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  • Writer's pictureThe Mellow Baker

6-Ingredient Caramel Shortbread Bars

Dulce de leche lovers, unite!

These ridiculously easy caramel shortbread bars are the perfect treat to ease you into fall.

Did someone say it's August?! Already 5 whole days into August!

We are so close to pumpkin pie, apple strudel, cinnamon spice cake and all of the warm, bourbony fall flavors. Caramel is the ideal flavor between summer and fall - super sweet, sunshiny and bright, like our summer favorites - deep, rich, warm and sticky, like our fall must-haves.

I think many bakers would agree, fall baking is one of the most exciting baking seasons - seasonal ingredients shine in the months of August-December -- so, start planning your fall baking menu now, the new year will be here in the blink of an eye and the pumpkin, squash and fall fruits will be gone!!

With 6 simple ingredients: butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, vanilla extract and a standard can of dulce de leche (or sweetened condensed milk) you can have this early autumn treat on the table in less than an hour.

These shortbread bars would be a great addition to kid's lunch boxes as we head back into the school

year, a small square goes a long way and brightens a child's day. The squares would also make for a great after-school snack, albeit a bit sugary -- add some nuts on top for extra protein and nutrients!

I used a prepared can of dulce de leche, usually available on the baking aisle right next to the sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk. For years, I walked right past these cans of caramel, never even noticing them, and proceeding to grab sweetened condensed milk and boil it into dulce de leche at home.

It is super simple to make your own dulce de leche at home, you just need a can of sweetened condensed milk (more on that below), but having some ready-made in the pantry is a lifesaver when having unexpected company! Or an unexpected craving for these caramel shortbread bars! I have linked my preferred canned dulce de leche at the bottom, if you're interested and have not seen it available at the store near you, it can be ordered online.

This is an amazing image courteous of the Boston Public Library - sweetened condensed milk really is a revelation - a baking ingredient that changed food history, forever! Sweetened condensed milk gets its roots during the 1800s as a military ration, and was created to preserve milk for a long period of time. Sugar is an amazing preservative! It took some time for condensed milk to catch on, despite the amazing fact of it being shelf stable. I can't help but learn little facts like this while writing up recipes, I just have to know, why did this come to be!?

Now, on to the recipe...

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