Last Thursday was my friend Drenda's annual cookie swap/ornament exchange. She's been doing this for at least a dozen years with the same group of women, many of which I only see at the cookie swap. You remember Drenda, don't you. The one whose holiday decorations I covet.
Drenda has prizes for everyone, as well as parting gifts. But the big prize is that of best cookie, so every year I search for something new. Something that's bound to win the hearts and taste buds of all who sample it.
This year, I came across a whole series of cookie recipes that were based on popular candy bars. And let me tell you, narrowing down that decision was a chore. They all looked SO good.
Finally, I settled on a recipe called Gold Bars and they're based on a Twix candy bar.
Be still my heart.
For this recipe, you're going to need:
- ½ cup (one stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 9 oz. package soft caramel candies
- ¼ cup sweetened condensed milk
- ½ cup half and half, divided
- 4 egg yolks
- ½ cup milk chocolate bits
Heat your oven to 375 degrees. Then line a 9x9 baking pan with parchment paper.
I do not own a 9x9 baking dish. I have an 8x8 and 9x13, so I decided to double the recipe and use the bigger dish. The measurements shown above are for a single batch, though.
In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together butter, sugar, vanilla, salt and baking powder until fluffy and light.
Add flour and mix just until dough comes together.
Press dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Prick all over the crust with a fork.
By the way, this cookie crust is quite tasty all by itself. :)
Now you're going to bake that for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.
While the crust bakes, prepare the filling. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt caramels with sweetened condensed milk and ¼ cup of the half and half, stirring continuously.
I recommend unwrapping all of your caramels before starting this recipe. I didn't, so my crust was done well before my caramel mixture.
When mixture is melted and smooth, remove from heat. In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolks and remaining ¼ cup half and half. While whisking, pour the yolks into the melted caramel and whisk to blend. (Sorry, I forgot to take a pic)
When the crust is baked...
Pour caramel mixture over crust, then return pan to oven. Bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until set. I forgot to take a pic here, too. Did I mention that I was on the phone with our internet service provider this entire time? We switched servers for our internet, television and home phone back in June and yet our home phone still did not work. Naturally, the day I had a bazillion things to do is when they decided to jump on it. Talk about frustrating. However, I am happy to say that our home phone is finally working again.
Once your caramel has set, remove from oven and gently sprinkle milk chocolate bits over the top and allow them to melt.
For the life of me, I could not find milk chocolate BITS. I found Heath Toffee Bits and other BITS, but not what I was looking for. So I used these...
And chopped them up before sprinkling.
Still, it was a challenge when it came to spreading.
Use an offset spatula to gently spread the melted chocolate over the surface of the caramel, taking care to not disturb the caramel layer.
As you can see, I obviously did not use enough care because I managed to disturb the caramel.
But at least it was along the edges. Besides, I'd be cutting these into bars, so I could easily leave off the less attractive parts. Or just eat them myself.
Which I did. Me, the one who's cut sugar from her diet.
Allow to cool completely before removing from pan and cutting into small bars. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.
Just look at those layers. The crispy cookie crust, the decadent caramel, the chocolate...
They were SO good.
But no, I did not win the coveted Best Cookie prize. However, I may have received something better.
The stamp of approval from my family. Although, my youngest son did feel the need to point out that, while it was still good, it did not taste like a Twix.
Now that the cookie swap is over, it's on to more baking and candy making. Peanut clusters are in the freezer and I have got to get hopping on my peanut butter balls, aka chestnuts. Then I'll start on the cookies that freeze well before sprinting on to the finish right before Christmas.
It's a baker's dream.
What's baking this week at your house?