15 Thursday Sep 2016
These.are.amazing. Seriously. If you like anything chocolate you’ll love these. I don’t want to hear that you aren’t on the salted caramel band wagon. You don’t like pecans or nuts on your sweets, that’s okay because you’ll be too busy scarfing these down to even realize. Now, if you are allergic, just skip them, it will be okay without them. The base of these bars is a delicious chocolate shortbread. It’s delicious on its own, but is definitely not the star of the show and acts as a nice base for all the goodness that is poured on top of it. Salted caramel and dark chocolate are where it’s at. This gooey layer on top is what you’ve been dreaming of all along. Add the toasted pecans for crunch and you have perfection!
Thanks to OXO I got to make these delicious bars with what is now my new favorite baking and storage dishes, the OXO Good Grips Glass Bakeware and their Illuminating Digital Hand Mixer. Honestly, I didn’t know I could love a hand mixer until I met this beauty! It has intuitive digital controls to steadily increase or decrease speed. There are no surprises as you change your speed which means no splatters all over the kitchen counter! When you’re finished, the on-board beater clip, wrap-and-secure cord, and flat, stable base allow for compact, upright storage. My favorite part is that it the base is flat and the cord can be tucked in on either side. That means that there is no awkward way of setting the mixer down. Just plop it down, the cord will handle itself and you can get on to whatever task you’re doing. Thank you OXO!
Now let me back up to the OXO Good Grips Glass Bakeware for a minute. I’ve talked about these containers before but what I love about the Glass 3 Qt Baking Dish with Lid and Glass 2 Qt Baking Dish with Lid especially is that the lids don’t lay flat. They allow a little space so that casserole you make or dessert you frost doesn’t get smooshed. The lids also seal very well and you don’t have to second guess yourself all of the time. Of course they’re also made from BPA-free borosilicate glass and can withstand extreme temperature changes. Not to leave anything out, the OXO Brownie Spatula is an extremely handy tool to make serving so much easier and more presentable!
Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars
For the Shortbread Base
- 1 cup (136 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1⁄4 cup (21 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons; 4 ounces; 113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
- 1⁄3 cup (67 grams) sugar
- 1⁄4 teaspoon fine sea salt
For the Caramel Topping
- 1 cup (200 grams) sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 1⁄2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream, at room temperature (or slightly warmed in a microwave)
- 2 tablespoons (1 ounce; 28 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces and very soft
- 1⁄4 teaspoon fleur de sel or a good-size pinch of fine sea salt
- 2 ounces (57 grams) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- About 1⁄2 cup (60 grams) pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Generously butter (or spray) an 8-inch square pan.
To make the shortbread base:
Whisk together the flour and cocoa powder. Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter, sugar and salt together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Turn off the mixer, add the dry ingredients all at once and beat on low until the dough comes together. This will take a little longer than you might expect, so don’t get discouraged. Give the dough a few last turns with a flexible spatula and scrape it out into the pan. Using your fingertips, pat the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan; press down and make sure to get the dough into the corners. Bake the shortbread for 21 to 23 minutes, rotating the pan after 10 minutes, or until it is slightly darker around the edges and just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan; it will not feel completely firm if poked gently. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the shortbread to cool completely.
To make the caramel topping:
Put a small bowl of cold water and a pastry brush (preferably silicone) next to the stove. Put the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a small saucepan or skillet and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow the ingredients to bubble away, brushing down the sides of the pan with cold water if there are spatters and swirling the pan a couple of times once you start seeing some color, until the caramel turns a pale to medium amber. (Don’t let it get as dark as mahogany.) Lower the heat, stand away from the pan and add the cream, followed by the butter and salt — ingredients that might cause the caramel to roil. Remove the pan from the heat, drop in the chocolate and, using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, stir to blend.Pour the hot caramel over the shortbread and sprinkle with the nuts. Allow to set at room temperature.
When the caramel is firm, run a table knife around the sides of the pan, care- fully unmold the cookie onto a rack and turn it over onto a cutting board. Using a long thin knife, cut 21 bars (cut into 3 strips and then cut each strip into 7 bars). Alternatively, leave the cookie whole and cut individual bars as needed.
When the caramel is fully set, the cookies (cut or intact) can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 5 days. Remove them from the refrigerator about 10 minutes before serving.
Makes 21 bars
Source: Recipe from Dorie’s Cookies by Dorie Greenspan