Salted Caramel Squares

Salted Caramel Squares

Baseball season started this week.  I love that I means the beginning of spring (I hope), but I’m not much of a baseball fan.  I don’t really understand the game or why it’s entertaining.  Sure, I love when the Tigers make it to the playoffs and I still remember cheering for the Yankees (yes, I’m kind of a Yankees fan) in the 2001 World Series.  Mom and I would stay up way too late watching the games.  It was riveting and our eyes were glued, positively glued, to the TV.

I’ve been to one game in person many moons ago.  Dad got tickets from work for us and some of our friends.  The seats were in the first two rows on one baseline or another.  It also happened to be the fourth of July.  So that means it was searing hot outside.  My makeup was melted, my hair a mess, and I was generally uncomfortable.  No, miserable might be a more accurate description.

Salted Caramel Squares

Salted Caramel Squares

I remember eating a few peanuts and McDonald’s.  Why we didn’t get a hot dog, I don’t know, and while I don’t remember what I ordered, I do remember it was the best food I’d ever had from McDonald’s.  I haven’t eaten from there in years, but my young self took comfort in some golden arches food that day.  It actually kind of saved the day.

As if the weather wasn’t bad enough, at some point during the game, the sky opened up and it poured.  Luckily our friend had an umbrella and rescued us from the downpour.  I don’t think we stayed much longer.  We had no idea there was so much as a chance of rain.  I guess I didn’t obsessively check the weather back then like I do now (fifties and rainy next week?  Really?  That’s the best we can do?)  In fact, I don’t remember who the Tigers played or if they even won.  Dad and I both vowed to never go to a baseball game again.

Salted Caramel Squares

Salted Caramel Squares

So instead of heading to the ball park, I went to the kitchen and made Salted Caramel Squares.  The shortbread crust is not my favorite, but that doesn’t matter.  It’s only a vehicle for the home run caramel on top.  Seriously, this caramel is deep, complex, rich, not too sweet, and totally amazing.  I am in love with it.  It’s made even better with a sprinkling of sea salt.

This recipe also serves a lot, as a small serving is enough even to satisfy my giant sweet tooth with the ooey, gooey, vanilla bean flecked caramel and the crumbly, crunchy shortbread.  Oh, yeah, these are definitely better than sitting through another baseball game.

Salted Caramel Squares

Salted Caramel Squares

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4.7 from 11 reviews
Salted Caramel Squares
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 32
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 ¼ cups heavy cream
  • ½ vanilla bean, split and scraped, seeds and pod reserved
  • 2 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 ¾ sticks unsalted butter
  • Maldon Sea Salt, for sprinkling
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 13 inch pan and line it with parchment leaving an overhang to pull the bars out later.
  2. Make the crust. In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar together using a hand mixer, until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs until once again light and fluffy, and then beat in the flour. Place the dough in the prepared pan and press it into an even layer. Bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating halfway through if necessary, until light golden brown.
  3. While the crust cools, make the caramel. In a small saucepan, bring the cream and vanilla bean pod and seeds to a simmer. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
  4. In a very large saucepan, stir together the sugar and water over medium heat. Stop stirring and allow the sugar to cook until deep amber. This part takes awhile, but is so worth it. As soon as the caramel is to the desired color, remove it from the heat and add the cream. It will bubble vigorously. Once the bubbling begins to subside stir in the butter a few tablespoons at a time. Using your spoon to scrape the caramel off the bottom of the pan – it will melt back into the caramel.
  5. Place the pan over medium-high heat and attach a candy thermometer. While stirring, allow the mixture to come to 240 degrees F on the thermometer. Once this happens, remove it from the heat, remove the vanilla bean pod and pour the caramel over the crust. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  6. Allow to cool at room temperature for about an hour until it is cool enough to handle. Then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before cutting and serving. Bars may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or at room temperature for 1 (after being chilled to set), or in the freezer in pieces, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for several hours.
Recipe adapted from Zoe Nathan, courtesy of Food and Wine

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  1. Oh I love the food you come up with its usually the simple recipes that turn out to be the best.

  2. These look really really yummy! Is the caramel chewy on top, or more hardened?

  3. The only baseball I want to be a part of is the Gene Kelly musical kind in Take Me Out To The Ballgame. Salted caramel heaven DEFINITELY wins in my books!

    • Take Me Out to the Ballgame makes baseball sound so much more fun than it is. Salted caramel always wins! Thanks, Hannah!

  4. Get little snack. Love the caramel with the snappy cookie.

  5. Great little snack.

  6. I hate baseball….and all sports.

    What I don’t hate: spring. and these caramels!

    • I don’t hate all sports . . . just most of them 😉 Could never hate anything caramel or spring, but this spring . . . not so sure . . . kinda hating it.

  7. Delicious snack.
    Salt is necessary for me, elevates the taste.

  8. Whoa, these look phenomenal! I never pass up anything topped with caramel!!!

  9. Yummy! Tempting bars. Both crust and caramel sound amazing!

  10. I love these bars! I have no control – I would eat all of them. 🙂

    I have been to many baseball games… mostly Cubs… very, very entertaining. :))

  11. The caramel was great as was the bar itself. A good combination!

  12. These bars look delish… I love caramel! And I actually like baseball, just a little bit. My dad was a big Dodgers fan. 🙂

    • Thanks, Ruby! I kinda, sorta like football because my dad is a fan – he even played in college. Our dads influence us a lot when it comes to sports.

  13. Salted caramel and me are like *this.* I love the stuff! The crust looks and sounds amazing too Laura!

  14. I don’t know a thing about baseball, but I do know my way around a pan of caramels, and those look like some stellar specimen! The pinch of salt on top must make it shine, I can practically taste it right now. 🙂

  15. Simplicity is the best! Your caramel came out really nice. I wish I had these bars at my house right now!

    • I get nervous pretty much every time I make caramel, but it did, thankfully, come out perfectly. Thanks, Julia!

  16. Those salted caramel squares looks gorgeous, I want some slice

  17. These were very good – loved all the different textures!!

  18. i’ve always wanted to make caramel shortbread bars, but these look great with the salt!

  19. Gorgeous! They look so yummy 🙂

  20. What a great addition to the Salted Caramel. Shortbread was the perfect mix!


  22. YOU are amazing darling; these look fabulous!!! What a cute idea; I’ve never made these before but totally going to try them! Thanks. oxxx

  23. These are a caramel lovers fantasy…Great mix of textures

  24. These look freaking amazing! Sweet and salty is my thing. yum!

  25. Lasted roughly…… 5 minutes (I was looking for my coffee cup.) Thank you, they were great.

  26. That thick, dark, rich layer of caramel on top…now that is where I want to be 🙂

    • The shortbread was okay to me, but that caramel was outstanding. I could have just eaten it off the top of the bars!

  27. stan the man says:

    Caramel is my favorite and these were no exception. The sweet taste with just the right amount of salt melted in my mouth…great combination!

  28. I really enjoyed the treat, esp with coffee in the morning. Smooth caramel with crunchy shortbread, what a great way to start the day!

    • Oooh, these would be perfect dipped into coffee. Some of the caramel would melt in and the shortbread would soften. Sounds like a great idea. Thanks, Carol!

  29. Anything with caramel, crunchy and sweet works for me. Thanks

  30. Oh wow. The guest post on Vintage Kitchen for the Momofuku cookies brought me here (I’ve never heard of Momofuku, being an Aussie, but I want to go there if their cookies are as good as yours!) and I am definitely STAYING! Can’t believe how delicious this recipe sounds. I’ve recently become obsessed with salted caramel and these treats sound like they have just the right combination of gooey and crunchy, salty and sweet. Thanks!

    • Thanks for visiting, Laura! I appreciate it 🙂 Everything Momofuku is totally out of this world amazing! Salted caramel is the best!


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