Golden Gooey Delight – Salted Caramel Butter Bars

If a picture is worth a thousand words then this one is worth about three thousand. At least.

Salted. Caramel. Butter. Bars.

I’ll give you a sec to let that sink in…

They’re buttery shortbread cookie bars with a gooey layer of caramel and to make it slightly more on point with today’s trend, there’s authentic fleur de sel sprinkled on the caramel. I set a huge pre-wrapped stack (see a couple of them back there? Wrapped in white wax paper and sealed with a Stacey-Cakes sticker!) on my table at the Seaside Farmers Market. In the first hour, I sold half of them. People were buying one, then coming back for 2-4 more! I can’t resist but to share the recipe with you. So here goes.

Salted Caramel Butter Bars

For the Crust:

1 lb salted butter at room temp

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 tbs. vanilla extract

4 cups all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugars. Using mixer on  medium speed, beat together until creamy. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. Sift the flour into the butter mixture and beat on low speed until a smooth, soft dough forms. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Press one-third of the dough evenly into the pan to form a bottom crust. (put remaining dough into fridge to cool while you finish the rest) Bake until firm and the edges are a pale golden brown, approx 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for about 15 minutes. Start on filling while crust is in oven.

For the Filling:

1 bag (14 oz) caramel candies (approx 50 indiv. caramels), unwrapped

1/3 cup milk or cream

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 tbs coarse sea salt (optional)

Place the unwrapped caramels in an microwave safe bowl or on the stove in a saucepan over low heat. Add the cream. Microwave on high for 1 minute, remove from microwave and stir. Microwave on high for 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until smooth. (This took me a lot longer than I expected… next time I’ll probably use the stove-top method.)

Pour the caramel and spread evenly over the cooled crust. If you’re going to salt the caramel, now would be the time. I’m a HUGE fleur de sel fan, and I purchase mine at Williams-Sonoma. It’s about $14 for a jar, but a little goes a long way. You can also use plain sea salt if you wish to cut cost.

Then take the remaining dough from the fridge and crumble it in pieces evenly over the top of the caramel. It seemed like too much dough to me so I didn’t actually use it all. Had about a cup left and the top of my caramel was almost completely covered with dough crumbles.

Return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is bubbly and the crumbled shortbread topping is firm and lightly golden, about 25-30 minutes. Remember – shortbread cookie dough doesn’t get as dark as most things when it’s done. It’s easy to overbake this and your cookie will be slightly dry. (I overbaked mine by a few minutes – I know, I know… BAD BAKER!)

Overall, this was a pretty quick and easy recipe to throw together. I found that the only ingredient I really didn’t have on hand were the caramels, but everything else is pretty kitchen standard. These wrapped up in wax paper really well and I think they’d hold up to be shipped if you’re looking for a good gift to pop in the mail to a loved one!

Enjoy, my friends!

~Stacey

 

 

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