Two BFFs: Sweet and Salty

Bad or good; ugly or beautiful; sweet or salty—conventional wisdom has taught us that if one of these qualities holds true, then the opposite is automatically untrue. And then along came Thai cuisine into the mainstream a number of years ago, to teach us that sweet and salty can co-exist in mouth-wateringly delicious ways. Now it seems that we think nothing of adding salt to our caramels and other sweet confections.

This cookie bar recipe will show you that not only can sweet and salty get along well—they can in fact be BFFs. They get along so well that they are dangerous. Yes, these cookie bars are that good. It is dangerous for me to be alone with them, as they are dangerously good. Just ask the colleague who had one at our company pot luck last week. She chased me as I was picking up my Tupperware container, so that she could have the leftover crumbs. Yes, they are dangerous.

The credit for this recipe goes to Maria from Two Peas and Their Pod. (Her photos of these cookie bars are way better than my pic!) I didn’t change a thing because the recipe was perfect as is. I highly recommend this recipe, as these bars are super easy to make and a sure-fire hit for any pot-luck lunch or night home alone.

Chocolate Chip Salted Caramel Cookie Bars

  • 2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 12 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 10 ounces caramel candy squares, unwrapped (about 35 caramels by my calculations)
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Sea salt, for sprinkling over caramel and bars

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 2-quart baking pan (11 x 8 glass Pyrex dish).

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the melted butter and sugars together until combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix on low, just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

4. In a large microwave safe bowl, combine the caramels and heavy cream. Microwave caramels on High until caramels are melted, stirring every 20 to 25 seconds. This will take about 2 minutes, depending on your microwave.

5. Divide the cookie dough in half. Press half of the cookie dough into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the spatula. Pour hot caramel over the cookie dough. Sprinkle caramel with sea salt. Drop spoonfuls of cookie dough over the caramel and spread dough with a spatula until the caramel is covered. Sprinkle the bars with additional sea salt.

6.Bake cookie bars for 30 minutes or until the top of the bars are light golden brown and the edges start to pull away from the pan. Cool bars on a wire rack to room temperature. Cut bars into squares and serve.

18 Comments on “Two BFFs: Sweet and Salty”

  1. DowntonAbbeyCooks says:

    Yum and yummer. I think might have a serious problem making sure the caramels make it into the bowl! Just the crinkling sound of the wrapper makes me drool.

  2. Lisa says:

    I think that your pictures are just fine. Sweet and salty go fabulously together. These look scrumptious, and Firstborn and I will have to give them a try. Thank you for passing on the recipe.

  3. OMG, BARB! What are you doing to me? Seriously? Caramel, Salt, Chocolate? Honestly, I thought we were friends ;-)?
    I wish I had seen this before I made the cheesecake for today’s Super Bowl Food Frenzy. I might have even made a topping to go on that chocolate cheesecake with the salted caramel. Girl, you are KILLING me!
    Luv u!

  4. Charles says:

    I always find it weird how caramel and salt go so well together. I tried to explain to my mother that “salted caramel anything” was awesome, but she just didn’t understand. Perhaps it’s *too* edgy for her 😀

    Loving the look of these bars Barb – so squidgy and gooey and delicious.

    • Yes, I guess there are some who just will never get this combination. Maybe your mom will come around one day? You know I made caramel squares with a good friend about eight years ago and we added a little too much salt. We kept fretting about it, wondering if anyone would complain that they were too salty. Funny, all these years later and now I’m after the same effect on purpose!

      Squidgy is the perfect description for these Charles. You must have tasted one when I wasn’t looking!

  5. hotlyspiced says:

    I love salted caramel. It seems like such a strange combination but it works so well. I also like salted licorice and that sure is an acquired taste! Your bars look so inviting. I’d love some of those right now but like you, I’d have a lot of trouble stopping at just one!

    • I’ve never had salted licorice. Is that an Australian thing I wonder? I remember lugging several bags of twizzlers (red licorice) to my good friend in Sydney when I visited several years ago because she couldn’t get it there. Funny how strange combinations often work. Guess it just encourages us to be more creative in the kitchen!

  6. Sissi says:

    Barb, chocolates with salty caramel are one of my favourite treats! I love the mixture of sweet and salty. In chocolate cakes or desserts it does miracles and adding the salt to caramel is the best thing to do. I’m sure these bars are fantastic. I can only imagine biting into the sticky salty caramel and chocolate…

  7. I didn’t know I liked the salty/sweet combo until the trend of salting chocolate and caramels…now I like it too much! These bars are just plain wicked, Barb! I’m not sure whether to thank you or chastise you for making me aware of this addictive sounding recipe! 😉

    • Hmmm…intersting that this sweet and salty recipe brings out both your gratitude and displeasure towards me! But I totally understand, given how many of these bars I was capable of eating. I really do recommend them Betsy!

  8. Norma Chang says:

    Your photo looks wickedly delicious. Always loved the sweet and salty combination especially when there is chocolate involved..

  9. Rachel says:

    I am drooling…

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