Peanut Butter Cup Caramel Shortbread Bars

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour Co. by Our Best Bites

1 c. salted butter at room temperature 
1 c. powdered sugar
2 c. all-purpose flour, lightly spooned into measuring cups and leveled with a knife
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. caramels (1 14-oz. package Kraft caramel or 2 c. homemade caramel)
1-3 tablespoons cream (1 if using Kraft caramels, 3 for firmer or homemade caramel)
3 cups mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (about 1 1/2 11-oz. bags)

Preheat oven to 300. Spray a 9×13″ pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl or the bowl of your mixer, combine the butter, sugar, flour, and vanilla until the mixture comes together.  Lightly press the shortbread dough into the pan. Prick with a fork to prevent the crust from bubbling.  Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the crust is lightly golden.  Remove from oven and run a knife around the edges of the bars. Allow to cool completely.

Combine the caramels and cream in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring each minute, until the mixture is smooth. Spread evenly over the cookie crust, then place the pan in the refrigerator and chill for 30-60 minutes or until the caramel is solid.

In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the unwrapped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups until melted and smooth, stirring each 45 seconds.  Spread over the cooled caramel. Place in refrigerator for 1-2 hours or until the chocolate layer is solid. They can also be placed in the freezer for less time if you’re in a hurry.  Cut into squares and serve. Store leftovers in a cool area or the refrigerator to prevent messy disasters.

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