Sunday, February 22, 2009
Caramel Crumb Bars
If you are a lover of butter and sugar in a pure form then these bars are for you since they are pretty much straight butter and sugar in various combinations. Sure, there is some flour binding the crust and crumb together, but it's really only there to hold everything together, and doesn't get in the way of the flavors at all.
I knew I had to try this recipe before too terribly long because it is the cookie recipe that Nick Malgieri says he would choose if he could only choose one. That's a pretty strong endorsement as far as I'm concerned and instantly put this recipe near the top of my list for the Modern Baking book. In fact, the only reason I put it off as long as I did was because of the time involved in prepping the caramel filling on the stove. It didn't take too terribly long of course, but I'm mainly baking on days I work which means I focus a lot on quick recipes like cookies or muffins.
A shortbread-style crust, most of which is patted into the bottom of the 9x13 pan, then topped with a boiled, sweetened condensed milk caramel sauce, topped with crumbles of the leftover crust and baked for 30 minutes. They are rich, and buttery, and sweet, and oh so good in their simplicity.
8 oz (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp corn syrup
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9x13 inch pan with foil, then spray it thoroughly with baking spray.
For the dough, beat the butter with the sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric miser with the paddle attachment on medium speed until soft and light 2 to 3 minutes. Add the vanilla.
On the lowest speed beat in 2 1/4 cups of the flour, scraping the bowl and paddle with a rubber spatula and continuing to mix just until the dough is absorbed.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and scrap 3/4 of the dough into the prepared pan. Use the palm of your hand to press the dough down evenly without compressing it too much. Chill the dough lined pan. work the remaining 1/4 cup flour into the remaining dough with your fingertips and form crumbs. Set aside at room temperature.
For the filling, in a medium saucepan bring the butter, corn syrup, brown sugar, and condensed milk to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Allow the mixture to boil gently, stirring often, until it starts to thicken and darken slightly, about 10 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes.
Remove the dough lined pan from the refrigerator and scrape the slightly cooled filling onto the dough. Spread it evenly using an off-set spatula, then scatter the reserved crumb mixture over the top.
Bake for 30 minutes until the filling is bubbling and is a deep caramel color and the dough is cooked through.
Cool in pan until lukewarm, 15-20 minutes. Let it cool completely before cutting.