Can anyone else out there relate to my crazy sweet tooth? I would love to blame it on pregnancy, but my penchant for sweet treats of all varieties is nothing new. Of course as fate would have it, I am married to someone with absolutely no desire for sweets! He will on occasion have a bite of my dessert after dinner or on the even rarer occasion spring for frozen yogurt with me, but that's about it. The good news is it does limit my cookie baking since I will undoubtedly end up eating them all and makes me thankful for the occasional sweet treat like these Salted Caramel Bars from Huckleberry here in Santa Monica. It's the perfect amount of sweet with a touch of salt and a flaky, buttery crust. Not in Southern California? Not to worry! Zoe Nathan is sharing her secret recipe with us so now you can make them at home!
Salted Caramel BarsBy: Zoe Nathan for Huckleberry (makes 12)
- 9oz unsalted butter, at room temp, cubed
- 1 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoons salt
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- caramel filling
- 2 ¼ cups heavy cream
- 1 vanilla bean
- 2 ¼ cups sugar
- 2 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
- 15 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temp, cubed
- 1 10x8-inch tart pan
- fluer de sel for topping
- Sweet Shell
1. Begin by making the sweet dough. Allow the butter to come to room temperature. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, powdered sugar and salt on medium for about 1 minute.
2. Add the eggs one at a time, while continuing to mix. Scrape the bowl well. Add the flour and mix until just incorporated. Transfer dough to plastic wrap, press into a disk and chill until firm, about 1 hour.
3. To shape the tart shell, roll out the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle between ⅛-1/4-inch thick.
4. Carefully lower into a greased 10x8-inch tart pan. Gently press the dough into the pan without stretching it. Get it into the bottom corners, against the sides, and into every crevice. Once fully situated, trim any excess dough by raking it off with the back of a butter knife. Then gently press your fingertips into the sides of the pan, in order to push the dough slightly above the pan’s edges by about ¼-inch. This will make up for the inevitable shrinking that occurs when the shell is baked.
5. Freeze shell for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 month wrapped tightly. When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees (180C/gas 4). Line the inside of the frozen shell, with parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Bake from frozen, for about 35 minutes, or until sides are set. Then carefully remove the parchment and weights, return to the oven and continue baking until the whole shell is nicely browned, another 15 to 20 minutes. Bake it a little darker than you think!
Set shell aside to cool, while you make the caramel filling.
1. Place the cream in a small saucepan. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the cream. Add the scraped pod to the cream as well. Bring to a boil, whisking occasionally. Set aside to steep.
2. Place the sugar, salt and 2 tablespoons water in a large sauce pan. Combine with a wooden spoon and cook over medium heat. Stir only if the sugar is melting unevenly. Allow the sugar to cook to a deep golden brown color, then immediately turn off the heat and cautiously add the cream in a few additions. It will bubble up, do not be alarmed, but do be careful. Once all the cream has been added, add the butter. Return to a medium flame and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 245 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat, discard the vanilla pod and pour into the shell.
3. Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate, wrapped tightly until completely set up, about 2 hours. Do not allow the plastic to touch the surface of the caramel. Once set up, trim off crust edges and discard. Slice into 4 lengthwise and 3 across for twelve approximately 2-inch squares. Sprinkle with fleur de sel. Serve immediately.
Keeps well, refrigerated, wrapped tightly, for up to 4 days.
Photography by Emily Hart Roth