These completely stress free caramel bars are perfect for after the holidays with their one ingredient caramel! You may cut them into bite size pieces, longer strips or bars or wrap them individually in parchment paper for treats on the go. They also freeze well, giving you a treat to have on hand for that unexpected guest or dinner party you forgot about.
SIMPLE SALTED CARAMEL SHORTBREAD
1 (14oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
½ teaspoon fresh ground salt (preferably sea salt, we used pink Himalayan salt)
1 cup of flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
¼ cup sugar
½ cup soft, unsalted butter
Start by preheating your oven to 325° F, then line an 8 x 8 (for a thinner bar) or bread pan (for a thicker bar) with parchment paper.
Sift together flour, salt and baking soda, set aside. Cream together sugar and butter with electric mixer, when combined slowly add in flour mixture until just incorporated (1-2 minutes). Then press dough into your lined baking dish, trying for an even layer of the base. (You may press with a fork to help prevent rising while it bakes, I prefer to gently press down as it cools on the counter).
Bake 15-20 minutes, keep a close eye as you approach the 15 minute mark to ensure the shortbread does not overcook. Oven temps can vary quite a bit so look for a nice even light golden brown coloring.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.
While your shortbread is in the baking and cooling you can prepare your caramel topping. (Follow the instructions on the label of your sweetened condensed milk for the stovetop method).
Ours listed the following instructions; “Pour 1 14oz can into top of double-boiler pan; cover. Place over boiling water. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally for 40-50 minutes, or until thick and light caramel-colored. Remove from heat. Beat until smooth”
We found mixing every 2-3 minutes at the most helped with a smoother caramel and kept it from overheating and bubbling over. You may choose to have it over the heat a bit longer for a thicker, richer caramel. We then mixed it in the mixer for a couple minutes.
At this time your shortbread should now be fully cooled. Pour caramel directly on the shortbread and let rest for a few minutes, then sprinkle with freshly ground salt. You will now want to let the dish fully set for a few hours, you may also cover and place in the refrigerator to speed cooling and ease cutting.
When the time comes to cut use a very sharp knife. I ran it under hot water and wiped it after each cut to ensure a smooth and clean line. Store with space between each piece and without anything touching the tops. If traveling with them refrigerate or freeze to solid before leaving. This will help keep the pieces solid if sliding around during transit.