This intriguing bar cookie was shared by my friend Thea Cvijanovich – the recipe comes from her sister Evi Abplanalp who lives in New Zealand.
Twenty-four 2-inch squares
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
One 7-ounce can sweetened, condensed milk
One 9 x 13 x 2-inch pan, buttered and lined, bottom and sides, with buttered parchment or foil
- Set a rack in the lowest level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
- For the dough, beat the butter with the sugar and salt in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed, until soft and light, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Beat in the vanilla.
- On lowest speed, beat in the flour, scraping bowl and beater with a rubber spatula and continuing to mix until the dough is smooth.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape 3/4 of the dough into the prepared pan. Use the palm of your hand to press the dough down evenly, without compressing it any more than necessary. Chill the dough-lined pan and reserve the remaining dough at room temperature.
- For the filling, bring the butter, corn syrup, and sweetened, condensed milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan, stirring occasionally. Allow the mixture to boil gently until it starts to thicken and becomes a very light caramel color. Pour the filling into a stainless steel bowl and let it cool for 5 minutes.
- Remove the dough-lined pan from the refrigerator and scrape the filling onto the dough, using a small offset spatula to spread the filling evenly over the dough. Use the remaining dough to make a crumbly topping: With your fingertips, separate the dough into medium crumbs and evenly scatter them on the caramel filling.
- Bake until the filling is a deep caramel color and the dough and crumb topping are baked through, about 30 minutes.
- Cool in the pan on a rack. Lift the slab of baked dough out of the pan to a cutting board before it has cooled completely, about 10 minutes and cut the slab into 2-inch squares. (Cut these right on the paper rather than hassling with pulling off the paper first.)
Storage: Keep these at room temperature if you are serving them within a day. If not, wrap and freeze them, and make sure to defrost and bring them to room temperature before serving.