Caramel Layer Squares
UPDATE 3/23/2013: I tweaked the recipe a bit, making it clearer. If you printed out the recipe when I originally posted it, please print out the revised version for best results. Thanks!
Ever since Nate’s Grandma Swanson introduced me to these bars, they’ve been a favorite in our house. The original recipe (also known as Yammies, Caramel Brownies, or Knock-You-Naked Brownies) uses a box of German chocolate cake mix and Kraft caramels, and unfortunately in Spain neither of these things exists. So for the past few months I’ve made bunches of batches of these from scratch, trying to get the recipe right. Some batches were too cake-like, some too gloopy, and in some the caramel just turned out odd. At one point Nate and I were so sick of these that we had to give them away to neighbors and friends. Now, though, I think we’ve finally hit on a good combination.
First you make a chocolate crust and press 2/3 of it into the pan. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes so that it comes out like this:
While it’s baking, heat sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar, corn syrup or honey, and butter to make caramel sauce:
Sprinkle chocolate chips or chopped chocolate bars on top of the cooled crust:
Pour cooled caramel sauce over all:
Flatten and drop reserved crust on top:
Then bake again for 15 – 20 minutes until done:
These are sweet, a bit salty, and chocolatey – whoever came up with the original boxed cake-mix recipe was on to something! And we’re glad we can now make them from ingredients found in Spain. Hope you enjoy!
- 1¾ cups flour (240 g)
- 1 cup sugar (200 g)
- ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (28 g)
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¾ cup butter, melted and slightly cooled (170 g before melting)
- ⅓ cup evaporated milk OR whole milk (80 ml)
- ½ cup butter (113 g)
- ½ cup light corn syrup (165 ml) – can substitute an equal amount of honey, resulting in a slightly different taste and consistency
- ¾ cup sweetened condensed milk (240 ml)
- ½ tsp. vanilla
- Pinch salt
- 1⅛ cup brown sugar (255 g)
- Preheat oven to 350º F (176ºC). Grease a 9×13 baking pan OR, if desired, create a parchment paper sling: cut parchment to fit pan lengthwise, with some paper hanging over on both sides. Then cut another piece of parchment to fit the pan crosswise, again with paper hanging over on both sides. Grease any exposed sides of the pan.
- Make the chocolate crust: Stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa, salt, and baking powder. To prevent the melted butter from curdling, temper it by stirring into it the evaporated milk, a little bit at a time. Then pour the butter and milk mixture into the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly with a rubber spatula. The dough will be a bit dry, more like cookie dough than like brownie batter.
- Take ⅔ the dough and press into bottom of the pan. Use a sheet of parchment paper to help you push it into an even layer and press it into the corners. Reserve the rest of the dough for the topping.
- Bake crust for 12 – 15 minutes, or until no dough sticks to your finger when you lightly press it in the center. Remove from oven and set aside.
- While crust is baking, prepare caramel sauce: Place butter, light corn syrup or honey, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and salt into a saucepan. Pour the brown sugar into the center of the pan. Try not to let any sugar crystals get onto the sides of the pan. If they do, brush them down with a wet pastry brush or paper towel; this prevents the caramel from crystallizing.
- Without whisking yet, cook over medium to medium-high heat until it comes to a boil, then reduce heat to a strong simmer. Now whisk constantly and let simmer until it reaches 225ºF on a candy thermometer. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, let simmer for 5 – 10 minutes until it is thick and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat.
- Sprinkle chocolate chips or chocolate chunks onto the baked crust. Pour the caramel sauce over all.
- Using your hands, pull off egg-sized balls of the reserved dough. Press them flat in between your hands, and then lay them on top of the caramel. Continue until all the dough is used.
- Bake for 15 – 18 minutes, or until the top crust is no longer wet but is still a little glossy. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Cut in the pan or use the parchment sling to remove to a cutting board and cut in bars.