Brown Sugar Shortbread Caramel Bars – Simple brown sugar shortbread crumble filled with a soft caramel centre. Simple but oh so deliciously addictive.
Okay, I’m gonna say it, this is my favorite new cookie of the Holiday baking season so far! I am a complete sucker for shortbread of any kind and brown sugar shortbread is a particular favorite.
Add to that a layer of soft, rich, creamy, chewy caramel and well, I am in heaven! I ate two of these as I was cutting them into squares. Recognizing my new calorie nemesis for their awesome addictive power, quickly scurried them into the basement freezer out of easy reach.
Somehow I see that strategy as an inevitable epic fail, with visions of 3 AM creeps over 2 flights of stairs to rendezvous with these cookies in a quiet corner of the basement. If any of my family members happen to find me sitting on the deep freezer in my underwear, eating them frozen straight out of the container, I apologize in advance for the scarring visual. I am weak.
2017 update: I still cannot resist these simple cookie bars; they are an all time favourite. I am updating the recipe today though to simplify the recipe and make the crumble just a little more buttery.
After making these several times, I think a little more butter helps the crumble stay together better and also takes out the necessity to partially pre-bake the bottom. I have omitted that step for the last two batches, as well as the one in the photos shown, and they have been perfect every time.
What these cookies remind me of is the caramel tarts I first tasted in Wesleyville, in the Bonavista North area. They were little pastry tarts, or even a whole shallow pie crust, filled with caramel made from boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk for hours.
I have not made that sort of caramel for years, since they changed the can design to a pull tab type. This stovetop method however, does replicates the flavour and consistency of that caramel well. Between the time on the stovetop and the time baking in the oven, the filling takes on the same rich caramel colour as well.
Since they do freeze well, now was the time to update the recipe in order for you fine folks to get them into your Christmas freezers too. You’ll be glad you did.
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Originally Published November 28, 2012. Updated Dec. 2017
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk 300 ml can Canada. 14 oz can US
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp corn syrup
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 cup butter
The filling should be prepared first so that it can cool to room temperature. Coling can take a couple of hours.
To a small saucepan add the sweetened condensed milk, butter and corn syrup.
Bring to a very gentle boil, stirring constantly at all times. You have to stay with this caramel at all times and NOT stop stirring it or it will definitely stick to the bottom and burn. I find a wooden spoon is best for this and if you have one of those straight bottom paddle types that can scrape the bottom of the pot continuously as you stir, definitely use that. What you are trying to do here is develop a little colour in the caramel, not too much or your caramel will go hard. It will pick up a bit more colour in the oven so just a light golden colour is fine. This process should take about 10-15 minutes .
It is very important to cool the filling to room temperature before proceeding. A hot filling will immediately melt the butter in the shortbread and ruin the cookies.
To prepare the Shortbread Crumble
Lightly grease and line a 9x9 inch baking pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Rub together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder and butter using your hand or pulse together in a food processor until crumbly.
Press about 1/2 of the crumble firmly into the bottom of the pan. I generally refrigerate the pan plus the remaining crumble for the top until the filling cools completely. Cold shortbread dough always bakes better.
Spread the cooled filling evenly over the bottom layer of shortbread in the pan.
Press the remaining crumble together in handfuls and break off little pieces about the size of the top of your pinkie finger. Scatter these evenly over the caramel layer.
Bake for 30 minutes until the top is a nice golden brown.
Cool completely to room temperature in the pan before cutting into squares. Makes about 2 dozen.
The nutritional information provided is automatically calculated by third party software and is meant as a guideline only. Exact accuracy is not guaranteed. For recipes where all ingredients may not be used entirely, such as those with coatings on meats, or with sauces or dressings for example, calorie & nutritional values per serving will likely be somewhat lower than indicated.
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