These Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Bars taste just like a classic candy bar, but are homemade and so much more delicious! Three separate layers of delicious sweetness separates these shortbread bars from other shortbread recipes. Chocolate, caramel and a dense cookie-like shortbread crust creates the perfect combination for a satisfying holiday treat!
I told myself at the beginning of this extreme baking session that I like to call the “month of December,” that I would stay away from baking bars for the holidays completely. I’ve been told it is kind of a cop-out to make bars instead of cookies during the holiday season. There is literally no skill required. If you can turn on a mixer and pour dough into a pan then you are pretty much set. I swore. I swore to myself that I would avoid bars this year.
You see how perfectly that did NOT work out. I’ve already made the most amazing cinnamon bars about a month ago. I still have dreams about the overload of sugar that makes up about 50% of that entire recipe. And then there are these bars…these glorious, addicting, perfectly satisfying chocolate caramel shortbread bars.
I’m not sad that I took the easy way out. I’m not a self-proclaimed baking genius, but I do have quite the sweet tooth; and I do like to have a wide variety of baked goods in my house around the holidays. From sweet sugared cranberries to the perfect loaf of gingerbread, my pantry is a plethora of glorious sweet treats.
I have to say after much battling myself over not making desserts such as this, these chocolate caramel shortbread bars are here to stay. They are buttery and sugary and so perfect this Christmas season. Add them to your holiday baking menu and pour yourself a chocolate stout while you are at it!
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened to room temperature (3 sticks)
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 13.4-ounce can dulce de leche
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In the bowl of your stand mixer, with paddle attachment fixed, combine the butter and sugar. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 45 seconds. Mix in the vanilla extract. Mix again to combine. Beat in the salt and flour in 1/2 cup increments until a firm dough forms. Cover and chill the dough for 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line a 13x9 inch baking dish with foil. Place the dough in the prepared pan and press down with your finger tips until even. Bake the shortbread for 25 minutes or until light brown on top. Remove from heat and cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
Now prepare your caramel layer. Combine the dulce de leche and 1 tablespoon of butter in a small bowl. Place it in the microwave for 45 seconds to loosen up the caramel and stir. Pour the mixture on top of the cooled shortbread and spread evenly. Let cool slightly while you prepare your chocolate layer.
For the chocolate layer, bring the heavy cream, 1/2 cup of butter and corn syrup to a heavy simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate chips and vanilla. Continue to stir until the chocolate has melted. Cool for about 5 minutes in the pan and then pour on top of the caramel layer. Spread to cover completely.
Cover the dish and place the chocolate caramel shortbread bars in the refrigerator until set, about 2 hours. Cut into bars and store in an airtight container for about a week. Enjoy!