Friday, March 29, 2013

Lulu the Baker: Carmelitas and Ina Garten: Caramel Sauce

Okay, this one definitely goes in the Evil Desserts file.  Cookie, chocolate, caramel?  That sounds like some pretty horrific evil to me.  These are so sweet and rich, you can only have a little.  Don't believe me?  Try it.  I dare you.  I made my own caramel sauce.  Because I don't like processed foods.  And because I'm a food nerd.  But you can certainly cheat and use those little individually wrapped squares.

Adapted from Lulu the Baker blog

32 caramel squares, unwrapped
½ cup heavy cream
¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Combine caramels and cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until completely smooth; set aside. In a separate bowl, combine melted butter, brown sugar, flour, oats, and baking soda. Pat half of the oatmeal mixture into the bottom of an 8x8-inch pan. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Pour caramel mixture over chocolate chips. Crumble remaining oatmeal mixture over caramel. Return to oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes.  Drizzle additional caramel sauce over the top and cool completely before cutting.

Notes: If you want to use homemade or store-bought caramel sauce in place of the caramel/cream mixture, use 1¼ cups of caramel sauce, and omit the caramel squares and heavy cream.  To make a 9x13-inch version, simply double the amounts.

Caramel Sauce
Adapted from Ina Garten

1½ cups granulated sugar
⅓ cup water
1 cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Mix the water and sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until the sugar dissolves. Do not stir. Increase the heat to medium and boil uncovered until the sugar turns a warm chestnut brown (about 350°F on a candy thermometer), about 5 to 7 minutes, gently swirling the pan to stir the mixture. Be careful – the mixture is extremely hot! Watch the mixture very carefully at the end, as it will go from caramel to burnt very quickly. Turn off the heat. Stand back to avoid splattering and slowly add the cream and vanilla. Don't worry - the cream will bubble violently and the caramel will solidify.

Simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is smooth, about 2 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours. It will thicken as it sits.

Makes about 2 cups

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