Saturday, August 9, 2014

Caramelita Bars

Caramelita Bars - made August 2, 2014 from The Model Bakery by Karen Mitchell and Sarah Mitchell Hansen
This is the second recipe I tried from the Model Bakery cookbook that I got for my birthday and the one I meant to make in the first place when I started melting caramel before I realized I didn't have enough oatmeal on hand. A trip to Target rectified that but unfortunately, this didn't turn out as well as the brownie had.
That's partly my fault. I wanted the oatmeal crumbly topping to crisp up a bit to provide more texture to the caramelita, thinking it would be a nice contrast to the smooth, sweet, melty/flowy caramel. But I miscalculated because in the time it took to crisp up the oatmeal topping, the caramel lost its flowiness. It didn't get hard but it wasn't drippy caramel decadence either. Instead, it was just....there. Darn.
The part that wasn't my fault is this wasn't all that flavorful either. I prefer caramelitas not only dripping with caramel but also have a brown sugar flavor or a brown butter undertone. This held neither. Again, it was just there. It wasn't bad and remember how picky my taste buds are. Most people would probably think these were fine. To me, they're just okay.

2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoon light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons water

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  1. To make the caramel: Stir the granulated sugar, water, and corn syrup together in a large heavy saucepan over high heat until the sugar has dissolved. Boil, without stirring, occasionally rotating the pan by the handle to swirl the syrup and washing down any crystals that form on the sides of the pan with a natural-bristle brushed dipped in cold water, until the syrup is smoking and the color of old copper, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low.
  2. Add the cream and stir until the caramel is smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool until tepid and thickened, about 1 hour.
  3. To make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 x 13 pan with aluminum foil and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  4. Whisk the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. Stir in the melted butter and water until the oat mixture is moistened. Transfer about one-fourth of the mixture to a bowl; set aside. Transfer the remainder into the prepared pan and press it firmly and evenly into the bottom of the pan.
  5. Bake until the crust is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and spread the caramel over the crust. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and pecans evenly over the caramel. Crumble the reserved mixture as evenly as possible over the top. Return to the oven and bake until the topping is barely golden brown, about 15 minutes.
  6. Let cool completely before cutting and serving.

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