Things have been a little slow on here lately – sorry dear friends and readers! Big things are happening, and I promise to let you know soon what’s up with this little blog of mine. To make it up to you, I’m sharing a recipe today that completely BLEW OUR SOCKS OFF and changed all expectations of gooey crumble bars. Let’s dive right in!
The easiest thing to bring to a big get-together, for me anyways, is a steaming pan of gooey bars. You can easily control the portions according to how many people show up, and let’s not forget how simple it is to dazzle everyone with a giant scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and leftover caramel sauce on top! These bars completely caught us off-guard with how ridiculously amazing they tasted, and from now on if I’m asked to bring the dessert to something, this is completely and utterly at the top of my list. I mean. Salted FREAKING caramel, for heaven’s sake.
Even though the crumble is the simplest, tastiest, crumble you’ve ever made in your life, strangely enough, it’s not the star of these amazing dessert bars. It’s the gooey counterpart… the salted caramel! If you haven’t jumped on the salted caramel train yet, it’s about dang time we all do this together. This salted caramel sauce has changed our lives for the better. The first taste starts off with a “oh, sure. caramel. nice. alright. whatever” then BAM! HOLY SMOKES! the salted caramel flavor pierces right through and you seriously think back on all the lame reasons why you haven’t made it before. It’s super-easy to make, and took the first try to get it right. I usually shy away from sugar-bubbling-at-temperatures-high-enough-to-burn-my-face-off recipes, but this one wasn’t all that scary at all. After the salted caramel finished cooling, I wanted to drizzle it on anything I could find in the kitchen. A few apple slices happily obliged to my incessant cravings for more caramel-goodness-on-all-the-things, and we shortly thereafter had ourselves some killer bars to have for dessert. You can too, friends. Enjoy!
Salted Caramel Crumble Bars
makes one 8×8 pan
1 C unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
3/4 C powdered sugar
1/2 C granulated sugar
1 t vanilla extract
2 C all-purpose flour
heaping 1/2 C salted caramel sauce (store-bought, or recipe below)
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 8×8″ pan with aluminum foil, spray with a little cooking spray, then set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the vanilla and beat on medium-high until well combined, about 1 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl again, and add the flour, a 1/2 C at a time, on low speed, until combined. Dough should be in large crumbles. If dough is sticky, add a little flour (by teaspoon) until the right crumble texture is reached. Dough should not be powdery and dry (too crumbly – not sticking together). If so, you’ve gone a little too far in adding the flour.
4. Press one-third of the mixture into the prepared pan, pressing hard with your fingers to form a very smooth & even crust layer. Bake for 20 minutes, and make sure to refrigerate the remaining dough while the other parts are baking.
5. After it’s finished baking, remove from the oven and pour over salted caramel all over the crust. Evenly crumble the rest of the dough over the top of the caramel layer. Return to the oven and bake
for 20-25 minutes until top is barely golden, and there’s a little bit of the caramel bubbling through.
6. Remove pan from the oven and let cool for 2 hours before slicing and serving.
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Salted Caramel Sauce
makes about 1 1/4 C sauce
1 C granulated sugar
1/4 C water
1 t light corn syrup
1/2 C heavy cream
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 – 1t sea salt
1. Prepare all ingredients on the side and have everything ready – this recipe requires constant attention for the next 5 minutes.
2. In a medium saucepan (larger than you think, it will boil up significantly), add the sugar, water, corn syrup, and bring to a boil over high heat, whisking until sugar has dissolved.
3. Allow the mixture to boil for 5-12 minutes, or as needed, swirling the pan slightly if necessary, for it to turn a caramel-colored soft mixture. It can happen very quickly, and can burn almost immediately. Keep close watch! Reduce heat to low immediately when the color has changed.
4. Immediately, and slowly, add in the cream. Mixture will bubbly up quite a bit, so be careful to not stand too close. Stir in the vanilla and salt. It will bubble up again, so be careful.
5. Whisk until sauce is smooth and the salt & vanilla flavors have been evenly distributed. Sauce will thicken considerably. Transfer sauce to a heat-safe container (I used our thick glass measuring cup). Allow sauce to cool uncovered to room temperature.