There's a fine line when you're combining flavors, between fantastic taste explosion and muddled mess. I'm always aware of this line, and I fear crossing it. What I never fear is sweetened condensed milk. Magic bars come in all varieties, but I think the condensed milk is the pixie dust that makes it work each time, blending the flavors and creating a delicious gooey texture.
This particular magic bar continued my theme of fall and began with some seasonal Milky Way bars: caramel apple. I wanted something that built on the caramel apple-ness of it, but because it is also ultimately a chocolate candy bar, I didn't want to miss out on the chocolate aspect. The addition of cinnamon in the chocolate dough adds just a note of warmth, while the pumpkin butter really drives home that fall flavor. If you have apple butter, though, that would be even better. The condensed milk definitely echoes the caramel of the Milky Way, and a sprinkling of sea salt seems to be the trendy way of setting it off.
These are thick, gooey, and rich. And I'm proud to say that one coworker called these the most deeply flavorful treat yet. So I'm walking that line, just like Johnny Cash.
Chocolate Caramel Apple Magic Bars
Adapted from Averie Cooks: Milky Way Chocolate Cookie Crumble Bars
Makes an 8 x 8 pan
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup sweetened cocoa powder (note: that's sweetened; if you have unsweetened, refer to Averie's original recipe)
- 2 Tablespoons brewed coffee (I used instant)
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 cups fun size Caramal Apple Milky Way, cut into quarters
- 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1/4 cup maple pumpkin butter
- sprinkle of sea salt, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Mix the butter with the egg, sugar, cocoa, coffee, and vanilla until combined. (The butter should be melted but cooled, to avoid scrambled egg.)
- Add flour, cinnamon and baking soda, mix until combined. Reserve about 2/3 cup of the dough.
- In a prepared pan, gently press the unreserved dough evenly on the bottom.
- Add the Milky Ways in an even layer on top of the dough.
- Dot the reserved dough on top of the Milky Way layer. You want it sort of crumbled on, not a complete 'crust'.
- Pour the sweetened condensed milk slowly over the top. Drizzle the pumpkin butter over this. Sprinkle sea salt, if desired.
- Bake for about 30 minutes. The middle will still jiggle, but the edges should appear done.
- Allow the bars to cool completely in the pan, then cut into squares.