The first thing I discovered was that unwrapping an entire bag's worth of caramel squares was time consuming and caused my large, aging hands to cramp. Still, not to be deterred, I carried on. The dough was stiffer than I'm used to, making it challenging to stir in the chocolate chips; I resorted to kneading them in with my hands. The stiff batter, though, was well suited to pressing into the bottom of the baking pan and stood up well to the warm caramel poured atop it. Spreading the second layer of batter was harder, though dropping it in small blobs and smooshing those down individually helped.
Unlike regular cookies, which you can eat as soon as they're cool enough to avoid burning your palate, these bars have to be cooled in a refrigerator to help the caramel set. They're worth the wait, though. As you bite into a bar, you get the buttery, caramelized crumb of the chocolate chip cookie, followed by the rich caramel, which takes on an almost taffy-like consistency. The salt provides an extra burst of brightness.
Overall, these were a success, but with some qualifications. They are not your typical quick and easy bars. Unwrapping the caramels, fighting with the stiff batter, and cleaning caramel off everything make them a bit of a chore. And, while they were delicious, I thought they were a bit tough in consistency. I might try these again sometime with a different cookie recipe (maybe the fabulous Cook's Illustrated recipe) and/or using a homemade caramel sauce.
Have you tried making this recipe or a variation on it? Let me know in the comments!