Salted Chocolate Caramel Bars slather buttery chocolate shortbread with rich chocolate caramel, finished with a salty crunch of pretzels.
Let me just start by telling you that these Salted Chocolate Caramel Bars are Everything. And I do mean Ev-er-ree-thang! Crisp, buttery chocolate shortbread slathered in thick, rich chocolate caramel, and finished with the salty crunch of pretzels. Oh. My. WORD. These cookies are ridiculously good! Dorie Greenspan developed the recipe for the bars for her new cookbook Dorie’s Cookies. Dorie is a four time James Beard Award winner–the foodie equivalent of the Oscars–as well as the author of 12 cookbooks. Girlfriend knows her stuff when it comes to creating in the kitchen.
I’m partnering with my friends at OXO and Dorie Greenspan to raise money for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. I had the privilege of meeting Gretchen Holt-Witt a few years ago at one of our National Writers Series events in town. She shared the story of her son Liam–a brave little boy whose courageous journey with cancer led to her founding Cookies for Kids Cancer. C4KC–an organization striving to fund existing pediatric cancer treatments in order to get much needed medicine into the hands of pediatric oncologists to treat children with cancer.
I’ve shared delicious recipes like Savory Parmesan Cheese Cookies from the Cookies for Kids’ Cancer: Best Bake Sale Cookbook during Cookie Week to raise money for the organization in the past. Since then, I’ve developed other recipes like these cute and easy decorated shortbread cookies in effort to raise money for C4KC.
I must confess that I’d do just about anything if it would help raise money for C4KC. Cookies for Kids Cancer is near and dear to my heart because I lost my sister Cheryl to leukemia at a young age.
The folks at OXO graciously sent me a Glass 3 Qt Baking Dish with Lid, Glass 2 Qt Baking Dish with Lid, Brownie Spatula, and their new Illuminating Digital Hand Mixer as part of their Bake a Difference with OXO For Cookies for Kids Cancer campaign. OXO is generously donating $100 to Cookies for Kids Cancer for every blog post written for this campaign–up to $100,000! That could make the difference in getting life changing cancer treatment to kids who need it.
I’m a big fan of OXO kitchen gear as it is, but I must say that I am in serious love with their new baking dishes! The baking dishes are made with sturdy, BPA free glass with generous handles that have a little ergonomic lip underneath so that they don’t slip when maneuvering them in and out of the oven. The lids of the baking dishes fit well so well that food slopping over the sides while in transit is a thing of the past. The simple, sleek design is pretty enough to go from oven to table for serving, so less clean up for
me the Sons!
The hand mixer is a pretty sweet proposition that I find it to be light, well balanced and intuitive. I didn’t feel as if my arm would cramp at any moment while mixing the dough. The light illuminates the batter while in use, so it’s easy to see the ingredients coming together. The mixer also features space for the cord to wrap around the base, as well as a slick attachment that clips on the front to store the beaters. OXO wins at design and functionality yet again.
Awhile back, I shared my super secret trick for cutting One Bowl Fudge Brownies and other bar cookies with a plastic knife without tearing them apart in the process. Well, OXO’s Brownie Spatula does that trick one better by cleanly cutting the Salted Chocolate Caramel Bars and lifting them out of the pan with ease.
Salted Chocolate Caramel Bars are the perfect chocolaty combination of crisp cookie, soft caramel with a salty crunch. I should mention that Dorie’s recipe calls for toasted pecans on top. Being that 5/6 of us are allergic to nuts, I adapted the recipe to keep it safe for our family. I find that the pretzels add the same crunchy finish that pecans would, with the bonus of a little the extra salt to cut the richness of the bars. I made note of my adaptations in the printable recipe, also including a few helpful tips that I discovered while preparing the recipe.
Gently adapted from Dorie Greenspan
Yields 21 Bar Cookies
Salted Chocolate Caramel Bars slather butter chocolate shortbread with rich chocolate caramel, finished with a salty crunch of pretzels.
30 minPrep Time
30 minCook Time
1 hrTotal Time
- 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
- 1/2 cup (60 grams) coarsely chopped tiny pretzel twists*
- 2 tsp. unsalted butter, softened (for preparing the baking pan)*
- 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 heatproof bowl close to the stovetop, along with a small bowl of cold water and a pastry brush (preferably silicone).
- 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--about 6-7 minutes. (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, carefully 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.
Dorie’s recipe calls for pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped, for which I substituted and equal amount of tiny pretzel twists to make this a nut free recipe. I also added an additional measurement of softened butter with which to grease the pan prior to adding the shortbread base. Stir the sugar, corn syrup and water to combine in the pan prior to bringing it to a boil. Achieving a medium amber color with the caramel takes about 6-7 minutes in total. Caramel goes from “not quite there” to “burnt beyond salvation” in seconds, therefore I highly recommend watching the caramel the entire time that it is on the stove. I found the cookies easier to remove from the pan by running a thin, sharp knife under hot water before running it along the edges of the pan.
Disclosure: this is not a sponsored post, although I received OXO baking tools for review purposes only. I am partnering with OXO and Dorie Greenspan to raise money for Cookies for Kids Cancer. All opinions are always 100% my own. Thank you for supporting brands I love and and believe in, which makes Comfortably Domestic possible.
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