Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars – A Very Special Guest Post

Happy Wednesday morning! (That would be for you maybe and not so much for me….).  I am so happy to have my good friend and blogging buddy, Debra at Smith Bites, writing a guest post for me today while I am trying to recover from Monday’s surgery. I thought I would be okay and would be able to handle this blogging gig this week, however, I was very wrong. I am in far more pain than anticipated and therefore, consuming large quantities more pain medications than I thought I would have to.

There is no telling what gibberish you would have gotten from me today (as I can barely write this), so instead, you have an awesome recipe (I want some of these cookie bars!) and a very talented blogger pinch hitting for me today. Thank you so much Debra and I hope you all will check out her blog to see her great recipes and entertaining posts.

Hi everyone! I’m thrilled to be helping out my dear friend Gwen of Bunkycooks, who is recovering from ankle surgery this week; now let me be clear that I’m not happy she needed surgery but am happy that she asked if I might help her out this week. I’m such a fan of Bunkycooks and look forward to reading her posts – she makes some pretty fabulous recipes and I have to say, I was most impressed by the fact that she made her own birthday cake this year – ala ‘Cat In The Hat’ style – I want a Cat In The Hat cake for my birthday!

Gwen and I started our blogs about the same time last year and first became friends through Twitter; but what sealed the friendship is that her wonderful husband Roger, has family right here in the town The Professor and I live in – crazy small world we live in, no? We finally met this past September when Gwen help organize the Food Blog Forum event in Atlanta – she and Roger did a terrific job – now on to the post!

I love, no, make that LOVE caramel – deep golden amber, buttery, silky, melt-in-your-mouth rich caramel.  Pies, cakes, cupcakes, candy – doesn’t matter – if it has caramel in it, that’s always my first choice for something sweet; add a bit of chocolate and a pinch of salt and I’ve died and gone to heaven.  Fair warning: these are rich and decadent so if you don’t want to eat an entire batch yourself, you might want to make these when there are people around – people you love, because lemme tell you, these little chocolate-caramel bars will make you an instant rock star!   And really, how can you go wrong with a Martha Stewart recipe?


Very slightly adapted from Martha Stewart Living, November 2009
Makes 16 Bars


4-1/2 ounces (9 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for parchment
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt
10 Ounces 60% Dark chocolate, chopped (2 cups)
1 1/2 Cups granulated sugar
1/4 Cup water
3 Ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 Cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 Tablespoon sea salt, preferably fleur de sel (I used Maldon as that is what I had on hand but DO NOT substitute table or Kosher salt here!)


1. Preheat oven to 350° and make the crust: Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment, leaving an overhang on all sides; butter parchment, excluding overhang. Beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add flour and table salt, and beat until just combined. Press dough evenly into pan, and bake until lightly browned, about 30 minutes.
2. Make the chocolate caramel: Place chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, washing sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming, until amber, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat. Add butter, cream, and table salt. Bring to a boil, stirring until smooth. Pour over chocolate. Let stand for 2 minutes. Stir to combine, and let stand until cool, about 10 minutes.
3. Pour mixture over crust. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, or overnight. Run a knife around edges; lift parchment to remove whole bar from pan. Sprinkle with sea salt. Trim edges, and cut into 16 bars. Bars can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

SMITH BITES NOTES: The original recipe calls for milk chocolate and then pour the entire batch of chocolate-caramel onto the baked shortbread base. The first time I made the recipe, I felt the chocolate was a bit too sweet and using the entire batch of chocolate-caramel overpowered the cookie; in fact, the cookie was lost completely. Sooooo my second batch (yep, I am not ashamed to say I’ve made these more than once!) I substituted 60% Valrhona chocolate and then used 1/4 of the sauce which, for me, was about the right ratio of cookie to chocolate-caramel. By all means, if you prefer milk chocolate and want to use all of the sauce, go for it. And I must add that this is a terrific make-ahead recipe for Thanksgiving or holiday sweet table. By the way, any leftover sauce makes for KILLER lattes – coffee, milk and a teaspoon of the leftover sauce (or more if you like) and voila’ – a superb latte’ – WOO!

They are one of my favorite bar cookies evah! Oh and be sure to leave Gwen a ‘get well’ comment or say something to make her laugh!!