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If you don’t love salted caramel then you should check to see if you have a reflection in the mirror because you are most likely a soul-less vampire. Go look. I’ll wait here with some salted caramel.

And a wooden stake…just in case.

I saw these bars from heaven on Brown Eyed Baker’s blog. I thought I would use my Best Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie, Ever recipe and my own go-to salted caramel recipe. I ended up with left over chocolate chip cookie dough and a yacht load (bigger than a boat load) of left over salted caramel. I followed the original recipe and used a 9×9 baking dish, but I should’ve used a 13×9 pan instead. If you follow my recipe I would suggest you use a 13×9 pan, but still expect to have leftover caramel.

To make the caramel I assemble all of my ingredients ahead of time. When working with boiling caramel you must stir constantly so I like to have everything ready for when it’s “go-time”.

I set my thermometer to 232F which is thread stage. This temperature is a lot softer than if you were making chewy caramels, but I didn’t want the caramel layer to be too stiff. I’m still experimenting with sugar temperatures. I actually stopped cooking when it reached 227F and the caramel turned out to be a good consistency for the bars, but too soft to cut and wrap, or even make caramel pecan clusters. Keep reading to see what I did with the left over caramel.

Melt the butter on a medium heat setting.

Add the remaining ingredients, except for the Mexican vanilla. Stir on a medium heat until it begins to boil.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take photos while the caramel was boiling, or while adding the vanilla. WARNING: When you add the vanilla the caramel will bubble up so make sure your pan is deep enough to contain all of the caramel. Here it is after it reached 227F. ANOTHER WARNING (more of an advisory, really.  Not sure if it needs to be in bold, anyways…): When pouring caramel out of a pot do NOT scrape the sides of the bowl, just let the last little bit drip out of the pot and then set it aside. If you agitate the caramel too much it will crystallize and/or become lumpy. I wanted it to stay warm so I could pour it on the cookie layer so I left it in the glass pot on the counter.

Make your chocolate chip cookie dough. I used my Best Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies, Ever recipe but did not let it chill overnight. If you have time I would recommend letting it chill for 24 hours. Press into a greased pan (9×9 if you follow the Brown Eyed Baker recipe, 13×9 if you follow mine).

Pour the caramel onto the first layer of the dough and cover the caramel with make-shift sheets of more dough. I got so excited I forgot to take a picture of the caramel layer before I added the top layer of cookie dough. It looked glorious. Sorry.

Here’s a side shot to kinda make it up to you. Put it in the oven for 30 minutes at 325F, or until it’s nicely browned on the top and sides.

After making it in the smaller dish I realized I had a lot of left over dough and caramel. I put a thin layer of caramel on some parchment paper and put it in the freezer for about 10 minutes to firm up. I took some of the remaining cookie dough and lined the inside of some non-stick mini muffin tins. Then I rolled the caramel into balls and dropped them into the center of the dough cups. I topped each off with a little sprinkle of sea salt and baked in the over at 350F for 10 minutes.

Fresh out of the oven. Looking like a square glass of sin.

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If dessert were porn, then this would be the money shot.

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Here are a few of my treats created with the leftover caramel. Along with the bars and little cookie bites, I also made some chocolate covered caramels with one of my candy molds, some pecan caramel clusters (should be refrigerated to keep caramel from spreading), and regular chocolate chip cookies (in case I grew tired of the caramel – HA!). After all of this I still had a lot of leftover caramel. I put it in the fridge overnight and then cut it and wrapped it using caramel wrappers. It was still pretty soft even after being in the fridge over night, so I put it in a Zip-lock bag and threw it in the freezer. Salted Freezer Caramels…it’s a hip new type of caramel. Trust me. I’m pretty hip.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Recipe inspired by Brown Eyed Baker

Yield: 16 cookie bars

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch square pan (or 13×9 pan if you want to use up more dough and caramel); set aside.
  2. Make chocolate chip cookie dough (recipe)
  3. Make salted caramel (recipe below)
  4. Press half of the cookie dough into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Pour the hot caramel over the dough cookie dough and spread into an even layer, leaving some empty space around the edges. Sprinkle the caramel with the sea salt. Make “sheets” of dough and place over the top of the caramel, sealing all edges.
  5. Bake the cookie bars for 30 minutes, or until the top of the bars are light golden brown and the edges start to pull away from the pan. Cool the bars on a wire rack to room temperature, then refrigerate for about 30 minutes to allow the caramel layer to set. Cut into squares and serve. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature.

Salted Caramel Recipe

Adapted from Chef Keem’s Espresso Sea Salt Caramels

Ingredients
2 sticks unsalted butter (8 ozs.)
16 ozs. brown sugar (2 1/3 cups)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup light corn syrup
1 can “Dulce de Leche”
1 Tablespoon Mexican Vanilla

Instructions

1. Over medium heat, melt 2 sticks of butter in a 2-qt. sauce pan with a heavy bottom. Cheap pans tend to burn the sugar.

2. Add brown sugar, Sea Salt, light corn syrup, Dulce de Leche; bring to a simmer, stirring constantly.

3. Insert the candy thermometer. Keep stirring and cook to 227 degrees F.

4. Take the pot off the heat and add 1 Tablespoon of Mexican Vanilla. Stir to combine well.

5. Pour a layer of warm caramel over the cookie dough until it reaches about 1/4″ thickness…or thicker if you really love caramel.

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