These salted chocolate-caramel bars have a buttery soft chocolate shortbread crust and are topped a decadent chocolate caramel topping, toasted pecans, and a pinch of fleur de sel!
Today’s post is extra special because I’m baking for a cause! I’ve partnered up with OXO for their Bake A Difference campaign in support of Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. This non-profit organization was founded by two OXO employees that were inspired by their son’s battle with pediatric cancer. Like always, OXO is donating $100 to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer for each blog post that is dedicated to this campaign for the month of September (Childhood Cancer Awareness Month). How cool is that?!
These delicious and decadent cookie bars are yet another salty caramel dessert to add to my recipe box. If you’ve been following along for some time now, you know how much I love that combo!! They come straight from Dorie Greenspan’s new cookbook that will be released in October… and oh my goodness are they yummy! We may have eaten have the pan in one day.
You start by making a chocolate shortbread base, which is super easy thanks to OXO’s Digital Hand Mixer. It features a soft glow LED headlight to illuminate the bowl as you mix, which allows you to easily monitor consistency. Genius, especially if you’re anything like me and bake late at night! Intuitive digital controls steadily increase or decrease speed and when you’re finished, the on-board beater clip, wrap-and-secure cord, and flat, stable base allow for compact, upright storage. Shortbread dough isn’t always the easiest to mix up, but after a few minutes a nice thick dough formed. I pressed it into my buttered dish, baked it until it was nice and firm, and then got to work on the caramel.
I made the caramel in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan which was perfect for this particular recipe. I was a little nervous a first, but with time and patience it turned out perfectly. The addition of bittersweet chocolate made this caramel even more amazing. I’ll definitely be experimenting with it again in the near future.
After giving the bars a while to cool (essentially the time it takes to make the caramel), all that was left to do was pour the caramel over top and add some chopped toasted pecans. I added a sprinkle or two of additional fleur de sel over top because I really wanted everything to pop… and it did! Since I was in a rush to take pictures of these before nap time was over and I needed the caramel to set, I tossed my Glass 2 Qt Baking Dish with Lid into the freezer while everything was still warm. Usually this is a big no no, but since OXO’s new bakeware can withstand extreme temperature changes, it was a big GO! They most definitely had impatient mommy food bloggers in mind when they made this line… or you know, everyone. With generous handles and sloshproof lids, it makes moving full dishes easier. The clean, elegant design means you can take them from the oven directly to the family table. Hooray!! I now own a set of these bad boys, and it’s been overnight casseroles and freezer meals galore around here!
Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars Recipe
For the Shortbread Base
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 stick unsalted butter - cut into chunks, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
For the Caramel Topping
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup heavy cream - room temperature,(or slightly warmed in a microwave)
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter - cut into 3 pieces and very soft
- 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 2 oz bittersweet chocolate - finely chopped
- 1/2 cup pecans - toasted and coarsely chopped
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Generously butter (or spray) an 8-inch square pan.
For the Shortbread Crust
- Whisk together the flour and cocoa powder.
- Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter, sugar and salt together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Turn off the mixer, add the dry ingredients all at once and beat on low until the dough comes together. This will take a little longer than you might expect, so don’t get discouraged. Give the dough a few last turns with a flexible spatula and scrape it out into the pan. Using your fingertips, pat the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan; press down and make sure to get the dough into the corners.
- Bake the shortbread for 21 to 23 minutes, rotating the pan after 10 minutes, or until it is slightly darker around the edges and just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan; it will not feel completely firm if poked gently. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the shortbread to cool completely.
For the Caramel Topping
- Put a heatproof bowl close to the stovetop, along with a small bowl of cold water and a pastry brush (preferably silicone).
- Put the sugar, water and corn syrup in a small saucepan or skillet and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow the ingredients to bubble away, brushing down the sides of the pan with cold water if there are spatters and swirling the pan a couple of times once you start seeing some color, until the caramel turns a pale to medium amber. (Don’t let it get as dark as mahogany.) Lower the heat, stand away from the pan and add the cream, followed by the butter and salt — ingredients that might cause the caramel to roil. Remove the pan from the heat, drop in the chocolate and, using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, stir to blend.
- Pour the hot caramel over the shortbread and sprinkle with the nuts. Allow to set at room temperature.
- When the caramel is firm, run a table knife around the sides of the pan, care- fully unmold the cookie onto a rack and turn it over onto a cutting board. Using a long thin knife, cut 21 bars (cut into 3 strips and then cut each strip into 7 bars). Alternatively, leave the cookie whole and cut individual bars as needed.
- To store: when the caramel is fully set, the cookies (cut or intact) can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 5 days. Remove them from the refrigerator about 10 minutes before serving.
Disclosure: I’m partnering with OXO to bring you today’s recipe. I received this product for review, all opinions are my own. Thank you for helping me work with brands I love!