Sometimes I just jump into a recipe without thinking. You'd think I'd learn by now, but apparently I haven't. Making caramel though was a bit of a wake up call.
Now, I will say up front, I don't believe making caramel is hard. I think, with the right information (which clearly I didn't have), that even a novice can make this.
That being said, I'm still not exactly sure why I thought making caramel would just be throwing some stuff in a pot and boiling it until I thought it was done. I mean, there is a candy thermometer for a reason! It's clearly much more scientific and tempermental than I thought.
The caramel in these bars was supposed to be soft and chewy. Mine could have cracked your tooth. See the jagged edges of the crust? That's because I had to take a giant knife pointing directly down into the bars to crack them apart because they wouldn't cut.
Now that I have lived and learned -- and now researched -- I have a few important tips that I think will help your caramel making journey be much more successful than mine.
- You need a candy thermometer. This will help you identify the exact right stage to remove your caramel from the heat to get the desired consistency.
- You should insert the candy thermometer into your pot at the beginning of the cooking process so you can see it climb (not after when you've already passed the point of no return).
- Slowly, slowly, slowly bring it to a slow boil.
- Once the sugar has dissolved, stop stirring.
- Monitor the candy thermometer very closely. Caramel will get hot quickly so it doesn't take long to get to the stage (soft, hard, hard crack) you want, so don't go anywhere!
Whew, I feel better. Now, go and make these delicious bars (carefully!)!
Salted Caramel Bars
- 10 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 egg yolk, whisked
- 1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 3/4 cup light corn syrup
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 4 tbsp sugar
- 4 tbsp heavy cream
- 1 12 tsp vanilla extract
Plus a few pinches of sea salt flakes for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9x9 pan with parchment paper with the edges hanging over the side (this will allow you to lift it up to remove and cut nicer bars)
- In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, sugar and salt with a fork. Add the yolk and combine. Add the flour and combine until the dough is flakey. Pour dough into lined pan and press down making it level. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Once chilled, bake for 25-27 minutes until lightly browned.
- Once baked, set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile in a pot, combine the topping ingredients: butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, salt, sugar and cream. Insert candy thermometer into pot (it should have a ball or clip so it doesn't slip in). Slowly bring to a boil and make sure all sugar is dissolved. Stir for about 5 minutes until it is thick and bubbly. Once the thermometer reads 230 degrees, remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Pour on top of shortbread.
- Refrigerate for 2-4 hours. Then sprinkle with sea salt flakes.
Recipe from What's Gaby Cooking