Salted Chocolate-Caramel Bars
- For the Shortbread Base
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons; 4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- For the Caramel Topping
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature (or slightly warmed in a microwave)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces and very soft
- 1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel or a good-size pinch of fine sea salt
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- About 1/2 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Generously butter (or spray) an 8-inch square pan.
- Start the shortbread base by whisking together the flour and cocoa powder and then set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, beat the butter, sugar and salt together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.
- Add the dry ingredients that you set aside to the mixing bowl and beat on low until the dough comes together. This might take a little longer than you expect, so keep at it.
- Pour the dough out into a greased 8-inch square baking dish and, using your fingertips, pat the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan. Press down and make sure to get the dough into the corners.
- Bake the shortbread for 21 to 23 minutes, rotating the pan after 10 minutes, until it is slightly darker around the edges and just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan; it will not feel completely firm if poked gently. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the shortbread to cool completely.
- When the shortbread has cooled, make the caramel topping by putting the sugar, water and corn syrup in a small saucepan and bringing to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow the ingredients to boil, brushing down the sides of the pan with cold water and a pastry brush if there are spatters.
- Swirl the pan a couple of times once you start seeing some color, until the caramel turns a pale to medium amber. (Don’t let it get as dark as mahogany.)
- Lower the heat and stand away from the pan as you add the cream, followed by the butter and salt (these ingredients that might cause the caramel to boil up, hence the need to take a step back and avoid any splatters onto yourself).
- Remove the pan from the heat, drop in the chocolate, and stir to blend.
- Pour the hot caramel over the shortbread and sprinkle with the nuts. Allow to set at room temperature.
- When the caramel is firm, run a table knife around the sides of the pan, carefully unmold the cookie onto a rack and turn it over onto a cutting board. Using a long thin knife, cut into 3 strips and then cut each strip into 7 bars for 21 bars. Or just leave the cookie whole and cut individual bars as needed.
Recipe by Love & Flour at https://www.loveandflour.com/salted-chocolate-caramel-bars/