December 10, 2013

Salted Caramel Hazelnut Shortbread Bars {Hodgson Mill Giveaway}

Caramel. Salt. Savory/sweet goodness.  My all-time favorite dessert flavor is caramel.  Since I was a kid I was always drawn to caramel--Twix bars, caramel sundaes, turtle candies.  To add another layer to my love of caramel is my love of savory flavors.  Actually, my salt tooth is more intense than my sweet one, so I've really become enamored of the salted caramel trend--I hope it sticks around for a while.

Thus, while experimenting in the kitchen with some products from Hodgson Mill as part of their Have a Grain Holiday campaign and contest (you should enter, you can win great prizes every day until Christmas), I came up with these Salted Caramel Hazelnut Shortbread Bars.
They're a blend of one of my favorite cookies, shortbread, and my friend Shana's obsessively delicious Saltine Toffee recipe.  Topped off with hazelnuts, they make a lovely cookie/bar that would be stellar at a cookie exchange, as a gift, or simply to devour at your own table.
It's a recipe of few ingredients, lots of butter, and a bit of finesse in the kitchen.  Here's what you'll need:


(makes roughly 18 bars)
For the Shortbread:
For the topping
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup half and half (you can omit this if you'd like, but I think it adds a creamier texture)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 bag chocolate chips (whatever kind you like; I prefer dark chocolate)
  • 2 oz. chopped hazelnuts
  • pinch of good quality, flaky sea salt (like Maldon)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a 9x13" pan with parchment paper with about a 2" overhang on each side. 
I used two pieces, layered.  This will make it easier to remove and cut the bars when they're done.

In a food processor or with a pastry blender, combine the flours, sugar and salt and blend well.
Add the 2 sticks (!) of softened butter along with the teaspoon of vanilla and process until crumbs form.

Press the crumb mixture into the pan.  I use the butter wrapper to keep my hands clean.
Once it's evenly spread in the pan, prick the surface with a fork to enable even baking.
Pop into the oven for 20-25 minutes or until browned.
About halfway through the baking, heat the last stick of butter, the half and half and the cup of brown sugar in a sauce pan over medium high heat.
If you really want to multi-task, toast the hazelnuts while you're making the caramel.
They're fine raw, but toasting them for a few minutes adds so much more flavor.

Back to the caramel: bring to a rolling boil and cook for one minute.
Add the vanilla and stir well.  Spread this mixture evenly over the shortbread, and stick it back into the oven until the caramel bubbles (about a minute or two).
Remove from the oven and pour the bag of chocolate chips over the hot caramel. 
 Spread with a spoon or spatula to evenly cover the caramel layer.
Sprinkle the sea salt over the melted chocolate.
Finally, top it with the toasted hazelnuts.  I press them into the warm chocolate so they'll stick better.
Allow to cool completely (or even stick them in the freezer, since they're easier to cut when cold).  Remove from the pan and cut into squares, rectangles, triangles, whatever you'd like.
These are addictingly good.  Watch that you don't eat too many, though a small square goes a long way.
They'd make a great gift, stacked in a jar and tied with a ribbon, if you're willing to part with them.  Tis the season to be giving though.
You can print a coupon for $1 off Hodgson Mill products by visiting this page on their website.  And don't forget to enter their Have a Grain Holiday daily contest, where you can win Hodgson Mill prizes every day until Christmas.

Want to win $25 worth of great products from Hodgson Mill?  You can choose either a whole grain or gluten-free package.  To enter, simply leave a comment here about what item you'd like to try from Hodgson Mill.  Extra entries for sharing this giveaway in some way (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest--just leave me the link in your comment).  I'll randomly choose the winner  next Wednesday December 18th.  Good luck!
Disclosure: I received samples of Hodgson Mill flours to create this recipe, which I am entering into the blogger Have a Grain Holiday contest.


  1. I would be curious to try the whole wheat flour.

    +1: RT

    +1: Shared on FB:

    +1: Pinned by vampsita on pinterest (link is not working for me)

  2. Here's the pin:

  3. I think I just gained 5 lbs by reading this! Totally my favorite things- salty and sweet with a dense shortbread texture. Yum. I like Hodgson Mill's natural white flour. No need for bleach!

  4. I'd like to try the natural white flour, and some of their cereals.
    Thanks for the giveaway.
    mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

  5. I would like to try their organic unbleached flour.
    slrdowney at hotmail dot com

  6. I would like to try their buttermilk pancake mix

  7. I would love to try their whole wheat flour roddjackson at hotmail dot com

  8. I would like to try their whole wheat flour
    Diane Baum

  9. I want to try the Hodgson Mill Organic Unbleached All Purpose White Flour

  10. we've put my daughter on a gluten free diet, so id love the GF pack, especially their all-in-one flour mix!

  11. I'd like to try their Apples & More Muesli.

  12. I shared on Pinterest:

  13. I tweeted:

  14. I would like to try the Organic Naturally White Unbleached Flour

  15. Shared on fb

  16. I would like to try the Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Pastry Flour. calvad at aol dot com

  17. I'd love to try their Rye flour.

  18. I would love to try their white flour. Thank you!

  19. I'd love to try the Whole Wheat Insta-Bake Mix.

  20. i would like the steel cut oats


  21. blueberry muffin mix

    dlatany at gmail dot com


    dlatany at gmail dot com

  23. I'd like to try the Organic White flour.

  24. I'd like to try the Yellow Corn Meal

  25. I'd like to try the natural white flour.
    Brittney House

  26. I'd like to try their organic corn meal.

    alterna7 at hotmail dot com

  27. I'd like to try the Multi Grain Buttermilk Pancake with Milled Flax Seed & Soy

    1. #28. You won! I'm emailing you to let you know.

  28. i would like to try the Organic Golden Milled Flax Seed

    susansmoaks at gmail dot com

  29. I'd love to try the Hodgen Mills bread flower :)

  30. Thanks for the giveaway… we would like to try their Whole Wheat Flour.
    brianeason62 [at] gmail [dot] com


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