Dark Chocolate and Salted Caramel Topped Shortbread

by doughmesstic on December 22, 2011

in candy, chocolate



There are few things more rewarding than being able to successfully prepare a chewy, buttery caramel.  It’s a scary process for many, but, well, I don’t get scared too easily.

Let’s determine why NOT to be scared.

Butter. Sugar. A little Cream. What have you got wrapped up in it? 15 minutes and $2?

I have $2.  I also have 15 minutes.

If it fails, it fails.  I’ve spent $2 on less inspiring ventures.  I bet you have, too.


So now let’s go over why you SHOULD make caramel yourself.

Because it’s freaking fantastic.  That’s really all you need to know.  This caramel recipe is soft.  Softer than a store bought square sold in bags, but will still hold it’s shape for the most part.  it’ll slump a bit at room temperature if left out for several hours, but that’s no big deal.  You can opt to pour it into a parchment lined pan and chill it for a few hours, then cut it into individual candies, wrapping each in a little square of parchment.  That would be yummy.  You can also opt to omit the dark chocolate topping.  Or, you can dunk the caramel in chocolate and omit the shortbread.  Heck, you can sit with a spoon over the still warm pot and scald your face on it and be happy.

It’s THAT good.

I chose to pour mine onto a shortbread base and top it with a nice dark chocolate.  it’s been a huge hit around here, and why not? Sweet and sultry, a little salty and a lot luxurious.  I’m sure you’ll feel the same if you can manage to get all of the caramel out of the pot and into the pan.  Hey, if I can do it, you can do it.

Never mind that burn you see on my chin.


Dark Chocolate and Salted Caramel Topped Shortbread

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: 64 - inch bites


  • For Shortbread:
  • 10 tbsp. salted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Zest of half an orange
  • 1 egg yolk, whisked
  • 1 2/3 cups All Purpose flour
  • For Caramel:
  • 14 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • Sea salt flakes, to top


  1. Prepare an 8×8 inch pan with parchment paper with the edges of the parchment hanging over two of the sides. This allows you to remove the bars easily once cooled.
  2. Combine the melted butter, sugar, salt and zest with a fork in a large bowl. Add the yolk and again combine with the fork. Add the flour and stir with a heavy spoon or your hands and combine the dough until it is well combined. Place the dough in the prepared pan and press down evenly with your hands until the pan is covered. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour. Remove and bake at 350 for 25-28 minutes, until very lightly browned. Allow to cool while you are preparing the caramel.
  3. In a heavy bottomed pot, such as enameled cast iron, combine all caramel topping ingredients save for the extract and bean paste. Bring to a boil and stir until sugars are dissolved and the mixture is well combined. Using a candy thermometer, watch for the goal of about 230 degrees. Allow to boil at this temp for several minutes, until it begins to climb over 235. Stir continuously. Remove from heat and stir in the extract and paste. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes, then pour over the shortbread base. Once chilled, top with melted chocolate and sprinkle with sea salt.


For chocolate topping, melt 1 cup dark chocolate chips and 1/2 tablespoon shortening in the microwave. Heat at 30 second intervals, stirring after each. When smooth, use as directed.



{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray December 22, 2011 at 8:05 am

Quite sure I could eat a whole plate of these!


Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar December 22, 2011 at 8:59 am

I seriously need an entire pan of these! They’re lovely!


I'm At Home Baking December 22, 2011 at 9:12 am

These look so yummy! I want some :)


Jess Wakasugi {Life's Simple Measures} December 22, 2011 at 9:29 am

Holy cow, that oozing caramel looks AMAZING! I’ve seen a number of recipes for ‘millionaire’s shortbread’ but yours is the first to make me want to actually make them. I love how thick the layers are! Pinned this recipe, can’t wait to try it out!


doughmesstic December 22, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Thanks for the pin! (Isn’t pinterest addiciting? So many cool things, so little time!)


Victoria June 21, 2013 at 5:12 pm

I love the shortbread with the orange zest, but I have a problem with the caramel layer. After reading through the comments, I halved the caramel part. One reader said to cook it to between 240-245, so I did. It turned out to be exactly like regular caramel, but I thought for a cookie, it ought to be softer, and not so chewy. Is it because I cooked it a little higher or is it supposed to be as sticky/chewy as regular caramel?
P.S. What else can a baker make with the bean paste?


doughmesstic June 24, 2013 at 5:01 pm

It is very chewy – much like in a Snickers bar, or yes, like a wrapped caramel. As for the bean paste, use it anywhere you would use vanilla extract or vanilla beans.


jo-lyn's cup cakes n' candies December 22, 2011 at 10:26 am

mmmmm see, i am one of those that fears the caramel. the same reason i don’t have any caramel frostings on my menu…not any that you have actually make the caramel anyway…i am a big fat chicken!!


doughmesstic December 22, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Try this caramel recipe. Seriously. Don’t stress over it, just dump it in the pot and stir. Temps will climb slow. I like to boil mine on about medium heat for 5-7 minutes once it reaches 230. Just pull it off when it reaches 235 or so. Let me know if you attempt!


Lauren @ From Everyday To Gourmet December 22, 2011 at 10:59 am

those look so good – they wouldn’t make it out of the kitchen at my house!


doughmesstic December 22, 2011 at 1:05 pm

They wouldn’t have made it out of mine, either, but my husband stole a bunch and carried them off to work! I guess I should be pleased he liked them enough to share…but…:)


Shannon R December 22, 2011 at 2:55 pm

In Scotland, more or less the home of shortbread, adding caramel and chocolate on top makes it Millionaire’s Shortbread. It’s pretty addictive!

Double the Sugar


Deena December 22, 2011 at 10:02 pm

Yum. Another one for the to be made list!


Beth December 22, 2011 at 10:52 pm

Those look so freaking good!


Priya December 23, 2011 at 12:07 am

Mouthwatering treat!! I wish you were giving away these :). I would like to have them!! YUM!! YUM!!


Kris December 23, 2011 at 3:22 am

perfect. just perfect!


Aisha December 23, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Can’t wait to try this one!


hannah@ Bake five December 24, 2011 at 12:17 am

my my my this looks divine!


Michele N December 26, 2011 at 2:23 am

I really, really need a new candy thermometer.It should have been on my Christmas list. Soon, real soon, I am going to try caramel.


Liz December 31, 2011 at 11:51 am

Holy Moly! These look amazing!


Julie Anne Rhodes March 3, 2012 at 2:09 am

OMG, these look way better than the store bought ones I would buy daily when I lived in England. Guess what I’ll be making this week!


Koreena March 3, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Thank you for this!! I made ‘em and they were DELICIOUS!!! However the caramel was oozy if they were not frozen. The caramel was the right temp, color, and taste when I made it. But it just didn’t want to stay formed. Any suggestions?


Pat May 27, 2012 at 8:23 am

I have made these before. MMMMMMM! I think almost every person at the party asked for the recipe.If you can find it buy good quality butter to make this , it will make a delicious cookie even more delicious. THese are to die for.


BR June 16, 2012 at 1:16 pm

How do you cut these? I chilled them to harden the chocolate then it was impossible to cut. So I let them soften a little but as I tried to cut them, the chocolate came off! They taste delicious but mine were not pretty.


BR June 16, 2012 at 1:42 pm

How do you cut these? I chilled them to harden the chocolate then they were impossible to cut. So I let them soften a little but the chocolate came off when I cut them! They taste great but mine were not pretty. Plus the shortbread was too flakey. Did I refrigerate for too long?


Cheryl July 26, 2012 at 2:25 pm

I have been dying to make these and I finally made it but had a problem.

Once I took it out of the pan, the caramel oozed out the sides. Then when I tried to cut them, and because the chocolate was hard, when I pressed down, the caramel oozed out even more. As they warmed a bit, it literally came alive and oozed over the sides of my cutting board and over the counter!

I don’t know what I did wrong! It seems the caramel needed to be a bit thicker so it didn’t ooze so much.

They were amazing tasting but impossible to cut. I was hoping to make them like the pic so I can put some in little bags to give out.

Any advise?


Ageekymom November 18, 2012 at 8:19 am

I made these yesterday and had the same problems as everyone else. I will make it again, but let the Carmel come to the softball stage, which is about 240-245F. I would also use about a quarter of the salt, and use unsalted butter. The shortbread was delicious; the orange zest was a nice touch.


Chrissy July 27, 2013 at 10:27 am

These were good, not great; should have made Nanaimo bars instead.


chrissy July 29, 2013 at 7:15 pm

My comment on these cookies did not show up or removed; my opinion is they are a lot work and not that great. I said that I should have made Nanaimo bars instead of these. Hubby said he prefers Nanaimo bars to these cookies. Reposting this because I hope my first comment isn’t showing up because of a glitch.


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