Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Guest Post #8: Salted Caramel Butter Bars

So, now that it is late spring and almost officially summer it is the perfect time for desserts that travel well and are great at picnics, by the pool, laying on a beach, eating while on a road trip...I think you know where my brain is... So when Lauren(and no I am not talking in third person) said she would make these for her guest post I was super excited.  

Lauren is my co-worker and she is the original Lauren.  She is the reason that 50% of the time around the office I am called and introduced as LE.  (Thanks James for the nickname.)  We used to share an "office" with another one of our co-workers until we moved offices.  Now I am basically right outside of her door, so I can yell things to her about recipes or Pinterest or you know...work.  I have to give her full credit for introducing me to Pinterest and causing my minor (or major) addiction with Pinterest this past fall.  Lauren and I share a love of shopping, baking and crafts.  She is one of the coolest moms I know, who manages to have a life outside of parenthood.  She is basically just awesome...oh and these bars really are salty and delicious too, so you should totally give them a try.

From Lauren:
So let’s just say first of all that this blogging thing is way harder than it looks. Or, way harder than it looks for a major over thinker such as myself…trying to remember to take photos and wrap my brain around having to explain what I am actually doing in the kitchen? Major pressure! Listening to John Mayer’s new album while baking helps maintain a mellow vibe, however.
Anyway, when Lauren and I talked about what I was going to make for her blog, it was pretty much a no brainer for me. Anyone who really knows me knows my obsession with anything involving salted caramel.  A few months ago, I made these bars for a party and everyone loved them…brought them to the pool this weekend with similar results. If you like sweet, salty and a lot of butter, this one’s for you.

This is what your table might look like at this point.  Sam Adams helps the creative process.

Butter, powdered sugar and vanilla.

Cream it all together.

One layer down...

Time to melt these down...

Then spread it all out...

Salted Caramel Butter Bars(recipe adapted from Cookies & Cups)
For the Crust:
1 lb. (4 sticks) salted butter at room temperature
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 (about 50 individual caramels), unwrapped
1/3 cup milk or cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt (optional)

1.  First step, making the crust…combine the butter, sugars and vanilla.

2.  Once you get that together, sift in flour.  After mixing, transfer dough to parchment-lined 9x13” baking pan.  Instead of parchment, you can also use a baking spray, but I prefer the paper.  Use your finger to press dough down, forming a crust.

3.  Put crust into the oven at 325 and bake until firm.  For me, this was about 25 - 30 minutes.
While this is happening, chill the remainder of the dough in the refrigerator.

4.  Time to make your caramel sauce! Unwrap all those little caramels and add to a microwave safe bowl with milk and vanilla. Microwave in 30 second intervals (stirring between each) until caramels are melted and a sauce is created.

5.  Allow the bottom crust to cool for about 15 minutes and pour caramel sauce over top…this is when you can add your sea salt. I give it a pretty good sprinkle, about 1 tablespoon.

6.  Crumble remaining dough over the caramel and put the whole thing back into the oven for 25 – 30 minutes and smell the goodness.

Once the bars are finished, I like to sprinkle a little bit more salt over the top. Because let’s face it; healthy has really gone out the window a long time ago, hasn't it?

Let cool, cut into bars and enjoy!

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