It all started when I had leftover caramel and four lemons in the fridge. You might think there's no way two such separate ingredients could ever be connected. "Lemony caramel popcorn?" "Citrus Caramels?" you say, mockingly. I might have agreed with you before I found the following AMAZING shortbread recipe and started putting ingredients on top of it willy nilly.
I may never make a different shortbread crust, and I plan to continue experimenting with possible toppings, because apparently you really can't go wrong.
So, with no further ado, I give you...
The Shortbread Crust, Two Ways
Begin by making The Shortbread Crust (from Joy of Baking)
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/8 tsp salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter a 9 X 9 " pan.
2. Cream together the butter and the sugar. Stir in vanilla.
3. Add flour and salt and combine.
4. Press mixtures into the bottom of the prepared pan.
5. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.
Now, it's time to choose your adventure. Your first option is for almond caramel bars.
Almond Caramel Bars
Shortbread Crust (above!)
1 cup caramel, warmed
1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds
1 chocolate bar
1. Let the shortbread crust sit and cool for an hour.
2. Pour the almonds evenly on top and pour the caramel over them.
3. Break the chocolate bar into pieces and scatter them across the warm caramel. After ten minutes, use a butter knife to spread the soft chocolate over the bars.
4. Let cool and then cut into triangles.
Option #2, my personal favorite, though it's hard to choose, is Lemon Bars.
Lemon Bars (topping from Epicurious)
1 shortbread crust, still hot
4 large eggs
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1. Whisk together the eggs and sugar. Add the lemon juice, then the flour.
2. Pour over hot shortbread base. Reduce oven temperature to 300 F and move a rack to the middle.
3. Bake until set, about 30 minutes.
4. Let cool before dusting with powdered sugar and cutting into squares. Store covered and chilled.