Salted chocolate caramel cookie bars

Or as I have been casually been referring to them as of late, “OMFG these things are amazing.”

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I’ll give credit where credit is due, I didn’t come up with these on my own, I found this blog while browsing tastespotting, and almost died when I saw the makeup, like a fancy twix bar!

I was all ready to make them, so I began gathering my ingredients and tools together, and found this dark corn syrup in my cabinet. It must have come from my mother when she moved to Australia, and for the life of me, I have NO idea how it survived nearly 25 years. Remember that the best by date is a few years off from when the product is purchased. My mollasses, bought last year, has a best by date of 2013, so it’s probably 4-5 years off from date of manufacture. It’s quite possible that this corn syrup is older than I am. I find that strangely comforting now that I’m just a week away from becoming a quarter century old. Anyway….

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I used it. Just keepin’ it real.

Here’s the biscuit portion. It would have been much more attractive, but I have this silly tendency to “make sure” things are going to come out of the pan. That resulted in the cookie fracturing because it doesn’t have caramel and chocolate to reinforce it. After reassembling it to the best of my ability, I moved on to make the caramel layer.

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It was easy enough, but a strange method. Very few caramel recipes call for adding butter before cooking. All of the “real” candymaking ones that I’ve run across call for adding the butter AFTER the sugar mixture has been cooked to temperature. I happened to get some dark spots in the caramel sauce, and I’m unsure whether it’s because of the milk solids from the butter browning in the high temperatures, or the 25 year old corn syrup. I’ll blame it on the butter.

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I couldn’t get enough of smelling the caramel cooking, so I got a small dipping sauce bowl and sprayed it with cooking spray and when I poured the caramel onto the cookie portion, I saved a little and poured it into my bowl to cool. It was magical. I recommend doing the same if you make this recipe.

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Then it’s just a matter of adding your chocolate layer. I forgot to add vanilla to my caramel so I scraped the guts from a vanilla bean and added it to my melted chocolate.

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The chocolate is just semisweet chocolate chips that I melted in the microwave in 15-30 second intervals and mixed between each. Then poured it over the caramel and spread it as evenly as was easily possible without getting an offset spatula dirty. Then I sprinkled with fleur de sel. I love salt, but the amount that I used was maybe a little overkill. Just a little. Add a tiny bit less than I did. 😉 Fleur de sel was good to use because the granules have many different sizes and textures. Some are crunchy, some are flaky, some are tiny, and some are large and hard. It gives you some great variation, and it doesn’t melt down into the chocolate. If I had used Kosher, I’m pretty sure the salt wouldn’t be very visible, and certainly less interesting.

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Chocolate Caramel Slice
(from Bon Appetit)
makes 16-20

crust:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tbs ice water
1 egg yolk

toppings:
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
6 tbs unsalted butter, diced
2 tbs dark corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tbs Maldon sea salt

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preheat oven to 350 degrees F. grease a 8 1/2-inch square metal baking pan. blend flour, brown sugar, cornstarch and salt in a food processor. add butter and pulse until a coarse meal forms. add ice water and egg yolk and blend just until moist clumps form. press dough onto bottom of prepared pan evenly. pierce all over with a fork. bake 20 minutes or until golden brown. cool completely.
whisk together condensed milk, brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and vanilla in a medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves, butter melts and mixture comes to a boil. insert a candy thermometer and boil gently until caramel is thick and temperature reaches 225 degrees F. whisk constantly to prevent from burning. pour caramel evenly over cooled crust and let set 15 minutes. melt chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave at 15 second intervals, stirring occasionally. spread melted chocolate evenly over caramel layer. sprinkle with sea salt and refrigerate until set, at least one hour. can be made three days ahead if covered and refrigerated. cut into bars and enjoy!

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