Caramel Butter Bars. Need I say more? There is delicious caramel and butter all in a sweet bar that’s perfect for this holiday season. Caramel Butter bars are the best of two worlds, merged together: a sweet chewy shortbread bar and the creamy caramel that holds it all together.
How to Make Caramel Butter Bars
First, place softened butter add in the bowl of stand mixer (we use a kitchenAid). Add the sugars until combined. Next, add the vanilla and flour, 1 cup at a time. Scrape down the bowl frequently as sometimes the flour will get trapped on the bottom. Once the bottom is free of dry flour and it feels moist, but crumbly, set it aside.
Next, prepare pan. Use parchment paper to make sure the bars will remove from the pan easily (they are easier to cut once lifted out of the pan). Cut parchment paper wider than your pan, letting the extra paper extend past the sides to act as handles, as shown below:
Press 1/2 of the dough into the bottom of prepared pan. Sprinkle the dough along the bottom and then using your fingers, press it gently into place, making sure it is spread evenly. If it sticks to your fingers, moisten them with water, then continue to press into pan.
Bake the crust for 15-20 minutes. How thick you make that bottom crust will determine your timing: if the crust is slighter thinner, it will be closer to 20 minutes. If is thicker, it might take closer to 22 minutes.
As soon as the bars are out of the oven, I start on the caramel.
I use Caramel Bits by Kraft as there are two plusses to using bits: 1. No unwrapping necessary, and 2. they are smaller so tend to melt more quickly. Or you can use 11 oz of Peters Caramel found at Orson Gygi. (use code Sweetmacshop for 10% off)
Using a microwave-safe blow, place bowl of Caramel Bits in microwave and add cream. Cook for 1 minute. Microwave every 30 seconds until caramel and cream mixture is smooth. The melting process is shown step-by-step in these pictures. When caramel is smooth, add vanilla extract.
Pour caramel over baked crust. smooth with spatula until even. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt.
Take the remaining dough, crumble over the top. Small gaps in the top are fine, the caramel will bubble up and be delicious.
Finally, place it back in the oven for an additional 25-30 minutes. Let completely cool before cutting. I like thicker bars so I use a 9×13 pan. You can use a jelly roll pan and they will be a little thinner.
If you are looking for some more fall favorite desserts that are perfect for the family gatherings try:
Pumpkin Spice Crumble Cookie: a sweet sugar cookie with sweet frosting and delicious crumble topping
These Maple Pecan Cookies are heaven in a cookie. The sweet maple glaze, and crisp pecan crumble all on top of a sweet sugar cookie is a crowd favorite.
Caramel Butter Bars
For the bottom crust and crumble topping
- 4 sticks butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tsps. vanilla extract
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 bag 11 oz Caramel Bits
- 1/3 cup whipping cream
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp coarse sea salt
Crust and crumble
- 1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper for easy removal (see photos on website). Note: if you like a thinner bar, use a jelly roll size pan.
- 2. In mixer with paddle attachment, combine 4 sticks softened butter, sugar, powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix until well combined. Add flour and mix until completely combined. This mixture will be crumbly but moist.
- 3. Take half of the mixture and press it into the bottom of your prepared pan. Leave the other half in the bowl, to be used later. Bake for 20 minutes or until edges are slightly golden brown. Once out of the oven let cool for 15 minutes. While crust is cooling, make the caramel layer
Making the Caramel Layer
- 1. In microwave safe bowl combine the caramel bits and the heavy whipping cream. Microwave for 1 full minute. Stir. Microwave at 30-second intervals until caramel is smooth and free of lumps. Once smooth, add the vanilla and stir.
Finishing the Bars
- 1. Pour caramel over cooled bottom crust layer, spreading caramel so it covers evenly. Sprinkle salt over the caramel. Take the remainder of the crust mixture and sprinkle over the top. There may be spots that caramel is showing through, but that is just fine. 2. Bake again for 25-30 minutes. The top will brown ever so lightly. Do not over cook. Let completely cool before cutting. Enjoy!
- NOTE: To cut easily, lift cooled bars out of the pan onto a cutting board. Using a sturdy knife, cut into squares. Store in airtight container; use within a few days. For longer storage, store in freezer. Let thaw before eating.