Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars - The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2012

As many of you may or may not know, this year I decided to participate in the second great food blogger cookie swap! Last year was so much fun that I knew I had to do it again. I know you all might be thinking this sounds a little strange, especially the whole getting cookies from strangers thing, but I promise it's not scary. Food bloggers are friendly! Here is how it works. First and foremost, you must have a blog to participate in the cookie fun. Then, you sign up and get the names and address of three other bloggers. You then make and bake your cookies, package up one dozen for each blogger, send them off and hope they don't arrive as cookie crumbs. In return, you will receive one dozen cookies from three other bloggers. So many cookies and so much fun! I decided to have my cookies shipped to my office so I would not be tempted to woof three dozen cookies at home by myself (not that I am sure I could do that anyways) and so I could share them with my co-workers. Good idea, right? 

Last year I decided to put the cookies I received and the cookies I made all in one post. Bad idea. Well, maybe not that bad of an idea, but it was cluttered and this year I've decided to do two different posts. This one will be all about the cookies I sent out, the next post will be all about the cookies I received and my fellow bloggers (plus links to check them out too - which you should!). Now, let's get to the cookies! This year I decided that I wanted to do a cookie bar. It was something different, but I also thought this would hold up better during shipment. Especially since all my cookies were going to the East Coast this year! I must have spent hours researching recipes, but nothing really stood out to me. I was starting to lose hope of my cookie bar idea (well, at least a new and fun cookie bar), and then all of a sudden this salted caramel chocolate chip cookie bar appeared on my screen. My mouth suddenly filled with saliva and I knew it was the one. Does this happen to anyone else? I think it was the combination of the salt, gooey caramel and chocolate chip cookie dough that sold me.

Let me just say - boy, am I SO glad I made these. First, they are a cinch to put together and second, they are one of the best cookies I've ever made. I am not kidding. Seriously. I've made these several times since the cookie swap (a few co-workers even put an order for these for the holidays!) and everyone that has tried them is in love. Caramel love. There is just something about that salty sweet combination that is just killer and just so super addictive. Okay, back to caramel goodness. The only downside to these cookies is that you have to wait for what seems like foooorever (Sandlot reference here) for them to cool and set up. But trust me, it's totally worth it. If you cut them up right away, you will have a big pile of caramely chocolatey gooey mush. Which doesn't sound bad, but you know what I mean. Just promise me you will wait for these to cool before you cut them, okay? I know it's hard to wait, but I know you can do it. Be strong for the cookies!

Now for cookies! It's what you've been waiting for right? I had to keep the suspense building! The dough is a totally piece of cake to make and pretty much just like any other chocolate chip cookie dough you make. Although, this recipe calls for melted butter. Hooray - no trying to soften butter in the microwave only to find out you've totally melted it or that it exploded all over the microwave. I know that it's happened to you too. Don't deny it. Other than the melted butter, it's pretty much just sugar, eggs, flour and chocolate chips. Lots of chocolate chips. They make everything better. At least I think so.Once the batter is ready (try not to eat it all straight from the bowl), put half of it into the pan and make an even layer. Wait, before we go any further, make sure to line your pan with non-stick foil. I used regular foil the first time and although it works, the non-stick is way better. Like, totally way better. Literally, non-stick and it peels right off. That's just my two cents though. 

Once the first layer of cookie dough is in the pan, pour the caramel sauce over the top, sprinkle a little fleur de sel (or sea salt) over the top and then cover with the remaining cookie dough. I like to evenly plop the dough all over and then use my fingertips to spread it out. This prevents a huge mess and doesn't compromise any of that delicious caramel. Don't worry about the dough not fully covering the caramel. The cookie dough will do it's thing and spread out evenly. Just trust me here. I was worried too, but it was just fine. After about half an hour of baking, you will have the most delicious tray of cookies EVER. After these babies have fully cooled, you can cut them, but I find it easier to place them in the fridge for several hours or overnight. This will make sure the caramel won't ooze out. You wouldn't want to waste all that delicious caramel, now would you?

These delicious bars are now one of my top three favorite cookies, if not my favorite. I can't believe I just said that. I don't just let any cookie take the #1 spot. I am pretty confident in saying that thse may become your favorite too. One of my coworkers who tried this told me I need to quit my job and make these for a living. That should tell you all you need to know right there. What are you waiting for? Go makes these bars right now!

*Warning - lots of photos!

ingredients

if you don't have fleur de sel you can just use sea salt.

mmm, melted butter

melting the caramels. want to guess how long it takes to unwrap all of those bad boys?

adding in the chocolate chips

one of the seven wonders of the world - chocolate chip cookie dough!

add half of the dough to the pan in an even layer

then add the caramel!

add plops of cookie dough all over

then spread out with fingers (gently!) and then top with more fleur de sel

hot out of the oven

cut up and ready to enjoy. please don't lick the screen.


Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars (www.browneyedbaker.com)

2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chips
10 ounces caramel candy squares, unwrapped
3 tablespoons heavy cream
Fleur de sel (or other sea salt), for sprinkling over caramel and bars


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch square pan; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Using an electric mixer, mix together the melted butter and sugars on medium speed until combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix on low, just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine the caramels and heavy cream. Microwave on high until the caramels are melted, stirring every 20 seconds. This will take about 2 minutes.

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. Drop the remaining cookie dough in spoonfuls over the caramel and gently spread the dough with a spatula until the caramel is covered. Sprinkle the bars with additional sea salt.

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 2 hours to allow the caramel layer to set. Cut into squares and serve. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature.




This recipe doubles very easily. Just use a 9x13 pan and increase the cooking time by about 5 minutes (keep an eye on them - when they are lightly golden brown, they are done!)!
 
  
  

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