, but I can’t remember a holiday season without them. Every December, the familiar square box would show up at the front door and then all bets were off. In our holiday cookie-deprived states, my family suddenly became a bunch of hoarders. If my mom, sisters, or myself got to the box first, we were set. We would all know where the chocolate-covered pecans were hidden and would take great joy in sneaking off to have one or two. My poor dad would still be waiting for his treat even though it was already in the house. No matter that the box was addressed to him. I know it’s illegal to open someone else’s mail, but chocolate-covered pecans were (and are!) serious business! God forbid my dad got to the box first–none of the rest of us would see a single pecan until Christmas Day. And by then, my dad would have eaten two-thirds of the tin. Now that my sisters and myself are all living away from home, my parents send us each a tin of our own every year. My dad told me to share mine with Henry, but that’s unlikely to happen 😊 The square box arrived yesterday morning, just as I was feeling a distinct lack of holiday cookie inspiration. And so I decided to make them into something that I’d be glad to share with anyone. 
The dough is a variation on my favorite chocolate chip cookie dough, which I’ll post in 2016. There are no surprises here: flour, brown and granulated sugars, eggs, vanilla, baking soda, salt. You probably have everything to make these in your pantry right now, with the exception, perhaps, of chocolate-covered pecans. I know not everyone wants to have pecans shipped from Texas just for cookies. In Brooklyn, chocolate-covered pecans can be found at my beloved Sahadi’s and probably at Whole Foods. In Texas, I imagine that they are available at Central Market, along with Texas Pecan coffee (anybody want to send me some? 😜). If you can’t find any, I think these would be great with chocolate-covered almonds, which seem to be available everywhere these days. Anyway, chop up some chocolate-covered pecans, measure out a cup of them, and fold them into the dough. And then–you guessed it–time for a chill. Put the dough in the fridge for 90 minutes or up to three days. Once the dough is nice and cold, take it out of the fridge and scoop it by the 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons). 
 
 And now for the best part: the salted caramel. Flatten the scooped dough into discs. Top half of the discs with a halved caramel candy and a sprinkle of salt, followed by a second disc of dough. Fold the edges of the dough toward each other and gently roll it into a ball. Set the dough balls at least two inches apart on the prepared pans and bake 8-10 minutes at 350F. Top with additional chocolate-covered pecan pieces, if you’d like. These cookies are nice and gooey when served warm, but I don’t mind the super-chewy caramel centers when they are served at room temperature either!

Salted Caramel Chocolate-Covered Pecan Cookies are so good, you won’t want to share. But you should, because you aren’t a bunch of holiday cookie-deprived lunatics like my family. Maybe I’ll bring them a batch of these when I go to Texas in a couple of weeks. I say “maybe” because there’s a good chance I will eat the entire tin long before I head to the airport. Don’t be like me. 
 Want more Twelve Days of Cookies? Check out my Red Velvet Peppermintdoodles, Eggnog Sandwich Cookies, Whipped Shortbread Snowballs, Apple Cider Snaps, Oreo-Stuffed Andes Peppermint Crunch Cookies, and Peppermint Mocha Cookies! And come back soon for five more holiday cookie recipes before December 25!

Salted Caramel Chocolate-Covered Pecan Cookies
makes about 40 cookies

Cookies:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
1 cup chopped chocolate-covered pecans*

Salted Caramel Filling:
20 caramel candies, sliced in half*
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in sugars, followed by the egg and egg yolk. Beat in vanilla. Mix in the flour mixture in three installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Fold in the chopped chocolate-covered pecans. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for 90 minutes, or up to three days.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two sheet pans with parchment.

Scoop dough by the 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons), and roll into balls. Flatten the balls. Top half of the balls with a halved caramel and a pinch of salt. Top the caramels with another disc of dough. Fold the edges of the dough in toward each other and then gently roll it into a ball. Place dough balls at least two inches apart on prepared pans. Bake 8-10 minutes, until they look just slightly underbaked. Top with additional chocolate-covered pecan pieces, if desired. Let cool ten minutes on the pans before removing to a rack.

These cookies are best served slightly warm, but will keep well covered at room temperature for up to a week.

Notes:


1. If you cannot find chocolate-covered pecans, chopped chocolate-covered almonds will work well here.
2. I use Kraft Caramels.