I have a very Goldilocks and The Three Bears relationship with caramel.
Too light. Too dark.
Too sweet. Too burnt.
A whole lexicon full of "too" adjectives.
And the thing is that when you risk your life and the first ten layers of skin on your forearms in order to make it (hot sugar is HOT, people! ).
The only "too" it had better be is "too perfect".
Am I right, or am I right?
Though I'm usually a proponent of the "melt sugar and add heavy cream while backing away from the stove as quickly as possible" method, I was intrigued when I stumbled across these caramel crumb bars and saw that they required condensed milk, brown sugar, minimal stovetop bubbling....and allowed you to keep every single epidermal cell on your body.
But Joanne! you may squeal. How did your caramel turn that deeply beautiful amber color if you didn't stand over it sweating bullets and stirring as if your life depended on it?
It's called an oven folks. Let it do the dirty work for you.
But do they taste as good as if you had poured your blood, sweat, and skin into the mix? Given how quickly they disappeared at my friend Amma's housewarming party, to which I brought them, I'd say hands down yes. But there's only really one way to find out...
Before you move on to the recipe, I have a favor to ask of you. My recipe for Orzo, Arugula, and Butternut Squash Salad in a Maple-Balsamic-Coffee Vinaigrette was chosen to be a finalist in a Whole Foods contest, but I need YOUR votes in order to win! If you wouldn't mind stopping by this site and voting, I'd really appreciate it! You do need to register in order to vote, but all that happens when you register is that you get delicious recipes sent to your inbox once a week. Not a bad thing, if you ask me!
Also, I'd like to announce the winner of the Tate's Bake Shop Cookbook and cookies...Theresa of the Food Hunter's Guide to Cuisine! Congrats Theresa! I'll be emailing you.
Caramel Crumb Bars
Makes a 9x13-inch tray, adapted from The Modern Baker via Tracey's Culinary Adventures
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups AP flour, divided
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
- Preheat oven to 350 with a rack in the bottom third of the oven. Spray a 9x13-inch pan with cooking spray, then line the pan with aluminum foil or parchment, leaving an overhang so bars can be lifted out, and spray again with cooking spray.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and salt on medium speed until soft and light, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla.
- With the mixer on low, add 2 1/4 cups of the flour, beating just until the dough is smooth and the flour has been absorbed. Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Transfer 3/4 of the dough into the prepared pan. Press the dough evenly into the pan to form a bottom layer. Transfer the pan to the fridge while you make the filling and the top layer.
- Add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour to the remaining dough. Work it in with your fingers until large crumbs form. Set aside.
- To make the filling, in a medium saucepan, combine the butter, corn syrup, brown sugar and condensed milk. Bring to a simmer, whisking occasionally. When the mixture begins to boil, whisk frequently until it begins to thicken and darkens in color slightly, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for about 10 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the fridge and pour the filling over the bottom crust. Use an offset spatula to spread it evenly. Crumble the topping evenly over the caramel.
- Bake for about 30 minutes or until the filling is gently bubbling and has turned a dark caramel color. Cool the bars in the pan on a wire rack until lukewarm, about 15-20 minutes. Use the foil to lift bars out of the pan. Once completely cool, cut into squares.
I am submitting this to Bake with Bizzy!