I have a great love of layered bars. It’s exciting to see all the taste sensations one on top of another. Caramel, chocolate, crunchy walnuts and crispy crumbs…oh yeah baby!
CRUST & CRUMBS
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup chopped toasted walnuts
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened, condensed milk
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
Mix together. Add the cubes of butter and process until crumbly, about 3-4 minutes. Then add the vanilla. Mix another minute until it is completely incorporated. This makes about 5 cups of dough.
Butter a 9 X 13 pan, line the bottom with parchment that hangs over the side and then butter the parchment. Take 3 cups of the dough and press into the bottom of the lined pan. I use the bottom of a measuring cup to pat it down gently.
Mix the chopped walnuts into the remaining dough. Use your fingers to work this extra dough until it kind of clumps together.
Put the pan in the freezer and the remaining dough in the fridge while you make the caramel filling.
MAKE THE CARAMEL FILLING
In a medium saucepan, bring the butter, corn syrup, brown sugar, condensed milk and pinch of kosher salt to a simmer.
Allow the mixture to boil, stirring often, until it starts to thicken and darken, about 10 minutes.
Pour into a small bowl. Stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla.
Quickly remove the dough-lined pan from the freezer and spread the caramel filling evenly over the dough. Scatter 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips over the caramel.
Scatter the remaining crumb walnut mixture on top.
Bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 30 minutes. You will know it’s done when the filling is bubbling gently and a deep caramel color. The dough and crumb topping will be baked through. Cool in the pan on a wire rack until lukewarm, 20 to 30 minutes. Lift the slab of baked dough out of the pan and onto the cutting board.
Cut into bars. These keep well at room temperature for a couple of days. I think day-old bars are even better if you microwave them for 5 seconds before you serve them. Yummm.