Salted Caramel Shortbread Cookies

So believe it or not, these babies won us first place in a cookie contest! It was our first-ever entry and first-ever win! How about that? 

These buttery, sweet, and salty treats are great for a holiday party, your work potluck, or just to make with the kids on a rainy afternoon. They will be a hit!

There’s a few parts to making these cookies: making the salted caramel, making the shortbread, making the chocolate, and then putting them all together and sprinkling with salt!

First make the salted caramel and while it’s cooling, make the shortbread.  Either can be made in advance.  Once the shortbread is made and is cool, you can spread the caramel on top.  Once the caramel is made and it’s in a solid state, put a small amount in a little glass bowl and microwave until it’s a thick liquid.  Put about 1 teaspoon of caramel onto each cookie.  After you’ve done about 12 cookies, apply the chocolate.  If it’s hardened at all, put it back in the microwave for a few seconds.  Then sprinkle Atlantic Flake Finishing Salt on top.  Be quick about adding the caramel, chocolate and salt one after the other so that the chocolate sticks to the caramel and the salt sticks to both.  If you notice that the salt is melting into the chocolate or the caramel, let it cool for a bit and then add the salt.  I found the perfect timing after about 3 cookies.

Salted Caramel

You’ll need parchment, scissors, a 9 x 5 loaf pan, candy thermometer, saucepan and a spoon.  Be prepared and your caramels will come out better.  As well as the following ingredients:

1.    1 stick of unsalted butter
2.    1/2 cup heavy cream or heavy whipping cream (36-40% butterfat content)
3.    3 tablespoons water
4.    1/4 cup light corn syrup
5.    1 cup sugar
6.    1 teaspoon of Flake Finishing Salt from Atlantic Saltworks

Lightly oil a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan then line it with parchment so the parchment covers the sides of the pan.  Lightly oil the parchment.  Cut the butter into small pieces and combine with the cream in a microwave-safe bowl.  Heat it in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes until hot and butter has melted. Set aside.

In a small saucepan combine the water and corn syrup.  Add the sugar.  Stir the sugar into the water and corn syrup, moistening the sugar.  Heat over medium heat until the sugar has come to a boil.  Try not to get the sugar on the sides of the pan.

Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan.  Cook until the sugar reaches a temperature of 320 degrees F. At this temperature, the sugar will take on a light amber color around the edges of the pan.  When sugar reaches 320 degrees pour a quarter of the butter and cream mixture then stir with the candy thermometer. Repeat until all the butter and cream are mixed in.  It will bubble violently, so be careful and go slow so it doesn’t boil over the sides.

The butter and cream temperature will drop, so you have to bring the temperature back up to 240 degrees. As soon as the temperature is reached, remove from heat, stir in the salt, and pour into the loaf pan and let cool.

Shortbread

To make the shortbread you will need these ingredients:

1.    1 1/2  cups unsalted butter, softened
2.    3/4 cup sugar
3.    1 teaspoon vanilla
4.    3 1/2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350°F.   In large bowl, beat 1 1/2 cups butter with electric mixer on high speed until creamy. Beat in sugar and vanilla. On low speed, beat in flour until blended. 

You can either roll the dough flat to about ¼ inch thickness and cut with your favorite cookie cutter shape or make tablespoon sized scoops and roll them out. Or, do what I did and roll the dough into 4 round bars and slice ¼ inch thick.  You can use those as is, or mush them into the bottoms of mini muffin tins.

Bake for 10 minutes until they are just lightly golden.  Don’t start topping them until they are completely cooled.

Chocolate

Add four ounces of semisweet chocolate chips with 1.5 tablespoons of butter.  Melt in the microwave thirty seconds at a time, stirring each time.  It’s ready when all of it has melted and you can stir it.  Put it in a decorator bag or tube and use a small round tip.

Shortcuts

You don’t have to make these entirely from scratch to make good cookies.  You can always buy some shortbread cookies, and even melt some store bought caramels and add the salt to it.  If I had to choose one shortcut, it would be to buy the shortbread from a nice bakery

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