The First One.

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So, admittedly, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. If someone gave me the choice between a bag of boring potato chips (and not the kind that disguises a bag of Chex Mix) and a chewy, decadent, rich, fudgy brownie, I would take the potato chips, every. Single. Time. This is completely different from my mother, who never understood why neither of her children inherited her love of sweets. However, as I’ve grown older, I’ve become more fond of sweets- and that means getting to learn tips and tricks on how to bake from my mom, who is one fantastic cook.

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I was immediately drawn to this recipe because of the homemade caramel. If you think caramel sounds sort of intimidating, trust me when I say that this is the recipe to test it out on. It’s super simple and it’s really fool-proof. Invest in a candy thermometer -that’s the trick!! Once the temperature reaches 245 degrees, take it off the heat. I actually took mine off the heat because I thought that it wasn’t at the right temperature and then put it back on the heat after reaffirming to myself that I hadn’t made a mistake and it was STILL delicious.

Note to self, though: don’t try to do a taste test of the caramel with the remnants in the pot no matter how tempted you are. I tried to take a swipe off the spoon and nearly burned my finger off. That’s a lesson I’ll only need to learn once. The caramel was delicious, but my pinky finger (don’t ask me how it got over there) would tell you differently.

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Chocolate Caramel Shortbread

(Adapted from Doughmesstic)

For the shortbread:

10 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
½ cup sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp orange zest
1 tbsp tangerine zest*
1 egg yolk, whisked
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

*You can use all orange zest instead of the tangerine, but I liked the combination of the two flavors here

For the caramel:

7 tbs butter
¼ cup and 2 tbsp brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup and 2 tbsp light corn syrup
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract

For the chocolate:

1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 ½ tsp shortening

In a mixing bowl, combine the melted butter, sugar, salt and zest. After combined, add the yolk. Add the flour and stir to combine. The mixture will be very crumbly; I mixed mine with my hands at this point to form more of a dough. Then, place dough in an 8×8 pan and press until the dough is even in the pan. Refrigerate. After one hour, bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, making sure not to overcook; you’re looking for a very light brown along the edges.

For the caramel, combine the butter, brown sugar, sugar, light corn syrup, salt and cream in a pot with a candy thermometer attached. Bring this mixture to a boil and stir constantly, making sure all sugars are dissolved. Wait until the mixture heats up to about 235 degrees; it should be furiously bubbling at this point. Stir constantly and let the mixture boil until you reach about 245 degrees. After this point, remove your mixture from the heat and add in the vanilla extract. Let the mixture cool for a few minutes, then pour this over the shortbread. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

For the chocolate, melt the chocolate chips and shortening over a double boiler or in the microwave using 15-30 second intervals. Once smooth, pour over the chilled caramel and shortbread and top the chocolate with kosher salt.

Refrigerate for about an hour to set. The easiest way I found to cut these after they set was to let the bars come to just about room temperature, still slightly cool to the touch. I then took my knife and cut long strips, and then took those strips out of the pan and onto my cutting board and cutting into bite sized pieces one “strip” at a time. I tried cutting the squares in the pan, but my shortbread got crumbly and the chocolate fell off, so the method of cutting into strips first worked out perfectly and gave me uniform bites.

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4 thoughts on “The First One.

    1. Haha! That’s so funny – I think I would get along with her very well! I have just never had a sweet tooth…but I do indulge every once in a while 🙂

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