Sweet Endings

As I’ve mentioned before, I hate saying goodbye.  This past weekend was the final class of the 12 week senior seminar I’ve been teaching and this became yet another goodbye.  As it was a small class (three amazing young women), we decided to have our final class at my house with food, friends and a swimming pool.  I provided a version of this corn salad by the hippo but added some black beans and dressed it simply with  lime juice and salt.  It was delicious.

But that wasn’t enough.  For me, endings should be sweet- that way you can celebrate the success, mourn the loss and feel comforted.  For me, sugar equals comfort.  What can I say? I wanted to make some kind of cookie that was more dressy than a simple chocolate chip.  But for me chocolate chip cookies are the ultimate comfort food, maybe because they remind me of my grandmother.  I found this recipe for salted caramel cookie bars and was hooked.  I used a basic chocolate chip cookie dough recipe and then the hippo’s recipe for the caramel.  Despite it being a bit of an experiment- I’ll explain how in the recipe- they turned out quite well and were a delicious comfort to a happy but bittersweet ending.

For the record, I don’t talk much about my job(s) here but I love, love, love teaching these women.  Each of them has such a unique back story and every single one of them is so dedicated to their education and to moving themselves forward in life that it is just astounding.  Makes me feel so honored and privileged to be a part of it.  I’m so proud of them!

Chocolate Chip Caramel Cookie Bars

Ingredients

For the cookie dough:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons melted butter (a stick and a half)
1 cup  brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar (I used organic cane sugar which has a slightly darker taste)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chips

For the caramel

1/2 C heavy cream
1 t kosher salt
1 C sugar
3 T light corn syrup
1 t vanilla
1/4 C sour cream

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  Grease an 11 x 7 pan- mine was slightly bigger.  Which led to some complications but it all ended up ok.

Make your caramel so that it will have time to cool slightly.  In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar and corn syrup over medium-high heat.

It’s a lot of sugar.

Cook over medium heat and stir it occasionally, making sure it doesn’t burn.

It will melt together and bubble.  This is a good time to use a candy thermometer to make sure that you heat it to the correct temperature- between 340 and 350.

It will get nice and brown.  You know, caramel color.  Take it off the heat and add the cream while stirring.  It will spatter and, if you make it like I did, clump up.

Keep stirring.  Once it’s smooth-ish, add the sour cream and continue to stir.  I ended up with a lot of sugar stuck to the bottom of my pan but it all worked out in the end.

Set the caramel aside and let it cool.

Mix your butter and sugars. 

In another bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda).  Set this aside for the moment.

Add the eggs and vanilla to the butter-sugar mix. Then add the flour and chips.  Mix well.  I will admit that I added about a 1/4 cup of heavy cream because I had it leftover and my dough seemed a bit too dry.  Didn’t make a noticeable difference.  In the end I used my hands to mix because I got frustrated with the spoon.

Spread half the dough into the greased pan.

Pour the cooled caramel over it then cover with the remaining dough.  I divided badly and so ended up with less dough for the top.  Never fear, it worked out just fine.

Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and yummy looking.

Let them cool before you slice them.

They will be sweet, gooey and so, so delicious.  Try not to eat the entire pan.

Good luck to you on that.

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