Thursday, November 1, 2018

Caramel Bars

Having to provide cookies for a reception is a great excuse to try one of those recipes I've printed off and left cluttering up my kitchen counter.

I organized the South Central Community Foundation grants award night on Monday for Stafford County. As I told others who are bringing cookies, let's look for something a little more out of the ordinary than your standard chocolate chip.
These buttery, caramely cookies definitely qualify. And they taste like fall, too ... like caramel apples without the apple. OK, that may be a stretch. But they are really good.
I also made coconut macaroons for one of my offerings. (I used fall-colored candy discs and then topped with fall leaf sprinkles to add some pizazz.
I ended up making four different kinds of cookies. (It's not that I don't trust people to show up with their 2 dozen cookies, but I'm one of those people who doesn't want to serve a skimpy cookie platter. And here's the recipe for the decorated cookie bar in the middle of the tray - Blonde Brownies.)

I like to use vanilla bean paste in my cookies, and I did that with these, too. It's expensive, but you can't beat the flavor in this bar cookie ... or in anything else.  If you can't find the unwrapped caramel bits (pictured in the top photo), you can unwrap a 14-ounce bag of caramels.

Caramel Bars
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tbsp. vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
11-ounce bag caramel bits
1/3 cup heavy cream or half and half
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 13- by 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Lightly spray with cooking spray. I sometimes skip the parchment paper when a recipe calls for it, but it's worth it to add it for this recipe to avoid the caramel sticking to the pan.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar and powdered sugar. add sour cream and 1 tablespoon vanilla until combined. Mix in the flour and salt; combine until it forms a soft dough. Press half the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Place other half of dough in the refrigerator. (Just come close. I usually end up with a little more in the bottom of the pan. It will be OK!)

Bake crust in preheated oven to 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned. While the crust is baking, combine caramels, heavy cream and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 90 seconds at 70 percent power. Continue heating at 70 percent power for 30- to 45-second intervals until the caramels are melted and you're able to form a smooth caramel mixture. Take care not to burn!

Pour melted caramel mixture evenly over the hot crust. Remove remainder of dough from fridge and crumble over the top of the caramel. Return to the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the filling is bubbly and the top is firm.

Cool completely before cutting into small squares.


  1. Oh my goodness, there goes my "good" eating! I guess this is not a good time of year to try to shed a few pounds. They look delicious!

    1. I took some to my daughter's house, and my son-in-law approved!

  2. Thank for your very good article! i always enjoy & read the post you are sharing!