These Chocolate Chip Caramel Bars are seriously amazing. A layer of caramel sauce perfectly sandwiched between layers of the best chocolate chip cookie… it’s just plain amazing!
The concept has been around for quite a while… adding caramel to chocolate chip cookies. I remember my MIL making these for my (then boyfriend!) husband and me 15 years ago. So nothing new here! I simply changed the recipe to use my chocolate chip cookie recipe and simplified my homemade caramel sauce a bit. The final result is pretty darn amazing. Everyone in the family raved about how perfect these bars are and the kids already requested them for school lunch!
One tip for these bars, get ready to get messy. Spreading the cookie dough into the bottom of a greased pan (even if it is lined with parchment or foil) can make quite the mess. You can also try dipping your fingers in flour before spreading the cookie dough into a flat layer or using a large spatula that has been greased or dipped in flour. No matter how I try to do this step I always end up using my hands
How to Make Caramel Sauce
The sauce has 2 ingredients; caramels and evaporated milk. I have also used half & half, heavy whipping cream, and whole milk in place of the evaporated milk and found them to work just as well.
Simply place caramels and evaporated milk into a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the caramels are melted and the evaporated milk is incorporated. This takes anywhere from 5-10 minutes. Once the sauce a creamy and smooth remove it from the heat.
From-Scratch Caramel Sauce
If you want to make the sauce completely from scratch here is an easy recipe.
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 stick butter
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
Bring brown sugar, butter, and milk to a gentle boil (medium to medium-high heat) and cook until thickened, about 1- 2 minutes. Remove from heat; add vanilla extract. Stir well and allow to cool for 5 minutes before adding to cookie bars.
To make Salted Caramel Sauce, add in 1 teaspoon of table salt or more to taste. Just be careful you don’t burn yourself when taste tasting!
Variations for Chocolate Chip Caramel Bars
Try adding milk chocolate morsels instead of semi-sweet. Or even white chocolate chips. (This is a VERY sweet combination and I recommend making the salted caramel to offset the sweet.)
Sprinkle the top with sea salt or salt flakes. Anywhere from 1-2 teaspoons depending on the size (and flavor! some salts are very mild) of the salt. I do not recommend doing this with table salt.
Try making it 2 layers! Prepare the chocolate chip cookie dough and press all of it into your 9×13 baking dish, Bake for 18-23 minutes. While it is baking prepare your caramel. When the cookie bars are done, pour caramel sauce over top and then sprinkle some sea salt over top. Allow bars to come to room temperature and serve!
These bars are relatively easy to make and bake. They can be a fun way to make memories with the kids or be the most popular item at the school bake sale. No matter where you share them, folks will be thankful and probably ask you for the recipe!
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE BARS
- 1 cup (2 sticks or 226g) butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups (300g) brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 1/4 cups (282g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels
- 5 ounces evaporated milk
- 1 package (11 ounces) caramel bits or wrapped caramels (be sure to unwrap if using the wrapped caramels)
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE BARS
- Heat oven to 350°F.
- Add butter, brown sugar, and vanilla to a large bowl and with a hand-held mixer, cream ingredients until they are lighter and fluffier. Add in eggs, mixing well after.
- Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and mix on low until combined. I usually add my chocolate morsels right into the cookie dough and mix with the hand-held mixer, but you can also stir them in by hand.
- In a prepared 8×12 or 9×13 baking dish, press half of the cookie dough down. Try to get an even layer. Set the remaining cookie dough aside.
- Bake for 10 minutes. While the cookie bars are baking, prepare the caramel.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, add the evaporated milk and caramel bits. Stir frequently for about 8 minutes, or until the caramels are melted and the evaporated milk is fully incorporated.
- Remove from heat.
- Carefully remove the cookie bars from the oven and place on a heat-safe surface.
- Pour the caramel sauce over the bars making sure to get it into every nook and cranny.
- Carefully start placing flattened dollops of the remaining cookie dough over the hot caramel. I find it works best to pick up a small handful, flatten it in your hand a bit, and then place that directly on top of the caramel. Do this with all remaining cookie dough. It is ok if there is some caramel showing.
- Bake for an additional 15-18 minutes, or until the caramel is bubbling and the cookie is golden brown.
- Allow bars to cool to room temperature and then cut and serve.