When you have 10+ recipes to blog about, sometimes a recipe comes along that needs to cut the line. This one here is a line-cutter. Don’t hate the line-cutter.
How could you hate a line-cutter like this one anyway? These caramel crumb bars will rock your world. Seriously. I was wondering if my co-workers were disappointed when I walked in with these bars for a potluck last week instead of my originally planned cupcakes but they disappeared in the blink of an eye. Nobody missed those cupcakes.
Chances are, you’ve already got all the ingredients for this recipe in your house. The bars may look complicated but the top and bottom layers are made from the same batch of dough and the caramel center couldn’t be easier and more satisfying to make on your own. So yes, a 3 layer bar that you can pull together and walk out the door with in about 1 hour…love it! Be sure to leave yourself a piece or two at home before they’re out the door to your potluck du jour. You’ll thank me that night when you get home and find this little surprise sitting on the counter waiting for you. It certainly made my night!
Caramel Crumb Bars
source: adapted from Nick Malgieri, The Modern Baker
For the Dough:
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter (2 1/2 sticks or 20 tbsp), softened, divided
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
For the Filling:
6 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp light corn syrup
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1. Using butter or baking spray, grease the bottom and sides of a 9″x13″ baking pan (glass or aluminum). Line the bottom and sides with either parchment paper or aluminum foil and grease the paper (or foil).
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and set an oven rack to the bottom third of the oven.
3. For the dough: Beat 1 cup of butter, 1/2 cup of sugar, and salt in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed until soft and light, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla.
4. Mix in 2 1/4 cups of flour, scraping down the sides of the bowl and continuing to mix just until the dough is smooth and flour has been absorbed.
5. Scrape 3/4 of the dough into the prepared pan and press the dough evenly into the pan with either your palm or the flat bottom of a measuring cup. Take care not to press too firmly. If the dough is soft, chill while you proceed to the next couple of steps.
6. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of butter, 1/4 cup of sugar, and 1/2 cup of flour into the remaining dough and work the dough with your fingers just until the dough forms pea-sized crumbs. Set the dough aside.
7. For the filling: Combine butter, corn syrup, sugar, and condensed milk in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a wire whisk. When the mixture begins to boil, whisk frequently until it starts to thicken and darken slightly. This should take about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. The mixture will thicken as it cools.
8. Remove the pan from the refrigerator and pour the filling over the dough. Spread into an even layer with a off-set spatula. Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the filling.
9. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the filling starts to bubble up through the crumbs, turning a deep caramel color, and the crumb topping is fully baked.
10. Remove the pan from the oven and set atop a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes. When the pan is lukewarm to the touch, pull the uncut bars out of the pan with the parchment paper (or foil) and move it to a cutting board to cool completely. Once cooled, cut into 2″ square pieces. The bars will keep at room temperature for 1-2 days.