Grown-Up Candy Bars: Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Bites
Have you ever noticed how your favorite childhood foods don’t taste quite the same as an adult? I’m talking specifically about fast food, sugary cereals, and candy bars.
At least those were some of my favorites.
My once beloved Captain Crunch cereal now feels like a bowl of insta-cavities. Those tasty fast-food hamburgers now make me feel too tired and full. And at some point, Twix bars lost their appeal in comparison to the dark chocolate I’ve developed a taste for.
But this chocolate caramel shortbread bar is a candy bar for grown-ups. A buttery, not-too-sweet shortbread crust is topped with creamy caramel and finished with rich chocolate topping. You’ll never miss a Twix again.
Here’s how to make it:
Start by mixing together the shortbread crust. The dough will be crumbly and not cohesive in any way. Don’t worry, that’s just the way it should be.
Once you pat the dough into the pan to bake, it all comes together.
Bake the shortbread until it’s a beautiful, light golden-buttery brown. I wouldn’t hesitate to cut this into bars and eat it with some coffee!
The caramel is made with a shortcut recipe that uses sweetened condensed milk. Just like the crust, it’s only four ingredients. No muss, no fuss.
It’s foolproof and turns out thick and creamy. The hardest part is the constant whisking.
Finish with the chocolate topping, and you’re good to go. The bars are rich and delicious – and kind of nostalgic! Cut into small squares, and enjoy.
Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Bars
Makes 32 small squares or 16 large squares
For the shortbread crust:
1 1/2 cups flour
12 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
For the caramel layer:
4 tbsp butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
Pinch of kosher salt
For the chocolate topping:
1 1/2 cups bittersweet, semisweet, or milk chocolate chips
2 tbsp butter
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang of foil over the sides so you can lift the baked bars out of the pan when finished. Spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray and dust with flour, tapping out excess. Set aside.
2. Make the shortbread crust. Add the flour, butter, sugar, and salt in a bowl and combine until the mixture is a crumbly texture. Pat into the prepared pan until the dough is compact and even, and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the crust is light golden brown. Set aside to cool.
3. While the crust is baking, make the caramel. Melt the butter and brown sugar in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the condensed milk and salt and bring to a boil, whisking constantly, taking care to not scorch the bottom. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick, creamy and a light caramel color (about 5 minutes). Pour the caramel over the shortbread layer and spread evenly.
4. Make the chocolate topping. Melt the chocolate chips and butter in the microwave, stirring and checking every 30 seconds so as to avoid scorching the chocolate. Pour the chocolate over the caramel layer and spread evenly.
5. Let cool (Note: You can refrigerate to speed up the process), and cut into squares when cooled. Store at room temperature.