December 4, 2011

Homemade Holiday Gift Basket: Caramel Crumb Bars (Recipe)

It seems the holiday season as sprung up overnight and it's time to get baking and shopping done.  Of course, I choose to ignore the "early" signs of the holiday season until we are nearly at Thanksgiving.  I'm never ready to fully embrace this festive season until I can start my baking.

I bookmarked a recipe over at Joanne Eats Well With Others awhile back and made it as one of our desserts for Thanksgiving.  I'm so glad I did, too!  These Caramel Crumb Bars are so easy to make because the caramel just really happens on it's own while the bars are baking, so there's no messing it up!

Caramel-Crumb-Bars-Joanne-Eats-Well-With-Others

I loved that once they cooled, I was able to cut them into nice and neat little squares that I could place on a serving plate. 

As for the taste... well, they are VERY hard to resist!  They are something that you should share with friends and family... if only to keep yourself from eating all of them and making it hard to keep that promise to yourself to NOT gain the obligatory 5 pounds during this holiday season (more on that on Wednesday when Eat. Live. Be. Reboot starts again). 

I've decided to add this to my list of goodies to include in my holiday gift baskets this year.  When I plan my goodies, I like to have a variety of flavors, and usually have to "delete" a number of chocolate or cinnamon goodies because I go a bit crazy on those 2 flavors.  This will be a perfect offset!

Now, for some gift giving suggestions for the foodies in your life!  I've got a handfull of "go-to" cookbooks that I really adore and do go back and use again and again... so, read on for my favorites!  (note:  the links will take you to Amazon where you can find more information on the books and purchase for gifts or yourself! I receive a small referral fee if you do this through my link.)
1st on my list is Martha Stewart: Cookies.  I love this cookbook and have many recipes marked as favorites.  The instructions are simple and to the point- which is great if you are giving to a novice baker.  Anyone can bake up fabulous cookies with this book!

Next up, is Ellie Krieger's So Easy.  I love that Ellie Krieger no only makes old favorites healthier, but also shares tips on incoporating more fresh fruits and veggies into every day eating.  Each and every recipe has full nutrition information which is fabulous.

Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day became a favorite of ours not long after it came out.  I absolutely love that with one basic dough you can create so many perfect breads without a lot of effort.  This is a perfect way to get started working with yeast breads for those who have been afraid of them in the past.

I will share some other favorite things that might make nice gifts later this week.  In the meantime, you absolutely MUST try these Caramel Crumb Bars... you won't be sorry... unless you eat the whole pan... and if you do, I won't judge you.




Caramel Crumb Bars
Source:  Joanne Eats Well With Others, who adapted from The Modern Baker via Tracey's Culinary Adventures

Ingredients
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups AP flour, divided
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 with a rack in the bottom third of the oven. Spray a 9x13-inch pan with cooking spray, then line the pan with aluminum foil or parchment, leaving an overhang so bars can be lifted out, and spray again with cooking spray.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and salt on medium speed until soft and light, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla.
  3. With the mixer on low, add 2 1/4 cups of the flour, beating just until the dough is smooth and the flour has been absorbed. Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  4. Transfer 3/4 of the dough into the prepared pan. Press the dough evenly into the pan to form a bottom layer. Transfer the pan to the fridge while you make the filling and the top layer.
  5. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour to the remaining dough. Work it in with your fingers until large crumbs form. Set aside.
  6. To make the filling, in a medium saucepan, combine the butter, corn syrup, brown sugar and condensed milk. Bring to a simmer, whisking occasionally. When the mixture begins to boil, whisk frequently until it begins to thicken and darkens in color slightly, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for about 10 minutes.
  7. Remove the pan from the fridge and pour the filling over the bottom crust. Use an offset spatula to spread it evenly. Crumble the topping evenly over the caramel.
  8. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the filling is gently bubbling and has turned a dark caramel color. Cool the bars in the pan on a wire rack until lukewarm, about 15-20 minutes. Use the foil to lift bars out of the pan. Once completely cool, cut into squares.




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   Please note that all photos and content belong to Patsy Kreitman, unless otherwise noted. If you want to use something please ask first.

2 comments:

Joanne said...

Martha Stewart's cookies is the only one of her dessert collection that I don't have! Maybe I'll "buy it for my sister" for Christmas...

The carrot cake cookies in it are amazing, by the way!

I'm so glad you liked the bars!

Megan's Cookin' said...

another one bookmarked! :) Merry Christmas Patsy!

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