You’ll love these because they’re simple to put together, they taste like heaven in your mouth, and the mix of salty and sweet is a combination worth eating a lb of butter for! I about died when I saw how much butter was used for this recipe but as a baker, I’m also fully aware that sometimes, butter is the key to any shortbread recipe and you’ve got to let go of your healthy food regimen for a few minutes and just ‘go with it.’ That’s what I kept telling myself anyway. I was also fully aware that I wasn’t going to eat the whole pan, in fact, it makes a 9×13 pan that served THREE purposes: dinner w/ a friend, a birthday dinner, and then a tailgate. These froze really well. I cut them into squares, wrapped them, and popped them in the freezer since it was a week between events. I like to prepare when I can.
I’d also like to add that anyone who ate them was happy. Someone said, “these are melting my soul” and I considered it a compliment!
I laid this recipe out in steps based on the layer to help you out, which is a departure from my usual way of communicating recipes. I hope you find it easier to navigate.
an hour + cooling time
- 1 lb. of butter, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
- 2 tablespoons vanilla
- 4 cups AP flour
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. Press one half of the dough evenly into the prepared pan to form a bottom crust, and place the remaining dough in the refrigerator.
In a large bowl, combine:
- BOTH sugars
- Using a hand-held mixer on medium speed, beat together until creamy.
- Add the vanilla and beat until combined.
- Gradually add the all-purpose flour to the butter mixture. Beat on low speed until a smooth soft dough forms.
- Bake in the preheated oven until the edges are pale golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes.
While the crust is cooling, make the caramel filling. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine:
- One 14-oz. bag caramel candies, unwrapped
- 2-3 tablespoons milk (i use 2%)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove from the microwave and stir until smooth. If the caramels are not completely melted, microwave for 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until smooth.
- Pour the caramel filling over the crust. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of coarse sea salt over the top.
- Remove the remaining dough from the refrigerator and crumble it evenly over the caramel layer.
- 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.
- Put in the fridge to cool faster but they do get very firm and may be difficult to cut. I cut them all and packaged them according to my needs for the three events.
ps: the butter is not a problem when the buttery shortbread crust and the caramel is melting in your mouth. In fact, you thank yourself for making these and then remind yourself that a little butter never killed anyone. Eating the whole pan is not recommended but if you do, I promise not to judge you….