I crave caramel over chocolate. I am not one of those self proclaimed chocoholics but if there is such a thing as a caramel-holic, then I would fall into that category. Give me a bowl of really good vanilla ice cream and some warm homemade salted caramel and a spoon – I am in heaven for sure.
Not sure if you are a dog lover, but I am. Hubby and I have had Max our 14 ½ year old Lhasa Apso since he was eight weeks old. We affectionately refer to him as the senior citizen these days although he has quite a bit of "pep in his step". Last week, hubby heard him barking at , which is quite unusual for him. We got up to see what was going on and found that he was struggling to use his back legs. As his doggie mommy, I was quite distressed and worried. We finally got him comfortable and in the morning, I was able to secure an appointment and bring him to the vet.
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He seemed a bit better walking but still on the slow side. By the time I got to the vets he was walking and seemed much more like himself. However, we were there and wanted to make sure he was okay. After blood work, x rays, a thorough exam and observation, he was able to come home in the late afternoon. Max was a bit groggy from the medications and anesthesia, so he slept most of the evening. He has a luxurious set up in our garage where he has two faux fur beds, a plethora of plush toys, food and water, a doggie door to venture outside and the radio is playing 24/7 for his entertainment. Not bad huh?
Max had been getting quite thin lately and that is why they did all of the tests to ensure nothing serious was going on. Everything had been ruled out - yeah! Recently he had lost his appetite for his regular dog food, so being the food blogger that I am; I whipped up some grilled chicken and roasted potatoes for him. His interest level for food has gone from one to ten. You know what that means …. I will now have to cook for him for the rest of his golden years. As long as he is happy and healthy, that is all that matters when it comes to my baby Max.
With all of this going on for the last week, I needed to bake. I love a bar cookie and just needed something with caramel. The end result were these Salted Caramel Bars and they were pure heaven!
Salted Caramel Bars
Makes 16 Bars
½ Pound Butter (2 sticks) – Room Temperature
½ Cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons Vanilla
¾ Cup Powdered Sugar
2 Cups Flour
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugars and cream together on medium speed. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. Slowly add the flour until incorporated.
Spray a 9 x 9 inch baking pan lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Press one-third of the dough evenly into the pan to form a bottom crust. Wrap remaining dough in plastic wrap and keep in refrigerator. Bake crust until firm and the edges are a pale golden brown – approximately 20 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes.
Make the caramel sauce ahead of time and let chill for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator until it thickens. Pour about ½ cup onto the baked dough and spread.
Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and crumble it evenly over the caramel. Return the pan to the oven and bake until filling is bubbly and the crumble shortbread topping is firm and lightly golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool before cutting into squares.
Salted Caramel Sauce
1 ½ C. sugar
¼ C. water
½ t. lemon juice
1 C. heavy cream
2 t. Grey Salt
Stir sugar, water and lemon juice in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat; boil without stirring until the mixture turns deep amber brown. This should take about 9 minutes. Take off the stove and hold over the sink before pouring the cream mixture into the sugar mixture. It will boil and bubble. Once calmed down, add grey salt and set back on the burner and reduce slightly over medium low heat for about 8 minutes. Chill until thickened. Put into another container and let come to room temperature when ready to use. Spoon into indentations in cookies, and sprinkle with sea salt.