This Salted Caramel Bar Recipe is a perfect combination of sweet and salty that creates a delicious dessert that is hard to resist. With a few simple ingredients and some basic baking skills, anyone can create caramel shortbread bars that are perfect for sharing with friends and family.
Making caramel bars at home is surprisingly easy, and the result is a decadent treat that is perfect for any occasion. This salted caramel cookie recipe consists of a shortbread crust, a layer of rich caramel, and a sprinkle of sea salt on top. Whether you are a seasoned baker or a novice in the kitchen, this cookie bar recipe is sure to impress.
The Taste and Texture of Salted Caramel Bars
Salted caramel bars are a decadent dessert that offers a perfect balance of sweet and salty flavors. The texture of these bars is soft and chewy, with a slightly crunchy crust that provides a satisfying contrast to the creamy caramel filling.
The caramel filling is made easily using caramel bits. The caramel is melted together with heavy cream to form a rich, sauce that is then mixed with vanilla extract and sea salt. This creates a smooth and creamy filling that is both sweet and salty. The crust of salted caramel bars is typically made with a combination of flour, sugar, and butter. The mixture is pressed into a baking dish and baked until golden brown. This creates a slightly crunchy crust that provides a perfect base for the creamy caramel filling.
When served, salted caramel bars are typically cut into small squares or rectangles. The bars can be served on their own or topped with a dollop of whipped cream or a sprinkle of sea salt. Overall, these are a perfect dessert for any occasion and are sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
Why You Will Love This Simple Cookie Bar Recipe
- Easy to make: This recipe is very easy to make and requires only a few ingredients. You don’t need any fancy equipment or special skills to make these bars.
- Perfect balance of flavors: The combination of sweet and salty creates a perfect balance of flavors. The addition of sea salt complements the sweetness of the caramel, making it a perfect dessert for those who love both sweet and salty flavors.
- Great for any occasion: These bars are great for any occasion, whether it’s a family gathering, a potluck, or a party. They are easy to transport and can be made ahead of time, which makes them a great dessert option for busy people.
Salted Caramel Bar Ingredients
Butter: Adding in 1 cup of butter, softened (2 cubes), will help create a perfectly rich shortbread cookie base for this delightful treat.
Sugar: You will need 1 cup of white sugar to make these bars sweet and chewy.
Powder sugar: For even more amazing taste, use 1 ½ cups of powdered sugar.
Sour cream: Using ½ cup of sour cream makes the cookie bars moist and helps bind ingredients together as well.
Vanilla extract: Enhance all the wonderful flavors in this recipe by adding in 1 TBSP of vanilla extract.
Flour: You need 3 ½ cups of flour for the structural base of these cookie bars.
Caramels: For the delicious filling, use one 14-oz bag of caramels, unwrapped. Or and 11-oz bag of unwrapped caramel bits.
Heavy cream: Adding in ⅓ cup of heavy cream or milk, will make the caramel sauce nice and creamy.
Vanilla extract: Use ½ tsp of vanilla extract to add a subtle layer of flavor in this rich sauce.
Salt: You will want to add in 2 tsp of coarse sea salt for the perfect complimenting taste to this amazing dessert.
How to make Salted Caramel Bars
Get started by preheating the oven to 325 degrees F. Then, line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil and lightly spray it with cooking spray.
Next, in a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, and powdered sugar. Then add in the sour cream, vanilla extract and mix until combined.
After that, mix in the flour and combine it until a soft dough forms.
Proceed to press half of the dough in the bottom of the prepared baking dish and place the other half of the dough into the refrigerator. (Do your best dividing it in half- I think mine ends up being 2/3 in the pan and the remaining 1/3 in the fridge and it still turns out well!)
Place the cookie crust in the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes.
While the crust is baking, melt the caramels, heavy cream and ½ tsp of vanilla extract in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir ingredients together until smooth, adding more time in 30-45 second increments as needed. Try and get it as smooth as you can, depending on the type of caramel, it might not be perfectly smooth and that’s okay!
Once the cookie crust is baked, pour the caramel evenly over the hot crust. Lightly sprinkle about 1 tsp of coarse sea salt over the caramel.
Then, take the remaining dough out of the refrigerator and crumble it over the top of the caramel. Return the pan to the oven and bake it for another 25-30 minutes until the filling is bubbly and the top is firm.
Lastly, add the remaining 1 tsp of salt to the top, after the caramel bars are cooled, but before cutting. Let them cool completely before cutting them into small squares.
Serve and enjoy!
Tips & Tricks for making AMAZING Caramel Bars
Caramel Bars are not difficult to make but there are a few tips that make the process much easier.
- First, when making the shortbread crust, lay down a piece of parchment paper in the pan first. The shortbread crust doesn’t stick, but the caramel seeps through a bit and the caramel can get stuck to the pan. So using parchment paper eliminates that mess!
- Second, I prefer to buy either unwrapped caramel bits OR the caramel pieces in a bag that are specifically for baking, because the outer wrapper comes off really easily. Those small square caramels in the clear plastic wrapper are such a pain to unwrap!
- Third, don’t stress if your caramel doesn’t get completely smooth. It’s okay! You’re going to top the caramel sauce with shortbread dough and then bake them into dessert bars. Don’t spend extra time trying to whisk the caramel into submission.
- Lastly, cool the caramel bars completely before cutting into squares. Don’t chill them! That will give you a caramel brick that might break your knife. Just cool on the countertop. Also, I like to spray my knife with non-stick spray prior to cutting the caramel bars. It makes cutting through the caramel so much easier.
Salted Caramel Bar Recipe
- 1 cup butter softened (2 cubes)
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 TBSP vanilla
- 3 ½ cups flour
- 14 oz bag caramels unwrapped (or 11 oz bag of unwrapped caramel bits)
- ⅓ cup heavy cream or milk
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp coarse sea salt
- Prep: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Lightly spray with cooking spray.
- Dough: In a large mixing bowl cream together butter, sugar, and powdered sugar.
- Add sour cream, vanilla and mix until combined. Mix in the flour and combine until it forms a soft dough.
- Press half of the dough in the bottom of a 9×13 dish and place the other half of the dough into the refrigerator. (Do your best dividing it in half- I think mine ends up being 2/3 in the pan and the remaining 1/3 in the fridge and it still turns out well!)
- Bake: Bake crust in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
- Caramel filling: While the crust is baking, melt the caramels, heavy cream and 1/2 tsp vanilla in the microwave for 1 minute.
- Stir together until smooth, adding more time in 30-45 second increments as needed. Try and get it as smooth as you can, depending on the type of caramel, it might not be perfectly smooth and that’s okay!
- Pour caramel evenly over the hot crust. Lightly sprinkle about 1 tsp coarse sea salt over the caramel.
- Bake again: Take the remaining dough out of the refrigerator and crumble over the top of the caramel. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until filling is bubbly and the top is firm.
- Add remaining 1 tsp salt after caramel bars are cooled, but before cutting. Let them cool completely before cutting into small squares. Serve and enjoy!
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Best Type of Caramel for Baking
When it comes to baking with caramel, it’s best to use a soft caramel. Soft caramels are easier to work with and will give you a chewy texture in your salted caramel bars. Hard caramels can be used, but they will result in a harder texture.
I prefer to buy either unwrapped caramel bits OR the caramel pieces in a bag that are specifically for baking, because the outer wrapper comes off really easily. Those small square caramels in the clear plastic wrapper are such a pain to unwrap! You can find the baking caramels on end caps, on the baking aisle or often in the produce section by the apples.
When to Serve Salted Caramel Bars?
Salted caramel bars are a great dessert option for any occasion. They are perfect for serving at parties, family gatherings, or as a sweet treat to enjoy with a cup of coffee. They can be served as a dessert or as a snack, and are sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
How Long Does Salted Caramel Last?
Salted caramel bars can last up to a week if stored properly. They should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator to maintain their freshness. If you want to store them for a longer period, you can freeze them for up to three months.
What Makes Salted Caramel Salty?
The salt in salted caramel bars is added to enhance the flavor of the caramel. It helps to balance out the sweetness and adds a savory note to the dessert. The type of salt used can vary, but most recipes call for sea salt or kosher salt.
If you love this Salted Caramel Bar recipe check out these other tasty caramel desserts:
- Chocolate Caramel Bars
- Caramel Apple Bread
- Caramel Apple Nachos
- Salted Caramel Rice Krispie Squares
- Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Caramel Apple Eclair Cake
- Easy Homemade Caramel Popcorn
- Caramel Apple Bundt Cake
- Caramel Apple Cheesecake Muffins
- Caramel Apple Cheesecake
- Pumpkin Spice Caramel Popcorn
- No Bake Caramel Apple Cheesecakes
- Caramel Apple Fluff
Salted Caramel Bar Recipe are a wonderful combination of sweet and salty tastes that make for a delightful treat that is hard to resist. These caramel shortbread bars are perfect for sharing with friends and family, bring to your next event and watch how quickly they disappear!