Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Salted Caramel Bacon Bars

There are some foods that just naturally go together, like PB&J, chips & salsa, and beer & pretzels, to name a few. There are also some that, well... let's just say they've been tried and experimented with and in the end, should have been left alone. I'm not judging, as I have eaten my fair-share of unpopular foods and enjoyed them. But when it comes to experimenting, the one food I find that always seems to end up on top when mixed with other foods - unless you are vegan - is bacon. I'm talking about that trusty, salty, crispy, fat-drenched pork candy!  Can I get an Amen!

Now, all of my vegan readers will just have to pardon me for a second as I share this newest creation. It's quite simple, actually. I have a friend who had a birthday over the weekend and let's just say she is pretty obsessed with that pig candy.  She is also a lover of salted caramel and I wanted to bake her something special for her special day. With both of those in mind, I decided to try combining the two flavors.  I must say that I have been making these caramel bars from Averie Cooks more than my fair share in the last few months as people just go nuts over them.  I also like how easy they are to make. Adding the bacon seemed like a no-brainer... as well as a match made in heaven... I'm jus' sayin'!

Salted Caramel Bacon Bars
Makes one 13" x 9" pan of bars (Depending on your love of bacon and caramel)

1 1/2 Cups of Unsalted Butter (3 sticks) Cubed in 1 Tbs. increments
1 1/4 Cup of Powdered Sugar
3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 Tbs of Vanilla Extract
3 Cups of Flour

3/4 Cup of caramel sauce (store bought ice cream topping is what I used)
1/2 lbs of crispy cooked bacon chopped in bits. (I used low sodium bacon)
1 Tsp. of Kosher Flaked Salt

Pre-heat oven to 350˚.  I baked the bacon first using this method, but kept the oven temp at 350.
While the bacon is cooking, place the butter and sugars and vanilla in your mixer fitted with a paddle. Mix until all are incorporated. Then scrape down the sides and add your flour. Mix again until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Line your 13x9 in pan with parchment paper (I always do this to make sure the bars don't stick and get really good cutting results). Take 3/4 of your dough and pat it in the pan making sure it is flat and even throughout the pan.

~ Note: I will place another piece of parchment on top of the dough and use a glass or small roller to make sure the dough is completely flat and even. Then I remove the top parchment.

Before placing in the oven, use a fork and prick the top of the shortbread all over to prevent bubbles. Place in preheated oven and bake for 20 min. After the first baking, pull out and spread on top (evenly) your caramel sauce. Then sprinkle on your bacon bits. Lastly, sprinkle on the kosher salt. Then take your left-over dough and crumble little bits (dime size) all over the top and place the whole pan back in the oven for approx 20-30 minutes until all the shortbread crumbs on top are brown and golden. Cool an hour (I know, it's hard to wait!) before taking the whole parchment-lined bar out of the pan and cut into squares.

~ Note: after the bars come out and before you cut, you can drizzle more caramel on top.  I prefer not to as they are easier to handle. You have now been warned. These bars will go quickly and they will become your new best friend, or share and get yourself a whole new group of best friends.

Happy Birthday Suzanna!