Buttery Salted Caramel Bars
Okay, so these cookies were also referred to as "crack" and "heroin" (seriously) cookies by our customers. They are so good, and definitely addictive. The original recipe called for purchased caramel candies (50 of them-who wants to unwrap all of those?), so I use homemade caramel, which is definitely better! Make these just once; I doubt it will be the last time!
1 pound salted butter, at room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla
4 cups all-purpose flour
12 ounces Caramel Candy
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon coarse sea salt
Preheat the oven to 325-degrees.
Spray a 13X9-inch baking pan with non-stick spray. Line with parchment paper (one piece running each direction with at least 2-inch overhangs on each end to enable lifting the bars out of the pan). Spray the parchment with non-stick spray, as well.
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine butter and sugars until well-blended. Add the vanilla and beat until smooth. Add the flour in two additions on low speed until a smooth soft dough forms.
Press half of the dough evenly into the pan to form a bottom crust. (Place the remaining dough in the refrigerator to chill while baking the crust.) Bake the crust until light golden brown and firm, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes.
While the crust is cooling and the remaining dough is chilling, prepare the caramel: Place the caramel pieces in a microwave-proof bowl. Add the cream and vanilla, and microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove from the microwave and stir until smooth. If the caramel is not completely melted, microwave on high in 30-second increments, stirring after each addition until smooth.
Pour the caramel mixture evenly over the crust. Sprinkle the sea salt evenly over the caramel. Take the chilled dough from the refrigerator and crumble it evenly over the caramel. Return to the oven and bake until the caramel is bubbling in the center and the top is firm and it is a light golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.
Cool completely before lifting from the pan and cutting into 48 bars.