If you don’t like chocolate and caramel, just stop reading right now.

These squares are the stuff dreams are made of. Salted caramel swirled with chocolate spotted with pecans on a shortbread crust. You’ll curse me for this recipe.  Their saving grace – they freeze perfectly.

Chocolate and salted caramel pecan squares

Shortbread base
1/2 cup soft butter (1 stick)
1 cup flour
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Pinch salt

Caramel filling
2 cups whole or halved pecans
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream or canned coconut milk (I always use the latter as it’s a pantry staple around here)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 or 1 teaspoon salt depending on how salted you like (I prefer 1 teaspoon)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with foil. Spray lightly or very lightly butter.

Combine all crust ingredients and using a pastry cutter or your hands, cut butter into dry ingredients until small lumps form.

Press mixture into pan and pack down firmly.

Evenly sprinkle the pecans on top as well as the chocolate chips.

In a large, microwave-safe bowl, combine 1/2 cup butter, brown sugar, cream, and heat on high for 1 minute to melt. (You can also do this in a saucepan over medium heat) Once warm, whisk until mixture is smooth. Then return bowl to microwave and heat for 1 minute on high power. Truth, I rarely use our microwave at all, but I do for this recipe.

Remove bowl from heat source and whisk until mixture is smooth. Add the vanilla and salt.

Evenly pour that caramel sauce over the chocolate chips and pecans. You’ll want to lick the bowl here and just do it. Totally worth it.

Bake in the middle of oven for 30 minutes, or until caramel is bubbling.

Here’s where the magic happens – you must let the squares cool and set for at least 3 hours. I often make these at night, and let them cool for an hour, then wrap well and store in fridge overnight. In the morning lift out of the pan using that clever foil and then slice with a sharp knife. These are decadent so I like to cut squares quite small. They freeze well for up to four months.

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