Spring break is over, the crazy warm temperatures in CT have gone away, and it’s back to the daily grind around here.  But thankfully I’m feeling refreshed and energized thanks to an amazing trip to Florida with my family.  My attitude about blogging specifically benefited since I attended the Food Blog Forum in Orlando (held right inside Epcot!) put together by Jaden and Scott of Steamy Kitchen, Diane and Todd of White on Rice Couple, and Julie of The Little Kitchen.  This was my first food blogging conference ever and I was blown away by the inspiring presentations, amazing food and giveaways, and the overall engaging community feel.  I met so many great people, including one of my blogging idols Bakerella, and came back inspired to continue improving and telling my food stories with thoughtful words and well-styled photographs.

Caramels photo courtesy of Wanda of My Sweet Zepol

I must admit I was a bit skeptical of  food blogging conferences in general before signing up, and I’m not sure I would have jumped on board if I hadn’t already booked flights and planned a trip to Orlando for the same weekend (crazy coincidence!).  The whole event was hosted by Walt Disney World, and since my family and I were planning on spending a few days at the parks anyway, I had no reason to wimp out this time.  And WOW I’m so glad I went!  Just look at the desserts in the pictures above – WDW went above and beyond providing us breakfast, lunch, and dessert, not to mention 2 nights at the Polynesian Resort and a handful of park hoppers.  OXO also provided canisters of Good Karmal caramels at the center of each table, and I definitely ate my fair share – by the end of the day I had enough karma to help me win that big 7 quart mixer from Kitchen Aid!  I’ve been wanting to make caramels for awhile now, and so when I got back to CT I decided to make these salted caramel shortbread bites to help feed my FBFOrlando-induced caramel craving.

Salted caramel is definitely a trendy flavor that people go crazy over these days, and all for good reason!  The combination of salty and sweet is wonderful here, especially with the sprinkling of sea salt and the shortbread layer to help cut out some of the sweetness of the caramel.  I love shortbread in any form, but especially underneath a layer of thick, creamy caramel.  I decided to cut my caramel bars into little bite-sized pieces since the caramel is pretty rich, and I think they’re the perfect portion to appease your sweet tooth without actually rotting your teeth in one bite!

Don’t be intimidated by making caramel at home – just invest in a cheap candy thermometer, follow the recipe instructions, and you’ll be licking the spoon in no time :)  I probably could have let my caramel get a little deeper in color by letting it boil a bit longer, but I was anxious to put these together and they still tasted great.  Just like I was nervous to attend my first blogging conference, candy-making can be nerve-wracking too, but these are too good to pass over – give them a try and you won’t be sorry!

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Salted Caramel Shortbread

Recipe adapted from What's Gaby Cooking

Ingredients:

for the shortbread layer:
10 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg yolk
1-2/3 cups flour

for the caramel:
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tsp sea salt, plus more for sprinkling on top
4 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp heavy cream
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Line an 8×8″ pan with parchment paper, leaving some hanging over the sides to make removal easier.

In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar, and salt with a pastry cutter or fork. Add the egg yolk and continue mixing.

Add the flour and use your hands to combine the dough until coarse crumbs form. Transfer the dough into the prepared pan and press it down into one even layer.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 25 minutes, until slightly golden brown. Set aside to cool.

For the caramel, combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, salt, sugar, and heavy cream. Bring to a boil and stir for about 5-10 minutes until caramel reaches the “soft ball stage” at around 230 degrees.

Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla and pour caramel over the shortbread.

Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, then sprinkle with sea salt and cut into squares. Store caramels in the fridge until you’re ready to eat them.

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97 Responses to “Salted Caramel Shortbread + FBF Orlando”

  1. #
    1
    Kristennn — March 29, 2012 @ 3:28 am

    I’ve been a follower of your blog ever since you posted the molar cupcakes back in September- but I haven’t said anything until now! I just wanted to say that I really enjoy your blog, and I think it is awesome that you have time to bake and blog on top of going to dental school!

    In addition to that, I’m an RDA in California, and our poor doctor is getting ready to retire… so if you happen to want to buy a practice (or buy into it as an associate) once you’re finished with school, we would be happy to have you! ;) We are a large office and we are all pretty creative- we have lots of baking contests, potlucks, and decorating contests and I think you would fit right in!

    I’ll end my pitch now, but you can check out some of our contests through our facebook page and I hope you’ll have lots of fun with your staff in the future! ;)
    http://www.facebook.com/riveroaksdental

    - Kristen

    • Erica — March 29th, 2012 @ 5:19 pm

      Thanks so much for the great comment! I’ve never received a job offer from a post before. Haha unfortunately I’m planning on staying in CT for awhile, but it’s great to hear you have so much fun in the office! I’m hoping my staff will have a similar demeanor :) The facebook page looks like a lot of fun.

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    Hodge Podge — March 29, 2012 @ 6:09 am

    Oooo… as a new resident of California that’s a very tempting offer, Erica!

    I know salted caramel is a trendy flavor right now but it’s become one of my favorite flavors of all time. I’m glad it became popular otherwise I’d never have tried it :) Thanks for the recipe!

    And isn’t WDW just wonderful?!

    Jamie
    hodgepodgegallery.blogspot.com

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    Kate — March 29, 2012 @ 6:51 am

    Yum, this just looks delicious! I am so pleased to have discovered your blog, you post such wonderful recipes and I love your photography. I have spent like half an hour on your blog, just drooling over all your posts! Hope you can take a look at my blog some time and follow if you like, would mean so much. x

    Kate {Something Fabulous}
    http://thesomethingfabulous.blogspot.com

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    Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts — March 29, 2012 @ 8:46 pm

    These little bars looks incredible. I love caramel flavored anything! The conference looks like so much fun, I wish I would have been able to attend!

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    Taylor — March 29, 2012 @ 10:28 pm

    Looks like you had a blast!! How lucky you were winning the mixer!

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    MyFudo™ — March 30, 2012 @ 5:56 am

    Looks really delicious. This is something new for me, will try pretty soon.

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    lisaiscooking — March 30, 2012 @ 1:56 pm

    These cookies look so great! I love caramel, and on top of crunchy shortbread it makes an amazing treat. Delicious.

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    Dina — March 30, 2012 @ 4:24 pm

    wow they look delish!

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    Anna @ hiddenponies — March 30, 2012 @ 4:47 pm

    These look amazing! I love shortbread in any form, and your caramel looks so perfect. I’m intimidated by food blogging conferences too – nice to hear you enjoyed it!

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    Ambika — March 31, 2012 @ 1:22 am

    Wow! These look super delicious! I am so glad I found your blog Erica, I will keep coming back for more, have a great weekend :)

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    lapetitecucina — April 5, 2012 @ 3:27 pm

    Oh la la, that Caramel Salé is right up my alley. I can’t wait to try this recipe. And the bite size cases are such a sweet* touch. I’m about to delve into your archive and feel like I might be here for quite a while! I’ll be sure post the results of my shortbread attempt on my blog, La Petite Cucina. Thanks again for sharing!

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    Anonymous — April 5, 2012 @ 6:31 pm

    Thanks so much for posting this — can’t wait to try it! You mention sprinkling the salt on *after* refrigerating — does the salt stick okay when the caramel is hard? I was thinking it might be better to put the salt on when the caramel is still soft…?

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    J*Sofe — April 5, 2012 @ 8:53 pm

    I tried this just last week.. they tasted amazing!! My only issue (That I’m hoping you can help so I can make them again) is that outside the fridge, the caramel didn’t keep their shape. I made them for a party and they weren’t very pretty when I got there (and I had them on ice!!)

    Any thoughts? Less corn syrup maybe?

    • Erica — April 6th, 2012 @ 9:48 pm

      Hi! I actually had a similar problem. If you can see in the pictures, some of the caramel is drooping down the sides a bit. I put them in the mini cupcake liners so at least everything was contained, but I’m not sure how to prevent this! Sorry but good luck

    • Megan Leigh — April 30th, 2012 @ 6:40 am

      I’ve made a similar treat with a layer of graham crackers, chocolate, and caramel. It helps if you freeze everything, after pouring on the caramel layer – helps it to harden a little!

      Will definitely have to try this recipe! Looks so good

    • Paul — June 25th, 2012 @ 3:39 am

      This recipe is fantastic! I’ve made it twice and the second time, I doubled the recipe. I too have found that the caramel droops quite a bit once plated. To help, I put my pan directly into the freezer after I’ve poured the caramel – hoping I’m not breaking any rules here – but it helps them keep their shape longer and makes it less gooey when cutting.

      Thanks for the recipe – I’m definitely going to be a subscriber of your blog now!

    • Erin West — July 9th, 2012 @ 9:28 pm

      I made this for a huge gala that we had this weekend. Same problem. I actually had a chef make it and they said take the caramel just a little bit harder. A little bit over the soft ball stage, but not too much more or it will stick to your mouth. We will make this again!! Though we may go with the mini-wrappers.
      This was a huge hit, not matter the mess!

    • Anonymous — July 9th, 2012 @ 9:50 pm

      If you’re caramel is runny, boil it to a higher temperature. For instance, I typically consider soft ball to be 235.

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    Maggie @ A Bitchin' Kitchen — April 11, 2012 @ 5:40 am

    This looks delicious! I love salted caramel. So jealous that you got to go to FBF! I really want to make it to a blogging conference this year.

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    Rachel @ Baked by Rachel — April 12, 2012 @ 11:40 pm

    I absolutely love the sound of this and they look really cute too!

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    NetworkersDream — April 27, 2012 @ 7:27 pm

    Hi I had to post, my moms 80th is manana, and I wanted to make her something she needs. Yes, NEEDS. so I am making her these! Ole’. I will let you know how it goes.

  17. #
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    Joanne — April 28, 2012 @ 3:16 am

    I am going to make this for Christmas this year for sure.

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    Devin@mytwistontaste — April 30, 2012 @ 6:38 pm

    Looks simply delicious! Love your coordinating header photos, especially the cookie with the tooth lol…so cute! Will continue to follow up on your future posts, I have a sweet tooth of my own :) Congrats on winning the Kitchen Aid Mixer hehe.

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    VJ — May 1, 2012 @ 1:20 am

    I made these tonight and have them in the fridge cooling as I type. I did lick the spoon and it was oh so good. I do have a question though, the caramel portion calls for 4 table spoons of cream, is that equal to 1/4 cup? Just curious. I am eager to taste and enjoy the entire treat tomorrow! Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Erica — May 1st, 2012 @ 2:15 am

      Yes, 4 tbsp is 1/4 cup :) Enjoy!

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    Anonymous — May 6, 2012 @ 3:41 pm

    Made these yesterday they are awsome !

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    Anonymous — May 18, 2012 @ 8:53 am

    What does 10 tbsp of butter equal?

    • Erica — May 22nd, 2012 @ 2:44 am

      1/2 cup(1 stick) + 2 tablespoons

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    Anonymous — May 21, 2012 @ 4:03 pm

    I made these for a shower and everyone loved them. They don’t hold up in hot heat really well but boy are they yummy.

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    easy cook — May 26, 2012 @ 7:58 am

    I’ve been making caramels for over 12 years… and much like Good Karmal I started out selling them as Christmas gifts for people. (where would I be today if I had the business sense and contacts they had?! :( lol) anyway, your “droopy caramel” probably has something to do with the temperature it reaches and not so much the ingredients at all.
    I will have to try the whole sea salt concoction… I have my caramel down to a science – 99% of the time turns out the same – so this will be interesting
    thanks for sharing!!

    • Cookinupastorm — August 28th, 2012 @ 4:39 pm

      You sound lke you know a lot about caramel! I want to try this recipe but don’t want a big mess. What do you suggest?

  24. #
    24
    PolkaDotPrincess — May 26, 2012 @ 9:08 pm

    Saw this on Pinterest. Wow, does this look yummy! I can’t wait to try this! Thanks for sharing such a delicious looking treat!

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    Anonymous — June 4, 2012 @ 5:12 am

    Same! Pinterest brought me here and I can’t wait to give it a try!

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    Anonymous — June 15, 2012 @ 12:54 am

    Flavor is amazing… But they don’t hold up well. Nothing like the picture. I servers just like the picture and they were not pretty but our guests LOVED them.

    • Anonymous — June 18th, 2012 @ 8:25 pm

      Try cooking caramel until it reaches 236-degrees F. 230 is too low for it to hold shape at room temperature.

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    Anonymous — June 24, 2012 @ 9:37 pm

    drizzled with chocolate? Or dipped? Sounds like a popular candy bar to me :)

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    Loretta — June 25, 2012 @ 4:00 am

    I’ve never tried candy, so this is for those of you who are non-candy makers.
    Make sure you have your shortening bread baked and already cooling before you start making the caramel. I didn’t realize how fast the candy would come to a boil. Oh and the candy thermometer, I couldn’t figure out which tick mark was 236, so I grabbed my digital meat thermometer, it was much easier to get the reading.
    Since this was my first try with Candy making, my caramel is still a little soft, but at the rate it’s being eaten, I don’t think they really care. These are wonderful Super Sweet and salty treats. I will definitely try it again to perfect the firmness of the caramel.

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    Anonymous — July 7, 2012 @ 12:01 pm

    Do you use AP flour.. Thanks!

    • Erica — July 9th, 2012 @ 12:15 pm

      Yes, AP flour!

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    Anonymous — August 4, 2012 @ 9:54 pm

    these look awesome! im wondering if anybody knows if they can be freezed and then just thaw them out on party day? do you think that would work?

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    Anonymous — August 5, 2012 @ 10:52 pm

    I came across this on pinterest and I knew I had to try it. It was very easy to make.
    I loved it! I made them for my mother in law today and she couldn’t
    Stop eating them. Even my husband ate it! Thank you
    For the recipe:)

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    Karly — August 14, 2012 @ 2:28 am

    Just made these tonight!! They ve only been in the fridge for 2 hrs but I dug in;) amazing!!! Thanks for the recipe :))

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    Anonymous — August 20, 2012 @ 11:05 pm

    Ok…I really don’t want to make the caramel any alternatives? Can I melt some caramels?? :-)

    • Erica — August 21st, 2012 @ 1:22 am

      Sorry, I’m not sure if melting caramels would result in the same dessert, but I say it’s worth a try if you’re really not into making your own caramel! But I would highly suggest you give it a try!!

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    michelle — August 29, 2012 @ 12:41 pm

    So. I made these and love the flavor! I actually cooked the Carmel to 240 degree by accident because it cooks fast. Do you try to hold at temp for awhile? I was disappointed that all the Carmel slumped off the shortbread and will not hold up for a party.. literally have to eat it off the paper wrappers..you said refridgerate and eat but were you able to set them out on the tabletop for a party? Any other suggestions to keep their shape?

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    Carrie — September 10, 2012 @ 6:40 pm

    Hi – this recipe looks delightful! I’m going to be making them this weekend for a baby shower. With the size you cut them, about how many did the 8×8 pan make? Thanks so much!

    • Erica — September 12th, 2012 @ 3:35 pm

      I think the recipe made about 36 – good luck and enjoy!

    • Carrie — September 15th, 2012 @ 6:23 pm

      thanks for the reply!!! here I go!

    • Carrie — September 16th, 2012 @ 4:31 am

      They turned out perfectly and were such a hit!! Thank you so much!!

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    Anonymous — September 11, 2012 @ 12:38 am

    I made some this afternoon, they we in the fridge for an hour before I couldn’t help but cut a square out to try. They were delicious at first, but the more I chewed, they harder and harder the carmel became, so much to the point to where I didn’t think I could swallow it! What did I do wrong??

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    heart cooks brain — September 22, 2012 @ 11:33 am

    @Anonymous: I think you cooked the caramel too long! This side (http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/candy/sugar-stages.html) is helpful.

    I decided to cook my caramel until the sugar reached the firm-ball stage instead of the soft-ball stage. you can easily do this without a thermometer, by the way. the caramel turned out perfect, but i head problems with cutting the shortbread – it’s so crumbly. why did your little squares turn out so perfect?

    • Erica — September 22nd, 2012 @ 4:00 pm

      It’s possible that your butter wasn’t “room temperature” enough – you want it to be soft to the touch but not melty. Maybe you didn’t leave it out long enough? Shortbread is supposed to be pretty crumbly, but not so crumbly that you can’t cut it. I’m sorry I can’t be of more help, but I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe!

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    heart cooks brain — September 22, 2012 @ 11:33 am

    (the recipe is great, by the way :))

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    Anonymous — September 26, 2012 @ 8:32 pm

    you should put a print recipe button for your recipes

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    Whitney — October 9, 2012 @ 11:57 pm

    Can i substitute whole milk for the heavy cream or will i need to add more butter or some starch with it?

    • Erica — October 10th, 2012 @ 1:22 pm

      I think whole milk should be fine and maybe an extra tbsp to add some extra fat to the caramel. Enjoy!

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    Tricia — November 21, 2012 @ 12:46 am

    I made the recipe and forgot to add in the vanilla! Is it going to effect the recipe too much???

    • Erica — November 26th, 2012 @ 3:20 am

      Sorry for the delayed response, but it shouldn’t make a huge difference – the caramel will be a strong enough flavor!

  42. #
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    Cleo — November 28, 2012 @ 3:23 pm

    Just made these, they are absolutely delicious. :)

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    Leigh-Ann Hooley — December 6, 2012 @ 11:37 pm

    I made these, and yes they are delicious. However, my caramel is hard! What did I do wrong? I had the candy thermometer – 230º as recommended.

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    Tessy Fuller — December 7, 2012 @ 4:35 pm

    Just wondering about using dark brown sugar instead of light. My other caramel recipes use dark brown sugar. What is the difference?

    • Erica — December 11th, 2012 @ 7:42 pm

      The difference is just in the amount of molasses in the sugar. I just happened to have light brown sugar on hand, so that’s what I used :)

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    Ariel — December 12, 2012 @ 6:27 am

    Ugh just tried doing this for the first time but my caramel came out like a hard candy once it set and I’m pretty sure it’s Bc I didn’t have a candy thermometer but it I stick it in the microwave it softens up enough to eat!
    I will have to try again when I have enough time again :) lol

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    Melmax — December 16, 2012 @ 5:27 pm

    Erica- this is simply amazing. I made this for a holiday “cookie exchange” at work, but modified it to be gluten free so that I could actually enjoy it. I am shocked at how easy it is to make caramel at home. Thanks for sharing this great recipe.

  47. #
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    Teressa — June 11, 2013 @ 6:47 am

    This is really helpful! I need to make small canapés for school and these look really good! Thanks Erica (and ‘Whats Gaby Cooking’!

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    Trish — August 25, 2013 @ 8:55 pm

    I made this today, It is awesome. I didn’t have the light brown sugar so used dark brown instead. It came out perfectly. The caramel a little darker, but still yummy. This recipe is a keeper!

  49. #
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    Stacey — September 22, 2013 @ 1:31 am

    My caramel was rock hard. Did I boil it to long?

    • Erica — September 23rd, 2013 @ 12:19 pm

      Yes sounds like that might have been the problem. Did you use a candy thermometer?

  50. #
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    Elizabeth — October 20, 2013 @ 4:33 pm

    Just made these and they are AMAZING!!! Thanks for sharing the recipe:)

  51. #
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    Emily Lloyd — November 28, 2013 @ 5:26 pm

    I made these and they came out AMAZING!!! I heated my caramel to 240 degree though and my caramel is chewing and wonderful. I found this recipe super easy and will definitely be making them again and again!

  52. #
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    Christina — November 30, 2013 @ 11:00 pm

    I made these and they were delicious! Can you store them in the freezer though?

    • Erica — December 2nd, 2013 @ 4:04 am

      Hmmm I’m really not sure about the freezer. For some reason I think that may affect the caramel, but I’m not sure. Maybe do some research online to see if anyone else has successfully froze caramels? Good luck, and glad you liked them!

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    Katie — December 9, 2013 @ 1:08 am

    Just made these tonight! I can’t wait to see how they turn out! I’ve never made caramel before, but love to eat it! So far they look great.

  54. #
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    Victoria — December 9, 2013 @ 11:55 pm

    How many small bites does the recipe make? Thinking about making it for my neighbors and didn’t know how much ingredients to get.

    • Erica — December 10th, 2013 @ 3:09 am

      Not sure exactly – depends on how big/small you cut your pieces, but I’d estimate about 50!

  55. #
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    Katie — December 13, 2013 @ 1:38 am

    They didn’t work when I went to cut them the caramel just ran everywhere….what did I miss or do wrong??

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    Bob — December 13, 2013 @ 2:10 am

    I made these tonight and followed the directions to the letter but my caramel isn’t holding up. It’s way too gooey/soft. It’s running off the shortbread even after several hours in the fridge. I may try again tomorrow but with a more traditional caramel recipe of just granulated sugar and maybe a splash of water, salt and nothing else.

  57. #
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    Kat — December 14, 2013 @ 3:41 pm

    I made these last weekend and they came out beautifully. They are deliciously dangerous!

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    Roz — December 16, 2013 @ 1:41 am

    We sell caramels where I work and store extras in the freezer until needed :)

  59. #
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    Katie — December 23, 2013 @ 1:15 am

    Can I use Kraft caramel bits melted for the top layer? I do not have the time to make the caramel in this recipe but have two bags of the caramel bits and not a clue what to do with them (never got around to those autumn caramel apples!)

    • Erica — December 23rd, 2013 @ 1:58 am

      Hmm I’m not sure, but I think it would be fine! I can’t imagine it would be bad at least, but not sure if it’ll look/taste the same. Let me know if that works!

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    Nancy Mock — January 26, 2014 @ 4:04 pm

    I saw these on Pinterest, they look amazing! I can’t wait to try making them. Your photos are beautiful. Thanks for the recipe!

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    Lauren — March 7, 2014 @ 4:24 am

    About how many does this recipe make?

    • Erica — March 7th, 2014 @ 3:04 pm

      I think about 36. Best of luck!

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