Caramel Topped Shortbread Bites

For those of you still unaware of my new project – Official Food Holidays – today is National Shortbread Day. I did a nice roundup of some delicious links for you, so please check them out!

You may notice that one of the recipes I linked to looks quite similar to the pictures in THIS post…and you would be right! I was so inspired by Gaby’s Caramel Topped Shortbread that I decided to make my own version of it. Am I ever glad I did!

I made a big batch of these and took them to a few Holiday events, where they were gobbled up quickly – they are amazing! The buttery cookie for the base is slightly soft, and the perfect accompaniment to the sweet caramel, and both just sing once the sea salt is sprinkled on top. It’s harmony in the form of dessert!

While this recipe may look complicated and time consuming, I assure you, it isn’t. The worst part is waiting for it all to cool so that you can cut it up and eat it!

Caramel Topped Shortbread Bites

makes about 64 one inch square bites

Shortbread Layer:

  • 10 tbsp. salted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Zest of half an orange
  • 1 egg yolk, whisked
  • 1 2/3 cups All Purpose flour

Caramel Topping:

  • 14 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. orange extract
  • Sea salt flakes, to top


Prepare an 8×8 inch pan with parchment paper with the edges of the parchment hanging over two of the sides. This allows you to remove the bars easily once cooled.

Combine the melted butter, sugar, salt and zest with a fork in a large bowl. Add the yolk and again combine with the fork. Add the flour and stir with a heavy spoon or your hands and combine the dough until it is well combined. Place the dough in the prepared pan and press down evenly with your hands until the pan is covered. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour. Remove and bake at 350 for 25-28 minutes, until very lightly browned. Allow to cool while you are preparing the caramel.

In a heavy bottomed pot, such as enameled cast iron, combine all caramel topping ingredients save for the extracts. Bring to a boil and stir until sugars are dissolved and the mixture is well combined. Using a candy thermometer, watch for the goal of about 230 degrees. Remove from heat and stir in the extracts. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes, then pour over the shortbread base. Sprinkle with sea salt, then refrigerate for several hours. Once chilled, cut into small squares, serve and enjoy!

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