This recipe for Salted Shortbread Caramel Bars from Readers’ Best Recipes is very, very rich, with lots of butter and cream. It is scrumptious, but a sliver is plenty for most people.
We (my grandma and I) were making caramels and I messed up the recipe, so we ended up with caramel sauce instead. My grandma said, No worries, I have the perfect thing for that - and showed me how to make shortbread dough. I think she must have made it many times before because she whipped it together like it was a batch of biscuits. (You would have to know my grandma and her story, but because she had 12 children, she knew how to cook.) That’s how I learned to make caramel shortbread bars. Thank you, Grandma. - Amy Neiter, Mauckport, Indiana
For shortbread: In a bowl, whip butter. Add sugars and mix well. Add vanilla and mix until incorporated. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, and mix until a soft ball forms. Put half of dough in refrigerator, covered. Press remaining dough into bottom and halfway up sides of prepared baking dish. Prick dough with fork. Make 20-25 minutes or until edges are just slightly golden. Reduce oven to 325oF.
For caramel: Place sugar in a saucepan over low heat and stir every few minutes, until melted and caramel color. Add butter and stir gently with wooden spoon until melted. Increase heat to just under medium and cook, stirring, until butter is just incorporated. Add cream slowly and turn off heat. Stir until fully blended. Add sea salt. Stir. Set aside for 10 minutes. Reserve ½ cup caramel sauce.
To assemble: Pour remainder of caramel onto baked shortbread. Sprinkled lightly with salt. Remove dough from refrigerator and crumble over salt and caramel. Drizzle reserved caramel sauce on top and sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until slightly golden. Remove from oven and cool before serving.
Makes 3 dozen bars.