Saturday, April 04, 2009

Browned Butter Butterscotch Bars...

*A note before we get to today's post. We just found out about an event on May 2nd to support the Animal Humane Society - Jeff and I have signed up for a 5 mile walk that will be taking place and we will be walking as Team Gus in memory of Spike who we lost last year. Any donation small or large would be greatly appreciated - if you would like to support us, please check out our donation site! Gus has also volunteered to walk with us, although he says we need to bring a fun wagon for him to jump into in case he gets too tired! Pampered much?

I saw the bars that I made this morning in one of the latest cooking magazines and while it sounded inviting as is, I had a few ideas in mind to add some oomph to them.

The original recipe only called for five tablespoons of melted butter, but that seemed a little skimpy to me for a large baking pan - so, one of the first changes I made to these Browned Butter Butterscotch Bars was to add two more pats. Rather than just melting it in the microwave, I placed the butter into a pot and left it over medium heat until the butter melted and started to turn a rich golden brown color. Why go that far? This process ripens the flavor and produces such a nutty and provocative background that makes for a more unique experience. There is nothing wrong with just melting the butter to use if you'd rather not bother, but I would encourage you to give it a try and see how you like it!

(Looking for inspiration? Here are some other recipes we've browned butter for - Banana Bars with Browned Butter Pecan Frosting, Browned Butter Oatmeal-Cranberry Bars, Roasted-Garlic Pierogi with Shallot-Browned Butter, Coconut-Blueberry Cheesecake Bars with a Browned Butter Graham Crust or Browned Butter Oat 'N' Toffee Grahams.)

After combining that liquid gold with brown sugar, an egg and a splash of vanilla, the dry ingredients consisting of rolled oats, flour, salt and a pinch of baking soda were added to form a crumbly mass. The changes I made at this point were to use old-fashioned rolled oats, rather than the quick-cooking called for, along with a dash more salt since I was using unsalted butter. I like to use this type of oat as it brings a heartier texture with a bit of chew, but you could go either way and end up satisfied. You could also make your own quick-cooking oats by tossing regular rolled oats into a food processor and blitzing them just a couple times to break the oats down - pulses work best as you don't want to make oat flour!

These bars are assembled by adding scoops of the crumbly oat mixture into a baking pan and pressing it down firmly to create a sturdy base. Sweetened condensed milk (which is not the same as evaporated!), butterscotch chips and a bit of salt (which helps to control the sweetness) are then quickly melted together with the help of a microwave and evenly spread over the base. Notice that you still have a generous amount of the oat mixture left in your bowl? The remaining crumbles are scattered all over the top to hide the butterscotch filling and create a streusel-esque topping. Nothing more than your eyes and nose are needed for doneness - the bars are ready to come out when the top is golden and you can smell the nuttiness of the now-toasted oats.

Because that butterscotch layer is somewhat sticky, but firms up as it cools, you'll want to run a knife around the bars between the edge and the side of the pan. After letting them cool completely, they easily sliced into clean bars - I think those extra two tablespoons of butter we added helped this happen. If you went with the requested five, I could see how it might be on the drier side, which would lead to crumbling as you sliced the slab into bars. Even though there was only a half cup of nuts used, toasting them first made for more vivid notes of nuttiness that broke through the sweetness of the condensed milk and butterscotch. Before telling Jeff what these were, his first words were that the taste reminded him of a sweet toffee while the smell was that unmistakable aroma of butterscotch. The taste isn't exactly a true butterscotch since this uses the flavored chips, but it wasn't that far off. I would say that these bars do rank pretty high on the sweet scale, but using the extra salt, along with the more developed browned butter, did help wrangle it down from being too sweet for us. I did like our change of using the sturdier oats, instead of the quick-cooking, as I thought it gave them a chewier texture as well.



  1. These browned butter butterscotch bars sound FABULOUS. Browned butter is one of life's great reats. It doesn't get used enough!! I can't wait to try this recipe.

  2. Elyse - Isn't it though?! I agree, I'd like to see more recipes call for it.

  3. awesome! these look to die for! yum! I've never tried browned butter before, but now I've got to bake with it!
    btw, how did you get to cut your bars into such perfect shapes? did you freeze them first?

  4. The bars look yummy! Do your dogs come running to the kitchen when you brown butter? The smell of it makes my dog super interested in what I'm doing. Nothing else I do in the kitchen draws his attention as much as browned butter.
    He hasn't ever tasted it so it must be all about that awesome aroma.

  5. I agree about brown butter - it brings a whole additional layer of flavor to baked goods! Love it combined with butterscotch - looks delicious!

  6. You refer to 1/2 cup toasted nuts towards the end but don't mention when/where they come into the recipe? Sounds great though and can't wait to try it!

  7. Katrina - Thanks!

    B&S - Nope, just a sharp knife and a little patience... no freezing here.

    BB - They do!

    Kerstin - The combo was well received!

    Anon - It is there in the recipe, perhaps you missed it?

    "In a microwave-safe bowl, add sweetened condensed milk, butterscotch chips and salt. Place into the microwave and heat until the butterscotch chips melt, stopping to stir every 20 seconds. Stir in walnuts."

  8. These sound fabulous, as do all of the other browned butter recipes you mention!!

  9. Wow, I must make these! But only for a crowd, otherwise I'd surely end up eating them all. They look too good to resist.

  10. Lori - Have you done much with browned butter?

    Jennifer - I know what you mean! They do freeze well though :-)

  11. Totally bookmarking these!
    I bet some PB instead of the butterscotch would be divine as well!