Salted Caramel Shortbread Squares

posted on December 2, 2013 by  |  posted under Christmas, Desserts, Recipes  |  52 Comments

Salted Caramel shortbread Squares

Salted Caramel Shortbread Squares

I thought about posting a salad this week.  Something to help me detox from the all the sweet potato souffle this Thanksgiving.  But let’s face it.  No one wants to hear about salad right now.  Hauling out the holly also means the beginning of the Christmas baking season.  For me that means two things, homemade caramels and shortbread cookies.  So can you blame me for not being able to get this Pinterest find off my mind?  Check out this beauty….of Salted Caramel Shortbread Squares.

Salted Caramel shortbread SquaresA layer of buttery shortbread on the bottom.  A nice, home-brewed caramel layer in the middle and a little salt sprinkled on top for flavor and flare.  It’s Christmas baking to Luke Perry-level perfection.

Salted Caramel shortbread SquaresNothing unexpected.  Just the staples you’ll need to survive for the next three weeks.  Then we start with the shortbread.

Salted Caramel shortbread SquaresMelted butter, add in the sugar, flour and salt.  Let it cool slightly and add in beaten egg.  Press into an 8×8 pan lined with parchment.  (I used a bit of spray to help the paper stick to the bottom.)  Leaving some overhang will help you remove the block later on.

Salted Caramel shortbread SquaresAs the shortbread is cooling you can work on the caramel.  I was going for the soft ball stage here.  (235-244 degrees)  I think I went a little past it (about 250) but it turned out just fine.  I haven’t done the softball check for, like, ever.  But here is what I learned in hindsight.  You drop a spoonful of hot syrup into ice water. In the water, use your fingers to gather the cooled syrup into a ball. If it has reached soft-ball stage, the syrup easily forms a ball while in the cold water, but flattens once removed from the water.  (I wish I could have photographed this step but Googling how to do it while keeping the mixture from boiling over while getting the ice water ready while shaking a child off my leg made it absolutely impossible.)

A note for those of you using thermometers.  Check the accuracy of your thermometer by measuring plain boiling water.  It should be 212 degrees at sea level.  For every 1000 feet you gain in elevation, subtract 2 degrees.  The degree range I gave you above (235-244 degrees) is based on your elevation.  I’m right around sea level so I had to go towards the upper end of the range.  Those of you at higher elevations won’t have to wait so long.  Remember, subtract 2 degrees per 1000 feet.

Are you feeling terrified right now?  Don’t.  I was able to make it work with virtually no caramel-making experience.  The squares will be tasty at any point in the caramel softness spectrum.

Salted Caramel shortbread SquaresLet it cool slightly, then pour over the shortbread.  Sprinkle with a coarse salt (such as kosher or sea salt) if desired.   I think it is yummy and gorgeous.

Salted Caramel shortbread SquaresLet it cool in the refrigerator for a couple hours.  Then cut and serve.  I wouldn’t leave them at room temp for more than a couple hours.  The caramel may start to lose it’s shape a bit.  When you plate, make sure the squares aren’t touching so they don’t stick together.  Store in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Salted Caramel shortbread SquaresI like to sprinkle a little more salt on top before serving.  Just look how pretty.  Now if that doesn’t say “Eat me” I don’t know what does.  (So maybe nothing really says that but… never mind.)

Salted Caramel shortbread Squares

Salted Caramel Shortbread Squares

Salted Caramel Shortbread Squares


  • Shortbread:
  • 10 tbsp. salted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg yolk, whisked
  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • Caramel:
  • 14 Tablespoons of butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Coarse salt for dusting


  1. Line and 8×8 pan with parchment paper leaving the edges hanging over the two sides.
  2. For the shortbread: combine butter, sugar and flour in a bowl.
  3. Let cool slightly and add in beaten egg.
  4. Stir until combined.
  5. Press dough into the pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  6. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until it begins to brown. Let cool.
  7. For the caramel: In a sturdy saucepan combine all caramel topping ingredients except the vanilla.
  8. Bring to a boil and stir until sugars are dissolved and the mixture is well combined.
  9. Using a candy thermometer or the cold water test, cook the mixture until the soft ball stage is reached. (See above for further instructions).
  10. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
  11. Cool slightly then pour over the shortbread.
  12. Sprinkle with coarse salt and refrigerate for several hours.
  13. Once chilled, cut into 64, 1-inch squares. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to ten days.

Let me know how it goes.  I’d love to hear your tips and tricks!

Salted Caramel shortbread Squares
Thank you for supporting HowDoesShe by shopping through amazon this holiday season. Merry Christmas!

    1. December 6th, 2011 at 7:27 am
      Alison@howdoesshe says:
      Oh boy I'd like those for breakfast:) They look awesome>
    2. December 6th, 2011 at 7:40 am
      gina says:

      any tips for cutting them? I would imagine it would stick to the knife
      • December 6th, 2011 at 8:53 am
        Sarah says:
        I was actually surprised at how clean the cut was. I used a sharp knife and didn't do anything else. But one thing you can do is this: Run the knife under hot water, wipe dry, cut, then run under hot water again before you make the next cut. That's the best advice I can give on that subject!
    3. December 6th, 2011 at 8:50 am
      Joan says:
      Yum! Those look so good. I can't wait to try them.
    4. December 6th, 2011 at 11:26 am
      April @ Beyond The Small Gate says:
      Oh these look so delicious, i will have to try them. Thanks for the recipe.
    5. December 6th, 2011 at 12:34 pm
      Margaret says:
      I am so making these. They look awesome.
    6. December 6th, 2011 at 12:53 pm
      Debbie Painter says:
      Can't wait to try these!!
    7. December 6th, 2011 at 12:55 pm
      Elizabeth says:
      I can't wait to make these for our neighbors and postman!
    8. December 6th, 2011 at 1:24 pm
      Beth W says:
      Oh my gosh those look so yummy. I think I gained ten pounds just looking at the pictures. I have put the homemade caramel on brownies but never on shortbread. Going to have to try this. LOL! Dieting can wait until January. Thanks for sharing.
      • December 6th, 2011 at 9:00 pm
        Sarah says:
        What a great idea to make a brownie version. Just found my next kitchen experiment. Thanks!
    9. December 6th, 2011 at 1:50 pm
      Toni Romero says:
      This recipe looks absolutely scrumpscious. And thank you so much for the tips about cooking a higher altitudes. I live in the mountains of Southern California, above Palm Springs, at 6000 feet (yes, we get snow). I find these types of tips very helpful.
      • December 6th, 2011 at 8:57 pm
        Sarah says:
        Oh good! I didn't know if it was overkill. I'm glad someone finds it useful!
        • December 10th, 2013 at 11:42 pm
          Julie says:
          Yes,, great for those of us in Colorado too! Thnx! :)
    10. December 6th, 2011 at 2:34 pm
      Mindy says:
      Wow those look amazing! I have a holiday treat party to go to this week and I have been stewing about what to make. I just figured it out. Thank You!!!
      • December 6th, 2011 at 8:59 pm
        Sarah says:
        Great idea! The little bites are perfect for a party setting.
    11. December 6th, 2011 at 4:24 pm
      Chelle Chapman says:
      OMG!! Thank Heaven......for little bites! Cuz little bites don't carry any calories!!!!! Its a fact! I cannot WAIT to make these! TFS!!!!
    12. December 6th, 2011 at 6:54 pm
      Danielle says:
      omg I HAVE to try this!! yummm
    13. December 6th, 2011 at 6:59 pm
      nesleirbag says:
      Salted caramel is all the rage, and when you taste it you know why! Can't wait to try these!
    14. December 6th, 2011 at 7:32 pm
      Tiffani says:
      Sounds wonderful! My dad would (will!) love these!
    15. December 7th, 2011 at 7:46 am
      Missy says:
      I am in LOVE with salted caramel, and you just paired it with one of my other loves. Dying over here.
    16. December 7th, 2011 at 11:44 am
      Barbara says:
      I want to make this NOW! Thanks for sharing!!!
    17. December 7th, 2011 at 12:46 pm
      Jen Jones says:
      These look AMAZING! I'm going to have to try this one for sure!
    18. December 7th, 2011 at 1:06 pm
      Kisa says:
      These look delicious! I bet having a thin chocolate layer on top would be even even MORE delicious!
    19. December 7th, 2011 at 1:30 pm
      Tracy says:
      These look delicious -- mouth watering delicious, actually! Thanks for the recipe!
    20. December 7th, 2011 at 7:16 pm
      Jill says:
      Gina: try using a pizza cutter - that is how I cut my homemade carmels! Works like a charm - that is after putting them in the fridge for awhile! Hope that helps!
      • December 8th, 2011 at 7:40 am
        Sarah says:
        Fantastic idea!
    21. December 7th, 2011 at 9:43 pm
      Samantha says:
      These look yummy. Thanks for the recipe.
    22. December 7th, 2011 at 11:58 pm
      Katrina says:
      I LOVE salted caramel. I am going to try this. I hope I can make it taste as good as this looks.
    23. December 8th, 2011 at 8:03 am
      Sara says:
      These look divine! I'm going to make them this weekend. Thank you for the recipe!
    24. December 8th, 2011 at 11:56 am
      Heather Stover says:
      I think I will make these to take to church for fellowship time after Christmas Eve service!
      They sound delicious!

    25. December 8th, 2011 at 1:51 pm
      mszig11 says:
      I made these delicious looking shortbread bars...Had a bit of trouble cutting them. Warming the knife in hot water and oiling it EACH time a made a cut eliminated the problem of the caramel sticking to the knife. Thank you for the recipe and directions!
    26. December 8th, 2011 at 5:16 pm
      Missy Vadasy says:
      Uhhhh yum!!!!! So doing this for our party next week! Sharing to my Twitter and Blog.
    27. December 8th, 2011 at 6:02 pm
      Linda says:
      These were perfect served in mini muffin papers--no sticking and they looked so pretty!
      • December 11th, 2011 at 2:29 pm
        Sarah says:
        That is such a great idea. I bet they looked very professional plated... almost like a little baklava. :)
    28. December 8th, 2011 at 10:56 pm
      Mindy says:
      Oh my goodness, genius serving them in mini muffin papers! I made these tonight for my party and they were a HUGE hit, but just like you said they started losing shape after an hour and then were a jumbled mess on the plate. I apparently missed the instruction where you said to not plate them right next to each other. Whoop! Seriously...don't plate them right next to each other. I will definitely make these again and I'm totally using the mini muffin papers. Other than the sticking issue (which was my bad) these turned out perfect. Thanks for such a great recipe!
    29. December 9th, 2011 at 9:30 am
      Cheri says:
      These look so yummy, my mouth is watering! :) I've included a link to your recipe on my salted caramel round up today!
    30. December 10th, 2011 at 8:57 am
      katherine says:
      love love love this recipe and your awesome picture tutorial!!
    31. December 10th, 2011 at 9:43 pm
      Janette says:
      Heavenly!! I'll be trying these as one of our Christmas desserts this year :)
    32. December 12th, 2011 at 4:16 pm
      Jenn says:
      I just made these. The caramel was a little tricky because all I ha was a meat thermometer ;/ Anyway, they are sitting in the fridge and I can't wait to try them!!
    33. December 15th, 2011 at 11:24 am
      bcadina says:
      These look AMAZING! I am going to make these for a potluck. Couple of questions.... In the directions you say to add salt for the shortbread but you have no salt in shortbread ingredients. You have 1tsp of salt under the caramel ingredients; is that for the shortbread or the caramel? Does salt go in the caramel too?

      In shortbread directions you say to "Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until it begins to brown. Let cool." Do we need to put in frig for 30min before baking?

      Sorry, I am baking dummy and need to follow directions or I have no idea what I am doing, lol.

      THANK YOU!!
    34. December 15th, 2011 at 1:11 pm
      Amy says:
      Oh yum! I must make these!
    35. December 26th, 2011 at 5:25 am
      Janette says:
      I made these! I actually doubled the batch, but had them in separate dishes to take to two different functions. They were delicious. I did have trouble with my caramel running and melting into the serving plate. I'm wondering if that means I didn't cook my caramel long enough on the stovetop? I believe I got it to the correct temperature (softball stage) based on the ice water test and my thermometer, but like I said, the caramel didn't hold up like in your picture above. 5 minutes out of the fridge and it began drooping. I will play around some more with them and try to get the carmel more firm. These were definitely a winner with the crowd! Great, great post! :)
      • December 29th, 2011 at 5:59 pm
        Sarah says:
        Man. I'm sorry they didn't work perfectly for you. Caramel can be a tricky little bugger. The only suggestion I would have is to cook it longer. I've heard that humidity in the air can also affect how it turns out.
    36. January 4th, 2013 at 11:44 am
      Kay says:
      Your recipe doesn't show butter for the caramel. That can't be right.
      • January 9th, 2013 at 11:06 am
        Sarah says:
        Don't know what happened to the butter. Good eyes. Add 14 Tablespoons of butter to the top of the caramel recipe.
    37. December 2nd, 2013 at 6:09 am
      Victoria @ says:
      Yum! These look so tasty, and fun to make too. I'm a sucker for salted caramel things at the moment. Will definitely be making these soon!

      Victoria, x
    38. December 10th, 2013 at 1:40 pm
      rebecca says:
      I made these on Sunday. They were really easy, but my tasters were impressed and thought they must have been hard to make! Delicious!
    39. December 20th, 2013 at 9:58 am
      BARB says:
      would it be ok to double and put in 9 x 13 pan. have you tried it?
    40. May 19th, 2015 at 12:55 am
      baby shower party says:
      Yummy.. and the recipe, thanks for sharing
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