Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie—Caramel Crunch Bars

Caramel Crunch Bars
The base of this bar is a shortbread cookie with a hint of coffee and cinnamon followed by a layer of melted chocolate and a sprinkle of caramels on top. Instead of buying Heath bars (which aren't typically available in Canada although The Candy Store in Ottawa imports them) or Skor bars, I made my own caramels and pulverized them in my food processor.

One of the best take aways from this recipe was lining the pan with aluminum foil. The liner makes it easy to remove the cookie base from the pan and put it on a cutting board saving your nice pan from the sharp edges of your knife.
The most efficient way to line the pan is to tear off a large piece of aluminum foil, turn the pan over, mold the foil against the pan, and square the corners (think hospital corners on a bed), then lift the foil against the pan, and carefully slip it into the pan. It won't fit perfectly — it never does — but you can quickly press it into shape. Once it's coaxed into place, butter the foil, a job best done with a pastry brush slathered with softened butter.
from Link
I also learned a bit more about Heath bars vs Skor bars. Check out my poll on my right sidebar and let me know your favorite treat.

CaramelsRecipe

Makes 1 9x13 pan

Ingredients for Caramel Crunch Bars
For the Base:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder or finely ground instant coffee
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup (packed) light brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 ounces bittersweet or premium-quality milk chocolate, finely chopped

For the Topping:
6 ounces bittersweet or premium-quality milk chocolate, finely chopped
¼ cup Heath Toffee bits (I made my own caramels)

You can find the recipe for Caramel Crunch Bars in the book Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or here. To see how the rest of the TWD group fared with this week's recipe, click here and then click on each blogger!

Click here for the recipe for Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels.

Caramel Crunch BarsTasting Notes
How can you go wrong with shortbread, chocolate and caramel chunks. It would be fun to play with the shortbread base, but why mess with perfection?

Recipe for Next Week (March 3)
Chocolate Armagnac Cake — The Cake That Got Me Fired on pages 279-281 chosen by Lyb of And then I do the dishes.

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  • 44 comments:

    Elyse said...

    Mmm, your bars sound extra special from the use of your homemade caramels. How yummy! I can't wait to try this recipe!

    rainbowbrown said...

    That caramel on top looks delicious.

    doughmesstic said...

    But of COURSE you made your own caramels. Of Course!
    You are one tough chick.

    HoneyB said...

    I actually vote for Skor!

    Love your post - and thanks for pointing out the tip on the foil - I plan to make these tonight. My first TWD that I do plan to make and am making really late!

    Melanie said...

    Those look scrumptious! I'm a sucker for anything with caramel.

    Have you tried non-stick foil for things like this? I use it when I do anything with molten caramel, and it works really well.

    Cathy said...

    Wow, I bet that making your own caramel really took these to the next level! Although I do love some heath. I agree -- the foil trick was a great one; I am likely to use it with many bar cookies/brownies going forward. Your crunch bars look amazing!

    Jennifer said...

    I love making caramels. What a great idea. I bet a caramel-y layer went just as well as a toffee layer.
    (And I liked the foil tip, too, and will use it again in the future. I have two 9x13 pans, both which have scar marks from cutting brownies/bar recipes)

    Jules Someone said...

    These look amazing. I've never attempted caramels, but I really want to right now.

    Pamela said...

    Yummy looking!! The caramels look fab, too.

    mike said...

    Shari - thanks for updating my blog! LOVE your bars! I especially like the clear, dotted background -very nice effect! They look fantastic. I wish I had stores here that sold blocks of the "good chocolate" like I can tell you use - I usually have to order them online. Very nicely done!

    vibi said...

    Cute! Looks like the plate and the bar are cousins! LOL

    I'm going to the poll now... I'm sold! A true Skor fan...

    P.s.: Thanks for the foil tip!

    chocolatechic said...

    Home made caramels.

    YUM!

    Melissa said...

    Look at you making your own caramels! So creative. Love the bars. Yummmmmy

    pinkstripes said...

    YOur bars look amazing. They were very very delicious and even better with ice cream. YUM!

    Natashya said...

    They look great! I love your bubbly plate, and that you made your own caramels!

    BAKE-EN said...

    I love the idea of putting caramel on top. I made my own toffee which worked out nicely.

    Anonymous said...

    "Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble. . ." what great bubbly photos you have!! I love the homemade caramels on the side. Gorgeous.

    Hannah said...

    Oh those look -so- good! I'm very tempted to veganize this recipe.

    Kayte said...

    Ooh, I love that plate! It makes the photos just pop. Your bars look lovely...and those little cups are so cute. Great job!

    TeaLady said...

    Beautiful bars. Love the 'hobnail' plate.

    karen said...

    love that you made your own caramels. i really liked this recipe, so easy and delicious which is what i need right now! i voted for homemade caramels, no doubt about it. :)

    Tartelette said...

    Gorgeous and I bet delicious!!

    Jacque said...

    I'm loving how your caramel in the first picture has the same look as your bubbly plate. Very cool!

    You get extra points for making your own toffee/caramel topping. Yum!

    Tracey said...

    Love your tip about how best to line the pan with aluminum foil. I'm going to try that! Your bars look amazing! I bet they were delicious topped with caramel.

    n.o.e said...

    Love the homemade caramels - especially love that you, not me, made them. I'm petrified of molten sugar! The foil was cool, but I couldn't figure out why Dorie wanted us to cut the bars without cutting the foil. It wasn't like we were going to reuse it.
    Nancy

    Marc @ NoRecipes said...

    Great combo of some of my favourite sweets. I could see myself devouring a whole plate of these with some warm milk.

    Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

    These bars look ever so tempting! A scrumptious treat! I can't resist anything that contains caramel...

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    Jan said...

    Lovely photos! Great looking caramel bars.

    Matt's Kitchen said...

    I think I would vastly prefer the caramel you topped your bars than the toffee bits which to me always feels as if I'm chewing on gravel...

    Jin Hooi said...

    wow.. looks great !! especially love the homemade caramels, well done !!!

    Karen said...

    Making your own caramels is impressive!! :) Your pictures are always beautiful.

    kim said...

    they look wonderful (and with your caramels, they fit the name more accurately! :) )

    Gabe's Girl said...

    Wow, what a creative twist to your treat and post! I am a Skor girl. I just love them when I can find them.

    steph- whisk/spoon said...

    how cool that the top of your bar matches your plate! these look super good, esp since you did make your own caramels!!

    Teanna said...

    Oooohhh I just totally put that Golden Vanilla Bean Caramel on my list of things to make! Delicious!

    Jaime said...

    great job making your own toffee! yum

    The Food Librarian said...

    crazy goodness! these look incredible. love the caramel!

    Arfi Binsted said...

    oooooooooo looks soooooooooo sweeeeeettt!!!

    jessbcuz said...

    oh my goodness.. that looks great-- of course the week after I resign myself to not participating a recipe like this comes up! well yours looks just scrumptious!

    Di said...

    I love making caramels. Great texture on the top of your bars--they look really cool. =)

    Engineer Baker said...

    Why am I not surprised you made your own "heath / skor bars?" Beautiful job, as always!

    natalia said...

    Ciao ! I love your picture !! They were a bit too much for me ! Baci

    LyB said...

    Wow, your bars look fantastic! Those homemade caramels must really make a difference in the taste. Beautiful, all around. :)

    Monica H said...

    i love the texture of the plate and the tops of your caramel bars. So pretty.

    And I love your caramels :-)