Creative &Personal &Recipes | 18 Jun 2013

Saturday Project: Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread Bars

I don’t like baking. I don’t find it relaxing, creative or inspiring. I don’t enjoy standing over a hot stove stirring a pot of caramel for 10 minutes in the heat of Texas summer.  The only reason I bake is the final product. I love to eat baked goods and share them with others.

This recipe is pretty easy and straightforward. It’s not complicated, just time-consuming, but you are making 3 different layers. It doesn’t require any fancy equipment or complicated technique. You will have to stand over a hot stove for 10 minutes stirring the caramel. So be warned!

I followed the recipe exactly with just one change. The original recipe says fleur de sel for sprinkling is optional. I would make it a requirement. Even if you don’t have fancy fleur de sel, sprinkle some regular salt on top. And be generous with it! Unless you want it’s-so-sweet-I-can’t-possibly-have-a-second-bite bars.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread Bars
As seen on Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk

8 oz. chocolate, finely, chopped
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
Fleur de sel for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

To make the shortbread layer: Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until well combined, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients and beat just until combined. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and press into an even layer over the bottom (it’ll be a fairly thin layer). Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool completely.

To make the caramel layer: Combine the butter, sugar, corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk in a medium saucepan. Set the pan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the butter is melted. Increase the heat to medium-high, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and turns a light caramel color. This may take 10 minutes or more, so be patient. Pour the caramel mixture over the cooled shortbread and spread in an even layer. Allow to cool completely, then chill briefly

To make the chocolate layer: Add the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter to a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until everything is melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Pour the chocolate over the chilled caramel and spread into an even layer with an offset spatula. Let cool for a few minutes, then sprinkle the top with the fleur de sel. Let the chocolate set completely before slicing and serving.

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