I love to bake cookies. From a taste perspective it’s hard to beat a warm, chewy chocolate chip cookie. They’re everyone’s favorite but I enjoy going through the motions of creating something that takes a little bit more effort. Usually during the holidays I make Sue’s sugar cookies with buttercream frosting, but you’ve seen those here over and over again. Yesterday I decided a layered cookie bar was in order.
These are some of the best cookies to come out of my kitchen. They’re blissfully rich and sinfully good. The thin, flaky Maldon sea salt on the chocolate gives you a satisfying little crunch before it melts on your tongue. The homemade caramel is buttery. One small cookie with a cup of coffee (or in our case last night, glasses of cold white wine) will make you a happy person. It’s an added bonus that they’re stunningly beautiful.
I found many, many recipes online that are like this one (practically verbatim) but I’ll toss the credit to eatswellwithothers. I found a few minor problems which I fixed.
This recipe makes about 70 cookies. A whole plate full went with a daughter to work. That leaves plenty to be divvied up and taken to neighbors this afternoon.
For the shortbread:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
For the caramel:
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 (14 ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
For the chocolate:
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Maldon sea salt flakes or other sea salt for sprinkling
To make the shortbread, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, making sure that paper comes over the sides of the pan. (You’ll be using the paper to lift the finished cookies out of the pan.) In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, blend in the flour mix until just incorporated. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking pan and press into an even layer. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes or until golden. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the caramel, combine the butter, sugar, corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, stirring constantly. Continue simmering and stirring until the mix turns an amber color and thickens a bit. (I found this takes about 8-10 minutes.) Pour over the shortbread layer and even it out using and offset spatula. Chill cookies in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.
For the chocolate layer, in a double boiler, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter over simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is fully melted and the mixture is smooth. Pour evenly over the caramel layer and use an offset spatula to smooth it out. Allow to cool for a minute or two and then sprinkle with the sea salt. Chill, covered, until ready to slice or serve.
Take a thin, sharp knife and cut around the long edges of the pan to separate cookies from the pan. Using overhanging parchment paper as handles, gently pull entire sheet of cookies from the pan. Cut cookies into 2-inch bars and then cut bars into 1-inch pieces. Cookies should measure 2 x 1-inches.