Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Bars

I was invited to a gigantic BBQ for memorial day, so I needed something impressive to bring. After crowdsourcing suggestions, I stumbled upon this recipe after someone suggested a different recipe from this site. I’m a BIG fan of salty sweet combo, and we’re a dark chocolate house, so it seemed like a good fit. But pie didn’t seem like the most practical thing to bring to a BBQ. I figured I could switch the recipe into bars fairly easily. I also doubled the recipe due to the number of guests 

Crush the Oreos in the food processor, or by hand. I had to do it in two batches because two packages of Oreos won’t fit in my food processor, but it was still quick work.

  Cut two sticks of butter into chunks and melt them in a microwave safe dish for 30 seconds. Stirring should melt any remaining pieces, but, if some remain, microwave for 15 seconds until melted.

  Mix the melted butter into the cookie crumbs until incorporated.

 Line a 9”X13” cake pan with parchment paper, making sure the sides of the pan are covered as well as the bottom. I used baking spray to grease the parchment paper. Pour the cookie mixture into the pan and pound it flat with the bottom of a heavy glass. Then freeze the crust for 10 minutes.

Cut two more sticks of butter into chunks and throw them in a small sauce pan. Add 1 1/3 cups of brown sugar and mix over medium heat until it begins to bubble. (As I write this, I wonder if I actually let it bubble – I don’t remember bubbles.)


Cook for one more minute, then remove from the heat and stir in half a cup of whipping cream.

Let it sit for 15 minutes and then pour it on top of the cookie crust. Spread the mixture evenly and put the cake pan back in the freezer for 30-45 minutes. Now this is important – make sure the pan is flat in the freezer. Otherwise, the caramel will pool in a corner. Not only will your caramel be uneven, but the structural integrity of the bar will be fucked up.

When you’re almost ready to take the pan out of the freezer, put 24 OZ of dark chocolate chips into a large microwave safe bowl. Melt the chips at 30-second intervals, stirring in between.


When the chips are melted, add two cups of whipping cream and stir until it looks chocolatey and shiny. Pour the chocolate over the caramel and freeze for another 30 minutes. Then place the cake pan in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve.

  
Slice into bars of desired size. They are very rich, so I’d go small and let people have seconds. Right before serving, sprinkle some sea salt on top. Table salt will work if that’s all you have, but it won’t give the same visual flourish.


These were a huge hit at the BBQ. One guy called them life changing! Just so you know, I was speaking from experience when I wrote about freezing the caramel on an uneven surface. The bars fell apart that were cut from the side where the caramel pooled. The chocolate slid right off as the caramel oozed out. Still delicious, but less impressive… And we all know how important it is to be impressive. Also, as far as BBQ food goes, these are not the ideal dessert to have out in the sun. I’m sure the people who got to them early had a cleaner experience. If I did this over again, I’d probably make mini pies in cupcake wrappers, so that you get the hand held dessert, but with a little more protection from it dripping down your hand. Also, mini pies would be much easier to transport in my awesome cupcake caddy—which is also very impressive.

 

Watermelonade

We’re potty training! My kid proved his readiness by just refusing to pee on day one. Not in the potty, not on the floor. He went five hours. It was clear I needed to push liquid to move the learning along, but there was a problem. We mostly give water because, you know, that’s what they tell you to do now a days, and juice isn’t something we typically keep in the house. I’m not pretending we’ve got perfect nutrition. In fact, the main reason we don’t keep juice around is because drinking it would really cut into my diet soda and coffee time. As a result, we’ve been pretty good at the the no juice thing…so good, that my kid won’t drink it. He won’t drink milk either, just water. So pushing liquid was pretty much just me offering water, which he mostly rejected.

I had the brilliant idea – what if mommy made an extra special yummy juice? This is less a recipe than an experiment determined by ingredients in my fridge. It started out as a lemonade, but I only had 3 lemons. I also had 3 limes, so lemon/limeade? Why not. I had entirely forgotten about half a watermelon in my fruit drawer that was still good.

  My kid gobbled up a few pieces of the watermelon I had cut up, so I cubed the rest of it. I juiced the lemons/limes and forced the juice through a sieve into the blender.

 Then I threw in a bunch of watermelon, poured in enough cold water to mostly cover it, and blended.

 I  added half a cup of sugar and blended more. Then I poured it all through the sieve again into this glass carafe that makes me feel like I’m playing restaurant (fancy!).

 I topped it off with  carbonated water to give it a little fizz…

 And a few shakes of salt to bring out the sweet. (Also, if the salt made my kid thirsty, he’d drink more, right?)

End result: my kid hated it!

But I liked it. So serve this at some fancy BBQ. Maybe put some liquor in it? Don’t tell anyone this drink was born out of potty training desperation.

 And the potty training, it’s going ok.

Ingredients

  • 3 lemons
  • 3 limes
  • ¼ watermelon cubed
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • cold water
  • carbonated water
  • pinch of salt

Tools

  • Citrus juicer
  • Sieve
  • Blender

Juice lemons and limes. Pour juice through a sieve into the blender. Add watermelon and enough water to blend. (The amount of water needed will depend on the quality of your blender.) Blend to a puree. Add sugar to taste, and blend again. Pour juice through the sieve into a pitcher. Add carbonated water to taste. Shake in salt, and stir. Enjoy.

Table for my Toddler

I made a thing! This project has been on deck for a few months, and I finally did it. You see, I have this gorgeous dining room table. It’s made from reclaimed wood and virtually unfinished, perfect for a two year old to ruin. This isn’t one of those special occasion tables either, we eat almost every meal on it. Lately, my kid has even taken to eating his snacks there rather than the kitchen counter which is our other seating option.

Obviously, keeping the table clean has been a problem. My solutions have been tablecloths, which require being washed after every meal, and placemats, which don’t cover enough for my messy family. My solution is a wipeable table cover that straps on to the table.
I got two yards of faux leather vinyl and threw it over the table wrong side up. I pinned the corners in place and cut it to fit. Then I sewed some edging on, before sewing up the corners. Finally, I added elastic on all four corners to hold it tight to the table.

I love it! The table looks fine, and it makes everything easier. It cuts steps out of setting and cleaning up. I’ll take it off in I ever need to be fancy, but day to day I can leave it on and wipe it clean.

Go me,
 Look how innocuous it is
  

  Pinned and cut

  The notched out corners

  Sewing the edges

  
The elastic holding it on

  

   

Complete! 

  
It’s first meal