Caramel Pecan Sticky Rolls

My Taste Tester and I love ooey gooey caramel rolls though I had never made them up to a year ago. One lazy Saturday he suggested I bake some up. I had saved a recipe for the dough for some time but it called for a bread maker. I adapted it to use my KitchenAid and the results were fantastic. I used a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated cookbook for the pecan caramel topping. The end results were better than I had hoped. They definitely have made there way into our monthly baking rotation.

The recipe takes some time but most of it is waiting for the rolls to rise. Overall it is pretty simple, especially if you are familiar with working with yeast. I have killed my yeast a time or two when making various breads but this recipe has always worked for me. I usually buy my yeast and use it right away to ensure freshness.

If you are looking for a great weekend baking project, these rolls will be sure to please you! They are soft, tender and the topping is thick and rich. So perfect for the upcoming cooler months.

I rate this recipe a 9

Caramel Pecan Sticky Rolls
adapted from here

1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup margarine, melted
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup sugar packed
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup corn syrup
1 TBS milk or cream (my addition)
3/4 cup pecans

Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl. Mix in the sugar, margarine, salt, and eggs. Add flour and mix well. Knead the dough into a large ball, using your hands dusted lightly with flour. Put in a bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, sugar and cinnamon.

In saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter  and syrup and milk or cream. Cook until sugar is dissolved. Pour into bottom of a greased 9×13″ pan. Sprinkle pecans evenly over top.

Roll dough into a 16×21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls.

Place rolls prepared  9×13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.

Allow to cool in pan for about 20 minutes, turn over onto a foil lined baking sheet. Best served same day.

Keep stored in an airtight container. If reheating in microwave do not overheat or the dough will become tough and the caramel may burn.

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Caramel Crumb Bars with nuts

I haven’t made bars in what seems forever. I enjoy baking bars during the warm months because they can be baked in a shorter amount of time than a batch of cookies so my oven is not heating up my house for over an hour! I do freeze a good portion of cookie dough so I don’t typically bake a whole batch at once.

I found this recipe on several blogs,  it comes from Nick Malgieri, who has said that he would choose this cookie above all others in the recipe’s intro. With a declaration like that, I had to give these a go.
Imagine, if you will, a crust that is  buttery and a bit crumbly, much like a delicate shortbread cookie. On top is a sweet and gooey caramel filling.  To top them off you crumble more of that delicate crust over the caramel.

Overall, I was not overly impressed with the final result. Each component was OK, but together they weren’t “WOW”, ya know? I added toasted walnuts to the topping and to be honest, that was my favorite part of this recipe. These are good, don’t get me wrong, but I think I had too high of expectations going in and found myself feeling let down. My taste tester liked them, but too, enjoyed these bars much better.   The crust on these bars was a bit too delicate to hold the next 2 layers and the edge peices really crumbled making transport and presentation difficult.

If I make them again I think instead of making my own caramel sauce I will use Dulce de Leche or something else, for the extra work it required it really didn’t ‘wow’ me, I have had far better caramel sauces.

I rate these a 7

Caramel Crumb Bars
from The Modern Baker

2 sticks (1/2 lb) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Caramel Filling
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350 F with a rack in the bottom third of the oven. Spray a 13×9 pan with cooking spray, then line the  pan with aluminum foil or parchment (leaving an overhang so you can lift the bars out) and spray again with cooking spray.

To make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar and salt on medium speed until soft and light, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla.

With the mixer on low, add 2 1/4 cups of the flour, beating just until the dough is smooth and the flour has been absorbed, and stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl and the paddle as necessary.

Transfer 3/4 of the dough into the prepared baking pan. Press the dough evenly into the pan to form the bottom layer. Transfer the pan to the refrigerator while you make the filling and top layer.

Add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour to the remaining dough in the mixer bowl and work it in with your fingertips until 1/8 – 1/4-inch crumbs form. Set aside.

To make the filling: In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, corn syrup, brown sugar and condensed milk. Bring to a simmer, whisking occasionally. When the mixture begins to boil, whisk frequently until it begins to thicken and darkens in color slightly, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for about 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the refrigerator and pour the filling over the bottom crust. Use an offset spatula to spread it evenly then distribute the crumb topping over the filling.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the filling is gently bubbling and a dark caramel color. Cool the bars in the pan on a wire rack until lukewarm, about 15-20 minutes. Use the foil (or parchment) to lift the bars out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Once completely cool, cut into 2-inch squares.

Oatmeal Carmelitas

Look at those bars! Who does not love the combination of caramel and chocolate?

Wow, I had forgotten how great these bars are. I love the texture of the slighlty crisp crust with the gooey caramel layer filled with nuts and chocolate.
I have been making these since high school (one could say it was my “signature” dessert back then). The recipe comes from our dear friends at Pilsbury and is so easy I used to have it memorized.
The thing I love about these bars is that they are great warm, room temperature or even straight out of the fridge (which is where I keep them during the summer months or the caramel gets a little too gooey for eating with your hands). The oatmeal/brown sugar crust provides a nice and hearty base for these bars and keeps them from being overly-sweet.
I rate these bars a 9
Here is the recipe directly copied from the website. My changes are in red.
Oatmeal Carmelitas

2 cups Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose or Unbleached Flour (I used Gold Medal)
2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups margarine or butter, softened (I used butter)

1 (12.5-oz.) jar (1 cup) caramel ice cream topping
3 tablespoons Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose or Unbleached Flour (I used Gold Medal)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used 1/2 cup Milk chocolate and 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I usually use Walnuts but omitted nuts this time)

Heat oven to 350°F.
Grease 13×9-inch pan.
Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. In large bowl, combine all crust ingredients; mix at low speed until crumbly. Reserve half of crumb mixture (about 3 cups) for topping. Press remaining crumb mixture in bottom of greased pan.
Bake for 10 minutes or until light brown.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine caramel topping and 3 tablespoons flour; blend well.

Remove partially baked crust from oven; sprinkle with chocolate chips and nuts.
Drizzle evenly with caramel mixture; sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture.

Return to oven; bake an additional 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool 1 hour or until completely cooled. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or until filling is set.
Cut into bars.