Friday, January 30, 2015

Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars

The weekend before my latest round of stomach distress, we baked cookies. I spent a lot of time that Saturday night & Sunday morning wondering if I even wanted a dessert for the week because I just wasn't feeling good but then Sunday afternoon when SP asked again I thought, well, of course I'll want dessert during the week even if it doesn't interest me right this second. But I wanted something quick and easy, like bar cookies, and something in an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 pan. Not a huge 9 x 13 pan of something. I did a quick search for bar cookie recipes and found this one from Martha Stewart: Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars.
They sounded good and pretty simple. It gave us another chance to make caramel. The first time we tried was for this Upside Down Nectarine Cake with Salted Caramel. It was just an OK cake, not something we really have the desire to make again. We are pretty sure part of the meh-ness is that we didn't cook our caramel long enough. This time we were determined to get a dark amber color.
It takes a lot longer than you think. And a lot of attention. And patience. Constantly using a pastry brush to brush the sides of the pot to keep crystals from forming. Wondering just how dark amber is, should I keep simmering or stop, am I burning it, when is it done?! Once we decided enough was enough, took it off the heat, and added the butter, cream, and salt, it looked like a lovely light brown caramel color, so we figured we did better than last time. But maybe next time, we'd simmer the water & sugar even longer.
Creamy caramel-chocolate sauce to pour over the baked shortbread layer.
Ready for the refrigerator.
These are really yummy and really rich. We cut them into 16 squares, but next time, I'd cut them into 32 smaller squares. The sea salt sprinkled on top adds that terrific salty bite. The bottom layer is simply shortbread and the chocolate layer is like a layer of fudge.
But these poor cookies. They are victims of my stomach. After I got sick Monday night, we tossed them into the freezer because I knew I wasn't going to want this rich & fudgy of a dessert for a week or two. I forgot to photograph them before freezing them, so it wasn't until earlier this week that I pulled 2 out and took their photo. The sea salt doesn't seem to have handled the freezing especially well. It looks like it kind of melted into the chocolate, leaving behind a salty, white circle. The cookie part and fudge part taste fine, and the sea salt tastes fine, it just doesn't look as pretty as it did before the freezer.
These are still a little too fudgy rich for my stomach, so SP has been snacking on tiny bites whenever he goes low. I've been sticking to popcorn for my evening dessert/snack. I gave a few of these cookies to my mom and when she and dad stopped by today, they both said the cookies were very good but very rich.

We'd make these again, probably for a party because even this small of a pan is a bit too much for just the two of us given the fudgy richness.

Recipe here.

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