Salted Caramel Bars

For my holiday party last month, in typical Amelia fashion, I made a very ambitious list of things I wanted to bake and cook (I think I made 18 items in the end). And then as I was going crazy trying to get ready by myself since our party was on a Tuesday and everyone else was at work, I decided I’d cut a couple of things I had been planning on baking. But then I just couldn’t do it. I wanted to eat every single thing on my list. This dessert was one of things I was going to cut because nothing I’d bought for it would go bad. But I am so glad I did not because I think these bars might have been the best dessert I made. These are seriously addictive, so if you just want a little snack for yourself, I recommend not making these. If you’re like me, you’ll eat every last one. But if you want to take a delicious dessert for a party, these are the perfect treat!

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Recipe adapted from here.

Ingredients
For the crust-
1 pound of butter, softened
1 cup of sugar
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla
4 cups flour

For the filling-
1 jar of caramel sauce (10-12 oz)
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt (or Kosher salt)

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 baking pan with foil and set aside. Using your mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar on a medium-high speed until they are light and fluffy.

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2. Add the vanilla. Mix again. Now use a spatula to wipe down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour and mix on low until it is smooth again.

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3. Press half of the dough into the baking pan you previously lined with foil. Try to create a smooth bottom by pressing the dough down with your fingers. Bake this bottom layer of dough for 20 minutes until the edges start to lightly brown. Place the remainder of the dough in the fridge while you are baking.

4. While the dough is baking, place the caramel sauce, whipping cream, and vanilla in a pan on the stove. Heat over low heat for 3-5 minutes until it has turned into more of a liquid.

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5. When the bottom layer of dough is done baking, take the pan out and pour the caramel sauce over it. Then heavily sprinkle the sauce with the salt. Now take the other half of dough out of the fridge and drop onto the caramel in small crumbly bits. Make sure to evenly cover the caramel and salt layer.

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6. Place the pan back in the oven and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes until the topping has turned light brown and started to get firm.

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7. Once the bars are done baking, I would recommend letting the pan cool on a drying rack until you can touch it and then placing the pan in the fridge for 30-60 minutes (depending on how much time you have) before cutting the bars. These are very sticky and gooey (which is one of the reasons they are so amazing), but so they are much harder to cut if they are not cold. Once you cut them, it’s fine to bring them back to room temperature before serving.

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