Oh my, I’m really bad at the posting during the holidays thing. And it’s only going to get worse, since The BF and I leave for Cancun in a week for his “Turning Old” celebration. Anyhoo, this is a really quick post and I’m not entirely certain it was a win but I think many of the mitigating factors about that are not due to my baking skills.
For Christmas I decided to put together a basket of goodies for The BF’s parents. I’m seeing them tonight for the annual New Year’s celebration in Vermont so I baked up a storm on Monday. Sadly, in New York Monday was apparently Hurricane Day so the humidity was through the roof. Note to aspiring candy makers: NEVER try to make candy when the humidity is over 50%. My caramel took forever to turn amber and dry out, my fudge had trouble as well, and chocolate on my toffee never really set. But it’s okay, because for the most part they all still taste really good.
Here’s another note if you’re gift baking for the holidays: it’s probably a good idea to make recipes you already know and love. Testing out new recipes is a bad idea. Especially if you only have one day to make them and they don’t taste as good as you had hoped. (This is in reference to the fudge I made, though I’m still not certain it’s the fudge that tastes bad or the fact that I just really don’t like fudge).
So this is a recipe I pinned on Pinterest (of course!) ages ago and I have been dying to make it and for some reason just never got around to it. I’m glad I did. It is pretty heavenly. Of course I will want to tweak it some more since I feel the caramel to shortbread ratio is a little high. Also, I’m still not sure if my caramel is extra sticky because of the conditions I made it in, or the recipe itself. Guess I’ll just have to make more to find out!
*Just a note: The original recipe calls for this to be made in a 9x13in pan, I chose to use my 10in spring form and regretted it immediately. The shortbread didn’t bake as well as I had hoped and the pieces I cut were staggeringly large for how sweet these are. Smaller, rectangular bars, like the original calls for, are definitely the way to go. I also left out the chocolate topping since I already had another candy with a caramel flavor and chocolate in my gift basket, but that is entirely your decision. I’ve linked to the original if you’d like to add it, since I won’t be listing it here. Also, be wary, the shortbread is super crumbly.
Sea Salt and Caramel Shortbread
Adapted ever so slightly from Annie’s Eats
For the shortbread:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
Preheat oven to 325°F, line a 9x13in baking pan with parchment leaving a slight overhang on the long edges (this is to easily remove the bars later).
In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer cream together the sugar and butter until fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and beat until just combined.
Using your hands, pull the scraggly bits into a mass in the center of the bowl and turn out into your baking dish. Gently pat the dough into a uniform layer in the bottom of your pan making sure to reach all the edges and corners (or else your caramel will ooze into those cracks later).
Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden on top (I found in my 10in round springform pan this wasn’t long enough so I baked mine for about 25min, again this was probably because of the weather and my oven just didn’t have a dry enough heat to bake). Let cool completely on a wire rack.
For the caramel:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp light corn syrup
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
sea salt for sprinkling
Place all ingredients in a heavy bottomed sauce pan (I used my dutch oven) and heat over medium heat until the butter is melted, stirring frequently. Once the butter is melted turn the heat up a bit and let the mixture come to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to a simmer (I kept mine at medium, again because of the weather) and stir constantly until the mixture turns an amber color and starts to smell a bit like burnt sugar. Do not stop stirring or the mixture will burn on the bottom and ruin everything. This took me awhile, probably around 15-20 minutes (again because of the weather) but on a dry day it should take less than 15 minutes if your pan is wide enough and the mixture not too deep.
Once the mixture has caramelized remove from heat immediately and pour over the cooled shortbread. Let the caramel set for about 5-7 minutes then sprinkle sea salt over the top evenly. I only used about 1 1/2 tsp for the whole shortbread, a little goes a long way. Let set overnight.
To cut into bars, gently grasp the overhanging parchment and gently lift the bars from the pan. Cut into small pieces and serve.