If you are ever looking for a treat that wows, I highly recommend making these Chocolate-Caramel bars by Better Homes and Gardens. They are the perfect blend between sweet and salty, and they make a great bite-sized desert for parties and the like. I did a couple of things differently from the recipe that turned out well. There were a couple of tools that I used that were a big help in the making of this desert, and there was one tool that I wish I had to help me through what was, for me, the toughest part of the process.
This recipe was pretty easy to make, and it is broken up into four easy steps. First you make and bake the crust. Then you add the “filling” and bake some more. Next you whip up your caramel topping. Finally, you add chocolate chips and the caramel. The filling calls for pecans and flaked coconut. I strayed from the recipe and added walnuts along with the pecans. The walnuts added a wonderful dimension to the flavor. I also added only half the amount of coconut. There was still plenty to cover the surface of the crust evenly, but it was not overpowering for those who are not crazy about coconut.
Two tools that I found particularly useful in the making of the bars were my Pampered Chef pastry roller and my Pampered Chef cooling rack. The first step of the process is making the crust and pressing it into a 9 x 13 in pan. My thought was, “How in the world am I supposed to make this stretch?” The pastry roller was the perfect tool because it helped me form a crust that was spread evenly throughout, and it made the task quick and easy. Also, the design of the roller is not like a typical rolling-pin; it was much easier to manuever within the pan. I was able to roll the crust right up against the sides of the pan for the most part. The second useful tool was the Pampered Chef cooling rack. I love their cooling racks because they are not only stackable but the legs fold up for easy storage.
The only difficult task in the whole process was cutting these suckers once the caramel hardens. Once I was able to get the first row sliced, I found it much easier to lift the whole thing out onto wax paper on the countertop and cut it. Slicing was not impossible using a knife, but the one thing I wish I had at the time is the Pampered Chef pizza cutter. I have a couple of different pizza cutters. The reason I would have liked to have had the Pampered Chef cutter is it has a considerably larger diameter than normal pizza cutters, which means fewer rotations of the blade and less work for the wielder. It also has a more heavy-duty blade in comparison with standard blades. I think it is time for me to check out the PC website again!
These Chocolate-Caramel bars were the perfect Valentine’s party treat. They stood out from the normal store-bought cupcakes and cookies, and they were one of the main treats all the party volunteers stood around talking about. It also says something when your husband hides the container full of bars from the rest of the household! If any of you readers decided to try the recipe for yourself, please let us know how it went. I welcome your feedback. For recipe details, see my previous blog titled “Cook With Me Valentine Event: Chocolate-Caramel Bars.” ♥