My garden club annual fundraiser was on the horizon, and each attending member was expected to bring a finger food dessert such as cookies or bars. You know I’m always game for trying a new recipe, so after a short online search I came across these tempting Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars found on aspicyperspective.com website.
Marketed as “sticky chocolate chip bars oozing with thick buttery caramel filling,” these cookie bars screamed decadent—a sure bet for the garden club’s biggest event of the year. With what seemed like a perfect marriage of sweet flavors and textures, I only made one slight alteration–—adding additional chocolate chips on the top.
BTW, I fold in the chips instead of blending them in with the stand mixer, this way they don’t get chopped up. No need to bring out the heavy-duty mix master either. The dough came together easily enough just using my hand-held KitchenAide beaters and a large mixing bowl.
BUT, here’s the issue. While the recipe garnered almost a 5-star rating from hundreds of reviewers, no one seemed to mention the slicing problem. Even after cooling for 1 1/2 hours, then a 2-hour stint in the refrigerator, they still seemed too soft to cut effectively. So I put the covered dish in the freezer for 45 minutes. That finally did the trick. I was able to cut them down with crisp edges.
Not a sweet eater myself, I did of course have to try a nibble… Good gracious, these puppies were VERY rich indeed—one small bar is enough to satisfy any sweet tooth. You also have to throw a strict diet out the window because each bar contains 285 calories, 39 grams of carbs and 28 grams of sugar. But who’s counting? I actually cut mine down into 48 squares, so the numbers weren’t quite as alarming.
I also had my husband and step-daughter sample the goods. After the first bite they registered sugar shock. Neither one is a huge caramel fan and felt perhaps incorporating only half of the amount would suffice. On the other and, a few of the garden club ladies loved them just the way they were.
BTW, these bars freeze really well. So if—and that’s a BIG IF—you have any leftover, tightly wrap and freeze them until the craving hits. Once thawed, they supposedly taste just as good as freshly baked.
NOTE: Make sure to use plain soft caramels such as Werthers. Do not buy a hard variety or ones with white creamy centers.
Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips; plus another 1/4 cup for top, if desired
- 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
- 10 oz. soft caramels, unwrapped
- 1 tsp. flaked sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9″ x 13″ baking dish with foil with the ends an inch or two longer than the length, and liberally coat with nonstick cooking spray.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the softened butter with both sugars until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add the eggs, vanilla, salt, and baking soda. Mix well, then scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
- Turn the speed to low and add the flour, beat to combine. Fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula.
- Press half of the cookie dough into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. This can be a little tricky, and a little sticky…
- In a medium sauce pot, add the sweetened condensed milk and unwrapped caramels. Set over medium-low heat and stir until the caramels melt, making a smooth caramel filling. Pour the filling over the cookie dough base.
- Drop the remaining cookie dough over the caramel filling in small teaspoons-sized clumps. If desired, sprinkle another 1/4 cup chips over the top.
- Bake the bars for 25-30 minutes, until the center is just set and lightly golden. (Mine took 35 minutes.) Sprinkle with sea salt flakes and allow the bars to cool completely—at least an hour and a half.
- Lift the bars out of the pan by the edges of the foil and cut into 30 to 48 bars. (After they cool down completely, I suggest wrapping them well and freeze them for 45 minutes in order to get a crisp cut.)
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Tightly wrap and freeze any leftovers for future cravings, thaw and savor 🙂
Recipe was found on thespicyperspective.com and originally came from The Cookies & Cups Cookbook by Shelly Jaronsky.