As they say, the fifth time's the charm, and here is the final product:
Gourmet Girlfriend's Honey Caramel Almond Bars
Time 1 hour, 30 minutes; Serves 24
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 300° F. Grease bottom and sides of a 9” X 13” baking pan very well.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, salt, and sugar at medium speed until combined. Beat in the vanilla extract. At low speed, add the flour and cornstarch, mix until just incorporated.
Pat the dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Prick the dough well with a fork. Bake for 20 minutes, until pale-golden brown around the edges. Cool slightly as you prepare the topping.
Caramel Almond Topping:
4 cups sliced almonds (optional: use less)
2 ½ cups light corn syrup
1 cup honey
1 cup honey
4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
½ teaspoon salt
4 cups heavy cream, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla
Place the almonds on a baking sheet and bake at 350° F for 10 minutes until lightly golden.
In a very large sauce pan heat the sugar, honey, corn syrup, 2 cups cream, butter and salt on medium heat, stirring, until it reaches bubbling, cover and cook for 3 minutes. Without stirring, when bubbles subside, wash down the sides with cold water. Let boil until the caramel comes to 240 degrees, soft ball stage. Slowly add the last 2 cups of cream, without breaking the boil. Continue to boil until caramel reaches the medium/firm ball stage 244 degrees. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and almonds. Toss until they are completely coated.
Pour the caramel over the pre-baked pastry base. Cool the bars completely, then cut into 24 triangle bars