Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Salted Caramel Shortbread Bars

I cannot believe I am finishing the last class of my college career. It seems like I was just graduating high school. It is a very bittersweet feeling. I am very excited about the future, don't get me wrong.  I am also sad to be ending another chapter in my life. It is also hard to leave my school, when I see its rapid and constant expansion. I must say, the senioritis is definitely starting to kick in. I am very glad that I do not have to take a final in my last class. It would be very difficult for me, at this point.

I decided I wanted to reward myself for all of my hard work. I love Twix bars, so when I found this recipe, I knew I just had to make them. They are very rich and indulgent, which is perfect for a little graduation treat. They have a shortbread crust, which can turn out very crumbly (if your ingredients are not measured correctly). They are then, layered with silky smooth caramel and rich milk chocolate. I decided to top the bars with a touch of sea salt. I am currently obsessed with sweet/salty foods. I love the depth the sea salt adds to the bars. It really brings out their caramelized flavor. I hope you give these bars a try, when you too would like to reward yourself. They are so decadent, and better than any store-bought Twix bar.

Recipe adapted from: King Arthur Flour
You will need:

Shortbread layer:
1 cup of salted butter (two sticks)
1 cup of confectioners sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups of all-purpose flour

Caramel layer:
20 oz. (2 cups) of caramel cubed (I used King Arthur Flour's block caramel)
3-31/2 tbsp. heavy cream

Chocolate layer:
18 oz of chocolate chips (milk or bittersweet: depending on preference)
1tbsp. vegetable shortening
Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees, and spray a 9x13in pan/baking dish with non stick cooking spray.
Beat together: butter, sugar and vanilla
Measure flour by scooping with a scooper, to prevent from using too much flour.
Sift flour, and add to sugar mixture
press shortbread dough into the bottom of the baking dish. Prick the dough allover
with a fork, to prevent air bubbles and uneven baking.

Bake for 35-40 min until crust is golden brown. Allow crust to cool completely
before adding caramel layer.
Chop up caramel into cubes. (You can also use the store-bought caramels)
melt caramel and cream slowly, on a double boiler. 
Once caramel is smooth, remove from heat and pour over cooled crust. Place in refrigerator
 for 30 minutes or until set.
place chocolate chips in a microwaveable dish. Microwave chocolate in 30 second intervals,
stirring between each interval. You can also melt the chocolate in a double boiler. 
Pour melted chocolate over caramel layer, and spread to cover bars. (optional: sprinkle sea salt over chocolate)
Place bars back into the refrigerator to allow the chocolate to set. Allow bars to come to room temperature before cutting them.