Not sure if you guys have started Christmas shopping or not, but if you live anywhere near a Target, Walmart, or shopping mall, you’re probably well aware that parking and traffic are atrocious.
Perhaps it’s because I’ve been possessed by some kind of sadistic shopping demon, but I’ve been to the mall three times in three days. Seriously, I don’t even know why I ended up there three days in a row, but each time, I cursed myself over my decision as I drove through the parking lot desperately seeking an empty space to no avail.
First, you get those people who exit the store and head down your aisle, only to weave through your aisle to get to another one where they’re parked. Um, HELLO, rude much? So I race to get to the next aisle over but am beat by another car and I just kinda lose it.
Then, you get the bag dropper-offers. Look, I understand completely. I, too, have carried heavy bags that were seconds away from making me a double amputee. I know that sometimes you just gotta drop that junk in the trunk and continue your shopping adventure. BUT. When I’ve been circling the parking lot unsuccessfully for 20 minutes and I’m having Auntie Anne’s withdrawals, I kind of want to dropkick those bag dropper offers in the face for taunting me.
And is it just me, or does anyone else get bitter when they aren’t followed to their car? Like, I spent twenty-minutes trying to find a parking spot that wasn’t 72 miles away and when I finally leave, no one’s waiting for me to pull out? No one’s following me to my car? No one’s asking me where I parked? Nothing? I just pull out and the world continues moving? Seriously, what gives? It’s only fair that others suffer in this parking nightmare, too, right? RIGHT?! Don’t answer that.
So while you’re driving in circles around the parking lot, you’re probably going to need some sustenance. I highly recommend these Salted Caramel Butter Bars since they’re extremely delicious and make parking-space-seeking bearable… or as bearable as it can get when you’re behind that dude that parks in the middle of the aisle just waiting for anyone to pull out. I hate that guy.
*adapted from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Cookbook
Salted Caramel Butter Bars
- 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 11.5 oz jar salted caramel sauce (I like Smuckers Brand Simple Delights, but Trader Joe's Fleur de Sel is great, too!)
- Sea salt
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 13x9" baking pan with foil, extending the sides of the foil over the edges of the pan. Spray the foil liberally with cooking spray and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the powdered sugar and vanilla. Lastly, beat in the four (4) cups of flour until a soft dough has formed. Press HALF of the dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Refrigerate the remaining dough.
- Bake the crust for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven but keep the oven on. Pour the caramel evenly into the crust, then crumble the remaining dough on top to cover the caramel layer. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt, and remember that there's salt in the caramel sauce, too 🙂
- Return to the oven and continue baking for an additional 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and the caramel is bubbly. If the middle jiggles a little bit, this is okay - it will continue to cook as it cools. Cool completely, then refrigerate for at least an hour before cutting into squares.
I’ve made this recipe three times so far and every time my family and I fight for a piece! They are so rich and buttery, complete with that soft and tender sugar cookie crumb and the golden, decadent caramel layer. If you can’t find salted caramel sauce, or just want to cut back on the salt, feel free to use a regular caramel sauce (or make your own caramel!) and sprinkle a little more sea salt on top.
Love Salted Caramel? (Hey, me too!) Check out these other fantastic salted caramel recipes!
Deep Dish Salted Caramel Apple Pie
Have a fantastical day!
Ilona @ Ilona's Passion says
I made caramel bars once and they vanished so quickly, they are sooo good!
Jess @ On Sugar Mountain says
I can’t be left alone in Target. I will spend an entire paycheck and then be grumpy for the rest of that time where I have no money. >_< I should just stay home and make these awesome buttery bars instead! They would be great around the holidays for sure! 😀
Target is AWESOME for stealing your paycheck and then some, especially around the holidays! All those cutesy home decor holiday trinkets.. and adorable wrapping paper.. and oh, what about those dish towels? Soon, you’re broke. I FEEL ya.
Julianne @ Beyond Frosting says
I need these in my belly right meow.
Dorothy @ Crazy for Crust says
It’s already atrocious out there. I have to go back to the mall and I’d rather donate an eyeball.
Right? I can’t handle the parking – it’s the worst! Thankfully I don’t have to bear the typically popular stores like Disney Store, or else I’d probably faint. I feel bad for you 🙁
Kayle (The Cooking Actress) says
Rich, salty-sweet, and buttery bars???? YUM YUM YUM!
These sound so good! You’re giving me all kinds of great ideas for the upcoming holidays. And yes, parking is the bane of this time of year…along with the crowds which, of course, go hand in hand. Put on some good music and go to your happy place while you search. Good luck!
I make my own salted carmel…no need to go to target..then com home wtih a empty bank account
Perfect! Feel free to use your own!
OMG these look fab – they are going on my “Must make soon” list!
I attempted to make these and the end product was drowning in about an inch of butter. Unfortunately they were unsalvageable. Any idea what went wrong?
Mine had the same fate, and also crunched up like a toffee. Perhaps because I am at high altitude? I used softened butter, not melted, and the Trader Joe’s caramel. Mine are salvageable, we’re crumbling them up and serving over ice cream. But MAN are they RICH! and I really like rich foods.
Hi Jady! I’m so sorry yours had a similar fate. I will be retesting the recipe to ensure it isn’t an issue on my end. Glad you made the best and crumbled them on ice cream — yum!
Trying it again today, using less butter and more flour, I’ll let you know. (The dummies at work totally believed me when I said I “Meant To” make Salted Caramel Toffee! haha! They ate it up!)
no need for more/less butter or flour. What these needed was a longer time to cook….At 350. Not 325. My crust took almost 20 min at 325, but 13 at 350 and then top crumbles must be refrigerated first. Then continue baking at 350 for 30 min. There’s nothing wrong with my oven. The reason the crumbles for the top need to be refrigerated is that the butter needs to kind of absorb the flour. The butter has a low melt point, but if cold and hard it takes longer to melt. Which is why we want a browned crispy top. That won’t happen with room temp dough (crumbles). The bottom crust would benefit refrigerating it first. (15 min or so). These are wonderful with ice cream! Good luck to those who had dough swimming in butter. No need for more/less butter/flour/sugar. Wonderful.
Thanks, will try these this week-maybe two batches, because have to eat some before a cookie exchange!!
Donna M. says
Omgosh! I’m in love with these bars! I followed your recipe to the “T” and they came out absolutely PERFECT!! I ended up having to make my own caramel, as I didn’t have any jarred varieties on hand, but I usually make my own these days anyway. But even with that slight difference, my family and I found them to be outstanding. They’re so rich and tender. Perfect for company, giving to a new neighbor or to take to a shower perhaps. On a c personal note, make sure you don’t cut them into bigger squares as they are truly on the rich side. Not overly sweet I don’t think. There’s nothing about them that’s “over done” I don’t think. It just blends itself to be a decadent treasure that others will agates to and will be glad you shared! Yumm!?
They came out perfectly on the second try. I wonder if I messed up some measurements the first time? Anyhow AMAZING RECIPE!
Jady, that makes me so happy to hear! Enjoy them!! xoxo.
I too had the same problem with way too much butter. Only the outer edges actually crisped to the point you could treat them like little cookie bars. The entire inside was a soogy, limp mess. A tasty mess, but still unusable. No idea what happened. I followed the instructions carefully. When I first pre-baked the bottom crust I had to give it an extra 10 mins. It was practically sloshing around the baking dish. Curious if you have had any other respondents with the same problem, and if the reason has been figured out yet. They are delicious though.
Cheryle Haley says
No trouble at all like what you describe. My bars are fabulous!
Hi. I don’t have a stand mixer. Will this work with a hand mixer? I really want to eat these! Thanks.
Jen – absolutely! It may take you a little longer to bring the dough together but it will work. My advice is to use a very large, deep bowl to make the dough if you’ve got one! 🙂
Actually, I hate it when people DO follow me to my car! I make it a point NOT to do that to others. Anyway, your bars lookmsuper awesome!
Thanks Traci! I promise I won’t follow you 🙂
I made these for the first time and my son and I thought they tasted a little too floury. He said he tasted more flour than caramel and I followed your directions to a ‘t’. Any thoughts ? They look wonderful though!
Hey Marti! Without having been there, it’s hard for me to deduce what went wrong. My only thought would be the flour wasn’t thoroughly mixed in. Other than that, I’m sorry they tasted floury to you guys!
I tried another bar and thought it was better. Still not tasting much of the caramel though. Is there a reason why you put 2 tablespoons of flour in with the caramel?
Marti – that helps stabilize the caramel, but you can omit it. Just let them sit for longer next time 🙂
My Carmel keeps sinking to the bottom & sticking to the tinfoil. I tried making the crust thicker & baking it longer the first time around & it was worse. What can I do to prevent this?
My Carmel keeps sinking to the bottom & sticking to the tinfoil. I’ve tried making the crust thicker & baking longer the first time but it Is worse. What can I do to prevent this?
Try adding a little flour into the caramel to help thicken it. Perhaps your caramel is too thin and thus is sinking into the dough rather than staying in a layer. Sorry about the issues!
Hey! These look yummy, and I’m planning to make them for a family gathering this coming weekend. Two questions: Could I just add a little salt to the caramel? I coulldn’t find the salted caramel at the grocery store.
And, do the bars need to be refrigerated?
The bars can be refrigerated if you’d like, but it isn’t required. And you can absolutely add salt to the caramel or salt the tops of the bars (once assembled fully but before baking) if you’d like too!
Thank you! I’m so excited to make these! (and glad they don’t need to be refrigerated). =)
Ray Yu says
Quick tip on flattening the dough at the bottom of the pan: After putting the dough at the bottom, cover it with parchment paper or saran wrap, then use another 9×13 pan to flatten it.
So smart! Thanks Ray!
Ray Yu says
No problem! Thanks for the recipe! I made these and the homemade caramel sauce. It’s fantastic 🙂
What recipe did you use for the sauce?
I was going to make these with apples through the caramel do you have any suggestions on what kind of apples I should use ??
A baking apple, like Granny Smith would be good, but I prefer red apples so I’d probably use a Gala or Fuji.
I’ve never been successful with making my own caramel, and haven’t found any dairy free caramel either. There used to be a tinned caramel
Sauce in Australia that we used to make banana caramel pie all the time before my food intolerances were discovered. Oh how I miss thee, and these bars remind me of that happy time!
Sarah, I’m so sorry you can no longer have dairy caramel! It’s truly unparalleled. I hope you find one soon!
I want to pin this recipe and make them. In reading through the comments, I noticed that some people had trouble with way too much butter. I am wondering if the reason is that the recipe says “2 cups 4 sticks” butter rather than “2 cups (4 sticks)” butter. So people may have actually used 4 cups of butter (?). Just to clarify, does the recipe need a total of 2 cups which is equal to 4 sticks of butter? Thanks!
Hi Kristi, thanks for calling that to my attention! It is 2 cups total, so four sticks. I will add the parenthesis!
Cooking Lover says
I followed the recipe to the “T” and ended up with buttery sticky raw bars. The proportions are off for this recipe. There is too much butter to flour ratio. At the end the middle was practically raw and the outer edges were the only ones cooked. The cooked pieces tasted like flour and the caramel just gets lost. Won’t be trying these again. Dumped a lot of them.
Sorry you had a bad experience. I make these monthly as directed and never have an issue.
One of my favorite things in the whole world is trying a new recipe and having it turn out as pretty as the picture…and taste even better than you thought! That is what happened with these bars. I followed the recipe exactly and they came out perfect! I can’t wait to share these with my family!
Nicole, I am so happy to hear you’ve had success! Please enjoy!
I just made these & turned out great may need a little more caramel around outer edges due to it sank more to center. Wondering how to store them. Fridge or freezer to keep them fresh? Taking them back home for Christmas & I don’t want them to dry out.
I made these yesterday, they were tasty. But after reading the reviews I am thinking that there is something wrong with the recipe, almost as if something has been inadvertently missed in the direction. I followed the recipe and I feel as though the base and crumble mixture is too much as the base was very thick and as well as the crumble. the base to a lot longer to bake than the 15 min. I feel you could make the 9×13 and an 8×8 with the base recipe.
Stephanie Spivey says
This will be the third Christmas in a row that I am making this recipe! It’s always a hit with our Christmas goodies. LOVE IT!
Do you store these in the fridge or at room temp?
I like to refrigerate mine right after they finish baking (pull from oven, bring to room temperature, then refrigerate for about 2 hours or until set) then serve them room temperature after that.
Janice Rist says
Can you freeze the Salted caramel Butter Bars?
Hi Janice, I have not tried freezing them but I would HIGHLY recommend you bring them completely to room temperature before eating if you do freeze. Hard caramel is no bueno for teeth!
OMG theses recipes look yummy but really does everything come in a packet or can in USA. Caramel in a can. In Australia we make our own, I have seen so many pre- prepared ingredients in recipes from other countries and then I have to figure out what it means and then make it.
Love the recipes but just saying…..
Hi Kristine, you could certainly use your own homemade caramel sauce! Just use 11-12 ounces.
Mine turned out great but very salty!! Too salty for my taste. I scraped off the crumb topping And them took out the caramel and tossed it. I put apple pie filling on the bottom crust and then re-topped it with the removed crumble topping and baked it! Then it was perfect!!
I made these a few weeks ago and they came out AMAZING! I’m wondering if chocolate chips could be added to the caramel layer?
I didn’t have any salted caramel and didn’t want to run to the store, so made my own. It all turned out amazing. Left a couple on the counter to take to work in my lunch. I was sooooooo upset that our dog ate them in the night. Ugh! I guess I will just have to make more. 😉
Made it and it was sooooo good! The only issue I had was it stuck to the foil even though I put a generous amount of cooking spray. Next time I will probably put it straight into my non-stick ceramic pan.