Salted Caramel Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Bars


What do you get when you decide to brown a little butter and get creative? The most insanely delicious little salted caramel brown butter chocolate chip bars ever, that’s what.

Slab of salted caramel brown butter chocolate chip bars cut into squares and two stacked on each other on wood cutting board.


Why are good ol’ chocolate chip cookie bars so irresistible? I mean, chocolate chip cookies are tasty, but smash the same basic dough into a pan, underbake just a little, and wow.

It is safe to assume that bar cookies in some form have solved many a dessert dilemma for me over the years (and in some cases made me look way more put together in the potluck department than I really am). 

I’m not trying to usurp the almighty chocolate chip cookie bar here, but sometimes even amazing things can be improved on. And in this case, a touch of brown butter and soft, chewy caramel does just that. 

Two salted caramel brown butter chocolate chip bars stacked on each other on white wax paper.

Honestly, these bars are magically delicious. A basic chocolate chip cookie dough gets a boost from the nutty flavor of browned butter before being layered in a pan with chewy, lightly salted caramel.

After baking, that caramel layer pops up a bit here and there throughout the chocolate chip cookie bars, creating a chewy, buttery soft ripple that immediately alerts my self-control: get these bars out of the house ASAP. 

The fact that these salted caramel brown butter chocolate chip bars freeze amazingly well can either be taken as the best news ever or a dangerous piece of advice. 

Slab of salted caramel brown butter chocolate chip bars cut into squares on wood cutting board.

Yes, brown butter is a bit trendy…but it’s also here to stay. And I am not sad about that. If you’ve never browned yourself some butter, may I encourage you to do so at your earliest convenience? I have a quick and easy tutorial here. Other than keeping a close eye on the butter while it cooks (as in, now is not the time to go paint your toenails), it’s easy as can be. 

And if you’re wondering why the fuss? Well, the little bits of butter solids that turn nutty and toasty give the brown butter (and resulting cookie dough, in this case) a delicious depth of golden, caramelly flavor that can’t be achieved by any extract or artificial flavoring.  

Process collage of brown butter, flour being added to cookie dough, chocolate chips and mixed cookie dough. Process shot of chocolate chip cookie dough dotting surface of caramel.

Caramel is a distinct and important ingredient in these cookie bars. You don’t want caramel sauceYou want soft, chewy, squares of caramel that most likely need to be unwrapped (unless you are ambitiously making your own homemade caramel or are using little chewy caramel bits – Kraft brand, I think?).

My favorite brand of wrapped chewy caramels are Trader Joe’s or Kraft. Whatever the brand, make sure to spread the melted caramel over the unbaked cookie dough while the caramel is still warm.

If you are using homemade caramel, you probably want about 1 1/2 cups or so. 

Process shot of baked salted caramel brown butter chocolate chip bars.

Despite the few simple extra steps of browning the butter and melting a bit of caramel, these chocolate chip cookie bars are easy. Almost too easy. If you know what I mean. 

They are positively dangerous for anyone who possesses a love of caramel and cookies. The good (?) news is, if word gets out you have a batch of these sitting around, you might be rid of them sooner than you’d like. #barthedoor

I know I’ve shared a lot of recipes over the years with you, my faithful friends, but I’m never happier than when I’m typing up a recipe like this – so easy, so sure to become a family favorite. If I wasn’t solidly sure if it before, days like today reinforce that my love language is definitely sharing good food with anyone and everyone who will listen/eat. 

Slab of salted caramel brown butter chocolate chip bars cut into squares and two stacked on each other on wood cutting board.  

One Year Ago: Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble
Two Years Ago: Simple Weeknight Greek Chicken Burritos {or Wraps!}
Three Years Ago: Amazing Cinnamon Chip Scones {Best Basic Scone Recipe}
Four Years Ago: My Favorite Peanut Butter Cookies
Five Years Ago: Baked Shrimp and Orzo with Feta Cheese

Yield:
9X13-inch pan of bars

Prep Time:
25 minutes

Cook Time:
20 minutes

Total Time:
45 minutes

Salted Caramel Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons, 6 ounces) butter
  • 1 cup (7.5 ounces) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (3.75 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (7.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (9 ounces) chocolate chips (see note)
  • 14-ounce bag soft caramels, unwrapped (not caramel sauce)
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk or cream
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9X13-inch pan (I use metal) with foil or parchment paper (to make cleanup easier with the caramel). Lightly grease the bottom and sides with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Brown the butter by cutting the butter into tablespoon-size pieces and placing in a skillet (preferably not nonstick so you can see the changing color easily – quick tutorial here). Cook over medium-low heat until the butter melts, begins to sizzle, and the butter solids on the bottom begin to turn a toasty brown, 3-4 minutes. Watch closely; the exact time will vary. Remove from the heat and immediately pour into a medium bowl. Refrigerate the butter for 10 minutes or so (not too long or it will solidify) until no longer hot.
  3. Stir in the brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking soda and salt until evenly combined.
  4. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined. Stir in the flour and chocolate chips until no dry streaks remain.
  5. Take about 2/3 of the dough and dot in large pieces across the bottom of the prepared pan. Press into an even, thin layer.
  6. Add the unwrapped caramels and cream to a microwave-safe bowl and cook for 1-minute increments at 50% power, stirring in between, until the mixture is melted and smooth (careful not to burn).
  7. Spread the caramel, while still warm, over the cookie dough in the pan. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt, if desired. Pinch teaspoon-size pieces of remaining cookie dough and sprinkle across the caramel.
  8. Bake for 20-22 minutes until the cookie dough is golden. Let cool completely before cutting into squares.

Notes

If you use homemade caramel, you’ll want about 1 1/2 cups.

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Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Posted on April 10, 2019 by Mel



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