salted caramel and chocolate shortbread bites

I’m days away from hosting our twelfth ‘Christmas on Carmarthen’ party. The girls were fourteen the first year that we hosted what has become a neighbourhood tradition. The three of them carefully making their entrance down our long front staircase, to their father’s and my delight, is a precious memory. They were so excited to be ‘dressed up’ and included with our friends to celebrate the season. They welcomed each of our guests and delightedly chatted with everyone all evening. I’m gushing a bit but they were so lovely…

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I’ve begun this year’s preparation. Catering my own party requires militant organization to ensure optimum execution. I have lists taped all over the house! Friday morning, while working on one of the sweets, I had a major cooking breakthrough!. For years, I have avoided any and all desserts that called for homemade caramel. My excuse was always, ‘it burns so easily’. I finally decided my excuse was ridiculous – I own a candy thermometre. The only way it will burn is if I decide to go shopping while it’s cooking!

I researched homemade caramel recipes comparing ingredient lists and techniques and found most of them to be very similar with only slight variations in ingredient amounts. The technique was virtually the same in every recipe I looked at. The similarity convinced me it had to work and it did! The pictures don’t lie…

Salted Caramel and Dark Chocolate Shortbread Bites

Shortbread Base:

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 cup icing sugar

1 egg yolk, whisked

1 2/3 cups flour

Caramel Topping

1/2 cup butter

1 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup  light corn syrup

2 teaspoons sea salt

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Line an 8″ square pan with parchment paper leaving the edges to hang over for easy removal. See photo

Place all of the shortbread ingredients in food processor and process until mixture is well combined. It will look granular.

Place the dough in the prepared pan and press down evenly with your fingertips until the pan is covered.

Refrigerate for 30  minutes.

Preheat oven 350*F

Bake for 28 minutes.

Place pan on a cooling rack while you prepare the caramel.

In a heavy bottom sauce pan, combine all caramel topping ingredients except for the vanilla extract.

Bring to a boil and stir until sugars are dissolved and the mixture is well combined.

Using a candy thermometer, allow your caramel to reach 233*.

Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then pour over the shortbread base.

Refrigerate four hours

Chocolate Topping:

1 cup chocolate chips

1/2 tablespoon shortening

Place ingredients in a microwavable bowl and heat 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each until chocolate is smooth

Spread over caramel layer

Sprinkle with sea salt flakes

THE LOVE: DON’T GO SHOPPING WHILE YOU ARE MAKING THE CARAMEL. Seriously, be sure to use a candy thermometre.

Thanks for reading.