A buttery, melt in your mouth shortbread base with a dollop of real caramel, a pinch of flakey sea salt and you have before you the Ultimate Caramel Cookie! You will need a candy thermometer and several mini muffin tins for this but it’s actually a very simple recipe that yields extraordinary results. Enjoy!
For the shortbread:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup finely chopped pecans (see Note # 1 below)
For the caramel:
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
4 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons evaporated milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Flakey Sea Salt
Make the shortbread:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, flour, and salt, then add pecans and mix until just combined. Do not over mix; mixture will be crumbly.
Press a heaping teaspoon of shortbread batter into each well of a mini muffin tin to form a flat base about 1/4 inch in thickness. (see Note #2 below) Bake for 25 minutes, until the cookies are just firm to the touch. Cool slightly then remove cookies to wire racks to cool completely.
Make the Caramel:
Combine the sugars and the corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over med-high heat and attach a candy thermometer to the side of your pan. Once the mixture reaches 240 degrees, remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, cream and evaporated milk…this will make the mixture bubble violently for a few seconds so be careful. Stir in the vanilla and let cool a bit. At this point, you are waiting for the caramel to reach a consistency that will be thin enough to spoon onto the cookies, yet thick enough so that it doesn’t run off the sides. This will take approximately 10 minutes.
When the caramel is ready, drop a teaspoon onto each shortbread base and let set for at least 15 minutes before you sprinkle each cookie with a pinch of sea salt. Cookies keep 3 days covered at room temperature. Makes about 5 dozen.
Note #1: Here is my favorite gadget to use when I want nuts chopped finely, but not ground.( Nut Chopper)
Note #2: An inexpensive wooden Tart Tamper, will make very quick work of pressing the batter into the mini muffin tins to form the bases for these cookies.