Celebrate National Caramel Day With These 5 Sticky Sweet Recipes

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/djwtwo/

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/djwtwo/

April 5 is National Caramel Day. Its significance is to be determined, but we’re not complaining. If Saturday isn’t the day to eat desserts starring your favorite sugary ingredient, then we don’t know when is. Americans began making sugary syrups in the 1600s, and to this day, the concoction is still made of butter, brown and white sugar, milk or cream, and vanilla. Case in point: caramel has been appeasing people’s sweet teeth for years, and there’s no point stopping now. Whip up one of these 5 caramel centered desserts this weekend. It’s a national holiday after all — so it’s basically your civic duty.

1. Salted Caramel Chocolate Chunk Cookie Bars

First up: Salted Caramel Chocolate Chunk Cookie Bars from The Comfort of Cooking. We’re not sugar coating things: this dessert is heavenly, and considering salted caramel is currently one of the hippest trends in the food industry, you might as well hop on board now before caramel becomes so last season. Add that salt to your homemade caramel sauce and start baking by taking this recipe and hunkering down in the kitchen this Saturday. Once you treat your family and friends to this dessert, no one will complain that you went missing.

Ingredients:

For Salted Caramel Sauce

  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

For Chocolate Chunk Bars

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions for Salted Caramel Sauce: In a medium saucepan set to medium heat, add butter and sugar. Cook and stir with a wire whisk, 6 to 7 minutes, or until mixture turns a deep amber color. Watch closely to avoid burning. Slowly and carefully stir in cream, vanilla, and salt. Mixture will be bubbly. Whisking constantly, cook 1 to 2 minutes until sauce thickens and coats back of spoon.

Directions for Chocolate Chunk Bars: Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9×9-inch baking dish with aluminum foil and coat with nonstick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, mix butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Add flour mixture; mix just until moistened. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread half of cookie batter in prepared baking dish. Pour salted caramel sauce over batter, spreading almost to the edges. Spread remaining batter over caramel layer.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until top is golden brown. Cool bars completely in pan set on a wire rack. Lift out bars by grabbing the foil edges and place on a cutting board. Cut into bars. Store in an airtight container up to 5 days.

source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ceosanna/

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ceosanna/

 2.  Caramel Pecan Brownies

Leave it to Betty Crocker to come up with this next recipe for Caramel Pecan Brownies. Betty Crocker takes a shortcut and lets you use pre-wrapped caramels to make your sugary sweet treat, and she even adds some pecans into the mix because they’re chock full of healthy fat after all. That sounds like justification enough to have these on Saturday morning for breakfast.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup baking cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 12 caramels
  • 1 tablespoon milk

Directions: Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease bottom and sides of square pan, 8x8x2 or 9x9x2 inches, with shortening. Mix sugar, shortening, vanilla, and eggs in large bowl. Stir in flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Spread in pan. Sprinkle with pecans. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Heat caramels and milk in 1-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently, until caramels are melted. Drizzle over warm brownies. Cool completely, about 1 hour. For brownies, cut into 4 rows by 4 rows.

caramelitas

3. Salted Carmelitas

Carmelitas: indulgence at its finest. Take advantage of National Caramel Day on April 5 and get these babies ready now. It’s not everyday that you can eat an oatmeal cookie bar sandwiched with a layer of two kinds of chocolate chips and a layer of salted caramel, and Saturday is that day. What are you waiting for? Stop drooling and start baking, and thank Cooking Classy for the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 32 caramels, unwrapped (such as Kraft)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 10 tablespoon salted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Coarse sea salt

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour cream over caramels in a microwave safe bowl, heat mixture on high power in 30 second intervals, stirring well after each interval until melted and smooth (alternately, you can combine the two ingredients in a saucepan and melt over low heat), set aside.

In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, rolled oats, light-brown sugar, baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon table salt. Place butter in a microwave safe bowl and heat butter in microwave until melted. Stir vanilla extract into melted butter then pour mixture over dry ingredients. Using a fork, stir well to evenly coat. Press half of the oat mixture evenly into the bottom of a buttered 8 by 8-inch baking dish and bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle milk chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate chips into an even layer over baked cookie crust, then pour caramel mixture evenly over chocolate chip layer. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt evenly over caramel layer, then sprinkle top evenly with remaining oat mixture. Bake in preheated oven 16 – 20 minutes until lightly golden.

Remove from oven, sprinkle top evenly with an 1/8 teaspoon coarse sea salt (or to taste) and allow to cool for 20 minutes at room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap leaving a small opening on one corner (to allow condensation to escape), transfer to refrigerator to chill until cool enough to cut into clean squares (mine took about 2 hours chilling.) Alternately, you can enjoy them warm after about 20 minutes of cooling at room temperature (you just won’t have clean cut squares and the caramel will be really runny.) Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

4. Sea Salt Caramels

Don’t want to make a dessert for National Caramel Day? Then make candy. Sea Salt Caramels, to be exact. Prepare for your caramel-loving guests to be impressed. Take this recipe from Karo, as most of the ingredients can be found in your pantry or refrigerator, and as long as you have a candy thermometer, you’re golden. Why buy store bought when you can go homemade?

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups Light or Dark Corn Syrup
  • 2 cups heavy OR whipping cream, divided
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1 tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon Coarse Grind Sea Salt

Directions:

Line an 8- or 9-inch square pan with foil (leave a 1-inch overhang on 2 sides) and spray with cooking spray. Combine corn syrup, 1 cup cream, milk, sugar, and salt in a 4-quart saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking (at a low boil) and stirring occasionally until temperature on candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees Fahrenheit or small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water forms a soft ball which flattens on removal. This will take about 40 minutes.

Gradually add remaining 1 cup cream in a thin steady stream, stirring constantly. Continue cooking over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until temperature on candy thermometer reaches 244 degrees Fahrenheit or small amount of mixture dropped into very cold water forms a firm ball which does not flatten on removal. This will take about 30 minutes. Remove from heat.

Stir in vanilla. Pour into prepared pan. (Note: Do not scrape side of saucepan.) Place on wire rack and cool 1 hour. Sprinkle top evenly with sea salt.

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dixiebellecupcakecafe/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dixiebellecupcakecafe/

5. Chocolate Cupcakes With Sea Salt Caramel Buttercream Frosting

Last but not least, do yourself a favor and frost up some Chocolate Cupcakes with Sea Salt Caramel Buttercream Frosting this Saturday. All we have to say is, Happy National Caramel Day to you. This decadent recipe comes straight from Bake From Scratchand if the recipe developer behind these cupcakes can whip up her own caramel sauce, chocolate cupcakes, and caramel buttercream frosting all homemade, so can you. April is one of the only months of the year that doesn’t celebrate any big holiday, and we think that’s reason enough to celebrate National Caramel Day big on Saturday with these cupcakes. When it comes to national food holidays, we go big or go home.

Ingredients:

For Caramel Sauce

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 ounces of your favorite chocolate (chips or bark works)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (4 1/2 fluid ounces) vegetable or canola oil, measured in a liquid measuring cup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup full-fat sour cream
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (natural or dutch)
  • 1/2 cup room temperature water, measured in a liquid measuring cup

For Sea Salt Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup salted caramel sauce at cool room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • Pinch Kosher salt

Directions for Caramel Sauce: In a heavy bottomed pan, combine the sugar and water, and stir (from here on out, no more stirring, only swirling). Cook the mixture over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to medium high, and cook until it turns amber colored. Add in the butter and wait a few seconds for that to melt and stop sputtering. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the heavy cream and vanilla extract. It will bubble up violently but will calm down within 5 to 10 seconds. Let the caramel sauce cool, then transfer to a container.

Directions for Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. In a medium sized mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, mix butter and sugar until fully combined. The end result should look like wet sand. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a double boiler. Once the melted chocolate is cool enough to touch, add it to the butter/sugar mixture and mix until just combined. Mix in eggs and egg yolks one at a time until just combined. Mix in oil, vanilla, and sour cream until just combined.

Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder into a separate medium-sized bowl. Use a fork or a whisk to ensure that the ingredients are mixed well after sifting. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in three additions, mixing until just combined after each addition. Mix in water until just combined. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and put in the oven.

Check for doneness at 18 minutes — a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake should come out clean. If they are not done, check again every three minutes until they are done.

Directions for Buttercream Frosting: Combine all ingredients in a mixer, beat on medium for 2-3 minutes.

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