What do you get when you combine lots of gooey carmel topping with a rich crisp buttery shortbread: Gooey Caramel Butter Bars!
This rich and delicious treat is just perfect when cut into bite sized squares to enjoy with a cup of coffee at the end of a great meal. The gooey smooth caramel (spiked with a little dark rum!) contrasts nicely with the buttery slightly crisp melt-in-your-mouth shortbread.
I also added a little sprinkle of sea salt over the top for a salty-sweet treat. The shortbread provides a nice crust for the caramel and is repeated again crumbled over the top. You can easily make these sweet bars in advance and store them in the freezer to enjoy at a later date.
Here is how you can make your own.
You can find the basic recipe here. Start by lining a 9″ x 13″ baking pan with parchment or aluminum foil sprayed with a little Pam for Baking. Make sure there is an overhang of paper or foil for easy removal of bars later. Set pan aside. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Crust and Topping: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together the butter and sugars until smooth. Add the vanilla and salt and beat until combined.
Add the flour and beat at low speed until a dough forms. Separate 1/3 of the dough and press evenly and firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan.
Wrap the remaining dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge while the crust is baking. Bake the crust for 20-30 minutes or until edges are pale golden brown and firm.
Set crust aside to cool. Do not turn off oven.
Filling: Combine caramels, cream, vanilla, dark rum and salt in a microwaveable bowl. Cook in the microwave on high in 1 minute intervals, stirring between each interval until the caramel is smooth and melted. Set aside.
Assembly: Sprinkle nuts (if using) over the crust (I didn’t use any nuts in mine) then carefully pour the caramel over the nuts using an offset spatula to spread evenly.
Remove the remaining dough from the fridge and crumble over the top of the caramel. I found it very helpful to use a fork and rake it over the cold dough to create the crumbs.
When all the dough has been crumbled over the filling, return to the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top in firm and lightly golden and the caramel is bubbly. Let cool to around room temperature but not completely cold before cutting. (The carmel gets harder to cut when completely cold.)
When bars are cool, remove from pan and take off the parchment or aluminum foil. At this point I sprinkled a little sea salt over the top of the bars for a little salty-sweet flavor.
Using a sharp knife cut the bar in half, then quarters and so on until you have a bunch of little bite-sized squares.
You can keep these bar in an airtight container for 1 week or in the freezer for 1 month.