Bar Cookies & Brownies, Desserts

Salted Caramel Butter Bars

29 Comments 25 January 2013

I purposefully went looking for an over-the-top dessert recipe to post this week and sis blogging partner had linked this one to me through Pinterest a couple of weeks ago. It looks deceptively simple in appearance but the taste is out of this world mmmmazing. And if four sticks of butter doesn’t take that taste and send it completely into the Over-the-Top Galaxy, I don’t know what will.

Yes. Four. Sticks. Of butter. If you haven’t already had an aneurism or other such shock-induced shockery, proceed!

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Hello, if you’ve proceeded with today’s demo you are probably curious how four sticks of butter combined with sugar, flour and caramel tastes. We’re here to tell you that even one bite is beyond amazing. You’ll be happy you proceeded!

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Can you believe at this point there’s also flour in that bowl being hand mixer mixed? It just looks like butter! Hahahaha!

*ahem*

What our demonstration narrator is trying to say is you are doing such a fantastic job mixing! Why, we’ve never seen flour look so much like whipped butter in our lives!

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Time to smoosh it all into the pan, fellow butter lovers! Wetting your hands a little as needed helps this sticky mixture smoosh mo bettah. Don’t worry if it looks like a sandbox all the neighborhood cats have been in, it’ll smooth out a lot while baking.

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Now these things should come with a warning, as in LOOK OUT, all your caramels have disappeared into your family’s mouths! *alarmalarmalarm*

For real, one or two going for discriminating kiddo taste bud testing is OK, but you’ll need the majority of these for, you know, your frickin’ recipe.

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Create a river of caramel, which is luckily routed here into this, conveniently, shortbread-lined pan.

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Sprinkle the now flood plain of caramel with a little sea salt. This is going to make the old taste buds go a little mental when they get the combo caramel and salt, producing what is surely to be a wowgasm.

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Time to top your caramel goodness! Hopefully you placed your leftover shortbread dough in the fridge (or you may want to place it in the freezer as we chose to) because you’re going to crumble it all over the top to create that top layer of butter – dammit it all, we mean shortbread!

OK, we mean butter. Truth.

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Keeping that shortbread dough in the fridge or freezer (we put ours in the freezer for 10 minutes after it felt like the fridge had not chilled it enough) helps it keep a crumbled, almost streusel-like look and texture once baked.

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These little guys know how fantastically kick ass they are. The shortbread is, due the butter of course, incredibly tender and its mild flavor compliments the salty sweet wonder that is the filling perfectly. These taste so much more incredible the next day too. As a matter of fact, they tasted even better than that three days later. How any of these made it to three days I’m not sure (OK, it was the threat of too much butter in too short a time, but meh.).

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The salt against the caramel is divine and I can’t believe I’ve waited this long to try a salted caramel dessert. Hello, All New Dessert World! Can’t wait to see what other wowgasms you have in store.

Salted Caramel Butter Bars

from PipandEbby.com who got it from here, though Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Treats for Kids is apparently the actual source. Whew!

For the shortbread:

1 lb. salted butter room temp (4 sticks)
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla
4 cups all-purpose flour

For the filling:

1 bag (14 oz.) caramel candies, unwrapped
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt

Preheat oven to 325°.

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. Wrap remaining dough in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator. Bake crust 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. Once the caramel is melted add in your 1/2 tsp vanilla and stir until combined.

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.

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- who has written 335 posts on Full Fork Ahead.

Wife, mom, indulgent reader and book blogger, who occasionally likes to think she can cook. Sometimes she's right, sometimes she's wrong.

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Your Comments

29 Comments so far

  1. Rachael says:

    So, where I work, folks bring in desserts (or breakfast baked goods) on a fairly regular basis, and they are often posted with sticky notes which read things like “heart healthy!! :)” or “low fat.” It is a nice idea, but most of my very nice colleagues have not mastered the art of baking substitution, and these treats do not taste particularly good.

    Aside from the fact that these look really delicious, I kind of want to make them to take to work, and stick them in the staff kitchen with the note “caramel BUTTER bars — NOT low fat” and watch them get gobbled up faster than anything ever has in the history of work treats. I don’t think I’m a very nice person.

  2. KMont says:

    I think I need to site your comment on our next blog anniversary as the best one we’ve gotten. Ever! LOL! Love it. :D

  3. I’m addicted to salted caramel. These look like a delicious treat!

  4. Oh boy….these could get me into some serious trouble. They look amazing and I’m most definitely trying them out! Love salted caramel…

  5. Kim says:

    They are certainly delectable. We’ll have to try making this sort of thing as a truffle. Try try again. ;-)

  6. Janice says:

    These look amazing! I would choose caramel over chocolate any day (together is nice to though). Thanks for sharing!

  7. Oh wow these sound absolutely delicious! I love anything salted caramel, so definitely going to try these :)

  8. Kristi says:

    Looks really good. Can’t wait to try this recipe out. Thanks for posting.

  9. KMont says:

    Thanks for all the lovely comments, everyone! Hope you all give these a try and enjoy them! :)

  10. Ai-vy says:

    I found this on Foodgawker…and boy am I glad I did!! The stiffened butter (aka dough :p) is so easy and beautiful to work with!! The recipe truly is simple – which is dangerous only because of how often I will now be making this. I’ve already made one pan and have eaten an embarrassingly large amount all by myself…. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful recipe!

  11. These were a hit at the hubby’s work today. Thanks for the fabulous suggestion Kmont!

    Although, one minor complaint – whoever thought it was smart to individually wrap all the caramels is an idiot. *grin* It took me longer to unwrap them than it did to actually make this (including bake time or so it seemed). What do you think about substituting the caramels with a ready-made caramel sauce, topping, or something a little quicker?

    • KMont says:

      LOL – I know what you mean about unwrapping the caramels! As to the substituting you mention, the only thing I’d be worried about is achieving the same consistency as the unwrapped caramels with the heavy cream and vanilla added in. That’s the only part I can’t say for sure you’ll get. But it probably wouldn’t hurt to try. The sauce you can find for ice cream topping in the glass jar might do the trick.

      Glad they worked out at your hubby’s office! Did he win? It was a competition, right? Or did he just take ‘em to share?

      • I wonder, if a sauce is used, if you could still do the whole “mix with cream”. But yeah, the consistence of ice cream topping might work. Now I feel the urge to try it. I have some shortbread dough left over and I am heading to the store…I could totally make a small batch for the kids party on Saturday.

  12. Jeannie says:

    These look delicious, but I could not handle all that butter fat. That is one pound of butter!

    Has anyone cut back on the butter? Seems like that should work.

    • Kim says:

      Jeannie, I had a problem with the butter content as well, and I ended up making half a batch, and cutting them into 1-2 bite squares. They are very rich, so a batch of bites or two satisfies even the hungriest of crowds. Other than that, consider it a very occasional indulgence, and hopefully, you’ll enjoy!

  13. Justina says:

    I live in MN, and at my local cub foods Kraft has unwrapped caramel bits for baking.

    “Premium caramel bits, unwrapped for easy melting”

  14. STACY HEBERT says:

    Just made these a couple of weeks ago, and people are still talking about them. They are delicious. Will definately make them again soon.

  15. slevin1906 says:

    I have a question, I made these tonight and they are fantastic! However, I need to know if they require refrigeration? Thanks!

    • KMont says:

      I did not refrigerate these as I was taking them into work the next day. You could probably refrigerate them just fine for a few days, but I honestly can’t say if this would affect their texture since I haven’t done so. Let me ask my blogging partner. There’s nothing in them that can’t sit on the counter top for a couple of days, probably even more in a good, airtight container. I do want to say she tried freezing some and that didn’t work out too well.

    • Kim says:

      Hi! Yep, freezing them was a disaster! However, putting them in the fridge would be, I think, necessary if they’re going to be sitting around a few days. The butter content in them is so high, I would hesitate to not refrigerate them just in case. Don’t microwave them to warm them up, though, or you’ll have a big gooey mess. I would take them out a little before you want to have them and let them come to room temp if they’ve been refrigerated. Hope this helps!

  16. slevin1906 says:

    Ok, thanks so much for your prompt response! I make and sell homemade baked goods and I’m always on the hunt for yummy new ideas, however under Ohio cottage laws I can’t sell anything that needs to be refrigerated, and I was on the fence about this one…

  17. Stephanie says:

    Ever try adding pecans to the caramel?

  18. Steve M. says:

    Added a layer of pecan halves.Arranged in rolls on top of the cooled bottom crust.Before pouring on the carmel layer.Turned out wonderful.Had 2 friends describe the bars as ‘The best thing they ever tasted’.


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