- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 ¼ cups heavy cream
- ½ vanilla bean, split and scraped, seeds and pod reserved
- 2 ¼ cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup water
- 1 ¾ sticks unsalted butter
- Maldon Sea Salt, for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 13 inch pan and line it with parchment leaving an overhang to pull the bars out later.
- Make the crust. In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar together using a hand mixer, until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs until once again light and fluffy, and then beat in the flour. Place the dough in the prepared pan and press it into an even layer. Bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating halfway through if necessary, until light golden brown.
- While the crust cools, make the caramel. In a small saucepan, bring the cream and vanilla bean pod and seeds to a simmer. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
- In a very large saucepan, stir together the sugar and water over medium heat. Stop stirring and allow the sugar to cook until deep amber. This part takes awhile, but is so worth it. As soon as the caramel is to the desired color, remove it from the heat and add the cream. It will bubble vigorously. Once the bubbling begins to subside stir in the butter a few tablespoons at a time. Using your spoon to scrape the caramel off the bottom of the pan – it will melt back into the caramel.
- Place the pan over medium-high heat and attach a candy thermometer. While stirring, allow the mixture to come to 240 degrees F on the thermometer. Once this happens, remove it from the heat, remove the vanilla bean pod and pour the caramel over the crust. Sprinkle with sea salt.
- Allow to cool at room temperature for about an hour until it is cool enough to handle. Then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before cutting and serving. Bars may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or at room temperature for 1 (after being chilled to set), or in the freezer in pieces, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for several hours.
Recipe adapted from Zoe Nathan, courtesy of Food and Wine
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 1 hour