Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust

12
47
*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.*

DSCN2260

Put on your fat pants. These bars are seriously addictive.

What is it with me and the combination of chocolate and caramel these days? For a gal who doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth, I can’t seem to get enough of it.

These bars are one part candy, one part cookie. For this recipe, cinnamon-laced brown-sugar shortbread is draped in a rich fudge topping that’s half chocolate ganache, half dulce de leche.

As with most good things, the waiting is the hardest part about making these. Once you make ’em, they need a good three or four hours to set up.

What is dulce de leche? What kind should I use for this recipe?

Good question. Dulce de leche is milk that’s been slow cooked with sugar until it basically turns into a thick caramel sauce.

I know a bunch of folks who make their own, but I wouldn’t go through the trouble for this recipe. The topping for these bars is mainly chocolate flavored. The dulce de leche adds a subtle caramel flavor, and contributes to the velvety consistency.

Save the homemade stuff for when it’s the star of the show. I used a bottle La Salamandra, and it worked out great. I picked it up at Whole Foods, by the ice cream toppings.

DSCN2004

It was all I could do to keep from jumping into the jar and swimming around with my mouth open.

DSCN2015

I mean, seriously:

DSCN2012

That said, when it comes time to make my own, you bet your pants I’m going to use Alton Brown’s dulce de leche recipe, which practically has cult status on the interwebs.

What kind of chocolate to use (plus the best way to chop it)

I make this recipe with regular ole semi-sweet Baker’s chocolate. By all means, use your favorite kind. Aim for 50-60 percent cacao.

DSCN2147

DSCN2149

Ever try to chop blocks of Baker’s chocolate with a butcher’s knife? Did you cut yourself? I know I did, and I’m pretty good with pointy things.

Blocks of chocolate like this are big, bulky, and can be downright slippery. That’s why I always use a serrated bread knife to chop chocolate.

DSCN2150

Its pointy little teeth dig into the chocolate as you chop, which stabilizes your knife and makes the whole process a lot easier—and safer, in my book.

DSCN2151

Press down on the end of your knife as you chop.

DSCN2153

Chop the chocolate finely, so that it melts quickly.

DSCN2154

Serving suggestions for caramel fudge bars

(You mean aside from sitting down with the pan, a fork, and a big glass of milk?)

I recommend serving these with a cup or two of good espresso. The bitterness of the coffee is a nice foil for the creamy fudge topping.

Cut them into large squares—or dainty petit fours. If you’re packing them to travel, cut them into small squares and nestle each one in a mini-muffin liner.

I like to garnish large pieces with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream right before serving. Trust me: Your guests won’t know what hit them.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust

Crust
16 Tbls. butter, softened on the counter for about 20 minutes
2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups flour

Fudge topping
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups dulce de leche
8 egg yolks from jumbo eggs
10 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped finely

Yields 1 (9×13 inch) pan

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan lightly with oil. Line it with parchment paper, so that the paper hangs over two sides. This will make it easier to air lift the whole thing out later, if you like.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Make the cinnamon shortbread crust

Put the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of your mixer.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Toss in the vanilla, salt, and cinnamon.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Beat on high until you have a homogeneous paste.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Turn it over a few times with your spatula to be sure you don’t have stray sugar in the very bottom of the bowl.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Toss in the flour and mix a little with your spatula to get the dough started.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Then mix on high for maybe 30 seconds, until the dough just comes together.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

You want it to look about like this (think really fresh Play-Doh).

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Transfer the dough to your prepared pan.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Smoosh the dough down with your hands, spreading it out so that it fills the entire pan.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Try to get it fairly level (so it bakes evenly), but don’t make yourself nuts.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Next, prick the dough all over with a fork. The holes will let steam out as the shortbread cooks, which will keep your cookie crust from developing big bubbles.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Pop the pan into your preheated 375-degree oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

The shortbread is done when the surface is firm to the touch and the edges are golden brown.

DSCN2140

Set the pan aside to cool to room temperature.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Make the fudge topping

Next, grab your eggs.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Separate the yolks from the whites. (Save the whites, and turn them into chocolate-swirled Tuxedo Meringues or use them for a flavor-packed Fresh-Herb Egg-White Omelet.)

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Put the yolks in a large mixing bowl.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Beat them well, then set them aside while you deal with the cream.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Grab your dulce de leche. Try not to gobble down the whole jar. Put the cream and dulce de leche in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pot.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Set it on the stove over medium heat.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Whisk gently to break up the dulce de leche.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Keep whisking until all the dulce de leche has melted and the mixture is uniform.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Bring it up to a simmer, whisking often. As the mixture gets hot, it will thicken.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

When it comes to a simmer, remove the pot from the heat. Pour about half of the hot mixture into the beaten egg yolks in a slow, thin stream. Whisk constantly. You want to temper the egg yolks (raise their temperature gently) so they don’t scramble.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust

When you’ve poured in about half the mixture, add the rest to the bowl, whisking continuously.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Next, pour the contents of your bowl back into the pot. Pour through a strainer, if you like, to catch any errant bits of egg that may have cooked solid.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Clip a candy thermometer to the inside of your pot and set it on the stove over medium-high heat.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Whisk continuously. Cook like this until the mixture reaches 175 degrees and has thickened.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

When it’s ready, the mixture should coat the back of a spoon and hold a line, like this:

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Warning: Keep a good eye on your candy thermometer and be careful not to overcook the mixture. (If you do, it can break and separate, making it basically unusable.)

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

When it’s ready, remove the pot from the heat and toss in the chopped chocolate.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Whisk to combine. The chocolate will start to melt immediately.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Keep whisking until all the chocolate has melted.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Assemble & chill the bars

Pour the chocolate mixture on top of your cooled shortbread crust.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Spread it out with a spatula so that it’s relatively even. Let it cool to room temperature on the counter. Then pop it into the fridge uncovered to chill completely, about 3 to 4 hours. (This is the hard part, where you wait.)

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Serve & enjoy!

When the bars are ready to cut, the fudge topping will be pretty firm. Slice with a knife dipped in hot water, wiping it down in between each cut.

Caramel Fudge Bars with Cinnamon Shortbread Crust at The Hungry Mouse

Enjoy!

SHARE
Previous articleGarlic & Ginger Encrusted Rack of Pork
Next articleMy Cookbook is available to order!
Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie serves as an Associate Creative Director at PARTNERS+simons, a boutique ad agency in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Oh my, they look outstanding. BUT Bakers chocolate? I am a choco snob… I had a huge fight with my new boss when he asked me to use GFS (like Sysco but worse) chocolate. I told him callebaut or no choco dessert. In the end we settled for ghiradelli 😉

  2. When I think I have all the recipes I need for cookies for holiday giving, I see Just One More I have to try. And…yea for me, I have some of Alton’s Dulce de Leche in the fridge from another recipe so no excuses. Am worried about one thing; will the fat pants I bought that I no longer have any room left for expansion be able to handle this…whew, the rigors of holiday baking! 🙂

  3. {Please allow me to sound like a screaming teenager for a moment} OMG! OMG! OMG!

    {We now return you to the grown up} OMG!

    I think these are going to have to be added to my “always bake for Christmas” list. Normally I would be hesitant to try a recipe with some of these steps (like adding a hot liquid to egg yolks) but, as always, your wonderful photographs and instructions inspire me to try. Although I’ve never seen a recipe use the phrase “don’t make yourself nuts” which is really a very accurate description.

    Jessie, how long does it take you to make anything when you are photographing the entire process in such detail? It really is spectacular!

  4. I made these bars for a couple of my girlfriends on Valentine’s day and they absolutely loved them. I just finished making another batch and can’t wait to try them.

LEAVE A REPLY