Layered bars do something to me. I don’t know if it has to do with the pretty colors, taste combinations, complimenting textures, or the fact that I am getting a three for one deal, but I love layered desserts. While perusing some new food galleries out there I came across these Carmelicious Shortbread Bars by Velvet Lava. So after reading her story about making these and knowing that she had some trouble with the recipe, I still forged ahead for some carmelly goodness. Then like her, I found myself mad at these bars and muttering hateful words to my pan of caramel as it quickly separated on me, leaving a puddle of ghee on top. I said things like, “You have got to be kidding me! Separating? Don’t you know, Ms. Caramel that sweetened condensed milk is $3.49 a can, so don’t even think about separating on me. I said, don’t do it. Oh no you don’t. Poo, you had to go and do it.” And my ramblings continued. Nothing is ever easy when it comes to caramel making on a hot day in Virginia. I should have known better. So I pulled that unruly Ms. Caramel off the stove, got out my candy thermometer, fired up the stove again, brought her up to 235 degrees while stirring madly and threw in three magical pinches of baking soda. Cured! Take that. You thought you could take me down.
Although this recipe has three major steps and messes up a few dishes, it was worth it. I cut the recipe in half and made it in an 8×8 pan, only because I only had one can of sweetened condenced milk. Next time I’ll make the whole deal. The shortbread layer was exceptionally crisp and light with an excellent buttery taste. The caramel was perfectly thick, gooey, and creamy with a light caramel flavor. And who could go wrong with a whole Valrhona bar melted on top? Pure heaven. I did not have trouble cutting them, as I just let them “set” while sitting out on the counter which did take a lot of patience. I also put the chocolate right on top of the warm caramel and spread it once it was softened. I shared these bars with a friend who needed a little lift and she loved them on the first bite. This recipe is not for beginners, to say the least, since one never knows when caramel will go wonky. But do be brave and give this one a go, it is worth the maddening dialogue with a pan of caramel. I’ll go there again.
Thanks Velvet Lava for this great recipe, I give you a Standing Ovation!