These Salted Caramel Shortbread Squares are simply amazing. With a buttery crust and a beautifully swirled topping of caramel and chocolate dusted with sea salt, they look like a treat from a fancy bakery.
Any time I have heavy cream to use up the first things I think of is ice cream or caramel. Since my freezer is packed and my ice cream maker bowl is not frozen I simply had to make caramel this time.
Oh, what a sad day it was.
I've been wanting to make a caramel bar for some time so I whipped up my Easy Pie Crust, poured some homemade caramel sauce on top, swirled in chocolate, sprinkled with sea salt, and called it a day. A very nice day it was.
I love the gorgeous swirls on these bars and the way the sea salt glistens in the light. They are delicious, easy to make, and pretty. Those are the best kinds of desserts.
The crust for this salted caramel shortbread can seem dry when you process it in the food processor. Don't worry! Just keep the machine going and within a few minutes, it comes together into a dough. I've made this dough dozens of times and it always comes back together as the butter gets cut by the food processor blade.
The color of homemade caramel is so vibrant. I love the sweet smell of it bubbling away on the stove.
I know that my caramel is done when it is thickened, fragrant, and starts to get very dark bits at the bottom when whisking. The perfect caramel is done just a few seconds before it starts to burn. Don't leave this unattended once it starts to thicken and change color. That's the time to watch it and whisk.
You can use any type of sugar-free chocolate in this recipe. If you prefer very dark chocolate or milk chocolate to semi-sweet just substitute a similar amount for the chocolate chips.
If you don't like chocolate (I knew someone like that once) feel free to leave it off and just make a salted caramel shortbread. I really want to try these without the chocolate and with some thinly sliced apple in the layer of caramel. I think it would give them a nice texture and only increase the carbs a little bit.
In my dessert recipes, I normally use Trim Healthy Mama Gentle Sweet which is a combination of xylitol, erythritol, and stevia or my own sweetener blend of the same three ingredients. My sweetener can be switched with Gentle Sweet in any recipes. I have not tested this salted caramel shortbread recipe with other sweeteners. Most sugar alcohol based sweeteners should work but you may have to adjust the quantity. My sweetener blend is twice as sweet as sugar. If the sweetener you prefer is equal to sugar you will need to increase the amount.
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- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ⅔ cup Joy Filled Eats Sweetener (or see alternatives in recipe notes)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ⅓ cup sugar-free chocolate chips melted
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt
- Preheat oven to 350. Line the bottom of a 9 inch square cake pan with parchment paper.
- Mix the crust ingredients in a food processor until the dough comes together. This can take 2-3 minutes. Press into the bottom of the prepared cake pan. Bake for 16-20 minutes at 350 degrees until golden brown. Cool completely.
- Meanwhile, combine the sweetener, cream, and butter in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium, stirring frequently, until deep golden brown and thickened. Depending on the heat of your stovetop this can take 10-15 minutes. Watch it carefully. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla. Cool for 5 minutes.
- Pour the caramel over the cooled crust. Put dollops of the melted chocolate ever inch or two. Use a butter knife to gently swirl them together. Sprinkle with the sea salt.
- Store at room temperature for 2-3 days. You can refrigerate for longer storage but the caramel will firm up.