Saturday, February 4, 2012
Gooey Caramel Butter Bars
Source: Jill O'Connor's Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey
Makes 12-2x2 squares
1 stick butter (8 Tbsp), at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 apples, cored and thinly sliced (I used granny smith)
2 Tbsp mixed with 3/4 tsp cinnamon
Caramel sauce (recipe below)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8x8 brownie pan with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugars. Beat until creamy. Add vanilla and salt and combine. Add flour and beat on low speed until combined (dough will be sandy).
Press about 1/2 the dough evenly into the pan to form a bottom crust. Place the remaining dough in the refrigerator.
Bake until firm and the edges are a pale golden color, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together the apples and cinnamon-sugar in a small bowl and make the caramel sauce. Remove the pan from oven and cool for 5 minutes.
Line with apples and top with half of caramel sauce. Crumble the rest of the refrigerated dough in top and return to oven. Bake until shortbread topping is firm and lightly golden, about 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
Lifting foil, remove bars, place on a flat surface, and cut into even squares using a sharp knife.
Storage: 1 week tightly covered at room temperature; 1 month in freezer.
Whiskey Caramel Sauce
Makes 1 cup
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup whiskey
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
Combine the sugar, whiskey, and lemon juice in a heavy bottom saucepan over medium heat. Cook, gently swirling the pan occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and starts to turn color. Increase the heat to high and boil until the syrup turns a deep amber color, 4 to 5 minutes. Watch carefully, as it can burn quickly.
Immediately remove the pan from the heat and pour in the cream and salt. Carefully stir in cream, as caramel has a tendency to hiss and splash as the cold cream hits it. Place pan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until caramel thickens, 5 to 7 minutes. The mixture should be the consistency of thick cream. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.