I've flipped through countless food magazines, clicked on hundreds of online recipes and watched numerous cooking celebrities. And my method for picking out winners remains the same: the photo. It's the photograph of the food that pulls me in, makes me pause and ultimately lures me into the kitchen.
Imagery is a powerful tool when it comes to food. Not only can photographs inspire me to create a certain dish, but the presentation of a meal can entice me to try something different.
Although in this case, chocolate isn't so different and is not what hooked me in the photo. It was the the gooey salted caramel middle that was love at first sight. These Chocolate Chip Salted Caramel Cookie Bars are exactly as amazing as they sound. The delectable chocolatey cookie crunch gives way to a chewy caramel filling, with the taste of sea salt finishing the combination perfectly.
I adore salty-sweet foods and already had sea salt caramels from Trader Joe's in my pantry, but you can use regular caramel squares as well. Make sure to grease the 11 x 7 dish well. You could probably also use a 9 x 9 baking pan, but the standard 13 x 9 will be too long to make the two layers of cookie dough.
Baked anything yummy lately? Let me know in the comments. And although this isn't really baking, this is next on my list. I've already bought the dreaded Fluff for it: Coconut Hot Chocolate With Almond-Fluff Whipped Cream.
Chocolate Chip Salted Caramel Cookie Bars (from Two Peas & Their Pod)
2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chips
10 ounces caramel candy squares, unwrapped
3 tablespoons heavy cream
Sea salt, for sprinkling over caramel and bars
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a 2-quart baking pan (which is an 11 X 7 pan-I used a glass Pyrex dish) with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the melted butter and sugars together until combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix on low, just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
4. In a large microwave safe bowl, combine the caramels and heavy cream. Microwave caramels on High until caramels are melted, stirring every 20 seconds. This will take about 2 minutes, depending on your microwave.
5. Divide the cookie dough in half. Press half of the cookie dough into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the spatula. Pour hot caramel over the cookie dough. Sprinkle caramel with sea salt. Drop spoonfuls of cookie dough over the caramel and spread dough with a spatula until the caramel is covered. Sprinkle the bars with additional sea salt.
6.Bake cookie bars for 30 minutes or until the top of the bars are light golden brown and the edges start to pull away from the pan. Cool bars on a wire rack to room temperature. Cut bars into squares and serve.