May 21, 2015

Mary Beth Johnson is a wife and mum to four schooners, as she's dubbed her children. On a normal afternoon, you would find her in moccasins, skinny jeans and a comfortable tee, camera in hand. Recently moving to the suburbs of Atlanta, Mary Beth spends her days homeschooling, sneaking away to the bookstore, trying to act the part of a southerner, and sifting through recipes in The Vegetarian Times. Food is her love language.

We are finished with our schoolwork for the year, save for some mild reading and little workbooks, and it makes me relieved and sad all at the same time that it is over already. There were some hard days and we learned a lot, but I will forever be grateful for all of the time we spent together and how close we became as a family. The fall will look different and our schedules will completely change, but I am going to savor the slow pace of summer and the memories we continue to make here. 

I wanted to make little teacher's gifts for the special women who taught my girls on Tuesdays this semester. I tried these salted caramel bars for the first time and they were perfect! You can make a day ahead, package with some wax paper and twine, slip a Starbucks gift card on top, and send it off with your kiddos the next morning. I think they'll love it!!!

Yield: About 20 to 24 squares.
    • 1 cup all purpose flour
    • 1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
    • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
    • 1 tablespoon ice water
    • 1 large egg yolk
Caramel Filling
    • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
    • 1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
    • 2 tablespoons golden syrup or dark brown corn syrup
    • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, diced
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt
Chocolate Glaze
  • 6 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cocoa), chopped
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Flaked sea salt (such as fleur-de-sel or maldon)
For the Crust
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 12x8-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom.
    2. In a food processor, blend the flour, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add in the cubes of butter and pulse just until a coarse meal has formed. Add in the water and egg yolk and blend until a ball of dough forms, about 1 to 2 minutes.
    3. Press the dough into the bottom of the tart pan. Poke a generous amount of holes all over the dough using a fork. Bake until golden brown, about 20 to 22 minutes. Cool completely.
For the Caramel Filling
    1. In a saucepan, whisk together the condensed milk, sugar, butter, golden or corn syrup, and vanilla. Heat the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly until sugar is dissolved, butter is melted, and the mixture has come to a boil. Attach a candy thermometer to the pot. Boil the mixture until the caramel is a pale golden colour, thick, and the temperature reaches 225F (107C), while whisking constantly, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the salt.
    2. Pour the caramel evenly over the crust, and using an offset spatula, spread it to almost the edge of the crust. Cool for about 15 minutes, and make the chocolate glaze while cooling.
For the Glaze
  1. In a medium microwaveable bowl, combine the chocolate and heavy cream. Heat in the microwave at 15 second intervals, stirring occasionally until mixture is smooth. Do not overheat. Spread chocolate glaze over warmish caramel, and sprinkle with flakey salt. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until chocolate is set.