In my constant attempt at finding new recipes I often forget about the old tried and true ones that I grew up with. My grandmother loved to make bars and squares, which basically are the same thing just in different shapes: Date Squares, Maple Pecan Bars, Coconut Bars and Chocolate Salty Caramel Bars. This week I revisited the latter and boy oh boy am I, and everyone who ate one, glad I did.
This recipe is so good and so easy, you have no excuse not to make them!
Salty Caramel Chocolate Bars
Make the caramel: in a heavy medium pot add 2 cups of sugar and 1/2 Cup of Water stir to mix and turn the heat to high. Bring to a boil, from this point on you can not stir it! If you feel the need you can gently swirl the mixture in the pan, but no stirring. Cook until the caramel has turned a deep amber just as it starts to smoke remove from the heat and add: 1 cup heavy cream, 1 Tablespoon of Butter and 1/2 Teaspoon of Sea Salt. The caramel will bubble and seize up, stir with a wooden spoon and return the pot to a low heat, stirring until the caramel has a uniform texture.
Remove and set aside.
Preheat Oven to 350 F
Butter a 9 x 13 pan.
Place a piece of parchment paper across the pan leaving extra to hang over the sides (this will make it easier to remove the bars after cooking). Butter the parchment paper and dust the entire pan with flower, discarding any extra.
In a large bowl mix: 3 Cups of Old Fashioned Oats, 1 2/3 Cups All Purpose Flour, 3/4 Cups firmly packed Brown Sugar, 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda and 1/4 Teaspoon Salt. Add to the dry ingredients: 3/4 cup Unsalted Butter melted and 2 Tablespoons of Whole Milk. Mix with your hands or a wooden spoon until the mixture is nice and buttery. It will be a little on the dry side, not to worry.
Press three-quarters of this mixture into the bottom of the pan and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, it should be nicely browned. Remove and let cool on a rack for about 10 minutes.To the remaining oat mixture add: 1 cup of bittersweet chocolate chips and 1 cup of lightly toasted and roughly chopped Pecans. Mix lightly with your hands.When the base has cooled, use a spatula to pour over the caramel mixture. Spreading it gingerly all over the base.Sprinkle the pecan, chocolate crumble over the caramel and place back into the oven for about 15 minutes, the chocolate chips should be soft but not melted.
Cool on a rack for half an hour before cutting into squares. It is highly recommended that you cut the bars/squares in the pan then lift them out with the parchment paper, otherwise in the few attempts I have made in removing the whole thing first then removing it a fissure occurs in the center making it harder to cut the bars evenly.
If you are going to serve this as dessert at the end of a meal rather than as a treat with coffee you could add a dollop of unsweetened whip cream maybe even garnished with a few chocolate shavings. Certainly that would be gilding the lily but I don’t think anyone of your guests would complain.