Salted Caramel Shortbread

I’ve been on something of an extended “vacation” post-Guatemala. Seriously. Guatemala spoiled me – just a little bit. I’ve been m.i.a. from the kitchen and temporarily preoccupied with other interests and endeavors (like this). I can’t help it! I have a tendency of becoming completely and irrevocably consumed in spurts by the things I love.
But that isn’t to say I’ve forgotten about you, loyal and lovely readers, whoever you are. This is still my first baby, after all.

Over the course of my self-taught expedition within the realms of my kitchen, I’ve come to find that there are recipes and then, there are recipes. The former, we love and bookmark or save to use again another day in the indeterminate future. The latter, we love, post up on our fridge as a daily reminder, and get badgered by our friends for. Because, dear readers, those kinds of recipes are just that good. And, yes, you’ve guessed correctly. This is one such recipe. If you love caramel, you are in for a real treat. This is one of those true-to-saying, “taste of heaven,” kind of desserts that are over-the-top decadent but so appropriately-portioned that it feels like a fleeting memory of one of your most amazing life experiences. Just a month ago or so, I went skydiving for the very first time and for any of you that have ever partook in such an exhilarating enterprise, I’m sure you know that the mind-numbing fear and subsequent ecstasy are so very short-lived. After free-falling for a minute or so and then floating back to reality, you realize that you’re left with an adrenaline buzz (or hangover, in my case) that somehow manages to get you hooked for more. Don’t know what I mean? Make this. I swear, this salted caramel shortbread has a remarkably similar effect.
Salted Caramel Shortbread
Adapted barely from Erica’s Sweet Tooth
Makes 36 servings/cute little bite-sized squares

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of good quality flaky sea salt, or fleur de sel, in this recipe. It makes a world of difference and adds so much dimension to an otherwise simply good dessert. It’s an indispensable classic ingredient for French confectionaries that elevates them, caramel in particular, to whole new heights.

Ingredients:

For the shortbread layer:
10 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg yolk
1-2/3 cups flour
For the caramel:
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tsp sea salt, plus more for sprinkling on top
4 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp heavy cream
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preparation:
Line an 8×8″ pan with parchment paper, leaving some hanging over the sides to make removal easier.
In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar, and salt with a pastry cutter or fork.  Add the egg yolk and continue mixing. Add the flour and use your hands to combine the dough until coarse crumbs form.  Transfer the dough into the prepared pan and press it down into one even layer.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 25 minutes, until slightly golden brown.  Set aside to cool.
For the caramel, combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, salt, sugar, and heavy cream.  Bring to a boil and stir for about 5-10 minutes until caramel reaches the “soft ball stage” at around 230 degrees. Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla and pour caramel over the shortbread.
Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, then sprinkle with sea salt and cut into squares.  Store caramels in the fridge until you’re ready to eat them.
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6 Thoughts on “Salted Caramel Shortbread

  1. Looks simply amazing!

  2. These look amazing. Great post. thanks for sharing.

  3. This looks exactly like the treats one of my friends would buy everyday from the grocery store. I need to show this to him, he’d be so excited to know that it can be made at home!

  4. gorgeous job! now i need to find some good quality sea salt so i can make this asap!
    xo
    http://allykayler.blogspot.ca/

  5. Haein on July 5, 2012 at 2:40 pm said:

    Thank you all! I really hope that this recipe serves you as well as it did for me! It was such a huge crowd-pleaser and it definitely struck some notes in my memory too, ATasteOfMadness! I hope your friend is just as excited as I was!

    Ally, don’t forget to get the flaky kind! It makes a difference too as the miniature flakes melt into your tongue and oh-so-wonderfully enhance the flavor and creamy richness of the caramel!

  6. Looks delicious! I tried last night and it was a fail – my caramel turned out hard, like butterscotch hardcandy. Any idea as to what went wrong?

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