Monday, November 29, 2010

Caramel Crumb Bars

In honor of Thanksgiving, I cooked quite a bit. Did I take photos of what I cooked last week? Nope. I guess I was too busy... As if that's a good excuse. Anyway, here is a rundown of what I cooked, and how it rated:

Honey-Wheat Clover Rolls - 5 Bowls!

Cauliflower Gratin (Thanks Ina - You did me proud!) - 4 Bowls (it isn't meant to be made ahead!)

Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake with Peanut Butter Ganache - 4 Bowls

Caramel Crumb Bars - 5 Bowls (see below)!

Rosemary-Garlic Focaccia Bread - 4 Bowls (you have to take the garlic breath into account - otherwise, it's a 5 bowler).

Chicken Char Siu Skewers - 4 Bowls (I tripled the recipe, and every last bite was eaten. The problem was, no matter how much soaking I did, the skewers still burned. Boo.)

Mac and Cheese (Thanks, again, Ina!) - 4 Bowls (I lowered the fat, significantly, so it wasn't quite as rich as it should have been.)

Spicy Asian Cole Slaw - 4 Bowls (This is really just a "dressing" for coleslaw recipe, but it comes out very tasty and light!).

The caramel bars were the first thing I made, and I was still in photo mode, so I documented this one. I found the recipe in Saveur (kind of a "higher-end" foodie mag), and I just couldn't help myself. I made a giant mistake in these - I used light brown sugar, instead of dark. It wasn't an accident, to be honest. I just didn't have dark brown sugar. I don't think it affected the taste, but they absolutely weren't nearly as pretty as they should have been. Fortunately, people didn't hold it against me. These were devoured at Thanksgiving, and the little gathering we had, on Saturday. They taste like a layered shortbread, with a gooey layer of caramel, topped by buttery crumbles. Mmmmmm... What is there to hate, about a non-fruit dessert, with a crumbled topping? I was even able to pawn off the last half-dozen, on my sis-in-law, who is a caramel lover. Kevin dislikes caramel, because it is made of butter, so I am glad they made it to a good home. These are insanely easy to make, and totally decadent. I wouldn't make them, just for the sake of having cookies in the house, because they are pretty heavy (okay, fattening might be a better word), but they hit the spot, for a special occasion.

Seriously. Make these for your next cookie exchange, Christmas, Hanukkah, or dinner party. Love them. 5 Bowls.

Caramel Crumb Bars

20 tbsp. unsalted butter,
softened, plus more
2 1/2 cups flour, plus
more for pan
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed

Heat oven to 350°. Line a 9" x 13" baking sheet with parchment paper; grease and flour. In a mixer fitted with a paddle, beat together 16 tbsp. butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt until fluffy. Add 2 1/4 cups flour; mix. Transfer 3/4 dough to pan; press into bottom; chill. Rub remaining dough and flour into large crumbles; set aside. Combine remaining butter, brown sugar, syrup, and milk in a 2-qt. saucepan. Cook, stirring, over medium-high heat to make caramel, 8–10 minutes. Pour over dough; scatter crumbles over top. Bake until golden, 25–30 minutes. Let cool. Cut into bars.


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