Caramel Cataclysm Bars from Sunshine by Robin McKinley
I read this book years ago, right after it came out and somehow the story really stuck with me. So I read it again and even bought the Audible version (bad idea, the narration was terrible).
I guess it was the realness of the story, a young woman, after a tiring and stressful day at the family bakery decides to drive out to the lake and sit on the porch of her grandmother's old home. The house hasn't been lived in for years and is starting to fall apart. In fact all the homes around the lake have been abandoned by their owners.
You see, the lake is in a known vampire area. Or at least it was, no one's seen a vampire at the lake in years.
Yep, this world has vampires and magic and a lot of other things that go bump in the night.
Before you start thinking Sunshine is suicidal, she never planned on staying after dark. After all, vamps cant come out in the daytime.
The story moves along at a fast pace and I was sorry to see it end.
Best of all are the descriptions of tasty treats; cinnamon rolls as big as your head, pear gingerbread, zebra bars and honeycakes. Frankly, all of it sounded good to me.
But the caramel cataclysm sounded the most interesting. There's no real description for this one, so I had to make mine up, here it is my version;
Caramel Cataclysm Bars
based on this recipe caramel bar
For the crust;
1 lb butter, softened (yep, a POUND!)
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp vanilla
4 cups all purpose flour
For the Dulce de Leche Caramel filling;
Dulce de Leche (the lazy, sneaky, cheater, I-don't-want-to-use-my-candy-
2 cans, sweetened condensed milk
One large pot
1. Place cans in pot (remove paper labels)
2. Fill water till it is at least three inches above the cans.
3. Bring the water to a boil then turn down to a bubbly simmer for 4 hours. Make sure water is always three inches above cans or else!*
5. Cool cans in water (the same water you boiled them in, don't add cool water to the pan!) by turning the heat off and sliding pot to a cool burner.
6. Next morning, somehow, I always end up doing this at night, remove cans from the cool water and test one by opening it, inside the sticky sweet condensed milk will have magically turned to a lovely bronze'y caramel.
* the cans could explode if you don't keep them covered with water, good luck!
Making the crust:
1. Preheat the oven to 325. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the vanilla and then the flour and mix.
2. Line a 9"x13" pan with aluminum foil or parchment, leave part hanging over the long sides and then spray the pan lightly with oil. Press 1/3 of the crust into the bottom of the pan. Place the remainder of the crust into the refrigerator for later.
3. Bake the crust for 20 minutes and allow to cool for about 30 minutes.
Assembly of the bars.
1. Once the crust is cool enough, spread 1 1/2 cans of the caramel over the crust (eat the rest when no one is looking).
2. Remove the refrigerated crust dough and crumble it over the top of the caramel, don't worry about the lumpy, uneven appearance, this is what makes these bars so tasty.
3. Bake the bars for 25-30 minutes, or until the crumble topping looks golden.
4. Allow bars to cool, in the pan, for about an hour, then pull the parchment/aluminum foil tabs up to remove the bars from the pan. The bars will still be warm, so it is best to wait an hour (or more) for them to cool fully before cutting them into single servings.