Thursday, March 29, 2012

Caramel Crunch Bars, Sans Caramel

Weak month, Baking Sisters. Weak.

Yesterday was my birthday. Yay! It was also Rachel's Hebrew birthday (her English birthday is over Passover, which is not optimal for creating delicious baked goods) so we got cupcakes from Evil Crumbs. I had Evil Oreo and she had Evil Vanilla. Sinfully delicious.

Anyway, I have been baking quite a bit, but I haven't been making any new recipes. I'm going to try out some new stuff for my birthday party on Sunday and report back to you. But for now I thought I'd post about one of those recipes I've made a dozen times but, for whatever reason, have never posted about here. And where better to go for such a recipe than Dorie?

I don't know why they're called caramel crunch bars, since there isn't really any caramel involved (I guess the toffee?), but this is really one of my favorites nevertheless. I make it all the time. It's easy and it's rich, what could be better? The crust is an amazing buttery shortbread, and if you use good-quality chocolate and any-quality heath chips (you really can't go wrong with heath chips) you'll have a fabulous treat on your hands. Plus, it's fun to watch the crust bubble, and to lick the back of the spoon when you're done spreading the melty chocolate. I got the idea to put it in a mini-tart pin from a picture I saw on Tastespotting (this was before Pinterest, if you even remember such a time). It was good but the crust is necessarily going to be a little thicker, so keep that in mind and adjust your preferences accordingly. Dorie recommends using them as cookies in an ice cream sandwich but even I have to have to impose limits occasionally!

Caramel Crunch Bars

From Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

For the Base

1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp instant espresso powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
2 sticks butter, at room temperature
½ cup brown sugar (packed)
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
For the Topping
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
¾ cup Heath Toffee Bits


1. Preheat your oven to 375F. Butter a 9×13 inch baking pan and line with parchment paper.
2. In a bowl, whisk together flour, espresso powder, salt and cinnamon.
3. Beat butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat for another 3 minutes or until the mixture is light and creamy. Beat in vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix until almost incorporated.
4. Add the chopped chocolate and mix only until dry ingredients disappear.
5. Using spatula or fingertips press dough into buttered pan into a thin, even layer.
6. Bake for 20-22 minutes until base is bubbly. Remove pan and turn off oven.
7. Scatter chocolate evenly over hot base.
8. Return pan to hot oven for 2-3 minutes until chocolate is soft.
9. Remove from oven and immediately spread chocolate over bars using spatula or back of spoon.
10. Sprinkle toffee bits over chocolate and allow to cool to room temperature.
11. If chocolate hasn’t set by the time the bars are cool, place in refrigerator briefly until chocolate firms up.
12. Cut bars into rectangles or squares.

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