Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread Bars

aka, Heaven in a cookie.  Seriously.  Make them and eat them now.  OMG.

But really, I blame my electric stove for the troubles I was having with caramel this year.  I have NEVER  had an issue before and this time it took FOUR TRIES to get it right.  Ugh!  It kept recrystalizing.  What?  Seriously.  Sugar that melts and then re-becomes sugar.  Come on!  Just be caramel!!  Three times I went through this, different pots, different temps, different stirring utensils… nothing worked.  I even sent out an SOS to Maureen to see if I could come use her gas stove to see if that would make a difference.  Then, AHHHHHHHHH light at the end of the tunnelllllllll – Fred googled it and found that by adding a few drops of lemon juice before it recrystalizes helps to stabilize the caramel and OMG FINALLY!  After all that, delicious amber-colored caramel!  YES!

I got these from a Martha Stewart magazine two Christmases ago and now I HAVE to make them each year.  It’s a requirement.  Follow the instructions.  :)

Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread Bars

For the crust:
9 Tablespoons unsalted butter softened plus more for the parchment paper
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Then make the crust.  Line a 9″ square baking pan with parchment paper leaving an overhang on all sides.  Do this.  Trust me.  Your pan will thank you.  And you will be much less frustrated.  Remember the extra butter you had?  Butter the parchment paper but not the excess paper that’s hanging over.  Then beat the 9Tbls. butter and the sugar together on medium speed until pale and fluffy – about three minutes.  Add flour and salt until combined and then press in an even layer in your buttered parchment-lined pan.  Bake until golden 27-30 minutes and set aside.

In the meantime…

For the Choco-Caramel:
10 1/2 oz milk chocolate.  I use Ghirardelli choco chips because they are delicious.1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon salt.  I use just regular table salt because it dissolves better than the super course sea salt.

Place the chocolate in a medium-large heat-safe bowl.  Then make the caramel.  Make sure you choose a saucepan that is large enough to hold expanding caramel.  You don’t want this boiling over onto your stove.  Heat sugar and water over medium-high heat until amber.  This is where I ran into trouble this time.  If you are having an issue, you can use a tiny bit of cream of tarter or a couple drops of lemon juice to stabilize the caramel just after the sugar melts.   Once amber, remove from heat and stir in the butter, cream and salt VERY CAREFULLY!  The caramel will bubble up and can splatter.  Then put it back on the heat and bring to a boil stirring until smooth.  Then remove from heat and pour over the chocolate.  Let stand for a few minutes and then stir together to combine.  I know you will be tempted to sample at this point in time and that is fine but do it CAREFULLY  remember the caramel is LAVA!  Then pour the mixture over the crust and put in the fridge to set for a few hours.  I always let it set overnight.  Then sprinkle with course sea salt and chop chop!  These are really rich so I usually cut them about 1″ x 3″.  Then enjoy!

Sorry this picture is so lame.  It was literally the last one left!



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