Usually, winning recipes are defined by the presence of sweet-salty contrasts, textural contrasts and more often than not, include chocolate in some form.
Like this one.
The cookie base itself is a little bit salty while the milk chocolate and caramel bits on top are sweet, the cookie is also a little bit on the chewy side and then you have the crunch from the caramel, and obviously it includes chocolate.
I honestly think that the title of caramel crunch bars is far too humble. It should be more like superfrickindelicious chocolate-caramel coated chocolate chip cookie bar.
If you're wondering, by the way, why those shards of caramel look absolutely nothing like toffee bits, it's because they're not. Toffee bits are practically non-existent in my neighboring supermarkets so I had to settle for crushed up werther's original caramel candies. The substitution worked fine. Just perhaps a little less crunchy than toffee bits.
P.S. I bet these, chopped up into bite-sized chunks, would be heavenly mixed in with vanilla ice cream. Just saying.
P.P.S This is another Dorie recipe! Who else but her can churn out winners almost every time?
Caramel Crunch Bars
adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
makes small 54 bars
For the base:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 oz bittersweet or premium milk chocolate, finely chopped (I just used milk chocolate chips)
For the topping:
6 oz bittersweet or premium milk chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup Heath toffee bits
Preheat oven to 375F. Prepare a 9 x 13 inch pan.
Whisk the flour, coffee, salt and cinnamon together.
Beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat for another 3 minutes or until the mixture is light and creamy. Beat in the vanilla.
Add all the dry ingredients and mix until almost incorporated. Add the chopped chocolate and mix just until the dry ingredients disappear and chocolate is evenly distributed. Scrape the dough into your prepared tin.
Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until the base if bubbly and puckery. Transfer pan to a rack and turn off the oven.
Scatter the chocolate for the topping evenly over the top of the hot base and pop the pan back into the oven for 2 to 3 minutes, until the chocolate is soft. Remove from oven and immediately spread chocolate over bars using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the toffee bits over and press them down lightly with your fingertips. Place the pan on a rack to cool to room temperature.
If, by the time the bars are cool, the chocolate has not set, refrigerate them briefly to set the chocolate.