I don't usually show you the same thing twice, but these caramel bars are worth mentioning again. The first time they appeared, they were one of three cookies in a post and didn't get enough of the spotlight. I made them again recently for a bake sale, and now I'm giving them the attention they deserve. They're from The Modern Baker by Nick Malgieri, and he notes that if he had to choose a favorite cookie this would be it. That's a serious statement coming from someone who has baked as much as he has. I don't know that I could pick one favorite cookie. Maybe I could narrow down a few favorites I've baked this year or possibly an all-time top ten list. Can you name one favorite cookie? I did make one change to the bars this time. Rather than baking them in a nine by thirteen-inch pan, I used a nine-inch square pan. I wanted each layer to be a little thicker than they were last time. I left them in the oven for a few extra minutes, and the change in pan size seemed to work fine.
The dough is as easy as it gets. Butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, and flour were combined in a mixer, and then three quarters of the dough was patted into a pan that had been lined with parchment. The remaining dough was reserved for the crumb topping, additional flour was added to it, and it was worked into about one quarter inch crumbs. The pan with the dough was chilled. Meanwhile, the caramel filling was made in a saucepan from a mixture of butter, corn syrup, brown sugar, and condensed milk. It thickened and turned a nice, caramel color in about ten minutes. It was allowed to cool for five minutes before being poured onto the chilled dough. The crumb topping was sprinkled on top, and the bars baked for 35 minutes in a nine-inch square pan. Since I baked mine in a smaller pan for a few minutes longer, the edges became just slightly darker than I wanted. After the bars cooled and I removed them from the pan, I trimmed a thin slice off each edge. It was an added step to the process, but I really liked the thicker layers in this version.
The cookie base was crunchy, the caramel filling was gooey but held its shape well, and the crumb topping was buttery bliss. I'm easy to please when a cookie includes caramel or a crumb topping, and these have both. I might not mention these on this site for a third time, twice seems like enough, but I'll definitely be making them again and again.