Salted Caramel Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup salted butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups chocolate chips
  • 14-ounce bag soft caramels or bits, unwrapped (not caramel sauce)
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk or cream
  • ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon coarse sea salt, optional

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9X13-inch pan with foil or parchment paper (to make cleanup easier with the caramel). Lightly grease the bottom and sides with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Brown the butter by cutting the butter into tablespoon-size pieces and placing it in a non stick skillet. Cook over medium-low heat until the butter melts, begins to sizzle, and the butter solids on the bottom begin to turn a toasty brown, 3-4 minutes. Watch closely; the exact time will vary. Remove from the heat and immediately pour into a medium bowl. Refrigerate the butter for 10 minutes or so (not too long or it will solidify) until no longer hot.
  3. Stir in the brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking soda and salt to the browned butter until evenly combined.
  4. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined. Stir in the flour and chocolate chips until no dry streaks remain.
  5. Take about 2/3 of the dough and dot in large pieces across the bottom of the prepared pan. Press into an even, thin layer.
  6. Add the unwrapped caramels (or caramel bits) and cream to a microwave-safe bowl and cook for 30 second increments, stirring in between, until the mixture is melted and smooth (careful not to burn).
  7. Spread the caramel, while still warm, over the cookie dough in the pan. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt, if desired. Pinch teaspoon-size pieces of remaining cookie dough and sprinkle across the caramel.
  8. Bake for 23-27 minutes until the cookie dough is golden (the bars will be super gooey coming out of the oven – like molten lava because of the melted caramel; as long as the top and sides are golden, they’ll set up as they cool). Let cool completely before cutting into squares.

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