The last post I mentioned being tired. Guess what? I’m still tired. Why, you ask? You did ask, didn’t you? Because I have kids, that’s why. last night at about 2am, Joshie came in the room saying he had had a bad dream. We cuddled for a bit, then I put him back to bed. Three fifteen am, Josh came in and said he was scared in his room and he needed a drink. I got him a drink, tucked him back into bed with “Favorite Bear” and “Fuzzy Bear” and stumbled back to bed myself, after tripping over a meowing cat who decided that he too was lonely and swatting at my bare leg was the way to let me know. So, first I had to go clean the rivulets of blood of my leg and put in 33 stitches. Mind you, all of this was after not being able to sleep well anyway because I’ve been dealing with a Migraine. FINALLY, about 5:30, I fell asleep. Then my husband and Josh came to say bye at 6:30 when Russ took Josh to school and himself to work. Fell asleep again… all the way to dream sleep this time…… only to suddenly be jerked awake by the feeling of someone poking me in the head through the pillow I routinely keep over my head to keep out light and noise. What was it, you ask? You did ask, didn’t you?
It was my 18 year old son Zach. He had missed the bus and needed a ride in. After I sobbed for a while and threw a tantrum while lying on the floor kicking my feet, I drove the boy in. And stopped at a gas station for something they pretended was coffee, but I’m fairly sure was really leftover ethanol. So I added cream and sugar to it and hoped for the best.
Which brings us to these bars. I blame lack of sleep and my family for the fact that I let these go a bit too long in the oven and the bottom crust was a weeeeeee bit hard (think machete needed) to cut through. Just remember… in cases like this, do not let me be your foodie role model. You’re welcome for that reminder.
They are good even with the slightly rocky bottom crust though, which says a lot for the bars. These are just my rendition of the ever popular Salted Caramel Butter Bars that are ubiquitous to the internet. They originally came from the cookbook Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey which I love and have taken out of the library about 63 times. I mean, really…. just look at the title. Of COURSE I love this cookbook!
The original bars are just crust, salted caramel and crumbles on top. Can we say one dimensional? :-p Not that anything with salted caramel and streuselly crumbs is a BAD thing. I just happened to think it needed something. Whoda thunk it, huh? So what did I do, you ask? You did ask, didn’t you? I added some toasted pecans in the top crumb layer and I added some chocolate chips on top of the caramel layer and increased the amount of caramel by about 4 ounces. See? Nothing earth shaking. Just enough to change it up a bit.
These are SWEET with a capital SWEET! Cut these bars small. I can see layering a couple of tart apples in there during the Autumn season to help cut the sweetness or serving these with some unsweetened sauteed apples as dessert. They just cry out for some tang. Also? Do not cringe when you see the amount of butter in these. C’mon… they’re called butter bars and this is my blog. You expected salad?
You know the drill….
Salted Caramel, Chocolate & Toasted Pecan Butter Bars
- 2 cups (1 lb) salted butter, room temp (you can sub unsalted, but add 1/2 teaspoon salt to the mixture if you do)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups flour
- 1 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted in a 350 degree oven
- 2 9 ounce bags Werthers Baking Caramels, unwrapped (because you know you planned on leaving them wrapped :-p)
- 1/2 cup cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350. Line a 13×9 inch pan with foil, preferably non stick. If NOT non stick foil, butter the foil or grease it with cooking spray.
- Place the butter, sugars and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer. You can use a hand mixer for this, but you will end up covered in flour and powdered sugar. Trust me. Cream them together until smooth. Add in the flour and beat at medium speed until you have a crumbly mass of dough.
- Pat 1/3 of the dough into the prepared pan; add the toasted pecans to the remainder of the dough, then place the part with the nuts in the fridge. Bake the crust at 350 until it is just firm and a light brown around the edges, about 20 minutes.
- While the crust cooks, make the filling. Place the caramels, cream and vanilla extract into a medium bowl. Microwave for 90 seconds. Stir to help melt, then continue microwaving for 30 second increments, stirring after each one, until it is smooth and fully melted. Mine took 2 and a half minutes altogether.
- Pour the caramel over the hot crust. Sprinkle with the teaspoon sea salt and the chocolate chips. Get the dough from the fridge and crumble it up over the top of the caramel. It is a lot of crumbs but don’t worry, it works.
- Bake at 350 until the filling is bubbly and the top layer is a nice light golden brown. Remember, I said LIGHT. Don’t be like me 😛 The baking should take about 25 minutes.
- Let the bars cool completely before cutting. Cut into small squares and serve with something tart…or some nice black coffee.
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