I purposefully went looking for an over-the-top dessert recipe to post this week and sis blogging partner had linked this one to me through Pinterest a couple of weeks ago. It looks deceptively simple in appearance but the taste is out of this world mmmmazing. And if four sticks of butter doesn’t take that taste and send it completely into the Over-the-Top Galaxy, I don’t know what will.
Yes. Four. Sticks. Of butter. If you haven’t already had an aneurism or other such shock-induced shockery, proceed!
Hello, if you’ve proceeded with today’s demo you are probably curious how four sticks of butter combined with sugar, flour and caramel tastes. We’re here to tell you that even one bite is beyond amazing. You’ll be happy you proceeded!
Can you believe at this point there’s also flour in that bowl being hand mixer mixed? It just looks like butter! Hahahaha!
What our demonstration narrator is trying to say is you are doing such a fantastic job mixing! Why, we’ve never seen flour look so much like whipped butter in our lives!
Time to smoosh it all into the pan, fellow butter lovers! Wetting your hands a little as needed helps this sticky mixture smoosh mo bettah. Don’t worry if it looks like a sandbox all the neighborhood cats have been in, it’ll smooth out a lot while baking.
Now these things should come with a warning, as in LOOK OUT, all your caramels have disappeared into your family’s mouths! *alarmalarmalarm*
For real, one or two going for discriminating kiddo taste bud testing is OK, but you’ll need the majority of these for, you know, your frickin’ recipe.
Create a river of caramel, which is luckily routed here into this, conveniently, shortbread-lined pan.
Sprinkle the now flood plain of caramel with a little sea salt. This is going to make the old taste buds go a little mental when they get the combo caramel and salt, producing what is surely to be a wowgasm.
Time to top your caramel goodness! Hopefully you placed your leftover shortbread dough in the fridge (or you may want to place it in the freezer as we chose to) because you’re going to crumble it all over the top to create that top layer of butter – dammit it all, we mean shortbread!
OK, we mean butter. Truth.
Keeping that shortbread dough in the fridge or freezer (we put ours in the freezer for 10 minutes after it felt like the fridge had not chilled it enough) helps it keep a crumbled, almost streusel-like look and texture once baked.
These little guys know how fantastically kick ass they are. The shortbread is, due the butter of course, incredibly tender and its mild flavor compliments the salty sweet wonder that is the filling perfectly. These taste so much more incredible the next day too. As a matter of fact, they tasted even better than that three days later. How any of these made it to three days I’m not sure (OK, it was the threat of too much butter in too short a time, but meh.).
The salt against the caramel is divine and I can’t believe I’ve waited this long to try a salted caramel dessert. Hello, All New Dessert World! Can’t wait to see what other wowgasms you have in store.
Salted Caramel Butter Bars
For the shortbread:
1 lb. salted butter room temp (4 sticks)
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla
4 cups all-purpose flour
For the filling:
1 bag (14 oz.) caramel candies, unwrapped
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
Preheat oven to 325°.
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 9×13 inch baking pan lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Press one-third of the dough evenly into the pan to form a bottom crust. Wrap remaining dough in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator. Bake crust until firm and the edges are a pale golden brown approx 20 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool about 15 minutes.
While the bottom crust is baking and the remaining dough is chilling, make the caramel filling. Place the unwrapped caramels in a microwave-safe bowl. Add the cream. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove from the microwave and stir until smooth. If caramels are not completely melted, microwave on high for 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until smooth. Once the caramel is melted add in your 1/2 tsp vanilla and stir until combined.
Pour the caramel filling over the crust. If you are going to salt the caramel sprinkle it on caramel layer now. Remove the remaining chilled dough from the refrigerator and crumble it evenly over the caramel. 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. Let cool before cutting into squares.