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I couldn't resist the craving any longer. I was dying for a bar cookie that was unreasonably rich, chocolaty and caramel-gooey, and these bars hit the spot: oozy homemade caramel, crunchy pecans, bittersweet chocolate chunks, and crispy chopped Twix bars (one of my favorite candies)—all set over a shortbread crust. This is no ordinary bar cookie.
Start off with the hardest part first: the caramel. Trust me, once you get a taste of what homemade caramel tastes like, you won't go back to anything jarred. There's really nothing quite like the deep, slightly burnt flavor of caramelized sugar. If you're diligent about watching the pot and not wandering off somewhere, everything will go fine. Just remember to stop stirring after it comes to a boil, brush down the sides with water, and cook it to the color of maple syrup. Whisk in the cream and butter and let the caramel cool before using. You don't want to melt all of the other ingredients in your bar cookie.
While you wait for the caramel to cool, the crust is quickly pulsed in a food processor, pressed into a pan, and par-baked. After cooling (again, you don't want to melt your ingredients), scatter on the pecans, chocolate chunks, and chopped candy bar.
When ready to bake, the luscious caramel is added to the bars in two ways. A portion is stirred with condensed milk and poured into the crust. Then, to create the goo, more caramel is stirred into the filling. After a final bake in the oven until bubbly, drum up as much patience as possible to let the bars cool and firm before cutting. Be prepared for the whole pan to disappear a lot more faster than the time it took to make 'em.
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