Tuesday, February 24, 2009

TWD: Caramel Crunch Bars

I didn't choose this recipe. About a month ago, I recieved the email asking for my pick. I gather I said something like, "oh, goody! It's my turn to pick the Tuesdays with Dorie recipe." Within 10 seconds, my kids had the cookbook off the shelf and were anxiously thumbing through the non-highlighted pages. (I highlight recipe titles after I've made them). Only moments later, or so it seemed, J. told me that we were choosing the Caramel Crunch Bars on p. 112. Being the softie that I am, I replied to the email that I did, in fact choose the Caramel Crunch Bars.
Now, I recognize that some of you are therefore questioning my parenting, and cooking skills, for relinquishing this powerful, once in a lifetime choice to a fourth grader and a pre-schooler. But, reality is, I'm eventually going to make (almost) all of the recipes, right? Besides, I know the truth, they were drawn in by the yummy looking ice cream sandwhich photo on page 113.
So here's where I admit that I momentarily doubted Dorie (Mistake in judgement #1?). See, this recipe reminded me quite a bit of Molly Wizenberg's Coffee Crunch Bars from the February issue of Bon Appetit. Mostly, I suppose because of the espresso powder in the dough. So I made the Coffee Crunch Bars. They were tasty, and crunchy. I wrapped much of the batch neatly in waxed paper and took them to a family from K.'s preschool who had recently had a new baby. (Mistake in judgement #2 might be that I took root veggie pot pies and cookies with coffee in them to a family with 2 and 4 year old boys. I realize that, in retrospect, I was supposed to make lasagna and brownies, or maybe order them a pizza and drop off a half gallon -- or wait, 1.5Q --of Breyers.)

The other day I finally made the Caramel Crunch bars. Did they beat the Coffee Crunch Bars? HANDS DOWN. I wasn't easily able to pat the dough into the pan with my fingertips, I found my palms much more effective. That thick layer of Scharffen Berger 62% -- yum. After eating a dozen or so (cut small, honestly) I packed the rest away for A. to take to work. I saved two large squares in an attempt to recreate my children's treasured ice cream sandwhich photo. After freezing them, however, I discovered that these cookies are total toothbreakers, so I scraped off the ice cream, allowed the cookies to return to room temp and enjoyed my last few bites.
Caramel Crunch Bars
From Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

For the base: 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. instant espresso powder or finely ground instant coffee
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
2 sticks (8oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 oz. bittersweet or premium milk chocolate, finely chopped

For the topping:
6 oz. bittersweet or premium milk chocolate, finely chopped
¾ cup Heath toffee bits

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly butter a 9x13 inch baking pan, line the pan with foil and butter the foil. Put the pan on a baking sheet.

To make the base: Whisk together the flour, coffee, salt and cinnamon.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the sugars and beat for another three minutes or until the mixture is light and creamy. Beat in the vanilla and turn off the mixer. Add all the dry ingredients, cover the stand mixer with a kitchen towel (so you and your kitchen don’t get showered in flour) and pulse the mixer on and off at low speed about 5 times- at which point a peek at the bowl should reveal that it’s safe to turn the mixer to low and mix, uncovered, just until the dry ingredients are almost incorporated. Add the chopped chocolate and mix only until the dry ingredients disappear. If the chocolate isn’t evenly mixed, finish the job by hand with a spatula. You’ll have a very heavy, very sticky dough. Scrape the dough into the buttered pan and, with the spatula and your fingertips, cajole it into a thin, even layer.

Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until the base is bubbly – so bubbly that you can almost hear it percolating – and puckery. It will look as though it is struggling to pull away from the side of the pan. Transfer the pan to a rack and turn off the oven.

To make the topping: Scatter the chocolate 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 offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the toffee bits over the chocolate and press them down lightly with your fingertips. Place the baking 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 firm the chocolate.
Carefully lift out of the pan, using foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. Trim the edges if they seem a bit thick. Cut about 54 bars, each about 2 inches by 1 inch, taking care not to cut through the foil.










57 comments:

Jin Hooi said...

thanks to your lovely kids, we absolutely love these caramel crunch bars, they were delicious !!

doughmesstic said...

Ack! My "toothbreakers" are still in the freezer! Thanks for the warning...oh, and thumbs up to you for letting your kids pick...you get my vote for Mom of the Year. Reliquishing your TwD vote is a huge sacrifice!

Danielle said...

Great pick for this week high five to you!
Yes these are toothbreakers even after sitting in the fridge!

Katrina said...

Great pick, whoever made the decision! I put sprinkles on mine instead of toffee--Sprinkle Crunch Bars?!

Cakelaw said...

LOL, you did well to listen to your kids. I think most people loved these, and yours look terrific. Thanks for hsoting this week.

Engineer Baker said...

Fabulous choice! These were definitely well liked, so kudos to your fourth grader and pre-schooler :) Yours look wonderful. Good to know they get too hard when frozen (not that there're any left...).

somethingsweetbykaren said...

i preferred them frozen the best, but yeah, they did kind of break my teeth! thanks for the great pick this week, they were delicious. :)

Di said...

I didn't ask my kids, but I did get my husband to help with my pick. =) I've also been guilty of not thinking about the age of the kids when taking food to a family.

I wasn't sure if I was going to like the flavors in these, but they turned out really good! Thanks for a great non-pick this week. =)

Pamela said...

Well...you tried! It's all about the little ones, isn't it? Anyway, this was a tasty pick and I'm glad it was chosen by you and your family!

steph- whisk/spoon said...

smart kids--they know what's good! thanks for the pick--they were great! (i agree about the ice cream sandwiches...the cookies were way too hard for that)

Liz said...

Loved these-- great choice!

I also had the Coffee Crunch Bars recipe in my recipe binder, good to know Dorie's are better!

Teanna said...

Hahah I put these in the freezer too and my boyfriend took one bite and was like "These are inedible". Hahaha! There should be a note saying: These DO NOT freeze well! Thanks for the fabulous pick! I was curious about those Coffee Bars from Bon Appetit, as the article describing them basically exalts them as the best cookies in the world. Now I'm doubting it....

Jennifer said...

I recently chipped a tooth via toffee, so I decided to skip the ice cream sandwich part-too risky!
Thanks to you (and your kids) for the recipe suggestion. I was curious about this recipe and the combo of cinnamon, coffee and toffee.

Beth said...

Great pick, kids! Also, I'm a HUGE fan of Zingermans (in your previous post.) I crave their Wisconsin Mountain Cheddar on a daily basis.

Jules Someone said...

Thank you Whitney's kids! Nice pick. And nice looking sandwich.

Amanda said...

These look perfect, nice job! Mine were a bit crisp, but still tasty :)

dharmagirl said...

Hi Whitney! Thanks for choosing these bars! That's good to know that the ice cream bars become toothbreakingly hard:) I enjoyed reading your story!

rainbowbrown said...

I think that giving the honor to your two children is a very commendable thing. They did good too, they did good.

vibi said...

Thank you Whitney for chosing that recipe for us, this week!

It was an amazing discovery... one that I will redo, for sure!

Yours look pretty darn too, as a matter of fact! LOL LOL

farah said...

Ok so your kids made the pick, but what a pick! These are so good!!!

Lillian said...

These were yummy -- tell your kids my kids said thank you!

TeaLady said...

Your kids made the right choice. Ah, the things we do for our children...... They look and sound delicious.

bakingtherapist said...

Thanks, Whitney...Great choice. I also thought of the Bon Appetit recipe when I was making this.

Sara said...

I also saw the coffee crunch bar recipe, which I wanted to make, but if you say these are better I'll trust your judgment. Great pick by your family!
Sara/Imafoodblog

Melissa said...

Thank your kids for a great pick. What a nice Mommy you are!

Kaitlin said...

I thank your children for choosing these cookies – like them, I was swayed by the photo. It always looked so yummy when I saw it while flipping through the book. Also, I think it’s awesome that you let them choose – what kid wouldn’t love their mom giving them the choice of a lifetime? (Okay, maybe not quite of a lifetime, but it’s up there)

Flourchild said...

Nice pick..these are on the top of the list of Favs from Dories cookbook..yummmmyyyy!

Jill said...

Your kids did a great job of picking a recipe. The picture of the ice cream sandwiches really does look good, but now I'm glad I didn't freeze mine!

April said...

Loved by all in my house. thanks for the great pick! The icecream sandwich picture got my kids way too excited too.

ostwestwind said...

Great choice although I had some trouble to substitute the toffee bits :-).

Yours look great

Ulrike from K├╝chenlatein

Kimberly Johnson said...

Your kiddos chose well! Your crunch bars look fantastic!

Erin said...

These look great! I'm glad you picked these- what a wonderful choice!

pinkstripes said...

Thank you (and your children) for selecting this recipe. The crunch bars were wonderful and easy to make. The perfect recipe!

chocolatechic said...

Thanks for such a wonderful pick.

We loved them

Tracey said...

Thanks for a great pick this week! I think it's sweet to let your kids choose.

Jess said...

Thanks for a great pick - I want to try these again soon. You are a great mom for letting your kids pick - I was completely selfish with mine!

Megan said...

I totally agree with your decision to let the kids choose - after it, it almost guarantees that they'll eat it, right?

Linda said...

Props to your kids for a fantastic pick this week!!!

bakingwiththeboys said...

Nothing wrong with letting the kids choose. You might as well make something that everyone is at least willing to try. We really liked these.

BAKE-EN said...

Your kids have great taste!

Carol Peterman said...

We loved these cookies. I bet that Scharffen Berger chocolate was great on these!

Tammy said...

well, the kids did good - I loved this recipe! thanks for choosing!

amanda said...

Tell your amazing kids thanks! They picked an awesome one! I had no idea the bars were going to be this good.

Thanks for hosting too. :)

Nancy said...

Actually that's a great way to make a choice...have someone else pick! Takes all the pressure off of you! LOL! Great pick...your bars look awesome!

margot said...

Thanks for this yummy choice. I made the Coffee Crunch Bars last month, too. I think I may try a hybrid of the two recipes next time.

Dorie said...

What a great story to go with your great-looking bars! I'm so glad you and your family liked them and I love that your kids made the pick. If you ever make them again and want to turn them into ice cream sandwiches, fill them and freeze them only until the ice cream firms again.

Kimberly said...

Thanks for letting your kids pick these yummy bars! :) Have a great day!

Karen said...

ahhh. Yours kiddos I 'm sure were thrilled that they got to pick the recipe. Mine loved it!

Rhiani said...

Thanks for hosting this week. I'm glad you chose these - they were fantastic and so easy to make :)

kim said...

this was such a great pick! your kids have very good taste:) i thought they were too crunchy for ice cream also, but it's good on the side ;)

Jacque said...

How sweet of you to let your kids chose. Interesting to see the difference in thier taste versus a grown up.

Thanks for hosting this week :)

Jaime said...

thanks J for the pick!! i loved them :) and thank you whitney for allowing J to pick :)

Stephanie said...

I think it's great that the kids picked this week's selection...they made a great choice!

The Food Librarian said...

Thanks to you and your kids!! These were awesome!

AmyRuth said...

Okay Whitney I think I am comment #55 so you may never get this far through the list. My apologies, I missed the big comment Swoosh and haven't posted my CCB's yet. I'm using that old life got in the way excuse you see when either from lack of organization or exhaustion we choose not to post. So, mine is forthcoming and BTW I loved your post. Too cute of you to honor your chillin with the all important "choosing of THE TWD recipe. What a nice Mommy! Thank you to your babes for choosing a fun recipe, Whitney. Bake-on.
AmyRuth

Leslie said...

Thanks for a terrific pick! I'm proud of you for not throwing a tantrum like I would have!

These were delicious. We really enjoyed them.

Arlette said...

Hello Whitney
I was so anxious to find the recipe of these Caramel Crunch Bars, and was moving from one blog to another, until I end up with you and the recipe
I have to try them... They 've been calling me since last week
thanks