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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

  Today, I bring you an old recipe with old photos.  But that does not mean that it isn't delicious.

  And I haven't made anything new lately, just cookies.  And you can only do so many cookie posts at once, so I thought I'd give a little reprieve with a cake...a cookie cake.  But hey!  It's still not really exactly a cookie...

  I have a cookie problem.

  I made my friend Lydia that crazy cake you see up there, Lydia is cool.  We met at a toast party last year.

  We bonded, and made art out of toast. 

  Obviously this was meant to be.

  Since then we've done crazy things like make cookies (yeah, cookies, again.  sh.) and take them to the beach.  And then we ate them, still warm, while wading through seaweed and stuff.  It was pretty much the best thing ever.

  We also tried making doughnuts at midnight...yeah didn't work so well. 'Nuff said.

  Buuutt she did make me mint tea once, from that mint plant on the table.  That worked very well.

  So anyway, she turned 16 last year, and I thought she should have a cake.  I combined our mutual love of peanut butter cookies with chocolate ganache and peanut butter cream cheese frosting for a less conventional, but still very delicious, birthday cake.

  She liked it :)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
Yield: one 8-inch cake

Ingredients for the Cookie Base:
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg   

Ingredients for the Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed 

Ingredients for the Chocolate Ganache:
  • 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

For the cookie base, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8-inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.  Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer, cream the butter, peanut butter, light brown sugar, and vanilla extract on medium speed until well combined, about 1 minute.  Increase the mixer speed to high and beat for 15 seconds. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the egg.  Blend on medium speed for 30 seconds.  Add the dry ingredients and combine on low speed until just a few dry streaks remain.  Add the chocolate chips and mix for a few seconds until combined.

Press the batter into a smooth and even layer in the pan. Bake until lightly golden and puffy around the edges (the center should still feel quite soft), 20-25 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes and then run a paring knife around the edge of the pan to release the cake.  Cool for at least 4 hours before turning the cake out of the pan.

For the peanut butter frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer combine the cream cheese, butter, and peanut butter until smooth.  Slowly mix in the confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth and well blended.  Mix in the whipped topping until smooth and fluffy.

For the ganache, place the chocolate pieces in a large bowl.  Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan on medium high until it comes to a boil.  Remove from heat and immediately pour cream over chocolate and whisk until completely mixed and glossy.  The longer you allow the ganache to cool, the thicker it will set.  For piping or frosting, allow the ganache to completely cool and set up.  If you prefer to just glaze, let it cool slightly before drizzling onto the cake.

To assemble the cake, take the cookie base out of the pan and turn it onto a large plate.  Frost as desired with the peanut butter frosting and chocolate ganache.

Sources: Cookie base from Almost Bourdain, frosting adapted from Annie's Eats, and chocolate ganache adapted from Savory Sweet Life



Giant Double Chocolate Cookies

  Now if that isn't a name to inspire, I don't know what is.

  These 4 oz. babies are inspired by the popular Levain Bakery, Lisa Michele whomped up a recipe very much similar to theirs, and so here we are.

  I had one for breakfast.  And I just had a half of one before writing this...it looked lonely.  Poor little half cookie.

  These are like scone meets brownie meets cookie.  Best introductions I ever made.

  I do apologize for the lack of variety, as this is my second cookie post in a row, but I can't say that I'm all that sorry.

  After a moody and fatiguing day, I just sat down at the computer and went to my favorite food blogs, typing "chocolate" into the search bars.  Totally dangerous thing to do in my state of mind, but these came up, and there was just no option.

  I love stumbling upon or searching for recipes and finding one that comes together fairly quick, with very minimal prep time and no butter softening and whatnot.  I often find myself shoved into a "baking mood," and then I also often find out that I only have an hour or two to satisfy this mood.  Maybe I'll make a cookbook someday for this very purpose.  Maybe.

  Don't get me wrong though!  I can definitely rock the more time-consuming goods, ask anyone!  But sometimes, you need a chocolate fix.  And you need it now.

  In other news, I'm gone all of this weekend.  I'll try to have something on the menu by Monday, but no promises.  All signs point to much upcoming craziness, which I really really wish that I could get pumped up for.  I mean, come on, it's this lock-in in a church where there will be no twitterfacebookphones or showers, but lots of peoplefungamesandprayer.

  Come on, Ellen, get into it!  Live it up!

  I'm doing some major procrastination right now, I leave tomorrow morning.  I still have to pack, and kiss my kitchen (AKA comfort zone) goodbye.  Three days, just three!

  I need another cookie.

Giant Double Chocolate Cookies
Yield: 12 large cookies
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup dark cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp. coarse salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips 

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar.  Beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.  Blend in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed.  Mix in the cocoa powder until well blended (start out on low speed, or you'll end up with a major cocoa shower in the face, and your lungs won't like you).  Add the flour, salt and baking powder to the bowl and mix on low speed just until incorporated.  Fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula.  Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead briefly by hand to be sure the ingredients are well combined.

Divide the dough into 4-ounce portions (if you don't have a kitchen scale, just divide into 12 equal pieces, it's about 1/2 cup dough for each cookie).  Roll each portion of dough into a ball and flatten just slightly into a disc.  Place on the prepared baking sheets, a few inches apart.

Bake 16-20 minutes (I did mine until a toothpick brought out just a few crumbs and the middle still looked a little raw, your call though.).  Let cool on the baking sheets 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely (In my humble opinion, they're best right from the oven or just cooled to room temperature.  I recommend popping them in the microwave for 10-15 seconds, if you have leftovers.).

Sources: Annie's Eats, who got it from My Baking Addiction, who adapted it from Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives, inspired by Levain Bakery


Blueberry Lemon Brown Butter Muffins

  A few grow-up time goals:

  Nose stud goes when college begins, or maybe after.  Maybe in the middle...whenever I feel like looking less "rebellious."

  Facebook is done when I've got a family of my own.  But if I'm weak and I do keep it, I won't be posting things like prayer requests for my teenage son's kidney stones.  He'd be in enough pain already. 

  Budgeting starts...soon.  Like when I have a steady job and income, whatever those are.

  Scheduling!  Timing!  (i.e. not making my family and I miss church because I decided to make muffins an hour before we left.  Apparently it takes a while for two sticks of butter to brown...totally worth it.)
  Finish to-do lists.

  Finish things in general.

  Cut down on procrastinating.  Eventually.

  Seeing a pattern here?

  Aaaand include brown butter in every aspect of my life.

  Blueberry muffins remind me of begrudgingly waking up on a weekday, dreading school, until the smell of sweet baking blueberry goodness permeated itself into my cozy room.  Covers flew off, a glance in the mirror was skipped, and fingers were burned from peeling liners off of hot, steamy treats.  Indulgence ensued.

  How can you go wrong when you're mixing up brown butter, buttermilk, lemon zest, and blueberries?  Simple, you can't.  They're a comfort when you have boring adult to-do lists to make.

  So these warm my heart, and I think they should warm yours, too.

Blueberry Lemon Brown Butter Muffins
Yield: About one dozen

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp.baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 /2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup + 3 tbsp. sugar, divided
  • Zest of half a lemon, or a whole if you're a lemon person
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Approximately 1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a muffin pan with paper liners or grease with butter.

In a small saucepan, cook the butter over medium low heat until browned, swirling the pan as needed to promote even cooking.  Set aside to cool.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a small bowl, combine the 3 tbsp. sugar and lemon zest, rubbing together with the back of a spoon until mixed and fragrant.   

In a large bowl, combine the cooled browned butter, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tbsp. of the lemon sugar, and the buttermilk.  Whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract until smooth.  Add the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.  Fold in the blueberries.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pans, filling each cup 3/4 full. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tbsp. of lemon sugar over the top of the batter. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean or with a few dry crumbs, 15-18 minutes.  Cool in the pan for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

Sources: adapted from Completely Delicious, who adapted it from Baking: From My Home to Yours


Chocolate Chip Treasure Cookies

  Sometimes, we found ourselves in a quandary.  School has been eating up our lives and free time, leaving us very little to bake things and shoot them in pretty natural lighting.

  But your blog is demanding a new post.

  Finally, you whip a batch of banana bread, because you've done that before.  You're confident.  You stick it in the oven and let it bake itself pretty while you get some homework done.  No biggie.

  The timer beeps, you check the bread.  You jiggle the oven rack, press lightly on the top, and stick a toothpick in the middle.  You're satisfied, you stick it on a cooling rack.  It won't take long, and you've still got two hours of daylight left!  Go you!

  Awesome story, right?  But there's a problem with this...why are these photos of wonderful, coconut-y super-chewy cookies, and not banana bread?

  I'll tell you.

  The banana bread started to sink in the middle.  We all know what that means...yep.  The middle was completely, and totally raw.  Is this a huge deal?  Um, yes.  We had only two eggs left in the fridge.  Those two eggs went in the banana bread.  I was egg-less, and I needed a post.  I was frustrated, because something flopped.  Again.

  How can you screw up banana bread?

  Baking has its periods of suckiness.  Most of the time you're really on a roll.  Then comes that icky, humbling season where it seems like everything goes wrong. Be it a weekend, month, or just a couple of days.  It happens.

  In exasperation, I re-discovered this recipe.  Here, my friends, is one darned good cookie.  Out of eggs?  Out of sugar?  Have some coconut and sweetened condensed milk that's been sitting around for ages?

  You're saved.

  These are super-duper-uper easy, they came together in an hour and cool rather fast.  Also, these are wonderfully chewy.  Not a soft sort of chewy, but just...chewy.  A base mostly consisting of graham cracker crumbs binds with coconut and chocolate chips with the help of some sweetly sticky condensed milk.  Lovely beautiful gorgeous. 

  Sometimes it's nice to do a variation on a classic, and I'm all for it with these.  I do, however, have a favorite basic chocolate chip cookie, which I will share very soon.

  Banana bread...this isn't over.

Chocolate Chip Treasure Cookies
Yield: about 3 dozen

  • 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups shredded coconut
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional) 

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together graham cracker crumbs, flour, and baking powder.  In a large bowl, beat sweetened condensed milk and butter until smooth.  Add graham cracker mixture and mix until combined.  Stir in coconut, chocolate chips, and walnuts (if using).  Drop by rounded tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheets.  Bake 9-10 minutes on middle and/or top racks, or until lightly browned.  Let cool for about five minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Sources: adapted from Annie's Eats, who adapted it from Mel's Kitchen Cafe


Caramel Corn

  Caramel corn.  My first caramel.  One of the first recipes I did by myself.  You know that cookbook I'm so gleefully holding in the About Ellen page?  My first caramel corn recipe was in there.

  All through my younger youth days I did it exactly as the instructions said, except for one time when I added a bit too much salt...and then came a time where I decided that it wasn't caramel-y enough.  Something was lacking.  I doubled the caramel portion of the recipe for a single pan of popcorn, and it was so ooey gooey and wonderful.  But it still wasn't quite right, there had to be something more.  This was something I thought about as I got older, it just seemed way too basic for my maturing taste.

  I peruse way too many food blogs for my own good, but I do have my top 4 favorites.  At the top of those reigns one of the first food blogs I ever stumbled upon, Annie's Eats.  This lady inspires me to no end, and I greatly admire her.  She's always reliable and has a never-ending stream of awesome recipes that she's either thought of herself, modified to make better, or left well enough alone because it was already perfection.  She shares it all, and juggles the life of doctor, wife, and mother of two little ones.  She's also completely self-taught, both in photography and cooking/baking.  She's pretty much the next (better) Martha Stewart, and I hope someday that I'm half as accomplished as she is.

  That being said, I had no trouble choosing her recipe for caramel corn when I wanted something new.  And let me tell you, it's everything I was hoping for.  This past week seems like it's just been one thing after another, there a few recipes that didn't make it to this blog.  May they rest in peace.

  I was frustrated to no end, and I found myself needing to turn back to the basics,  to remember just how far I've come since my early caramel corn and chocolate chip cookie days.  It was refreshing, I knew what I was doing and I was comfortable.  Making something I could do in my sleep brought a little confidence back to my weary baking soul.  And if caramel corn just happens to be the byproduct of that, well, no complaints there.

Happy Valentine's :)

Caramel Corn
Yield: about 24 cups, recipe can be halved (but why?)

  • 1 cup popcorn kernels, unpopped
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. baking soda

Pop popcorn using your preferred method.  Place the popped popcorn in a very large bowl (or two large bowls).  Make sure there is enough room in your bowl(s) for tossing the popcorn.  Line two large, rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

Preheat the oven to 250° F.  Meanwhile, to make the caramel, melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan set over medium heat.  Once the butter is melted, mix in the corn syrup, brown sugar and salt.  Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently.

Once the mixture reaches a boil, let the mixture continue to boil for 5 more minutes without stirring (Some recipes say to stir constantly, others say not to stir at all. Caramel coating is smoother if you don’t stir.  Don't worry, if it's a 2-quart pan it won't go over.).  Remove the mixture from the heat, stir in the vanilla extract and baking soda.  The mixture will bubble up and become frothy.  Pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn in the bowl(s) and toss to coat thoroughly.  (Salad spoons are very useful for this step.)

Spread the popcorn evenly onto the two lined baking sheets.  (It is okay if there are some clumps of caramel throughout.  It will melt and become better spread out while baking.)  Bake for 40-50 minutes, removing from the oven to toss/stir every 10 minutes.  After 40 minutes, test a cooled piece of popcorn.  If it is not completely crispy (i.e. still slightly mushy when you bite it), bake for 10 minutes more.

Remove the baking sheets to a wire rack and allow popcorn to cool completely before breaking apart for serving or packaging.

Sources: found on Annie's Eats, who adapted it from Christie's Corner 


Raspberry Ginger Oat Crumble Hearts (Bars)

  Valentine's Day for us is like a little bit of leftover Christmas in February, but with paper hearts and chocolate.  When we were all younger and people weren't in college, our parents would get up early and adorn our plates with candy and little gifts.  I love chocolate, sweethearts, and the like, but what was so beautifully special were the cards that my papa still makes us every year.

  Usually it's a sheet of paper folded in half, adorned with some crazy awesome red-penned illustrations that only my father could think up.  Then inside there's a special message, from him and mom, telling each sister how special and loved she is.  We'd eat candy, fry some eggs and bacon, snarf down on some disgustingly sugary cereal, and tell each other, each in our own way, "I love you."

  It's a simple tradition.  There are no roses, diamonds, or boredom from being left behind as the parents go out for some crazy expensive dinner.  Nope.  They go out and buy a little something for each individual girl, it's something different every year, and we always end up loving them--because they know us that well.  My good relationship with my parents is something I'm ever thankful for, and they are the supreme example of what a mother and father should be.

  These little crumbly hearts are simple.  But each bite has a tang of ginger, sweetness from jam, and a lovely chewiness from oats that have lightly toasted in the oven. They're beautiful in their own sort of way, without being in your face.  Wholesome, that's the word.  That's what Valentine's Day should be.

  Make Tuesday pretty and wholesome, share the love!

Raspberry Ginger Oat Crumble Hearts
Yield: 10-14 hearts, plus scraps

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 10 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 tbsp. buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup raspberry jam (A 9.5 oz. jar is the perfect amount.  A good quality, not too sugary brand is preferable.  Use seedless if desired.) 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a 9x13" pan with parchment paper.

Mix the flour, sugar, salt, and ginger in the bowl of a food processor, then add the butter and pulse until a dough starts to form. Blend in the buttermilk. (You can also do this with an electric mixer, pastry cutter, or a couple of forks and some endurance.) Transfer the dough-bits to a bowl and knead in the oats until well combined.

Put 3/4 cup dough off to the side (this will be used as the crumble).  Press the rest of the dough evenly into the pan. Spread the jam evenly over the top (if the jam is quite chilled and seems possibly tough to spread, heat it slightly in the microwave before applying).  Crumble the reserved dough evenly over the top.

Bake in the center of the oven until golden, 20-25 minutes.  Let cool completely on a cooling rack.  When cool, lift it out onto a cutting board and use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out heart shapes (alternatively, just cut into bars).  And eat those scraps.

Sources: adapted from 17 and Baking, who adapted it from Gourmet


Surprise Pancakes

  There are five things that help after a bad or stressful dream:

1. Wake up, and get up.  Do not lie still and think about it.

2. Take a looong and warm shower, pretend your scrubbing all the icky dream residue off of you.

3. Whip up a batch of bake-able breakfast food, like these pancakes.

4. Wash your sheets while the said food bakes.  There's nothing so comforting as the prospect of sleeping in clean sheets, you'll have better, nice-smelling dreams.

5. Grab a book and eat.  The food, not the book.  That's a different sort of devouring.

   I love mornings alone.  If it's at all possible for light to be quiet, then morning light is.  Trying to pick out the tune birds are singing on the piano, walking around whistling and singing as loud as you darned well want, crying unashamed over books, laughing out loud on the computer, dancing around if you please, I love it.  It's fresh, it's new, and it's all yours for a few blissful hours.

  This recipe was perfect for the said lonely morning, it comes from my grandmother I believe.  They're called Surprise Pancakes, but we dubbed them Puffy Pancakes at our house.  A bit more literal, and it kind of takes the surprise out of it, but it works.   I love them because the recipe uses only four basic ingredients, and from there you can throw in whatever spices/flavorings you want.  And did I mention only one bowl and a whisk?  Prep time is so minimal that your batter is whipped up before your oven has preheated, so definitely get that going right away.

  It will look crazy poofy, insane, and slightly underbaked when you first pull it out of the oven; but that's totally normal.  It will deflate a bit as it rests, and look more baked.  They're wonderfully warm and comforting, good for all seasons, and ridiculously easy.  A recipe to keep in your back pocket for sure.

  Happy Superbowl to all (Go Giants, I want to see Tom Brady's Ken doll face in a pucker)!  Don't forget that it's World Nutella Day as well tomorrow, I'm sorry I don't have anything prepared for you in that area, lame!  I'll catch it next year.  Meanwhile...make some nutella rice krispie treats, and definitely slather these in nutella.  Amen.

Surprise Pancakes
Yield: one 9x13 pan, about 8 single servings

  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk 
  • 4 large eggs 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • pinch of nutmeg and/or any other spices

Preheat oven to 425° F.  Melt the butter and pour it into a 9x13 pan, tilt the pan so it runs all around the bottom and use your hands to grease the sides.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, milk, eggs, vanilla extract, salt, nutmeg, and any other spices.  Pour the batter into the pan.  Bake for 22 minutes, the batter will poof up considerably in various places and have browned edges, a toothpick inserted should come out clean.  Serve with powdered sugar, syrup, or fresh fruit.  

Sources: adapted from my mother's recipe box


Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread Bars

  I always feel sort of stupid when I start talking about how good something I made is.  I mean, I've made recipes that didn't taste so great, why on earth would I pass them on?  So it might appear as if I rave on here, but I just love how all these things taste!
  And yet, I feel like I'm trying to self-promote.  Dumb.  I recommend making the things I post, why else would I post them?  I'm promoting the recipe, not my abilities.  Does this site look like a business?  Nope, I sell nothing.  I give away and pass on awesome ideas, that's where the promotion goes.  I'm just the humble soul behind all of it.  I want happiness to enter kitchens.  It's why I take 53 pictures of bar cookies and spend an hour working on a post.  It's for a good cause, and I love it.
  Just a little reminder, mostly for myself.

  Now really, if the oozing caramel doesn't already speak for itself, I don't know what to tell you.  I just don't.  Some say this is reminiscent of a Twix bar, and it's likely as close to a homemade one as you'll ever get, but I don't see too much of a likeness.  I guess they could be the adult version or something.
  And about that caramel...if you go to the links I put under "Sources," you'll see an obvious difference between mine and theirs.  I keep telling myself it's probably just the lighting...but I think the sad truth is I didn't cook it long enough.  Frankly, I was scared.  My caramel affair hasn't abated, but it's certainly gotten complicated (unintentional rhyme, I promise).  But hey, if you like it gooey, cook it to this color!
  The first time through, I followed the directions exactly.  When the boiling point came, I stirred vigorously and some extremely perceptible brown (burned) chunks came floating up.  Oh boy...was I frustrated.  My only theories are that it was too hot, the saucepan was dumb, I didn't stir well enough, or maybe my butter separated a lot and some started to brown on its own.
  All I know for sure is that I morosely shoveled some dinner in my face while my sainted mother ran to the store and got me some more cans of milk, along with a bag of gummies.  Yeah, they also got shoveled.

  The second time around, once the butter melted I just kept whisking.  I whisked it for a whole hour.  I really can't say if this made a difference or not, because I also kept the heat much lower (which is why it took an hour...).  But this is how it turned out.  Maybe it's undercooked, and maybe not.  You know what, though?  They taste splendid, just a little buffering.  The photos still speak for themselves.

  I'm just desperately wishing for a caramel mentor other than the internet.

  Few last notes: the cut bars are absolutely freezable.  As they make a generous amount and are very sticky even when chilled, I recommend eating them from the freezer.  And...you might want to cut them better than I did.  And thinner, much thinner.  Think skinny Twix and less..square-y.  I was thinking greedy.
  Remember friends, this was only my take on the recipe.  Every kitchen and cook/baker is different.  And hey, I did eventually get it, just be patient!  Don't listen to your inner perfectionist (it's usually lying anyway).  And if anyone happens to know any awesome caramel advice, I'm all ears.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread Bars
Yield: about 5 dozen small (but long) bars

Ingredients for the Shortbread:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar

Ingredients for the Caramel:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 2 (14 oz.) cans sweetened condensed milk 

Ingredients for the Chocolate:
  • 8 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. light corn syrup
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • Fleur de sel or sea salt, for sprinkling 

To make the shortbread layer, preheat the oven to 325° F.  Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.  In a small bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir with a fork to blend, and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until well blended, about 1-2 minutes.  With the mixer on low speed blend in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Transfer the dough to the prepared baking pan and press in an even layer over the bottom of the pan.  Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden.  (If the crust puffs up a bit while baking, just gently press it down while it is cooling.)  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. 

To make the caramel layer, place butter, sugar, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.  Allow butter to melt, and stir to combine (use a heat-proof spatula, and scrape along the sides and bottom regularly).  Raise heat to medium and bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly along the bottom and sides, reduce heat to medium-low again to maintain a simmer (still stirring constantly).  After a few minutes, you may want to switch to a whisk if the butter seems to be separating.  For this step, the time could vary a lot depending on the heat of your burner, so watch carefully (it can take upwards of half an hour).  The mixture should become a light amber, caramel color, and it should thicken a bit (you can drop a small amount onto a white plate to check the color and consistency while it's cooking).  When it reaches the desired color and thickness, pour mixture over shortbread and spread evenly with a heat-proof spatula.  Allow to cool and set completely (you can chill it in the fridge at this stage, to ensure no melting when the warm chocolate is later added).

To make the chocolate glaze, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth.  Pour evenly over the caramel layer and use an offset spatula to smooth the top.  Allow to cool for a minute or two and then sprinkle with fleur de sel.  Chill, covered, until ready to slice and serve. 

Sources: via Annie's Eats, originally from Lisa is Cooking-who adapted her recipes from Baked and The Golden Book of Baking.