Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars: Bake A Difference

Disclosure: OXO provided me with a baking set in order to prepare Dorie Greenspan’s recipe for Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars for this post, which is reprinted with her permission. OXO will donate $100 to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer for each blog post dedicated to this campaign in September, including this one.

Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars: Bake A Difference {sponsored post}For the past few years, I have teamed up with OXO during the month of September to support their fundraising efforts for the charity, Cookies for Kids’ CancerCookies for Kids’ Cancer was founded by two OXO employees, who were inspired by their son Liam’s battle with pediatric cancer, a disease which claims the lives of more children in the US than any other disease. Cookies for Kids’ Cancer provides inspiration and support for individuals, businesses and organizations to raise funds by hosting grassroots bake sales and other fundraising events, allowing just about anyone to get involved in the effort.

Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars: Bake A DifferenceThis year, as an added special treat, fabulous and famous cookbook author Dorie Greenspan is lending a few of the recipes from her latest book, Dorie’s Cookies, to the project. You can’t get the book until October 25th, but if you check out the other bloggers’ posts who participated in this Bake A Difference campaign, you’ll be rewarded with a sneak peak of 6 different recipes that are included in this anthology. I know one thing–this cookbook is on my list! (You guys know that I met her briefly several years ago, right?)

Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars: Bake A Difference {sponsored post}To aid me in baking a difference this year, OXO sent me a marvelous mixture of goodies. Included in my set were the square Glass 2 Qt Baking Dish with Lid and rectangular Glass 3 Qt Baking Dish with Lid, which are made from BPA-free borosilicate glass. They can withstand drastic temperature changes, being able to go from the freezer to the oven, worry-free! I also received a Brownie Spatula, which is the perfect size for dishing out brownies and bar cookies.

Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars: Bake A Difference {sponsored post}What really surprised me, though, was the Illuminating Digital Hand Mixer. I have to be honest, I had a hand mixer before. It’s hot pink and I bought it with a gift card my former boss gave me for Christmas. It’s pretty, but it’s a monster, and it has a tendency to throw what’s in the bowl all over the counter and cabinets. The OXO Illuminating Digital Hand Mixer, however, is a DREAM to operate! The digital controls are smooth and easy to figure out. The machine itself is powerful without being ridiculous. And nothing was tossed out of the bowl. Butter and sugar creamed faster than they would have in my stand mixer, and the dry ingredients incorporated so perfectly into the wet, without incident. The on-board light was pretty handy, too. My kitchen has some dark spots, but I don’t have to worry about that with this hand mixer. And storage couldn’t be easier, with the on-board beater clip, wrap-and-secure cord, and flat, stable base that allows for compact, upright storage. By far, this was my favorite gift from OXO this year.

Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars: Bake A Difference {sponsored post}But what about the cookies?

Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars may sound scary or complicated, but they’re really pretty easy. You bake a simple shortbread crust and once it cools completely, the caramel topping comes together in no time. A word of advice, though: keep a close eye on the caramel while you’re preparing it. Caramel is notorious for rapidly running past perfect to overdone if you don’t remove it from the heat the second the color is right. From personal experience, I’d aim for the light amber end of the spectrum and have the rest of your ingredients sitting right next to the saucepan so you can toss them in immediately. Because of the chocolate, you won’t notice by color if the caramel is overdone, but you will in taste–it’s impossible to mask. Don’t be frightened–just be prepared, and you’ll have no trouble at all.

Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars: Bake A Difference {sponsored post}What’s really handy is that you can keep the bars in the Glass 2 Qt Baking Dish after they cool and all you need to do is cover them with the included lid, then pop them in the fridge for storage. That is, if you have any leftovers… they do go quickly…

Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars: Bake A Difference {sponsored post}Thanks for helping me Bake A Difference with OXO this year! And thank you, OXO, for letting me be a part of this blogger outreach! I look forward to it every September!

Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars: Bake A Difference
Recipe type: Cookies
Serves: 21
For the Shortbread Base
  • 1 cup (136 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄4 cup (21 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons; 4 ounces; 113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
  • 1⁄3 cup (67 grams) sugar
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon fine sea salt
For the Caramel Topping
  • 1 cup (200 grams) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1⁄2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream, at room temperature (or slightly warmed in a microwave)
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce; 28 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces and very soft
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon fleur de sel or a good-size pinch of fine sea salt
  • 2 ounces (57 grams) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • About 1⁄2 cup (60 grams) pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Generously butter (or spray) an 8-inch square pan.
  2. To make the shortbread base: Whisk together the flour and cocoa powder.
  3. Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter, sugar and salt together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Turn off the mixer, add the dry ingredients all at once and beat on low until the dough comes together. This will take a little longer than you might expect, so don’t get discouraged. Give the dough a few last turns with a flexible spatula and scrape it out into the pan. Using your fingertips, pat the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan; press down and make sure to get the dough into the corners.
  4. Bake the shortbread for 21 to 23 minutes, rotating the pan after 10 minutes, or until it is slightly darker around the edges and just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan; it will not feel completely firm if poked gently. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the shortbread to cool completely.
  5. To make the caramel topping: Put a heatproof bowl close to the stovetop, along with a small bowl of cold water and a pastry brush (preferably silicone).
  6. Put the sugar, water and corn syrup in a small saucepan or skillet and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow the ingredients to bubble away, brushing down the sides of the pan with cold water if there are spatters and swirling the pan a couple of times once you start seeing some color, until the caramel turns a pale to medium amber. (Don’t let it get as dark as mahogany.) Lower the heat, stand away from the pan and add the cream, followed by the butter and salt — ingredients that might cause the caramel to roil. Remove the pan from the heat, drop in the chocolate and, using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, stir to blend.
  7. Pour the hot caramel over the shortbread and sprinkle with the nuts. Allow to set at room temperature.
  8. When the caramel is firm, run a table knife around the sides of the pan, care- fully unmold the cookie onto a rack and turn it over onto a cutting board. Using a long thin knife, cut 21 bars (cut into 3 strips and then cut each strip into 7 bars). Alternatively, leave the cookie whole and cut individual bars as needed.

When the caramel is fully set, the cookies (cut or intact) can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 5 days. Remove them from the refrigerator about 10 minutes before serving.

Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars: Bake A Difference {sponsored post}*This year, OXO will donate up to $100,000 to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is a recognized 501c(3) public charity duly incorporated under the laws of the state of New Jersey. 100% of proceeds raised by Cookies for Kids’ Cancer fund pediatric cancer research. Visit or for more information.

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