Gingerbread Caramel Gooey Bars

These Gingerbread Caramel Gooey Bars might just be my favorite bars to date. They are so chewy and flavorful, it’s hard to stop eating them. And with all the brown sugar, molasses and sweetened condensed milk in them they stay soft for no less than a week. Even though they won’t last this long, I think they’d even be soft after two weeks. That’s legit, my friends.

Gingerbread Caramel Gooey Bars

My inspiration for these bars came from one of my favorite bloggers – Dorothy, from Crazy for Crust. When I saw her Pumpkin Toffee Gooey Bars I almost fell out of my chair. I knew I had to make a version myself and gingerbread seemed like the perfect way to go. I mean how do you make something gooey and delicious even gooier? Add molasses and caramels. Chewy city.

You start out with a yellow cake mix. Nice and easy. It quickly gets sticky with 3/4 a cup of molasses. After adding the molasses, dark brown sugar and spices, the delicious smell will have you wanting to eat the batter.

Gingerbread Caramel Gooey Bars

In the first round of these bars, I used caramel bits. I normally use the square caramels and cut them into pieces, but in the interest of saving time I gave the bits a shot.

The bits just didn’t quite do it. They are meant to hold their shape, like a chocolate chip, but I wanted gooey and melty. And you just couldn’t really taste them amongst the star power of the molasses and ginger.

Gingerbread Caramel Gooey Bars

So for round 2, I went back to my beloved square caramels. I melted them down most of the way, leaving some chunkiness, and added the melted caramels right into the sweetened condense milk. Once combined, it all looked like delicious caramel. When sandwiched between the gingerbread dough and baked, the caramel-y chunks were just as melty and gooey as I’d wanted. Perfect! The caramel totally compliments the gingerbread.

Gingerbread Caramel Gooey Bars

I had these bars for breakfast for about a week straight – they go perfect with my pumpkin coffee. πŸ˜‰ Then I decided I needed to try and save the rest for my mom, who is a big gingerbread fan. Saving them was not an easy task. I wasn’t entirely sure if they’d stay soft, but after almost a week and a half they were still so moist and chewy. These bars would be perfect for sending in a care package to someone.

Gingerbread Caramel Gooey Bars

My mom fell in love at first bite. She tried to hide them from my dad. Remember the cavernous caves of the pantry I told you about before? She considered using those for hiding, but was afraid she’d forget about them (it recently happened with something else).

But then later, while eating one, she had a weak moment and gave my dad a bite. His sweet tooth is as bad as mine. After that, she didn’t get another bar. He devoured them all. They were anxiously awaiting this recipe, so naturally it’s the first thing I’m sharing after Thanksgiving.

Gingerbread Caramel Gooey Bars

Speaking of Thanksgiving, I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! I know I did. It was so nice to get away for a few days and relax with friends and family. We were able to get together with some friends we hadn’t seem in a while, so that was really nice.

And now that Thanksgiving is officially over, we can get right into the Christmas spirit. We’ve already got the music going and the wreaths hung. Tonight we do the tree. I can’t wait. πŸ™‚

Caramel Gingerbread Gooey Bars

Ingredients

15.25 oz yellow cake mix
1 egg
3/4 cup molasses
1 stick butter (1/2 cup), softened
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 1/4 tsp ginger
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
5.5 oz caramels (about 20 caramels)
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

Instructions

1. Combine cake mix, egg, molasses, butter, sugar, flour and spices and mix until smooth. Batter will be thick and sticky.
2. Melt caramels in a microwaveable bowl until mostly smooth, with a few chunks left.
3. Add melted caramel to sweetened condensed milk and combine.
4. Line a 9x9 pan with parchment paper, extending the paper up the sides of the pan.
5. Add half of the gingerbread batter to the pan and spread evenly. Batter will be sticky, so it might help to drop spoonfuls into the pan, then spread.
6. Pour caramel mixture over the gingerbread dough in the pan.
7. Drop spoonfuls of remaining dough over the caramel layer, spreading a bit to mostly cover the caramel layer.
8. Bake at 350 for 30-33 minutes.
9. Allow to cool in the pan, then cut into squares. Bars should be good if stored in an airtight container for 7-10 days.
http://www.lifeloveandsugar.com/2013/12/03/gingerbread-caramel-gooey-bars/

Modified from Crazy for Crust

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This post linked to Six Sisters’ Stuff, Inside BruCrew Life, Tidy Mom, Chef in Training, Wine and Glue, This Gal Cooks, Skip To My Lou, What’s Cooking Love?, Kleinworth & Co, Buns In My Oven, I Should Be Mopping The Floor, 30 Handmade Days, Living Well Spending Less, Love Bakes Good Cakes, Lady Behind The Curtain, Pint Sized Baker, Keeping It Simple Crafts, Gingersnap Crafts, Crumbs and Chaos, Flour Me With Love, Say Not Sweet Anne, Simply Sweet Home, A Glimpse Inside, The Mandatory Mooch, Lamberts Lately, Shaken Together, The Bitter Side of Sweet, Simple Living and Eating, Walking on Sunshine, Ashley’s Dandelion Wishes, Mandy’s Recipe Box and Table for Seven.

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