Is anyone else already thinking about Christmas? Or Christmas goodies to be exact. Every year I make an assortment of desserts to hand out as gifts to neighbors, teachers, family, etc, and I've been on the lookout for a few new things. For me, not only do they need to taste amazing, but they need to be simple and quick to prepare, cause really, who has the time for complicated around the holidays!
I immediately turned to Baking from My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan, she manages to come up with recipes that aren't so simple that they're boring, but not fussy and overly complicated.
Not exactly sure why Caramel is in the name of these bars, as there isn't a lick of caramel in them, but who cares, they were yummy! The base layer of the bars is buttery with a little chew factor. It's melt in your mouth goodness from the first bite of toffee to the crumbly base...mmmmmmm, definitely making it to my Christmas baking list.
Caramel Crunch Bars, by Dorie Greenspan
For the base:
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. instant espresso powder or finely ground instant coffee
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
2 sticks (8oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 oz. bittersweet or premium milk chocolate, finely chopped
For the topping:
6 oz. bittersweet or premium milk chocolate, finely chopped
¾ cup Heath toffee bits
Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly butter a 9x13 inch baking pan, line the pan with foil and butter the foil. Put the pan on a baking sheet.
To make the base: Whisk together the flour, coffee, salt and cinnamon.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the sugars and beat for another three minutes or until the mixture is light and creamy. Beat in the vanilla and turn off the mixer. Add all the dry ingredients, cover the stand mixer with a kitchen towel (so you and your kitchen don’t get showered in flour) and pulse the mixer on and off at low speed about 5 times- at which point a peek at the bowl should reveal that it’s safe to turn the mixer to low and mix, uncovered, just until the dry ingredients are almost incorporated. Add the chopped chocolate and mix only until the dry ingredients disappear. If the chocolate isn’t evenly mixed, finish the job by hand with a spatula. You’ll have a very heavy, very sticky dough. Scrape the dough into the buttered pan and, with the spatula and your fingertips, cajole it into a thin, even layer.
Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until the base is bubbly – so bubbly that you can almost hear it percolating – and puckery. It will look as though it is struggling to pull away from the side of the pan. Transfer the pan to a rack and turn off the oven.
To make the topping: Scatter the chocolate evenly over the top of the hot base and pop the pan back into the oven for 2 to 3 minutes, until the chocolate is soft.. Remove from oven and immediately spread chocolate over bars, using offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the toffee bits over the chocolate and press them down lightly with your fingertips. Place the baking pan on a rack to cool to room temperature.
If, by the time the bars are cool, the chocolate has not set, refrigerate them briefly to firm the chocolate.
Carefully lift out of the pan, using foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. Trim the edges if they seem a bit thick. Cut about 54 bars, each about 2 inches by 1 inch, taking care not to cut through the foil. Print this post