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Smoked Almond Chocolate Shortbread

Smoked Almond Chocolate ShortbreadIf you're looking for an extraordinary sweet treat with a note of irresistible savory flavor, try this recipe for shortbread bars topped with luscious milk chocolate caramel, crunchy smoked almonds and a sprinkling of sea salt.

Recipe Ingredients:

1/2 cup (2 ounces) smoked (or roasted) almonds
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) butter, softened (plus additional for pan)
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Chocolate Caramel:
11 ounces (about 2 cups) milk chocolate, chopped or chips
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sea salt or smoked salt (optional)

Cooking Directions:

  1. For Shortbread: Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Line 9x9-inch pan with parchment paper or foil; butter the interior of the paper or foil.
  2. Grind smoked almonds in food processor until the consistency of coarse corn meal.
  3. In medium bowl, whisk together ground almonds, flour, salt and cinnamon; set aside.
  4. In large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar and almond extract with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add flour mixture in two batches mixing until crumbly, but sticky dough forms. Press dough evenly into bottom of prepared pan.
  5. Bake until golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely on wire rack.
  6. For Chocolate Caramel: Place chocolate in medium glass or stainless steel bowl; set aside.
  7. In medium saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup and water. Cook mixture over medium heat 10 to 12 minutes, until mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat.
    Add butter, cream and salt. Return to heat and simmer over medium heat, stirring until smooth. Simmer 2 to 3 minutes.
  8. Pour mixture over chocolate; let stand 2 minutes. Stir until smooth; let stand to cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Pour mixture over shortbread. Allow to cool about 30 minutes and then refrigerate overnight or at least 5 hours.
  9. Sprinkle with sea salt or smoked salt, if desired. To cut, run a knife around edges of pan to loosen the parchment or foil; carefully lift the paper out of pan. Cut bars with knife dipped in hot water and remove paper or foil. Store bars in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Makes 24 bars.

Recipe and photograph provided courtesy of Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Inc.