I love salted caramel shortbread tart. Well, actually, I just love caramel period. "I’m not normally a sweets kind of person.” I know, everyone always says that right before they dig in...I’m certainly no exception and should probably stop saying that phrase because truth be told, I love most anything chocolate. Don’t even get me started on ice cream…
I needed to work on a shortbread recipe for an upcoming event. I researched a few recipes, consulted a couple of cookbooks, and even asked my friend Baker Bettie. She told me to try her Shortbread Crust recipe made for pies, tarts, cheesecakes, and bars. The first one I did was good but it was too crumbly, even after putting in brown sugar (pastry hint from Baker Bettie).
I played around with a couple of different techniques and put together a winning solution to my shortbread problem. The trick was to use less of the whole egg, and more yolks. This way I have a nice rich and moist shortbread that will give that chew I was looking for.
In order to make the tart dough, you will be using the Sanding Method. The sanding method is where you combine your dry ingredients and fat until the mixture looks like cornmeal. Then you are going to add in your wet ingredients and mix to incorporate. To make the caramel, we’re going simply caramelize sugar and add cream.
We’ll be using the following items: stand mixer with the paddle attachment, tart pan or 9x13 baking dish, parchment paper, spray oil, 2 medium saucepans, whisk, and a rubber spatula.
Making the Shortbread Dough
First things first, preheat your oven to 350°.
Place all the dry ingredients and fat into your mixing bowl and mix until you get a cornmeal consistency. Add your wet ingredients and mix until the mixture creates a uniform dough.
Prep Your Pan
Depending on the baking vessel you’re going to use, cut the parchment paper to fit the bottom. Here I’ve used a tart pan so my parchment paper is a circle and will fit just the bottom of the pan. Spray the pan, place in your parchment paper, and spray again. Make sure to spray the cracks and crevices.
Press and Bake
Place your dough into the tart pan and press dough to fill the pan evenly. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until you achieve a golden brown. Allow to cool completely. Then turn out the tart from the pan.
Making the Caramel
Place cream in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Place sugar and water in the other saucepan and stir.
Cook but Don’t Stir
Cook the sugar water on medium-high until you have a light golden color. Do not stir otherwise you can cause your sugar to crystalize. Once you reach the desired color, remove from heat. The caramelized sugar will continue to cook due to residual heat.
Mix the Caramel
Slowly whisk in the cream. The sugar and the cream will begin to bubble rapidly. This is completely normal. Just keep whisking to incorporate the cream. Set aside and allow to cool.
Finish the Salted Caramel Shortbread Tart
After the tart and caramel have cooled and come to room temperature, add the thickened caramel to the top of the tart. Scrape the saucepan with your rubber spatula. The caramel will level out on its own. Place the completed tart into the refrigerator to allow the caramel to set, or firm up.
Remove from the tart refrigerator an hour before use. Prior to serving, sprinkle finishing salt on top of the caramel.
Tips and Tricks
- You can do ¼ cup regular and ¼ cup brown sugar for a more chewy shortbread
- You can make this the same day but you have to allow plenty of time for the caramel to set after putting it on top of the shortbread. Because of this, I made my salted caramel shortbread tart the day before and placed the completed tart in the refrigerator to set. The next day, I removed the tart from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature so it could be cut and served with ease.
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Salted Caramel Shortbread Tart
- 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, cold
- ¼ cup egg yolks
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- ⅔ cups Water
- 1 ¼ cup heavy cream
for the shortbread
- Preheat oven to 350º
- Place flour, sugar, salt, and butter into the mixing bowl. Place on low and mix until dough forms a cornmeal type texture.
- Add yolks and vanilla. Mix until dough forms.
- Take the parchment paper and cut it to fit the pan you are using. Simply cutting the parchment to fit the bottom of the pan will be all you need.
- Spray the pan, place the parchment paper into the pan, and spray the parchment and the sides of the pan.
- Place dough in the center of the pan and form it to the edges of your pan making it as even as possible.
- Place in oven for 15-20 minutes and cook until a light golden brown.
- Remove from oven and let the tart cool to room temperature.
- If you used a tart pan, you can remove the shortbread from the pan. If you used the rectangular pan, leave the shortbread in the pan.
for the salted caramel
- Place cream into one of the sauce pans and bring it to a simmer. Once it simmers, turn down to low to keep warm.
- Place sugar and water into the other sauce pan and mix.
- Cook the sugar and water on medium high without stirring until water evaporates and sugar begins to caramelize. Remove from heat when you have a light golden brown color.
- Remove cream from heat and whisk into the caramelized sugar. The mixture will bubble rapidly and steam. This is normal due to the remaining mositure and difference in temperatures. Continue whisking to incorporate all of the cream.
- Set aside to cool down. Once the caramel comes to room temperature, you can pour it onto the tart or directly into your rectangular pan. Place in the refrigerator for 2 hours (or overnight) to set.
- Once caramel has set, cut into desired shapes or numbers. Sprinkle with finishing salt and serve.
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- you can do ¼ cup regular and ¼ cup brown sugar for a more chewy shortbread.
- You can omit this step and simply add finishing salt to the top of the caramel upon serving.
- You can also use a 9 x 9 baking dish instead of the tart pan.