Dark Chocolate and Salted Caramel Topped Shortbread. It looks daunting, doesn’t it? It’s not, not really. Trust me, it’s worth it.
There are few things more rewarding than being able to successfully prepare a chewy, buttery caramel. It’s a scary process for many, but, well, I don’t get scared too easily.
Let’s determine why NOT to be scared.
Butter. Sugar. A little Cream. What have you got wrapped up in it? 15 minutes and $2?
I have $2. I also have 15 minutes.
If it fails, it fails. I’ve spent $2 on less inspiring ventures. I bet you have, too.
So now let’s go over why you SHOULD make caramel yourself.
Because it’s freaking fantastic. That’s really all you need to know. This caramel recipe is soft. Softer than a store bought square sold in bags, but will still hold it’s shape for the most part. it’ll slump a bit at room temperature if left out for several hours, but that’s no big deal. You can opt to pour it into a parchment lined pan and chill it for a few hours, then cut it into individual candies, wrapping each in a little square of parchment. That would be yummy. You can also opt to omit the dark chocolate topping. Or, you can dunk the caramel in chocolate and omit the shortbread. Heck, you can sit with a spoon over the still warm pot and scald your face on it and be happy.
It’s THAT good.
I chose to pour mine onto a shortbread base and top it with a nice dark chocolate. it’s been a huge hit around here, and why not? Sweet and sultry, a little salty and a lot luxurious. I’m sure you’ll feel the same if you can manage to get all of the caramel out of the pot and into the pan. Hey, if I can do it, you can do it.
Never mind that burn you see on my chin.
Dark Chocolate and Salted Caramel Topped Shortbread
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Yield: 64 – inch bites
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
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
1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste
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 extract and bean paste. 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. Allow to boil at this temp for several minutes, until it begins to climb over 235. Stir continuously. Remove from heat and stir in the extract and paste.
- Allow to cool for a couple of minutes, then pour over the shortbread base. Once chilled, top with melted chocolate and sprinkle with sea salt.
For chocolate topping, melt 1 cup dark chocolate chips and 1/2 tablespoon shortening in the microwave. Heat at 30 second intervals, stirring after each. When smooth, use as directed.