Chocolate caramel cookie bars are made in a bread loaf pan for a small batch of your favorite candy bar!
Hooray for baking season! Oh, does that phrase make you nervous? Are you instantly transported back to memories of last year’s cookie exchange when you had no idea what to bake and spent many stressful hours in the kitchen desperately trying to make a treat worthy enough to impress your friends and family?
Stop it. Just stop it right there. I mean it!
Today, I’m sharing the concept of an Uncookie Exchange. An Uncookie Exchange is when you get together with your friends and bring anything except a cookie! I love this idea because bars are easier and faster to pull together than cookies.
Reasons to love these chocolate caramel cookie bars (aka Twix bars!):
These chocolate caramel cookie bars taste like a you-know-what, and people flip over them. In fact, saying that you’re bringing homemade candy to any party is the equivalent of walking into a crowd cheering your name and going home with a sash that says ‘MVP of the party.’
I want to talk about each layer of these caramel cookie bars. The bottom layer is one big cookie. It’s even easier to make than individual cookies because it only has 3 ingredients, and instead of scooping out dough, you just dump and press it into your pan.
Making homemade caramel with sweetened condensed milk:
Next layer, please! We’re making homemade caramel. I know it sounds intimidating, but it’s totally not when you make it with sweetened condensed milk. Think of it as an easy shortcut to caramel because sweetened condensed milk is just milk from which the water has been removed and sugar has been added. And since caramel needs cream and sugar, it’s a great shortcut! Plus, a can of sweetened condensed milk can hang out in your pantry until you’re ready—no last-minute trips to the store for heavy cream!
Just boil the sweetened condensed milk with brown sugar, butter and a squeeze of honey for 5 minutes while stirring. You can do it! You can be amazed with yourself with each passing minute that you are in fact making homemade caramel. When it’s done, stir in a touch of vanilla and salt for flavor. This caramel will set up the perfect consistency: chewy, soft and stretchy, just like the caramel in candy bars! You are such a rockstar.
If you love caramel, try my Big Salty Chocolate Chip Cookies with Caramel.
Finally, the melted chocolate goes on top. Truthfully, melting chocolate can be tricky. I actually think it’s harder than making homemade caramel sauce, but we’re going to take it nice and slow. Your chocolate caramel cookie bars are waiting for you in the fridge, so no need to rush. Just combine your chocolate with a splash of leftover condensed milk from the can, and melt it slowly in the microwave. Stir between each 20-second microwave pulse, and stop before it’s fully melted. When it’s drippy, pour it over your bars and let set. You’re done! You made it!
You rocked the cookie exchange, and you didn’t even have to make cookies. That makes you one smart cookie! :)
For the crust:
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- ¾ cup + 1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For the caramel:
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- ⅓ cup Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the chocolate topping:
- 1 cup milk chocolate chips
- 2 teaspoons Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
- First, preheat the oven to 350.
- Line a 9x3x5” bread loaf pan with parchment paper in one direction (the 3” ends can be exposed).
- Slice the softened butter into 7 pieces, and add it to a small bowl. Add the powdered sugar, four and salt, and work it together using a large fork, a pastry blender or two knives.
- When the mixture is evenly combined, it will look like sandy sugar cookie dough. Press it into the prepared loaf pan. Press it as flat as possible.
- Bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown and very fragrant. Don’t be afraid of a little color around the edges.
- Let cool completely.
- In a small saucepan, make the caramel: combine the butter, brown sugar, Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk, honey and salt. Bring this mixture to a boil while continually stirring. Let boil while stirring for a full 5 minutes.
- Remove the mixture from heat, and stir for another few minutes—it will thicken. After about 3 minutes of stirring, add the vanilla and stir to blend.
- Pour this mixture over the cookie crust and place the pan in the fridge to set.
- Let the caramel completely set before adding the chocolate top.
- To melt the chocolate, combine it with the Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on 50% power on 20 second intervals, stirring after each pulse. After about a minute, the mixture should almost be melted—remove it from the microwave before it melts completely and stir until smooth.
- Pour the mixture over the chilled caramel layer, and spread until smooth. If you want the swirly top, hold back some chocolate and drizzle it on top after about 5 minutes.
- Place the whole pan back in the fridge and chill until set, about 2 hours.
- Remove the bars from the pan using the parchment paper handles, and slice into 6 or 8 bars and serve.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 469Total Fat: 31gSaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 69mgSodium: 228mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 1gSugar: 42gProtein: 4g