Do you know what SEO stands for? Search Engine Optimization. I’ve been to two food blogging conferences and both times there was a lot of talk about SEO. I don’t make any money on this blog so truthfully, I kind of tune out when people start talking about metrics and how to drive more traffic. I do remember talk of how to title your posts and write content so that search engines send eager clickers your way.
Obviously, the people who know a thing or two about SEO would be horrified by the title of this post. But what else could I call it? Salted Caramel Squares I guess would have been a good alternative but even typing that I get a little misty-eyed and spacey and just start thinking, “Um…..”
You see, I love chocolate. You probably know that if you visit here even semi-frequently. I also love caramel. Maybe more than chocolate. I don’t know. Don’t make me choose! A while back, a friend gave me a box of salted caramels wrapped in pretty gold foil and I hid them from my family. When I ran out of my secret stash, I panicked and bought Kraft caramels only to curse them and throw them away because they were not as good as I wanted them to be, and then I cursed myself for throwing them away and leaving my house caramel-free. Oh wait. I think I may have just over-shared.
Solution! Make these unbelievable squares. Yes, there are two parts and a candy thermometer is involved but do not let either of those facts deter you. The two steps are easy, a candy thermometer is a good thing to have in your house anyway, this recipe makes a ton of bars (especially if you cut them bite-size which is what they should be), and they keep well. The only thing I would do differently next time is to sprinkle just a bit of sea salt over top for a step into perfection.
One Year Ago: Chocolate Pavé and Romesco Filled Potatoes
Two Years Ago: Honeyed Goat Cheese Tart with Pistachio Crust and Blasted Broccoli
Three Years Ago: Orzo with Broccoli, Feta, and Olives
Salted Caramel Squares
Food & Wine
Makes 32 squares (more if you cut them smaller)
Note that this recipe calls for kosher salt in both the crust and the caramel. Do not substitute table salt – they will be way too salty. I like Diamond Brand.
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 large egg white, beaten
2¼ cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
2¼ cups sugar
1¾ sticks unsalted butter
2½ tsp. kosher salt
Prepare the shell
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the short sides. In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer at low speed, cream the butter. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar. Add the whole eggs and beat until incorporated, then beat in the flour and salt. Press the pastry into the prepared pan in an even layer, ¼-inch thick. Freeze until firm, 10 minutes.
Line the pastry with parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Bake for 35 minutes, until just set. Carefully remove the pie weights and parchment paper. Brush shell with the egg white and bake for 20 minutes longer, until golden and cooked through. Let cool.
Make the caramel
In a saucepan, bring the cream, vanilla bean, and seeds to a simmer. Cover; keep warm.
In a large heavy saucepan, stir the sugar into ¼ cup of water. Simmer over moderate heat, without stirring, until a deep amber caramel forms, 7 minutes.
Remove the caramel from the heat and carefully add the cream. (DT: It will bubble up vigorously so slow as you go.) When the bubbling subsides, stir in the butter. Insert a candy thermometer and cook over moderately high heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the caramel reaches 240º, 10 minutes. Discard the vanilla bean and stir in the salt. Pour the caramel over the shell. Refrigerate until firm, 4 hours or overnight. Remove the bar from the pan using the parchment overhang; cut into squares. (DT: In my experience, these squares kept well for several days but I did not cut them all at once. I cut off what I needed and wrapped the rest, carefully, in foil. They are equally good cold or at room temperature.)