We went to my in-laws’ house for dinner yesterday–the kids and I did, anyway, since my hubby worked sick all week AND got up to practice for the church children’s program (he’s their pianist) after hacking all night Saturday night; we left him sleeping–and I decided to make these Coconut Caramel Cookie Bars, because hey, they looked tasty. And I had all of the ingredients. So after getting home from church, I got the kids eating and started in with making the caramel sauce, diligently following all of the directions.
Yeah. I ended up with a thick layer of rock candy on top with a very, very shallow layer of amber-colored viscous liquid at the bottom (I didn’t even bother adding the cream). So I called my friend Andrea, who bakes a lot AND did well in Chemistry (my worst subject ever), and she explained why it happened. So I tried again. (With my almost-8-year-old at my elbow offering versions of “Maybe you did _____!” and “Maybe you should _______!” every other minute. Oh. My. Goodness.) This time I tossed the crystally ooze before even adding the butter and faced the fact that while that recipe MIGHT be possible at sea level (although it would probably still be a royal pain to make), it wasn’t ever going to happen in the Salt Lake Valley.
The thing is, I really wanted the bars. So I did what I should have done after the first batch failed. Remember Mel’s amazing Caramel Pear Crisp? From a week or so ago? I halved the recipe for her caramel sauce, which came out to exactly the amount needed for the bars I was making. (Seriously. It was a beautiful thing.) Everything else went smoothly, and my, they smelled amazing in the oven. (They tasted pretty darn good, too. I did think they were a bit sweet yesterday, but I think that was more the contrast of the individual oreo cheesecakes one of my sisters-in-law brought. Those turned out to be exactly what I wanted at the time, which made the bars too sweet by comparison. Today, however, those same bars hit the spot very nicely.)
The moral of the story? Sometimes trying again isn’t worth it. (It just wastes another cup and a half of sugar.) Sometimes it’s just plain better to do a little creative problem solving. The trick, of course, is distinguishing between those times and the other times…