Dark Chocolate and Salted Caramel Topped Shortbread



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.




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

  2. chrissy says:

    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.

  3. Victoria says:

    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?

  4. doughmesstic says:

    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.

By: ifood.tv