Caramel Bars with Crumb Topping

This might be my new favorite dessert recipe:  Caramel Crumb Bars 

Caramel Bars

It’s no secret that I’m completely obsessed with caramel.  Anything with caramel is such a draw for me… warm caramel syrup served over ice cream, good, old-fashioned, soft caramel candies, salted caramel ice cream and desserts just like these bars.  The only caramel dessert that isn’t so exciting to me is a caramel apple.  I like apples.  And I love caramels, but the thought of trying to bite into a caramel covered apple with drool dribbling down my chin is not a pretty one.

How to Make Caramel Bars

How to make these guys:  Press 3/4 of the base dough into the bottom of a pan.  Whip up a VERY SIMPLE homemade caramel recipe (in the instructions below!), spread that around on top of the dough, then top with some crumbled dough.  That’s it!  Into the oven it goes.

Caramel Bars Recipe
In the oven, the caramel magically starts to really look like the caramel you know and love– a golden brown color.

Caramel Bars #Recipe with Crumb Topping

I promise it will come out ooey and gooey and everything you love about caramel.  When you bite into a bar, the caramel is soft and buttery and pulls apart easily.  These are majorly addicting.

Caramel Crumble Bars #recipe - RecipeGirl.com

This recipe makes quite a few bars- 24 to be exact, if you follow the 2×2-inch instructions for cutting.  They’re a terrific bar for bringing to a potluck, and I can pretty much guarantee that they’ll be a hit at any party.  I personally couldn’t stop eating them.

But then again… I’ve already professed my love for all things caramel! Now go make some Caramel Bars!

Caramel- Crumble Bars

Yield: 24 bars

Prep Time:30 min

Cook Time:30 min

Ingredients:

DOUGH:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

FILLING:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9x13-inch pan with nonstick spray. Then line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper- allowing excess parchment paper to come up two sides, and spray again (lightly).

2. Prepare the dough: In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to combine the butter, sugar and salt. Beat at medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture is soft, light and combined well. Mix in the vanilla. Gradually mix in 2 1/4 cups of the flour, and beat until well-incorporated. Scrape the sides, as needed. Transfer 3/4 of the dough to the prepared pan. Use clean hands to press the dough evenly into the bottom of the pan. Place the pan in the refrigerator while you make the topping. Work the remaining 1/4 cup flour into the remaining dough with your fingers so that it forms small crumbs. Set aside.

3. Prepare the filling: In a medium saucepan, combine the filling ingredients. Heat over medium-heat, stirring occasionally. Let the mixture gently boil, stirring often, for about 10 minutes, until the mixture starts to thicken and darken slightly. Pour the mixture into a bowl to cool for at least 5 minutes.

4. Assemble the bars: Pour the cooled filling on top of the chilled dough, then scatter the crumb mixture evenly over the top. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the filling bubbles gently and is a deep caramel color and the dough and crumb topping are baked through. Cool in the pan for at least 15 to 20 minutes. Cut the sides of the pan to loosen the bars. Then use the parchment paper to lift the bars out of the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut the slab of bars into 2-inch squares.

Tips:

*These bars freeze well. Just wrap them well, and freeze for up to 2 months.

SOURCE: RecipeGirl.com (found on WashingtonPost.com circa 2008)

More caramel-themed bars you might enjoy:
Salty Caramel Peanut Bars by Cookies & Cups
Chocolate Caramel Bars by Taste and Tell
Caramel- Pecan Bars with Chocolate Drizzle by RecipeGirl
Pumpkin- Caramel Bars with Bacon by Noble Pig
Caramel Snickerdoodle Bars by Kitchen Meets Girl