We’re back to cookies this time, but cookies of a different flavor. This week’s recipe, chosen for us by Whitney of What’s Left on the Table?, was for Caramel Crunch Bars — essentially chocolate-chip shortbread with chocolate and toffee bits on top.
This was not a big production. I made them fairly late in the day, and (unlike last week) they didn’t keep me up way past my bedtime. Make the dough — in the mixer, not the food processor, which is where I generally make shortbread — and bake the dough. This dough is thick and sticky, and I knew from reading the comments that a lot of people were using a smaller pan, but I’m brave (and I was having a party the next day); I went for the recipe-specified 9×13. But forewarned is fore-utensiled, and I used my offset spatula, sprayed with butter-flavored cooking spray, to spread it around. Easy as shortbread.
I am notoriously bad at knowing when to take things out of the oven; I can never make reality line up with the description in the recipe, and this time was no different. Dorie says the dough will look as if it’s “trying to pull away from the sides” of the pan. Never got that. The edges were browning and the center looked done, so I finally took them out after about 23 minutes. (My oven temperature is fairly random.)
I chopped the chocolate for the top in the food processor, and I made it very fine — almost like commercial breadcrumbs. So when I sprinkled it on top of the hot cookies, I didn’t have to spread it around; it just melted in place. One invariably frustrating step saved. Then I sprinkled on the the toffee bits and pressed them down with the back of my offset spatula. Piece of shortbread.
I liked these a lot. They weren’t World Peace league, but they were good. I’d have liked them better if I’d used milk chocolate on top, but I was pandering to the masses:
Husband: It just tasted like a big Heath bar, nothing particularly special. They were tasty, but I didn’t get the point of them. [Allow me to interject here that the point of them is the same as the point of Heath bars: They're delicious.]
#1 Son: Pretty damned good. They could have used a little more crunch and a little less sweetness, but I liked them.
#2 Son: The bottom really adds nothing to it but texture — it’s just a Heath bar. But it’s a really good Heath bar. I would eat a billion of these again. And again. And again. [Allow me to interject once again to point out that Husband and #2 Son made these comments in isolation. They are scarily alike.]
There were four extra people at my house when I served these cookies, but there were also two whole cakes, homemade ice cream, and more cookies — not to mention quite a bit of my amazing homemade pizza — and every single cookie was eaten. One guest even asked for the recipe. I guess that means they were a hit.
Oh, and I apologize for the lack of photographs this week. My camera did something odd, and the 30 or so photos I shot seem to have vanished into the mist. My pictures are never all that good anyway, so no big loss!
Lots of other people made these, and I bet there are tons of interesting variations (and lots of photos!). Go check them out. If you’d like to try these for yourself, buy Baking: From My Home to Yours or head on over to What’s Left on the Table?.