Who doesn't love the irresistible combination of salty and sweet?
Ever try a salted chocolate chip cookie?
It's Heaven. Next time you make your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, try adding flaked sea salt as a finishing touch. It will knock your socks off.
Honestly, the delightful addition of flaked sea salt to baked goods has been my favorite trend in desserts. However, when making salted treats, it's very important to use the right kind of salt. Do not use regular table salt to guild your goodies. Just the thought of biting into that makes me twitch like Bugs Bunny. It is important to use a good quality flaked sea salt, such as this Murray River - Pink Flake Salt purchased at Saltworks for $6. This light and delicate flaked salt has a wonderfully mild flavor.
*As a little side note, this salt would make a fantastic stocking stuffer. *wink*
On the top of my euphoric salty treats is any kind of handmade salted caramel. I wanted to share this amazing flavor combination in my holiday cookie exchanges, but I didn't want to mess with candy wrappers. Plus, if salted caramel was going to work for a holiday cookie exchange, it needed to be, well, more like a cookie. So after snooping around the Internet to see what recipes I could dig up and putting together one of my own, here are a couple I plan to make and salt this holiday season.
First up, these fabulous Salted Caramel Bars by Gaby Dalkin. Don't these just make your mouth water! I used Gaby's crust recipe in a batch of light caramel bars I made.
Next up, these Millionaire's Shortbread Bars by Stephanie Jaworski are just a beggin' for some salty goodness. Even without the seas salt these look down right sinful.
I have an old fashioned creamy caramel recipe that I love, so I decided to whip together my own batch of Salted Caramel Bars. I used Gaby's crust recipe linked above and then poured my light caramel over the top. You cannot go wrong with Gaby's wonderful brown sugar caramel but if you like a lighter caramel, then feel free to give mine a try.
A basic candy thermometer will work fine for this recipe. I picked one up for $2 at the grocery store.
Put sugar, salt and syrup into a heavy pan.
Using a candy thermometer, heat to 245 degrees, stirring occasionally.
Gradually add butter and milk so slowly that boiling doesn't stop.
Cook rapidly with constant stirring to 243 degrees (do not go over). I paused from stirring here to take a photo and ended up with some darker caramelized flecks in my caramel. Still tastes great but let this be a lesson to keep that spoon movin'.
Remove from heat. Add vanilla
and pour over crust.
Allow caramel to cool.
Sprinkle with desired amount of flaked sea salt.
Cut into desired size squares or bars and serve.
Salted Caramel Bars
Shortbread Cookie Crust
I used Gaby's crust recipe in this Salted Caramel Bar link.
1 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup butter
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Flaked sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in center of oven. Grease/butter a 9 x 9 inch pan and line with parchment paper, allowing the paper to come up over the sides.
FOR SHORTBREAD: Prepare and bake your crust. I made the crust in Gaby's recipe. Please see this link for instructions.
FOR CARAMEL FILLING: Put sugar, salt and syrup into a heavy pan. Using a candy thermometer, heat to 245 degrees, stirring occasionally. Gradually add butter and milk so slowly that boiling doesn't stop. Cook rapidly with constant stirring to 243 degrees (do not go over). Remove from heat. Add vanilla and pour over crust. Allow caramel to cool.
TOPPING: Sprinkle with desired amount of flaked sea salt. Cut into desired size squares or bars and serve.