Chocolate caramel bars are delicious! They are one of those easy to make desserts everyone should know! This simple chocolate chip cookie based bar recipe features caramel bits, milk chocolate chips, cocoa powder, and brown sugar. Make them ooey gooey brownie style or as a classic chewy bar style. See all the tips and tricks to do this as well as directions for how to convert them to salted caramel bars or mocha bars!
CHOCOLATE CARAMEL BARS
***This post was originally published on March 14, 2015 and was sponsored by Nestle Toll House. It was highlighting their Nestle Toll House DelightFulls Milk Chocolate Morsels with Caramel Filling, which are no longer available. Since it was such a tasty recipe, I’ve modified the recipe to make it easier for you to recreate them!
The original recipe for these cookie bars was inspired by the super yummy delectable desserts you find behind the glass of your local coffee shop. These chocolate caramel dessert bars are totally worthy of being on the menu!
—In a hurry and want the recipe for these scrumptious cookies right now? I get it! Simply scroll straight to the bottom to find the printable recipe card!—
If you’ve been a reader for a while, you know I LOVE a good coffee shop. I met my husband while I was a barista! I’m a coffee fiend which you might have guessed with my past posts of mochas for a crowd, vanilla caramel mocha lattes, dark chocolate white chocolate mocha lattes, orange mocha frappuccinos ……. Are you noticing a trend?
I also have a thing for cookies. But sometimes I am a bit more rushed and hate scooping out individual cookies and waiting for a pan to be done before popping in another one in the oven.
For me, bar cookie recipes are my saving grace! Talk about cutting down on time! I can simply whip the recipe up in my stand mixer, scoop into the baking pan, and only have to wait for the buzzer on the oven to go off.
So what makes these bars so special? For sure the addition of caramel bits. Also the flavor the brown sugar imparts. The simplicity of mixing things up a bit by adding different twists, like a sprinkling of sea salt, dark chocolate cocoa, or even instant coffee granules to make them mocha style.
- Cocoa powder
- Milk chocolate chips
- Caramel bits
- Granulated sugar
- Light brown sugar
- Baking soda
Optional Add In’s:
- Coarse sea salt
- different cocoa powders
- instant coffee
Why use caramel bits?
The number one reason- because it’s easy. You can bake them right in. There is no homemade caramel sauce to be made. No pouring over the top like millionaire shortbread or other caramel chocolate bars.
In the past, I’ve chopped up caramel candies but because this recipe is all about saving time and whipping up something quickly, we are nixing unwrapping caramels and chopping them. Now, if you’d like BIG chunks of caramel in every bite, then this would be the way to go.
Salted caramel: Remember when it was all the rage just a few years ago? It is still one of my favorite types of caramel desserts. This recipe naturally includes regular salt to enhance the sweet flavors. Take it a step further by sprinkling a ¼ to ½ teaspoon of coarse ground sea salt on the top of the bars before baking.
Mocha: Mmmmmm, that sweet sweet coffee addition. You can always add in a bit of ground coffee that you have on hand, but I tend to flavor my cookies with instant coffee granules.
Why instant? Trust me, it’s usually only an emergency staple of coffee for me -I carry it in my carryon for flying in case I need a quick caffeine boost to prevent headaches.
When it comes to cooking Nescafe Taster’s Choice House Blend Instant Coffee is my go-to. It’s because of the size of the granules. They don’t get lost in the cookie dough, so they can stand side by side with the chocolate and caramel flavors and not get lost.
Different cocoa powders: Did you know there are several different cocoa powders- from dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and even white chocolate. Mixing these up can give you totally different profiles. Can you imagine making these with White cocoa powder and white chocolate chips? Yummy! Reminds me a bit of my caramel vanilla pudding recipe!
What size baking pan?
Size matters here folks. If you are looking for soft and brownie-like (similar to my chocolate ginger ooey gooey bars) then you’ll want to use a smaller pan. This makes them taller and thicker, and means they will bake just slightly longer (you don’t want raw dough in the middle!). To get this, I used a slightly smaller baking dish (8.5 x 11.5 inches).
If you want flatter more crispy style cookie bars, you’ll want to use a bigger sheet pan. (13 x 17.5 inches). You can tell by the pictures that this recipe can be changed simply by the size of the pan! Half my kids like the soft & chewy version, half like the more solid bar style.
If you want more traditional size bars that are the “happy in-between version”, or if you only have the most common size baking pan, then, by all means, go for the 11 x 13!
No matter which size pan you pick, the BEST part of the recipe stays the same. The best part? How simple they are to prepare! Finishing them off with a drizzle of caramel sauce and chocolate syrup is optional, but well worth it for the presentation
These cookie bars are great for everyday snacking, last-minute guests, and after school snacks! They use minimal dishes (the stand mixer bowl, the baking pan, and a medium bowl for sifting the dry ingredients). There is no individual cookie scooping required!
They are perfect with a hot cup of java and look like they came straight out of a fancy coffee shop! No one will know how easy they really are! Finishing them off with a drizzle of caramel sauce and chocolate syrup is optional, but well worth it for the presentation factor!
Be sure to share this recipe with all your friends! Pin to your favorite cookie or dessert board on Pinterest!
Still looking for more caramel inspired recipes? Here are a few you might enjoy!
- waffles with caramelized bananas
- caramelized apple crepes
- salted caramel eclair cake by Lemons For Lulu
- salted caramel chip brownies by Sweet and Savoury Pursuits
- coconut cookie bars
RECIPE FOR THE COOKIE BARS:
Chocolate Caramel Bars
- 1 cup butter 2 sticks, softened
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
- 2 eggs
- 2 1/4 cup flour all purpose
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
Stir in's :
- 2 cups Milk chocolate chips
- 1 cup caramel bits
Optional add in's
- 2 tsp instant coffee Nescafe instant coffee
- 1/2 tsp coarse ground salt
- chocolate syrup
- melted chocolate
- caramel syrup
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray your chosen baking pan with spray oil to prevent sticking. Remember smaller than 9x13 will make soft and chewy brownie style, and larger will make more flat, dense, crispy style.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars together. Add vanilla.
- Once combined add the cocoa powder. After mixing thoroughly, beat in eggs.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.
- Slowly add the dry ingredient mixture to the wet mixture in the stand mixer, or by using a handheld mixer, or with a wooden spoon.
- Add in the chocolate chips and caramel bits
- Spread dough into greased pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly goldened. Allow to cool on a wire rack and cut into squares.
To make Mocha style:
- Follow directions above, but add in the instant coffee granules when combining the cocoa powder
To make Salted Caramel style:
- Sprinkle the coarse ground salt on the top of the batter before placing in the oven
To make brownie like and ooey gooey:
- Bake in a smaller baking pan than a regular 9x13 pan (note, an 8x8 will be too small!). You may have to cook slightly longer because they are dense and the batter is deep. Use a toothpick to check for doneness.
To make crispy bar style:
- Use a much bigger baking sheet than a traditional 9x13 baking pan. See notes in post. Since these cookies are not as thick, they may cook faster. Be sure to watch them, take out when browning begins, and always check with a toothpick!
To Garnish the cookies
- Add a drizzle of melted chocolate, chocolate syrup, and / or caramel sauce before cutting into squares for an added coffee house touch!
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