Salted Caramel & Chocolate Shortbread Bars

I love salted caramel.  I love chocolate.  And I love shortbread (though I came to that one a little later in life – I’m not sure it’s the kind of thing a 12-year-old grooves on).

Anyway, why not combine three great tastes?  They sure as heck go together really well – try these out and see if you don’t agree.

Bonus – they’re really easy to make, too.

Ingredients

·        2 cups butter, softened to room temperature

·        1 ½ cup powdered sugar

·        1 cup sugar

·        1 ½ t salt, divided

·        2 T + 1 t vanilla

·        4 cups flour

·        14 oz. caramels (mine came in 11 oz. – I just added some additional from a second package)

·        1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

·        1 12-oz. bag, semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

For this one, we start with a little prep.

First off, line a 9 x 13 pan with aluminum foil and set that aside.  Easy.

We’ll start with the hardest part of the recipe.  Unwrap every single one of those damn caramels.  Man, that’s a pain.  Not difficult but not, you know, fun.  Once you’re done with them, set them aside as well.IMG_1995

Put the butter, powdered sugar, regular sugar, ½ t salt and vanilla into a bowl and beat with your hand mixer until everything is well combined.

IMG_1989Then, add in the flour, one cup at a time, mixing after adding each cup.  The dough will be a little drier than, say, cookie dough – just a head’s up.IMG_1992

Take about 2/3 of your dough and line the bottom of the 9 x 13 pan, pressing down with your fingers to make it as even as you can.

IMG_1994Bake at 325 for about 23 minutes, until it starts to get just a little golden.  This is your shortbread base.  Once it gets there, take it out of the oven and set it on a wire rack.  Don’t turn the oven off though!  This is going back in shortly.IMG_1998

While the pan is cooling, put the caramels and heavy cream into a small saucepan and melt them together over a low heat, stirring pretty regularly.  Once the caramels are melted and everything is mixed together well, pour the mixture over the shortbread base.IMG_1997IMG_1999IMG_2003

Take the remaining 1 t salt and sprinkle that evenly over the melted caramel.  Then sprinkle the chips evenly over that as well.IMG_2004

Take the remaining shortbread dough and spread it over the chips.  Since it’s so dry, you won’t be able to pour it – what you’ll need to do is spoon it over as evenly as you can.  You can push down a little to spread it out a bit but you don’t want the caramel coming over the dough, so you won’t be able to push too hard.

Put this back in the oven for about 30 minutes or so, until the whole topping is a nice golden brown.

Put it back on the wire rack to cool completely, slice and serve.  I promise – it’ll be a hit AND it tastes like you put a ton of work into it!

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