I have a slight obsession with sweet and salty desserts. There’s just something about a little extra salt that can transform a dessert from good to great. Specifically, salted caramel holds a special place in my baking heart.
These bars are a lovely way to enjoy salted caramel. They start with a simple, buttery crust. Next comes homemade caramel with plenty of almonds stirred right into it. Then, a sprinkling of coarse salt brings these into sweet and salty territory.
Making caramel can be a daunting task. I know it is for me, probably because I’ve had my share of failures making it. The thing I’ve learned is to keep a close eye on the caramel because it can go from beautiful to burned pretty quickly. Once you have your beautiful, delicious caramel, you can revel in your accomplishment and enjoy one (or a few) of these tasty treats!
- 1 & 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 cups sliced almonds
- coarse salt*
To make the crust:
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9"x 13" baking pan.
Whisk together flour and salt. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and mix well.
Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture, mixing until crumbly and just combined.
Press the dough evenly and firmly into the bottom of prepared pan. Prick the surface of the dough with a fork.
Bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Set pan on a wire rack to cool.
To make the filling:
Keep the oven set to 350°. Measure all ingredients and have them ready so you can work quickly.
Combine sugar and water in a medium heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly and occasionally washing the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush, until sugar is dissolved.
Increase heat to high. Cook, without stirring, until the caramel turns a dark amber color.
Remove the pan from the heat immediately. Carefully stir in cream, which will cause the mixture to bubble up. Add butter and honey, and stir until butter is melted.
Stir in almonds, making sure they are completely coated.
Carefully pour the caramel mixture over the prepared crust. Use an offset spatula to spread the caramel evenly over the crust. Sprinkle the top of the bars with desired amount of coarse salt.
Bake 12 to 14 minutes, or until the almonds are slightly toasted and the caramel is bubbling.
Cool in pan on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before cutting into bars.
Run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the bars. Then, flip the bars onto a cutting board, flip again to make them right-side-up, and use a sharp knife to cut into bars.
*We all like different degrees of salty with our sweet, so adjust to your preferences. I used about 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt sprinkled on top of the bars.
Recipe adapted from The Good Cookie.