Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Salted Caramel Bars-Sweet Disaster!

Today, with my sis on my shoulder, I am attempting to make caramel bars! This is my first attempt at even using a candy thermometer! I don't know why really, but I have never embraced making candy. I think all that "soft ball, hard ball stage" stuff has put me off. I spotted these on the What's Gabby Cooking blog; salted caramel on top of short bread, are you kidding me?!! Can I take a bath in it?!  Here is my step-by-step, and Gabby's link. Thanks Gabby!

Salted Caramel Bars
Prep time: 10 min.
Cook time: 30 min.
Total time: 40 min.
Serves: 8-12
  • 10 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg yolk, whisked
  • 1 2/3 cups AP flour
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 12 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Sea salt flakes
  1. Line a 9-by-9-inch pan with parchment paper with the edges of the parchment hanging over the sides. This will make removing the bars easier.
  2. In a large bowl combine the butter, sugar and salt with a fork. Add the yolk and combine with the fork. Add the flour and using your hands, combine the dough until its flaky. Transfer the dough into the parchment lined pan and press down with your hands or the bottom of a measuring cup. Refrigerate this for 30 minutes and Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Once the shortbread is  chilled, bake for 25 minutes until lightly browned.
  3. Once baked, remove and set aside to cool.
  4. Meanwhile, in a pot combine the topping ingredients; butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, salt, sugar and cream. Bring to a boil and make sure all the sugar is dissolved. Stir for about 5-10 minutes until its thick and bubbly. If you have a candy thermometer – the caramel should be about 230 degrees. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla extract and pour on top of the shortbread.
  5. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours. Then sprinkle with the sea salt flakes and serve!
  6. To cut, run sharp knife under hot water for each slice.
 Mix together the melted butter, sugar, salt (I used table salt)...

 Mix in the whisked egg yolk...

 Mix in the flour, with your hands! Then...

press evenly into your parchment paper-lined pan ( I only had an 8" x 8", who has a 9" x 9" anyway??) Into the fridge it goes for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 350° Once cooled...

bake at 350° for about 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let the shortbread cool, while you make the caramel.

In a saucepan, mix together butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, salt (sea salt), granulated sugar, and heavy cream. I used a pan deep enough to accommodate my candy thermometer (its maiden voyage!). Start on a low heat, keep stirring and make sure all the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil. This took me about 20 minutes because I was being cautious.

I had to turn up the heat slightly to get the thermometer to reach 230° Careful here, I think it could burn at this point! I took it off the heat...

 Stirred in the vanilla and...

 immediately poured it on top of the cooled shortbread

Into the fridge it goes to cool for few hours. YUm!

Now what?? Your good saucepan is full of hardened caramel! Being a candy-making novice, I had to look this one up! Pour in water, add some liquid soap and bring it back to a boil on the stove top.  The hot water will soften the caramelized sugar and you can then pour it out with the hot water. The same goes for caramel covered utensils...whew!

Okay, this did not work out. The caramel was heated to the "soft ball" stage but hardened to the "hard ball" stage. So I am left with caramel that is like brittle or toffee. The fact that it is on top of shortbread makes it impossible to break without cookie flying everywhere. So, where did I go wrong? I am at 4,500ft above sea level here and I think that has something to do with it. I overcooked and overheated the caramel. I should have set the timer to 8 minutes once it reached a boil and stuck with that no matter what the thermometer read. At least that's my story, and I'm sticking to it! Anyone with candy experience, I could use some suggestions! Overall, the taste is amazing, the shortbread yummy. If you want to see what they are supposed to look like, click here. I hope you have a better day in the kitchen!


    Maria Rose said...

    You are brave...I am scared of candy thermometers. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that it had something to do with the elevation.

    Victoria said...

    I still need to research that! The caramel is med-hard but chew-able. Unfortunately, not pretty, so I cannot give it as a gift. Next!

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