Dear baking world,
It has been a monumental weekend. I did my first prospective student tour on Saturday! And I only once forgot who I was and what planet I was on. And then my face froze because it was so cold out, but that’s besides the point because the tour was a great success. My nerves disappeared in a huff when I started telling my favorite stories about campus, and hopefully, I managed to get one of the prospective students as excited about this school as I am.
I digress. After my tour and a little nap, one of my best friends in the whole entire world came over and we whipped up some Caramel Pretzel Shortbread Bars. Actually, and I know she would laugh at this, she told me about the latest goings-ons while I did the baking. But baking is much more fun when I can gasp and say, “No! Really?” while incredulously pressing shortbread into a pan.
But this post is about the bars. They are gooey, crunchy, soft, sweet, salty Caramel Shortbread Bars. The first step is making the shortbread. It was quick, easy and classic. And also the cookie dough was delicious. I think the shortbreads would’ve been at least an inch thicker if I hadn’t eaten 95% of the dough.
Thanks to the fact that I am a college student and also lack a candy thermometer, I chose to go the quick route with the caramel. Instead of making the caramel from scratch, and risking scorching myself and my entire apartment, I bought a bag of caramels and some heavy whipping cream. I melted the caramels and the heavy whipping cream together and then poured it over the shortbread. After that, I topped it with crunched up pretzels.
I have to say, these darlings paired quite well with a movie and Wisconsin blanket that came after the baking.
- [b][br]For the shortbread:[/b]
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt[br][b]For the caramel:[/b]
- 16 oz. soft caramels (I used Werther’s and Kraft’s. Just look at the ounces on the bag.)
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper. Cream together the butter, brown sugar and vanilla extract. Slowly add the flour and the salt. The dough will be crumbly, so mix it together by hand until in one ball. Pat the shortbread into the parchment paper lined pan and bake for 18 minutes.
- Melt the caramels and heavy whipping cream together in a pot on the stove on medium heat. Pour over the shortbreads when fully melted and no caramel chunks remain. Crunch up some pretzels and add to the hot caramel. They should sink in, but in order to add extra, you need to press them in gently. Place in the fridge and let cool and then serve. (Do not store in the fridge because the pretzels will get soggy.)