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Salted Caramel Cookie Bars Recipe

A slice of Baked Salted Caramel Cookie Bars on a plate.

Everyone loves the gooey sweetness of caramel, but did you know that you can get that caramel taste and texture in your baked goods without having to make caramel from scratch?

In days gone by, people had to make caramel the old fashioned way—they would get out a saucepan, put some white sugar in it and some milk and cook the mixture until the sugar melted, boiled, and caramelized. It took some time, patience, and special care because if you turned the heat up too high or forgot to stir it, you could easily scorch the caramel.

Then you would have to scrub out the pot and start all over again.

A slice of Baked Salted Caramel Cookie Bars on a plate.

Salted Caramel Cookie Bars

April Freeman
What is a better combination than chocolate chip cookies and caramel? This recipe for Caramel Cookie Bars combines both of these delicious flavors in a sturdy bar cookie that everyone will love. This recipe will make your baked goods the star of the school bake sale.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Servings 15 Cookie Bars

Equipment

  • Oven
  • 9 Inch square pan
  • Aluminum foil
  • Cooking spray
  • Medium-Sized Bowl
  • Microwave
  • Whisk
  • Spatula

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ½ Sticks butter
  • 1 Cup Brown sugar
  • 1 Large egg plus an egg yolk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • 1 ½ Cups All-purpose flour
  • 1 Twelve ounce Package Semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 Eleven ounce Package Caramel candy squares unwrapped
  • 3 tbsp Heavy cream
  • Flaked sea salt

Instructions
 

  • First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 inch square pan with aluminum foil and spray it with cooking spray.
  • In a medium size bowl, microwave the butter until it is melted. This should take about 30 to 45 seconds. Stir the butter and let it cool slightly. Add the brown sugar and stir it together. Add the egg and the egg yolk, along with the vanilla. Stir in the salt and the flour and mix these together until they are combined.
    A bowl of dough mixed with caramel and wooden ladle.
  • Add the chocolate chips and stir until they are evenly distributed in the dough.
    Cookies and caramel mixed together using a wooden spatula.
  • In another medium sized bowl, combine the caramels and the heavy cream. Microwave these together, thirty seconds at a time, stirring between each burst of microwaving. When the mixture is melted and smooth, you are done microwaving. Do not overcook the caramels or they will scorch and be ruined.
    A bowl of caramel syrup and a spoon.
  • Take half of the cookie dough and press it into the prepared pan. If the dough is so sticky that it is sticking to your hands, you can wet your hands by running them under water and the dough will not stick as badly.
  • Pour the melted caramel over the cookie dough, lightly spreading it with a heatproof spatula. Sprinkle the caramel all over with the sea salt. Scoop the rest of the cookie dough over the caramel in blobs, gently spreading until most of the caramel is covered with the cookie dough.
    Chocolate chips with caramel on a baking pan.
  • Press half cookie dough evenly into the prepared pan. Pour the caramel evenly over the dough.
  • Sprinkle it with a bit more sea salt. Bake the cookie bars for about 30 minutes or until they are a light golden brown.
    Baked Salted Caramel Cookie Bars on a pan.
  • Let the cookie bars cool completely before you cut them. This will take about two hours. If you cut them too early, they will be gooey and hard to handle.
  • Cut the cookie bars into large bars or squares. If you have a hard time cutting them, you can refrigerate them to help them firm up. Store at room temperature in a container with a tightly fitted lid for up to a week.

Notes

Nowadays things are different,. While you can make caramel the old fashioned way if you want to, there are a few shortcuts if you want to add the gooey sweetness of caramel to your baked goods.
For our recipe for Salted Caramel Cookie Bars we used store bought caramels. The caramels are unwrapped and placed in a bowl with a bit of heavy cream before they are microwaved until the caramel candies melt.
To avoid scorching or overheating the caramel, you only need to microwave them in short bursts. After each burst, stir the caramel mixture. This will help the candies to not develop hot spots or scorched areas.
After a few minutes in the microwave, you will have a bowl of gooey, delicious liquid caramel. Handle this mixture with care because the caramel can get very hot and cause severe burns.
To temper the richness of the caramel and chocolate chip cookie goodness, we added a few sprinkles of sea salt to the pan. The combination of salty and sweet hits the spot. Of course, you can omit the sea salt if you wish, but you probably don’t want to do that.
Did you know that there is an actual scientific principle behind the pleasure of a salty and sweet combination? Most people know that we have various taste receptors on our tongues. Some taste buds are sensitive to sweet flavors. However, there are other sweet taste receptors on the tongue that only activate in the presence of something salty. This is the reason that many sweet flavors are actually enhanced by the presence of salt.
These bars are very rich, so we recommend that you cut them into two or three inch squares. If you cut them much bigger than that, people may not be able to finish their servings!

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