Melt in your mouth brown sugar shortbread, filled with homemade caramel sauce and drizzled with milk chocolate. It will be love with first bite!
Today is #nationalshortbreadday. What?? You didn't know that?!
In all seriousness, I have no idea who comes up with all the food holidays. Most of the time, I find out from my Instagram feed that it's a food day. Every once and I while I take a look at the list to see if anything I really love is coming up and I happen to really love shortbread!
So today I bring you a twist on one of my favorite candy bars.
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It's no secret that I love caramel. Shortbread cookies are right up there with sugar cookies and oatmeal cookies as some of my favorites, so why not combine the two? Then to take these shortbread really over the top, I replace the granulated sugar with brown sugar. It makes these caramel and brown sugar shortbread cookies unbelievable! But, I don't stop there. To finish these shortbread off we are going to drizzle them in milk chocolate.
Caramel. Brown sugar shortbread and milk chocolate. What's not to love?
MAKING YOUR CARAMEL AND BROWN SUGAR SHORTBREAD
You will start with a pretty standard shortbread recipe, except we are going to replace the granulated sugar with brown sugar. You'll need unsalted butter, brown sugar, pure vanilla extract, all purpose flour, and salt. Once the dough comes together you will roll the dough into 1 tablespoon balls, slightly flatten the balls with the palm of your hand and then make an indentation in the cookie (this is where all the caramel goodness will go!)
Using a 1 tablespoon measure, roll dough into balls and then place on a baking pan prepared with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Spacing them an inch or two apart.
Now your brown sugar shortbread dough needs some time to chill in the refrigerator. One hour is ideal, but you can go up to a couple of days if you cover the dough tightly.
At this point, it's time to make the homemade caramel sauce. I'm a big fan of "if it's not broke, don't fix it". Sally's Baking Addiction has a practically fail proof homemade salted caramel. I'm embarrassed to admit, but I make it so frequently that I don't even need a recipe anymore. I've tried other caramel recipes, but this one just comes out perfectly without any guess work. If making homemade caramel makes you nervous, you could certainly substitute a quality store bought caramel sauce, but I highly recommend making your own. You'll be surprised at how easy it is. On the other hand...maybe you don't want to know how easy it is...
The homemade caramel takes about 10-15 minutes to make, so it will have a perfect amount of time to cool off before you need to add it to the cookies.
After an hour of chilling, you will pop the brown sugar shortbread cookies into a preheated 350° F oven. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes. Remove them from the oven and fill the indents with the caramel, then bake for an additional 2 minutes.
If you find that the indents have lost their shape, you can use the end of your spatula or a ½ teaspoon measure to press the dough down to make a deeper indent before adding the caramel.
After the caramel and brown sugar shortbread have finished cooking, allow them to cool completely. Then you will finish them off with a nice drizzle of milk chocolate. If you can wait long enough to let the chocolate dry, the cookies will be a little less messy to eat. I won't judge one bit though if you dive in right away!
Caramel and Brown Sugar Shortbread
Brown Sugar Shortbread
- 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt (I prefer kosher salt)
- 1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
- ⅔ cup brown sugar
- ¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Homemade Caramel Sauce (recipe slightly adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction)
- Yield: 1 cup
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 ounces milk chocolate (melted)
- ½ teaspoon coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
Brown sugar shortbread:
- In a small to medium bowl whisk the all purpose flour and salt together, set aside.
- In your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand held mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar on medium-high until combined. We are not going for light and fluffy with these cookies. Add the vanilla and mix until combined.
- Scrape up and down the sides of your mixing bowl. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until the dough comes together.
- Prepare baking pans with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Using a 1 tablespoon measure, scoop and roll dough into balls and place on prepared baking pans, spacing an inch or two apart.
- Use the palm of your hand and slightly press down the dough and then using the end of a spatula, a half teaspoon measure or your finger, make an indent in the middle of each cookie dough ball.
- Chill the dough in the refrigerator for one hour (or up to a couple of days if you cover them).
- Make the homemade caramel sauce once you put the dough in the refrigerator to chill. You need a little time for the caramel to cool before you use it.
- Add one cup of granulated sugar to a medium saucepan and heat over medium, stirring constantly. Use a wooden spoon or a high heat resistant rubber spatula.
- The sugar will start to melt. Then it will clump together before melting into a thick amber colored liquid.
- When the sugar is fully melted add the room temperature butter. The butter will cause the sugar to bubble rapidly, so use caution in this step.
- Whisk the butter into the caramel until it is completely incorporated. I prefer using a whisk to keep the butter and sugar from separating, but your wooden spoon or spatula can work as well.
- When your butter and sugar are fully incorporated, slowly add the heavy cream while continuing to whisk (or stir). Again, the mixture will bubble rapidly, so use caution.
- Let the mixture boil for approximately one additional minute.
- Remove from the heat and stir in ½ teaspoon of salt.
- Carefully pour caramel into a heatproof container and allow to cool down before using. You will have left over caramel sauce, store covered in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Bake the cookies:
- Once your dough has been chilled for one hour, remove from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Bake for 15 minutes, remove from the oven and fill each indent with your caramel sauce. If the indents have lost their shape, you can use the end of your spatula or a ½ teaspoon measure to press the dough back down. Bake for an additional 2 minutes.
- Allow cookies to rest on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Once cookies are completely cool, melt 4 ounces of chopped milk chocolate with a ½ teaspoon of coconut oil (or vegetable oil) using your preferred method. Then drizzle the chocolate over the cookies. The chocolate will set up in about an hour.
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?
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These look so good - putting them on my list of baked goods to try making! And I agree - I can’t keep up with all the food days either.
Thank you Jenna! I think you will love these cookies!