Shortbread Caramel Brownie Bars

Today is my Mom’s Birthday!  Happy Birthday, Mom!  I wish I could be in Cleveland to celebrate with you!!  If I were there, I would give you one of these Shortbread Caramel Brownie Bars with a candle in it!  Then I’d have to listen about how they are not healthy.  Yes, I know.  Hope your day was awesome!!

I made these for a bake sale last week for the UCSD Hearts & Hands Volunteer Doula Program, and I thought I’d share the recipe (from Sunset, October 2002, and was created by Linda Tebben.).  I love these bars because it combines the best of 3 worlds: butter, gooey caramel and chocolate.  Yes, please.

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Shortbread Caramel Brownie Bars

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, chilled
  • 2 1/2 cups (10 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 12 ounces individually wrapped soft caramels, such as Kraft
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 10 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Cut 1 cup butter into chunks.  In the bowl of a food processor, combine 2 cups flour (8 3/4 oz), 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch, and the butter chunks.  Whirl until dough comes together.  Press evenly over the bottom of a buttered 9-by-13-inch baking pan.  Bake in a 325 degree oven until top feels dry and is just beginning to brown, about 25 minutes.  Let cool completely.
  2. Meanwhile, unwrap caramels and place in a microwave-safe bowl with milk.  Cook in a microwave oven for 1 minute.  Stir mixture, then cook and stir at 30 -second intervals until melted and smooth, about 3 minutes longer.  Spread caramel mixture evenly over cooled crust and chill until firm, about 20 minutes (I’ve even left it in the refrigerator, covered, overnight.).
  3. In a large bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water (bottom should not touch water), stir chocolate and remaining 1/2 cup butter often until melted and smooth (**I just put chocolate and butter in a heavy bottom pan and continuously stir at very low heat until it’s melted, and I’ve never had a problem.)  Remove bowl from water and, with a whisk or mixer on medium speed, beat in remaining 3/4 cup sugar, eggs, and vanilla until well blended.  Stir in remaining 1/2 cup (2 oz.) flour, baking powder, and salt until well blended.
  4. Pour chocolate mixture over caramel layer and use a knife or spatula to spread level, completely covering the caramel.
  5. Bake in a 350 degree oven until wooden skewer inserted into chocolate layer comes out mostly clean (Recipes always seem to note that it’s done when the skewer is clean, but usually that means it’s over done.  You want a little crumb sticking to the skewer.), 35 to 40 minutes.  Let cool completely, then cut in to 12 or 24 bars (I prefer larger bars, so I would opt for 12 bars!).

Take Care and Happy Eating!