Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Roasted Almond Caramel Bars

I have so been getting into the holiday spirit! I have about three or four magazines filled with little tags marking things that I want to bake this Fall and I’ve got a few recipes saved to my favorites bar. Many of the recipes have to do with pumpkin; my goal is to make at least a few pumpkiny things before December 1st (because that is when pumpkin season is over in my little world). Sadly, there has been a pumpkin shortage in my grocery store. I grabbed the second to last giant can of pumpkin, just out of panic that I wouldn‘t ever see the orange can again. I usually opt for the smaller can, but they aren’t selling them this year I don’t think, but even so, I don’t think finding ways to use the big can will be too tricky.

If you notice, though, this blog post is not pumpkin related; I’m saving my pumpkin for something truly special since I don’t want to waste it. No, these are almond caramel bars I found in Land O'Lakes Fall Recipe Collection. I actually found two similar recipes: this one and another using cashews in Taste of Home. I ended up using the Land O'Lakes recipe.

These bars are ok, not great, but ok. There were certain elements that I liked about them though. I really liked the cookie base, that was tasty and I could probably eat that all by itself. Then the almonds (which I crushed in the food processor, so I got a more fine grain than chunks) added a nice little crunch. The caramel topping oozed into the baked cookie which gave a pleasant chewy texture to the crunchy cookie bottom. All three of these components would have probably made the bar better than ok, but I have one thing to add: I’m sure I’m going to be smote for saying this, but I think the chocolate chips that were added on top ruined--no that’s too harsh, overwhelmed is a better word--the bar. Now I am a huge fan of chocolate; I love it in my cookies, in my milk, etc., but I just don’t think they had anything to add to this recipe, which is kind of disheartening if you think about it. Oh well, live and learn, right?

So what are you all baking this Fall? Are you going the pumpkin route, or has there been a shortage where you live too?

Roasted Almond Caramel Bars adapted from Land O'Lakes

¼ cup (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, soft
¼ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
¾ cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
¼ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup roasted, salted almonds, chopped
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup caramel ice cream topping

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 inch by 9 inch square baking pan and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and egg on medium speed. The mixture will seem really eggy, but don’t worry, after you add the other ingredients, it will all disappear. Turn the mixer’s speed down to low and slowly add in the flour and salt. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Add in the vanilla and beat for another 30 seconds.
  3. Press the cookie dough mixture into the bottom of the pan. It will look like there is not enough dough to cover the bottom, but if are patient and keep spreading, the dough will completely cover the bottom. Place in the oven and back for about 11 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.
  4. Remove from the oven and sprinkle on the chopped almonds and chocolate chips. Drizzle the caramel topping over the almonds and chocolate. Place the pan back into the oven to bake for another 5 or 6 minutes. Cool completely in the pan once it is done baking. After about an hour, it is ready to cut into bars.

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