caramel crumb bars

"If I had to choose one cookie above all others, it would be this one. The buttery dough and creamy caramel filling complement each other perfectly." ~ Nick Malgieri

Looking through my cookbooks for a new cookie to bake, I was sold with this comment. The Master Pastry Chef's favorite. It's got to be good.

It is. At the music meeting to which these were brought, the buttery bars were gobbled up and several women requested the recipe.

Printable Recipe here.

Caramel Crumb Bars
from The Modern Baker by Nick Malgieri

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2½ cups all-purpose flour, divided (spoon into measuring cup and level off)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
¼ cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened, condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a 9x13x2-inch pan with buttered foil.

For the dough:
In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed, beat the butter with the sugar and salt until soft and light, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the vanilla.

On the lowest speed, beat in 2¼ cups of the flour, scraping the bowl and paddle with a rubber spatula and continuing to mix just until the dough is smooth, and the flour has been absorbed.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape ¾ of the dough into the prepared pan. Use the palm of your hand to press the dough down evenly, without compressing it too much. Chill the dough-lined pan. Work the remaining ¼ cup flour into the remaining dough with your fingertips, so that it forms 1/8- to 1/4-inch crumbs. Set aside at room temperature.

For the filling:
In a medium saucepan, bring the butter, corn syrup, brown sugar, and condensed milk to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Allow the mixture to boil gently, stirring often, until it starts to thicken and darken slightly, about 10 minutes. Pour into a stainless-steel bowl to cool for 5 minutes.

Remove the dough-lined pan from the refrigerator and scrape the cooled filling onto the dough, using a small offset spatula to spread the filling evenly on the dough. Scatter the crumb mixture on the filling.

Bake until the filling is bubbling gently and is a deep caramel color and the dough and crumb topping are baked through, about 30 minutes.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack until lukewarm, 15 to 20 minutes. Lift the slab of baked dough out of the pan and onto the cutting board before it has cooled completely. Cut the slab into 2-inch squares.


  1. wow! these look amazing! making them RIGHT NOW!

  2. These look great! Love buttery dough.
    I will definitely be trying this. I have all the ingredients...and it's so simple.



  3. Yum! I bet you are always on the dessert committee! :-)

  4. I've always wanted to try caramel bars but didn't want to go out and buy caramels for the filling. Your recipe gives me a great alternative. I'll definitely try making them now.

  5. carmen- tell me what you think of the recipe!

    sg- you know it! i was always wondering what's for tea time after the meeting and so i figured that i might as well do something about the offerings!

    lisa- hope you like them.

  6. Rebecca - regarding the mochiko flour, you can find it in any Asian grocery store or in the Asian aisle of other grocery stores. Thanks for visiting.

  7. You've sold me on these! I can't wait to try them.

  8. These look AMAZING! I'm making them this afternoon. Like Lisa,
    I've been wanting to make caramel bars but refuse to start with store-bought caramels. Thanks so much for posting this!

  9. How did I miss that comment in the book? It's open on my coffee table right now so I am definitely flagging thid recipe when I get home because yours look amazing!

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