Gooey salted caramel sandwiched between layers of buttery crumbly cookie crust.
Alrighty, break out the elastic-banded pants folks. I mean, these are called butter bars. That’s not a cute nickname, they actually have a truckload of butter in them. So no, I don’t recommend working these into your weekly diet. But every once in a while, ya gotta live. And when that once in a while rolls around, consider these salted caramel pecan butter bars. They’re heaven on earth and a 100% un-regrettable way to splurge in the dessert department.
Some people say you shouldn’t reward yourself with food. Meh, not my favorite piece of advice… In fact I’m a poster child for rewarding yourself with food. See the trick is that it can’t be every five minutes. And it’s not always butter-loaded desserts either. Sometimes (read: in fact, quite often) I reward myself with tacos. Steak tacos, chicken tacos, thai tacos, shrimp tacos, pork tacos. (Obviously I love tacos). And sometimes I reward myself with my favorite soup and salad shop, Zupas. That hardly breaks the calorie bank (unless I splurge for the million dollar bars in the glass case. ahem.)
But then there are times when I reward myself with butter bars.
The crumbly flavor of the crust is mmmmmm good. And salted caramel steals my heart every time. Actually, funny story, last night I took these bars to a church group activity and a bunch of teenagers practically inhaled them. One of the junior-high aged girls came up to me afterwards and said they were amazing, but that the first bite was weird and she had to get used to it before she decided they were really delicious. Took me a minute to figure out what she was talking about. But then…. Baha! It’s called salted caramel sweetheart.
I do agree that it could be considered an acquired taste, it took me …. 4 seconds to decide that I wholeheartedly love it. Are there really people who haven’t tried salted caramel?! That’s nuts! Speaking of nuts, you can actually leave them out if you’re allergic or just aren’t in the mood. The butter bars loaded with gooey caramel are more than enough to keep you satisfied. But I love the extra crunch and flavor from the nuts so I highly recommend them!
Salted Caramel Pecan Butter Bars
- 2 cups butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons vanilla
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 4 cups flour
- 30 caramels, unwrapped
- 3 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans (such as Diamond of California)
- coarse sea salt
- Preheat oven to 325. In a large bowl cream together butter, powdered sugar, and sugar. Add vanilla and almond and mix until smooth. Add flour and mix until dough comes together.
- Press half of the dough into the bottom of a greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes. Chill remaining dough.
- While crust is baking, prepare caramel layer. Combine caramels and milk in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir and return to microwave for 20 seconds at a time until caramel is smooth. Stir in vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
- Pour caramel over baked crust. Sprinkle chopped pecans over caramel (I reserved a tablespoon to sprinkle on top). Drop teaspoons of remaining dough on top of caramel layer until dough is used up. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Bake 30-35 minutes until crust is lightly browned.
- Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars (you can put them in the fridge to speed put he process!) Store in airtight container up to one week.
Recipe adapted from American Heritage Cooking