The holidays seemed to have crept up on me so quickly this year. Today marks the winter solstice, one of my favorite days of the year. I rarely eat sugars and grains, and even more rarely post a recipe that uses them. But these cookies are too good not to. This week we get to indulge and celebrate the season and the blessings of the past year.
Years ago, I made these Dark Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Bars, and I gave a good many of them to my friend JoAnn Neil of Daily Cup of Jo (and her family) as a thank you for taking my child for the day. I received a call from her in hushed tones saying they were so good, she hid them from the rest of the family and ate them all by herself.
That’s what I call a testimonial.
So gather the kids around and make some homemade gluten free cookies together. Give them away to friends…but save a few for yourself. I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday season and don’t be afraid to enjoy a little splurge.
Note that the shortbread crust dough could also work for any shortbread cookie or spritz cookie recipe.
Dark Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Bars
FOR THE CRUST
- 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for parchment
- 1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose GF baking flour mix (I use Bette’s Featherlight Blend)
- 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- 3 tablespoons milk, or more to moisten crust as needed
FOR THE DARK CHOCOLATE CARAMEL
- 10 1/2 ounces 85% cacao dark chocolate, chopped (approx 2 cups)
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- sea salt for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Make the crust: Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment, leaving an overhang on all sides; butter parchment, excluding overhang. Beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add GF flour, xanthan gum and table salt, and beat until just combined. Add in milk by tablespoons as needed to moisten dough.
- Press dough evenly into pan, and bake until lightly browned, about 25 minutes.
- Make the chocolate caramel: Place chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, washing sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming, until amber, 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from heat. Add butter, cream, and table salt. Bring to a boil, stirring until smooth. Pour over chocolate. Let stand for 2 minutes. Stir to combine, and let stand until cool, about 10 minutes.
- Pour mixture over shortbread crust. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, or overnight. Run a knife around edges; lift parchment to remove whole bar from pan. Sprinkle with sea salt, and cut into bars.