Caramel Crunch Bars


Chocolate, Cookie, Desserts, Tuesdays with Dorie / Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

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You might ask, “Rebecca, how DO you hang on to a bounty such as Jeff?” And I would answer in three little words. Sometimes those three little words are “Heath Toffee Bits.” Sometimes, they’re “Caramel Crunch Bars.”

The bars have three layers: a shortbread base topped with melted chocolate chips and a lethal smattering of toffee bits. Can’t miss, right? Well, like a newborn baby, these bars are far more appealing a few days out of the oven. They need the extra time for the flavors to meld and the shortbread to solidify so that you don’t have a crumbly mess.

Although, the crumbly mess IS good on ice cream.

Caramel Crunch Bars

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking: From My Home to Yours”

Makes about 54 bars

Base:

  • 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder or finely ground instant coffee
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 ounces bittersweet or premium milk chocolate, finely chopped

Topping:

  • 6 ounces bittersweet or premium milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup Heath toffee bits
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly butter a 9×13 inch baking pan, line the pan with foil and butter the foil. Put the pan on a baking sheet.
  2. To Make the Base: Whisk together the flour, coffee, salt and cinnamon.
  3. Working with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the sugars and beat until the mixture is light and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla, and turn off the mixer.
  4. Add all the dry ingredients, cover the stand mixer with a kitchen towel , and pulse the mixer on and off at low speed about 5 times. Turn the mixer to low and mix, uncovered, just until the dry ingredients are almost incorporated.
  5. Add the chopped chocolate, and mix only until the dry ingredients disappear. If the chocolate isn’t evenly mixed, finish the job by hand with a spatula.
  6. Scrape the dough into the buttered pan, and press it into an even layer.
  7. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until the base is bubbly. Transfer the pan to a rack, and turn off the oven.
  8. To Make the Topping: Scatter the chocolate evenly over the top of the hot base, and pop the pan back into the oven for 2 to 3 minutes, until the chocolate is soft. Remove from oven and immediately spread chocolate over bars, using offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the toffee bits over the chocolate and press them down lightly with your fingertips. Place the baking pan on a rack to cool to room temperature.
  9. Carefully lift out of the pan, using foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. Trim the edges if they seem a bit thick. Cut about 54 bars, each about 2 inches by 1 inch, taking care not to cut through the foil.

24 thoughts on “Caramel Crunch Bars

  1. I think it would be far too easy to keep snacking on these bars while you watched TV or read a book. They have that pecking appeal, don’t they? I’ve been making brownies a lot lately (my son is on a brownie kick) and that’s becoming a bit of a pecking problem for me! Why are squares so appealing?!

  2. Oh, dammit. Why is it that you keep posting these bits of delciousness. Don’t you know that I’m going to come, visit your blog, and want to make it? That I won’t be able to resist the lure of caramel crunch? What are you trying to do to me? And the pictures. Couldn’t you please pepper your blog with some dark, unappealing pictures to make the recipes just a wee bit less alluring? My waistline would thank you (though my husband, children, and tastebuds would not :)

    Grumble.

    xo, amanda @ http://www.kiddio.org / http://www.housemade.org

  3. Thanks for the heads up that this is something that tastes better the next day. The last couple of things I’ve made have been like that. The first day okay the next day much better.
    ~ingrid

  4. Wow, yours came out thick and wonderful looking. They look marvelous. I am making my daughter take them to school to give away. They are so good, but I have faced the fact that only teens can get away with eating the whole batch of these sweet babies!

  5. Umm, mine didn’t last a few days, but I’ll take your word that the extra time makes them tastier. I like how your shortbread layer is nice and thick. They look so yummy!

  6. Hahaha – I’m pretty sure these are why I hang onto the boyfriend too :) Beautiful job. He ate his over ice cream too – are we seeing a trend here?

  7. These bars do definitely get tastier and tastier with time. My willpower also seems to decline the longer I’m around them – probably not a coincidence.

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