Salted Caramel Turtle Fudge Bars

Ingredients

For the Shortbread Crust:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

For the Fudge Topping:

16 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped

(1) 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

2 and 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small bits

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup salted caramel sauce

1/2 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped

1 teaspoon flaky sea salt

Instructions

For the Shortbread Base:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with parchment paper, allowing two of the sides to overlap. Spray the parchment – and any exposed pan – with non-stick baking spray; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter, vanilla extract, confectioners’ sugar, and salt until light and fluffy; about 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually beat in the flour, mixing just until combined. The mixture will be a little crumbly.

Dump the mixture into the prepared pan and spread (or press firmly, if need be) it into an even layer. Bake for 14 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Set aside to cool while you prepare the fudge topping.

For the Fudge Topping:

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the chopped chocolate, sweetened condensed milk and butter. Microwave, uncovered, on low, in 30 second increments, stirring in between each increment, until the chocolate is completely melted; stir mixture smooth. Stir in vanilla extract. Spread mixture over the shortbread, smoothing with a spatula into an even layer. Pour salted caramel on top of the chocolate mixture, then sprinkle with the toasted pecans. Refrigerate until firm; about 2 hours. Cut into small squares and serve.

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