AB's Wicked Caramel Layer Squares
(Or what Jet made for Indy and Lee's partyin Rock Chick Rescue)
This was a recipe, if memory serves (which it usually doesn't), that my mother was given or that she found in some magazine. However, Mom in the mix or not, in the end, this is an Auntie Bec recipe.
This is because my Auntie Bec, known by my brother, sister and me as AB, made these and she did it often. She did it so often, except for unwrapping the caramels, this took approximately 3.25 minutes to make (make, not bake, and this is low estimate of time might be a wee exaggeration). Once I stood in the kitchen in the house she shared with Will in Indianapolis watching her make these at the same time marvelling. Her hands were hazy, such was the speed.
And they were always delicious when AB made them.
Recently, whilst cleaning out the Welsh cabinet in the kitchen, I ran across AB's recipe box. I had hid it in the very back of the cupboard, I'm sure so I wouldn't see it. See, AB died and she died unexpectedly and she died young.
And I loved her.
When I uncovered this treasure trove that was her recipe box, I stopped being a neat freak, sat on the floor and sifted through my AB's recipes. I did this while I cried. I saw her handwriting, and my Mom's (who is also passed), and my Gram's (who is also no longer with us). And as I sifted, I remembered how very much I loved them all and always will.
AB had four, yes four recipes for Caramel Layer Squares in her recipe box (they were all the same, I figure she liked these brownies so much she didn't ever want to lose the recipe). All of the recipe cards had chocolate and caramel residue on them. All of them had been touched by her hands. All of them, even through the tears, I'm so glad I have.
Now, I share this recipe with you.
You gotta like a recipe with five ingredients (if you don't count the nuts, which I never use and neither did AB).
- 14oz package of caramels (in America, I used Bracht's - in the UK, find soft caramels, not fudge)
- 1/3 cup evaporated milk
- 1 package German Chocolate Cake Mix (or, in the UK, any chocolate cake mix as they don't have German Chocolate here)
- 3/4 cup melted margarine (or, preferably, butter)
- 6 oz chocolate chips
- 1 cup nuts (or not)
How to do it...
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F or 18 degrees C.
Grease and flour a rectangular pan. Unwrap the caramels, if they are wrapped. I always hated doing this because it took for-freaking-ever and it was a serious challenge to my willpower because you can't eat them. But I knew what Caramel Layer Squares tasted like. I knew the 'caramel' in the title was essential to the experience. So I didn't eat them.
Now cook the caramels in the evaporated milk in a pan over the stove on low heat until they are all melted together. You don't have to stand over them and fret, but don't leave them alone for too long - go back frequently and stir.
Combine the cake mix and the melted butter in a bowl. The recipe says 'stir until the dough holds together'. You'll have a better chance of finding the fountain of youth than stirring this batter. This is a get your hands in there and knead type of recipe. But remember, as your butter is melted, you don't want to pour hot butter into the cake mix and get your hands in there. Be safe! Start by stirring and then graduate to kneading after the butter cools down a bit.
Press half of the dough into the bottom of the baking pan and bake for six minutes. Yes, I said six minutes. Why six minutes? Why not five? I don't know. That's just what it says to do and I do what it says. Then you take it out and sprinkle the choco chips over the crust and then spread/pour the caramel over all. Don't get to hung up about spreading 'over all'. Usually, I just pour it from the pot and make sure I get it all around as possible then I crumble the remaining dough on top. There's a lot of crumble, there's a lot of caramel, there's a lot of choco chips - you aren't going to get gypped and cut out a square that might not have all the goodness of all the rest (that is, unless you eat the caramels whilst unwrapping them). It'll all be good.
I suspect if you use nuts, you sprinkle those too but I wouldn't know because, as I mentioned, I never use nuts.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
Cool before eating or don't - either way it is total YUM!