Caramel-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Shortbread - made March 27, 2010 from The Baker's Catalog
ETA: now that these have cooled completely, I tried one the next day and found it almost impossible to eat. The caramel had hardened too much. I'd advise adding cream or milk to the caramels when you melt them so when they cool, the caramel mixture is still soft, not hard and chewy. Otherwise, you can "salvage" this by warming up the pieces for about 15 seconds in the microwave to soften/melt the caramel. Then they're delicious.
1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
2 1/3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour 1 cup chocolate chips
8 ounces (a scant 1 cup, packed) vanilla caramel
2/3 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
6 ounces (a scant 3/4 cup, packed) vanilla caramel
1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Lightly grease two round 9-inch cake pans.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, cream together the butter, salt, sugar, and vanilla. Combine 1 cup of the flour and the chocolate chips in the work bowl of a food processor, and process until the chocolate is chopped; you want the chocolate pieces to be small enough that they don’t poke up out of the dough, as they would in chocolate chip cookies; but large enough that you can still discern them as being individual bits. Combine the rest of the flour and the flour/chocolate mixture with the other ingredients. Divide the dough in half and press it into the prepared pans, smoothing the surface with your fingers. Prick the dough all over with a fork.
3. Bake the shortbread for 35 to 40 minutes, until it’s golden brown around the edges. While the shortbread is baking, place the pecans in a single layer in an ungreased pan, and bake them right along with the shortbread, for about 8 to 10 minutes, until they’re golden brown and smell “toasty.”
4. When the shortbread is done, remove it from the oven, and loosen the edges with a heat-resistant plastic knife or table knife. Allow the shortbread to cool for 5 minutes.
5. OK, pay attention now, because timing is everything from this point forward! You want to work fast enough that you can cut the shortbread while it’s still warm. So—while the shortbread is cooling in the pan, measure out 8 ounces of caramel, and put it in a microwave-safe liquid measuring cup (the spout makes for easy pouring), or in a microwave-safe bowl.
6. After 5 minutes, carefully turn the shortbread, all in one piece, onto a clean work surface. Melt the caramel in the microwave until it’s bubbly; this should take about 1 minute. Pour the melted caramel atop one of the shortbread rounds. Top with the other round, and press down very gently to make a “shortbread sandwich.”
7. Wait 1 minute, for the caramel to set somewhat. Then, using a sharp knife, cut the shortbread round into 12 wedges; first cut it in quarters, then cut each quarter into three pieces. Some of the caramel will ooze out the sides; that’s OK, it makes it look even more luscious! Transfer the wedges to a cooling rack, under which you’ve placed a piece of waxed paper or parchment, to catch caramel drips.
8. Melt the remaining 6 ounces of caramel. Drizzle or spread it atop the wedges. Quickly, while the caramel is hot, sprinkle with the toasted nuts, pressing them into the caramel so they’ll stick. Allow the shortbread to cool completely before serving. Yield: 12 shortbread wedges.
Copyright 2005 The Baker's Catalogue, Inc.