Do you ever bookmark a recipe, then lose it in your files until it’s too late in the season to make it? That’s what I did with this one, for the last two years. Oops! Finally, it resurfaced on a day when I was looking for something different and holiday-ish to make for whatever reason.
I was surprised to see powdered sugar listed in the crust ingredients, and was very pleased with the subtle sweet results. This crust was a perfect base to the thick caramel-y filling, allowing the flavor to stand out. And although the chocolate topping had a bit of a snap to it, I just loved this entire combination.
And so did the large neighbor family I talk so often about.
Tired of holiday cookies? Try these caramel bars instead, that can be decorated any way you like, or just left with a chocolate topping. Scrumptious either way!
- Cold butter for buttering the pan
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 7 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 2 cans (14 oz each) sweetened condensed milk
- Pinch of salt
- 10 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 3-4 ounces white chocolate
- 3-4 ounces green Wilton candy melts
- 3-4 ounces red Wilton candy melts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9-x13-inch baking pan, then line with parchment paper, allowing the paper to hang over the sides. (This butter only serves to help the parchment stick to the pan.)
Beat the butter and powdered sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in the vanilla, then stir in the flour and salt until incorporated. Press the dough along the bottom and 1/2-inch up the sides of the parchment-lined pan. Bake on the center rack of the oven about 12 to 18 minutes, until just golden. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.
While the crust is cooling, combine the butter, brown sugar, milk and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened. If it gets clumpy, use a whisk to remove clumps. Pour over the cooled crust and spread evenly. Place in the refrigerator until completely cool, about 1 hour.
In a microwave safe bowl, melt the semisweet chocolate. Allow to slightly cool, then spread evenly over the filling. Let set at room temperature for about 30 minutes, then continue to the swirled topping method. If not decorating with a swirled topping, then cover and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
After completing the chocolate topping steps, use the microwave to melt the green and red candy melts in two separate bowls according to the package directions. Melt the white chocolate chips in another bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir until smooth.
Using a rubber spatula, dollop the green, red and white colors evenly over the top of the semisweet chocolate. Use a toothpick to swirl the colors together. Work quickly, so the chocolate and candy melts do not harden before you can swirl.
Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
If the chocolate and filling are very cold, it is best to allow the pan to set out for 20 minutes or so before trying to slice these. I found it easiest to remove the entire parchment and bars from the pan, then turn upside down on a cutting board and slice into 1 1/2-inch bars. This way, you are cutting through the softer crust first, and the hard chocolate last, allowing for less breakage of the chocolate. Store any leftovers in the fridge.
Source: Adapted from Ladies' Home Journal