Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread Bars

Millionaire's Shortbread

I should be working right now…I have so many things to finish it isn’t even funny, but it has been a long day.  A day that started at 5:30 this morning, and after working 12 hours and almost a 2 hour commute home, I am pretty much done.  I have been on edge for a while now, and there could be many reasons to explain it, but I think I finally figured it out.  Today’s rain was definitely a sign.

When I was delivering my first baby, there was a joy that I can’t explain that came over me when the doctor told me I had a girl.  It was not that I didn’t want a boy, but for some reason I was less afraid of having a girl.  My husband was convinced that our second child was a boy, but deep down inside, I knew it was another girl.  That same joy consumed me when I heard those same words after she came out of me.  Even though my sister and I are not close, I was thrilled to have two girls – sisters – even with all the drama that comes with it.

I have always cherished the fact that I have two girls.  They love to cook and bake with me, they love to go shopping, get their nails done – and don’t get me wrong – they can fish, play softball and other fun stuff with their Dad (and boy do they love their Dad), but we have a special bond as well.  I am the Mommy, they tell me things first – and they hold nothing back.  I am sure there will be a time when that will change, but let’s hope not, and until then – I will savor every minute.

Unfortunately my story is not the way it always is for mothers and daughters.  You hear about the struggles that mothers and daughters have – sometimes you even get a glimpse of the pain.  It is not fun to watch.  I want to be involved in every happy moment that my children have – and I am pretty optimistic that I will be able to do so.  I am a very lucky Mommy.

It is only fitting that I post these delectable goodies – this was a team effort – I made the crust, and my daughter and mother made the caramel and topping.  My daughter wanted to make it all by herself, but I asked my mother to supervise – and it didn’t take long though before they both had their sleeves rolled up and were knee-deep in the caramel making.  It was really fun to watch.  These were hands down ridiculously delicious.  Crisp on the bottom, chewy in the middle, and rich on top.  Thanks Tracey’s Culinary Adventures adapted from Annie’s Eats (originally from Baked and The Golden Book of Baking) – for a great afternoon, and a perfect finished product – with my mother and my daughter.

Ingredients

Shortbread

  • 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

Caramel

  • 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

Chocolate

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

Preparation

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 (I stuck mine in the fridge overnight, but you just want to chill enough that it won’t melt when you add the warm chocolate in the next step).

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 (if using).  Let the chocolate set completely before slicing and serving.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread Bars