Saturday, August 24, 2013

Salted Caramel Shortbread Bars

If I have a "signature" baked good, it's these fabulous salted caramel shortbread bars.
These are insanely, unbelievably delicious. They're tied with no-bake chocolate-peanut butter cookies as my all-time favorite homemade dessert.
I've made them for baby showers, dinner parties, birthdays, bachelorettes, advisory parties at school, and I've left plates of them in my schools' staff rooms at both Stapleton and GVR at key "stress" times of year (October and February). I believe salted caramel's combination of salt, sugar, and fat stimulates all the brain's pleasure centers at once, and can immediately save a frustrating day. These are like vicodon for work-related despair.
I have a long history of manipulating others with homemade snacks. My second day at my new job in Colorado, I brought my mom's recipe for apricot scones, enough for the whole staff--and from then on, everyone liked me. I realized that, through food, I could easily trick people into being my friend without adjusting my personality!
My school added our 11th grade this year, necessitating the takeover of classrooms in another building on our campus. This building is run by Denver Public Schools, not DSST, and we are only allowed to use those classrooms because the DPS people are being nice to us. So, as thanks and to suck up, I baked a big batch of these to leave in their office. I need to stay on their good side, and Salted Caramel Shortbread Bars have historically been effective to this end.
I also handed some out to new teachers to calm nerves. School starts Monday. I should maybe bake another batch this weekend...
 I originally found this recipe in Good Housekeeping, but I can't find it anywhere online. Luckily, some blogs have the exact same one. 
Salted Caramel Shortbread Bars
Makes 1 8×8″ pan, adapted from Joanne Eats Well With Others
For the shortbread
  • 10 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 2/3 cup flour
For the caramel
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  1. Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang.
  2. To make the shortbread, combine the butter, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment mixing to combine. Add the egg yolk and continue mixing. Add in the flour and mix together just until the dough starts to come together.  Combine with your hands into a ball and pat into the parchment-lined baking sheet into one even layer. Use a fork to poke small holes in the surface.
  3. Refrigerate for 30 minutes (at least). Preheat oven to 350 and bake for 25 minutes, or until firm and golden brown. Set aside to cool.
  4. To make the caramel, combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, sea salt, sugar and heavy cream in a heavy-bottomed pan. Bring to a boil and stir constantly until the mixture reaches soft ball stage, about 10-15 minutes. 
  5. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and pour into the prepared pan over the crust.
  6. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight. Sprinkle with sea salt and cut into squares. Store in the fridge until ready to eat.

 I made a double batch. 

Shortbread before baking. 
Be still my heart!


1 comment:

  1. YUM. I want those with a Mimosa in one hand and a chihuahua in my lap to lick my fingers.