Monday, December 13, 2010

Caramel Chocolate Shortbread

You want one don't you? Be careful. Once you've had one, it's very, very difficult to stop. This is one of my very favorite cookies. The chocolate, the caramel, the perfectly textured shortbread. Sigh. So lovely. It's perfect for gift giving and for cookie exchanges. It's also super simple to make.

The caramel is made from scratch, but don't let that worry you. It never sugars on me. I don't even have to take the precautions I normally take with candy. (Like sweating the pan, using clean spoons, not scraping out the pan, etc. ) It's simple and can be made while the shortbread bakes.

To start, dump 2 cups of flour, 1/2 c + 2 T brown sugar, and 1/2 c cold salted butter into the bowl of your food processor. It works best to cut the butter up into pieces first. Pulse until the butter is fully worked into the flour, about 12 pulses.
(If you don't have a food processor, you can do this by hand with a pastry blender. You might want to start with room temperature butter in that case.)

Dump the shortbread out into your oldest, ugliest 9x13 pan. Do not bake these in your brand new Williams-Sonoma Gold pan. These cookies are hard to cut and require a sharp knife. A sharp knife that will leave lovely cut marks in the pan. Please use a pan you won't feel bad about ruining when you bake these. Or you can line the pan with a foil sling. Whatever works for you.
So you've dumped it out and now you press it down firmly. Pack the shortbread down well with either your hands or the bottom of a measuring cup.
Now put it in the oven to bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, you get to make the caramel layer. In a 3 qt pot, stir together 3/4 c salted butter, 1/2 c brown sugar, 3 T light corn syrup, and one can of sweetened condensed milk. Cook over medium heat until all the butter is melted and the candy is smooth.
Like this. Now turn the heat down just a notch.
This stuff scorches easily, so stir continuously making sure to cover the whole pan with your stirring pattern. If it scorches lightly, don't freak out. Just stir it in and turn your heat down a bit. Cook until the candy comes to a full rolling boil. Like this:
Boil for 6-8 minutes. This is a loose number because it doesn't matter that much. You want it to reach near soft ball, but the exact temp is not a big deal. If it's a little softer or a little harder it's ok. You just want it soft enough it's easy to eat and hard enough it doesn't drip on your fingers. There's a lot of leeway there.

The shortbread layer should just be finishing up around the time your caramel is getting done. When it's baked, it should be lightly golden brown.
(Yes, I know that's an ugly pan. My children do the dishes and there are some things that are worth comprimising on for the sake of not having to do the dishes myself. )

Pour the hot caramel onto the hot shortbread. Feel free to scrap every last drop of caramel out of the pan. It's lovely stuff. Don't let it go to waste.
Let it cool for 5-10 minutes and then put it in the fridge to finish cooling. I always protect my glass fridge rack with a hot pad under the pan. It works fine.

When the caramel is firm, melt 1 1/4 c chocolate chips and spread that over the caramel.
Use milk chocolate or dark chocolate your choice.
Isn't that lovely? When the chocolate is spread evenly, put it all back in the fridge for another hour or so to firm the chocolate. You can cut into squares as soon as the chocolate is hard, but it will be easier to cut if you let the pan come to room temperature before you cut them. I don't do that because I've already waited three hours for these cookies and I'm not patient enough to wait any more. You can wait. You're much better than I am at waiting for cookies, I'm sure.

There. The best cookies on the planet. You're welcome. Now go forth and wow the other bakers at your cookie exchange.

Caramel Chocolate Shortbread
1/2 c salted butter
2 c flour
1/2 c brown sugar

3/4 c salted butter
1/2 c brown sugar
3 T light corn syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 1/4 c chocolate chips

Pulse first three ingredients in a food processor until the butter is fully worked into the flour. Dump out into a 9x13 pan and press firmly and evenly into the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until light golden brown. Meanwhile, mix the next four ingredients in a 3 qt sauce pan. Stir over medium heat until the butter is melted and the candy is smooth. Turn the heat down a notch or so and continuously stir until the candy comes to a full rolling boil. Boil while stirring for 6-8 minutes, until the caramel is very thick. Pour out onto the baked shortbread layer. Let cool for 5-10 minutes and then cool in the refrigerator until the caramel is firm. Melt the chocolate chips and spread over the caramel layer. Refrigerate again until the chocolate is firm. Let rest at room temperature for another hour before cutting. Cut into 48 squares. Serve. Try not to eat all of them yourself.

8 comments:

  1. Yummy, I'll have to try it soon.:)

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  2. There aren't any eggs in these cookies. If we could only find chocolate chips that aren't "manufactured in a plant that also processes nuts" we'd definately try these out.

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  3. Thom I would look around online if you haven't already. There are companies that do cater to those with food allergies out there. I've heard of one or two in my time that do cookies and such. I'm sure there's chocolate companies as well.

    Of course, these can also be made without the chocolate if necessary. ;)

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  4. I actually started salivating when I saw those. Insanely great

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  5. I'm going to try this! I've always wanted to learn how to make caramel.

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  6. I'm making these now, but it seems like too much flour and not enough butter? Plus on top you say 1/2 cup + 2T brown sugar, but on the bottom, just 1/2 cup? I guess I'll throw in the 2T too. Maybe add more butter? it seems that its just too floury?
    Looks awesome though can't wait to try them

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  7. These seem too floury at first. It doesn't hold together quite the same as most dough. Press it into the pan and bake it. I promise it works great.

    The weird brown sugar measurement is because the recipe was originally done in European measurements and then translated to English with measurements like "Generous." I just figured out exactly what "generous" means to me.

    Hope they came out well for you!

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    1. I guess I should say, the recipe started with one from a recipe book that I adjusted to my taste. Some of the measurements ended up non standard between my tweaking and the original "generous" measurements from the recipe book.

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