Feb 21, 2011

Walnut Chocolate Caramel Bars

There isn't too much to say about these delightful little bars. They are nutty, crunchy, sweet, and chocolatey. What's not to like?

The original recipe was for Pecan Caramel bars. I didn't have pecans and I wanted chocolate. The method is the same as the original recipe - bake the crust, toast the nuts, make a simple caramel, and bake. I just added a fudgey chocolate in between.

It takes a few minutes to work the chocolate across the cookie base. I used wet fingertips and some patience. It will get there eventually. :)

I found that these tasted much better the next day. The cookie base was a little dry once it was cool but after sitting overnight, it was moist and the perfect vehicle for the chocolate and nuts.

Walnut Chocolate Caramel Bars
adapted from Southern Living

3 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnut
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup powdered sugar +1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter + 1/4 cup unsalted butter + 2/3 cup unsalted butter
1 12 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp. water
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
3 tbsp. whipping cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and arrange walnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 5-7 minutes, until lightly toasted. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.
2. Line a 13x9 pan with heavy duty aluminum foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. Set aside. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse flour, 2/3 cup powdered sugar, and 3/4 cup butter until coarse meal form, 5-6 one-second pulses. Press mixture evenly across the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan.
3. Bake crust for 20 minutes in preheated oven, until edges are lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.
4. In a large, microwave safe bowl, combine 1/4 cup butter and chocolate chips. Microwave on high for 1 minute at a time, until chocolate is melted, stirring after each minute. Once chocolate is melted, stir in 1 cup powdered sugar and water. With moist fingertips, press chocolate evenly over cooled cookie base.
5. In a large saucepan over medium to medium-high heat, melt 2/3 cup of butter. Add brown sugar and honey once butter has melted. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and stir in whipping cream. Carefully add in walnuts and stir to coat. Spoon over top of chocolate, spread evenly.
6. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Cool on wire rack until completely cool, about 30 minutes. Cut into squares or allow to sit for several hours and up to overnight before cutting.

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