Holiday cookies: Recipe for gold bars

So how do you eat a Twix bar? Do you use your teeth to scrape all of the chocolate-caramel topping off, then go back and eat the naked crunchy cookie? Do you nibble first some chocolate-caramel, then some cookie, then back to chocolate-caramel, and so on? Or do you wholesale devour it, cookie, caramel and chocolate all at once?

With our cookies, it doesn’t much matter. We’ve taken those three things we love about Twix and combined them into one terrific bar cookie you can eat however you like.
Start to finish: 1 hour (30 minutes active)
Servings: 24
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
9-ounce package soft caramel candies
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup half-and-half, divided
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup milk chocolate bits

Heat the oven to 375 F. Line a 9-by-9-inch baking pan with kitchen parchment.

In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, sugar, vanilla, salt and baking powder until fluffy and light. Add the flour and mix just until a dough comes together. Press the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Prick all over the crust with a fork. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.

While the crust bakes, prepare the filling. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the caramels with the sweetened condensed milk and 1/4 cup of the half-and-half, stirring continuously. When the mixture is melted and smooth, remove from the heat. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup half-and-half. While whisking, pour the yolks into the melted caramel.

When the crust is baked, pour the caramel mixture over the crust, then return the pan to the oven. Bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until set.

Gently sprinkle the milk chocolate bits over the top and allow to melt from the warm bars. Use an offset spatula to gently spread the melted chocolate over the surface of the caramel, taking care to not disturb the caramel layer. Allow to cool completely before removing from the pan and cutting into small bars. Once cooled, store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Nutrition information per serving: 150 calories; 70 calories from fat (47 percent of total calories); 7 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 45 mg cholesterol; 20 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 14 g sugar; 2 g protein; 60 mg sodium.

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