Thursday, March 22, 2012

Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars + A Dream Come True


 



About a month ago, I nonchalantly checked my email as I went about my normal daily routine.  Only this time, I couldn't resist letting out a squeal of excitement as I read the first email that popped through.  It was from the Producer at our local Fox 6 News station, and she was asking if I might be interested in appearing on Good Day Alabama as a part of their morning cooking segment.  

I couldn't believe it. 

After I got past my initial shock, I sent her an email to confirm that I would absolutely love the chance!  The segment usually runs about 5 minutes long, so I got to work trying to figure out just what I wanted to make in that time frame.  There had been a recipe in the back of my mind for quite some time that I wanted to develop.  This was the perfect opportunity.  I pictured a dessert bar, which was sort of a combination of a Snickers candy bar and a chocolate chip cookie...a "Snookie" Bar, if you will (no...NOT the Jersey Shore kind!).  It sounded delicious, so I put on my apron and started experimenting that night.  

The results were quite scrumptious, and I knew that I had my recipe ready.  When the big weekend came, my sisters came up from Dothan to be here for the excitement.  Fortunately, the segment would be pre-recorded, so that helped me not be AS nervous.  But, I have to admit that the days leading up to the segment were filled with nervous anticipation.  I was SO incredibly excited!  I've dreamed of doing something like this, but never thought I'd EVER actually get the chance.

That morning, we loaded up the car and headed to the studio.  As I put my apron on and watched that morning's live newscast being filmed, I realized that it was really happening!  Soon thereafter, I was in the kitchen getting the chocolate and caramel melted and making the final preparations.

It was over in a flash, and the entire experience was a lot of fun.  Janice Rogers was the anchor that morning helping me along, and she was fantastic.

A BIG, BIG thank you to Suzanne Cornett and Janice Rogers at Fox 6!

I really hope that you enjoy this recipe.  The chocolate chip cookie dough is very, very easy to whip together in minutes.  The sweet-salty combination of the creamy caramel and chopped peanuts is divine, and there's no better way to top it all off than with milk chocolate!

Just be warned...these dessert bars are entirely way too addictive!  :)

Bon Appetit, my friends!

The Fox 6 studio...

Ready to go!

Setting up...

Showtime!



I'm so glad my sisters got to go!

Yumminess...



Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars (aka "Snookie" Bars)

Ingredients:
1 Box Duncan Hines "Butter Recipe Golden" cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup + 2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups Kraft Premium Caramel Bits
3 tbsp. heavy cream
1 cup roasted, lightly salted peanuts, roughly chopped
2 cups milk chocolate morsels

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 365 degrees F.

Pour cake mix into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Turn the mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, to break up any large chunks of cake mix.

With the mixer still on low speed, slowly pour the vegetable oil into the cake mix, and then quickly add the eggs. Increase speed to medium and mix for about 1 minute, just until the ingredients come together.  Next, add the semi-sweet chocolate chips to the batter and mix on low for an additional 30 seconds to combine well.

Coat a 9x13" baking dish with cooking spray.  Pour the cookie batter into the dish and smooth into an even layer in the bottom of the dish.

Bake in the preheated oven for 23-24 minutes, or until the cookie layer is nice and golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cookie dough comes out clean.  (Be careful not to over-bake.  You want the cookie layer to remain a little soft.)  Set to the side to cool, while you prepare the caramel and chocolate layers.

Next, pour the Caramel Bits and heavy cream into a small saucepan.  Over low heat, slowly melt the caramel and cream mixture, stirring often.  Keep an eye on it, because caramel has a tendency to burn quickly.  Once it reaches a very smooth consistency, pour the melted caramel over the cookie layer.  Using a spatula, smooth the caramel into an even layer. 

Now, sprinkle the chopped peanuts over the caramel. 

Using a double boiler, melt together the milk chocolate morsels and 2 tsp. of vegetable oil, stirring often.  Once melted, pour the milk chocolate over the peanuts and caramel and smooth into an even layer.

Place the dish in the refrigerator and allow to cool for approximately 2-3 hours, or until the chocolate and caramel harden enough so that you can easily cut the dessert into bars.

Enjoy!

Notes:
  • This dessert is best kept at room temperature.
  • If you do not like peanuts, you can simply omit them from the recipe, or substitute with chopped pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, etc.
  • This recipe for cookie dough is a wonderful, easy way to make cookies, also.  If making cookies, simply spoon the dough onto a greased cookie sheet (an ice cream scoop makes this easier and will ensure all the cookies are the same size).  Bake in a 365 degree F oven and adjust baking time to 12-13 minutes.
  • When making cookies, be creative with this recipe! You can substitute almost any flavor cake mix or any flavor chocolate chips (ex: use M&Ms or chocolate/vanilla swirl morsels instead of chocolate chips). You can also add shredded coconut, a few tablespoons of chunky peanut butter or even unsweetened cocoa right to the batter!
For examples of different cookie recipes, please visit my other blog posts here:




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7 comments:

Dana said...

Congrats!! How exciting.
These bars look delicious - I'm definitely going to be making them soon.

Check out my latest post - a recipe for banana bars :)

xo
Dana

http://bigcity-farmgirl.blogspot.com/

the red headed traveler said...

Wow, congratulations! Definitely a dream come true. And those bars look dream worthy too!

Michelle said...

Celeste! Congrats! That is such exciting news. And, I need a recipe that uses caramel to get rid of some spare caramel from a cake I just made. Thanks!!

Erin said...

That is awesome Celeste! Congratulations! What a great opportunity!
And the recipe looks delicious! :)

Macaroni and Cheesecake said...

This is so exciting! You did such a great job! So well spoken!! And the recipe looks delicious!

paul li said...

I have been looking for an awesome cookie recipe to impress my boyfriend! Thanks so much for sharing :)

Celeste said...

Thank ya'll so much for your kind words and encouragement! :) :) :)