Caramel Ganache Shortbread Bars
Just because I don’t post as often as I ought to, doesn’t mean that I’m not always preparing for posts. I take lots of photos, look up lots of data and try lots of recipes. Many recipes are researched, tweaked, photographed, made and turn out… icky. For instance, the no-bake cookies of last week that were only firm enough to cut at refrigerator temperature. At room temperature they turned into a pan of chocolate sludge, and at freezer temperatures they were too hard to cut. I have found, to my dismay, that many food bloggers post recipes even if they don’t turn out well, just so that they have something to post. I’m learning to read and heed the disclaimers.
The recipe I’m about to impart to you is not a fluke. It is, frankly, heavenly.
At a baby shower a few months ago I ate a bar cookie that was supposed to taste like a Twix candy bar. It was very good with its layers of shortbread, caramel and chocolate. I asked for the recipe and reproduced it at home. The recipe called for crushed pre-made cookies (the Keebler elves had made them, apparently) topped with melted caramel candies (unwrapping all those little buggers took time), and spread with melted milk chocolate chips. The result was tasty, but I couldn’t get over the store-bought flavor of the shortbread. This cookie has three simple flavors that need to complement each other, and since I don’t usually eat store-bought baked goods, it took some adjustment for my palate. However, they froze very well and defrosted quickly.
Then I found a better recipe. And then I made it perfect. It is a basic shortbread cookie crust, topped with a simple homemade caramel, then topped with chocolate ganache. The driving impetus for this improvement was that I had leftover heavy cream in the fridge from making homemade ice cream, and needed to use it before it went bad. The ganache topping adds a bright, lighter flavor which keeps the cookie from being cloying. Yum.
Eat a small piece with some hot tea and be very, very happy.
- For shortbread:
- ⅔ cup butter, softened
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
- For ganache:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 8 oz. semi-sweet or milk chocolate, in small pieces
- For caramel:
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ½ cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- ½ cup sweetened condensed milk
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the ⅔ cup butter, granulated sugar and flour until crumbly.
- Press the sandy shortbread mixture into a 9-inch square baking pan.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until shortbread begins to lightly brown around edges.
- Meanwhile make the ganache. In a small saucepan combine heavy cream and 4 tablespoons butter.
- Bring mixture to a simmer.
- Turn off heat and add chocolate, swirling to cover all the bits.
- Cover pan and let sit for about 5 minutes until chocolate is melted.
- Stir until smooth and creamy and set aside (don't refrigerate).
- In a 2-quart saucepan, combine ½ cup butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk.
- Bring to a boil and continue to boil for five minutes.
- Remove from heat and beat quickly with a wooden spoon for about 3 minutes.
- Pour caramel over baked crust (warm or cold).
- Cool until caramel begins to firm, or chill.
- Pour ganache evenly over firm caramel.
- Cover dish with plastic wrap and chill completely in refrigerator until very firm.