It's Christmas Eve and my house just got a little quieter.
I had to work today and did not get home until about 6pm. Despite this, we still managed to have our traditional fondue for dinner (I added raw shrimp and a hot cheese dip this year, replacing beef and spinach dip, what a great change!).
A bit of a cuddle to watch a Christmas holiday movie and then it was time to get at least one child settled and off to bed.
Christmas Eve has a another couple of traditions for us: each year the boys get to unwrap one present, which is always a new pair of pajamas. After changing, they get Santa's snack ready for him, set it out and then head off to bed.
The choice of drink is always chocolate milk (Santa knows he can warm it up if he'd like), and it is always an apple for the reindeer, not carrots. Long discussion when into choosing this - we figure Santa gets white milk at every other house, so he'd like a bit of a change. And the reindeer always get carrots, but why shouldn't they get a treat and something different as well?
This year, the boys chose to leave Santa some caramel shortbread squares, something I have been making for a few years. They can be made ahead and frozen, so lack of baking time is no excuse not to try these.
If Santa likes these squares as much as my family does, there won't be anything but crumbs left on the plate tomorrow morning.
Caramel Shortbread Squares
This recipe can be found in my baking binder, hand written on a scrap of paper, with no source given.
1 1/2 cups butter, softened and divided
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup flour
1 14oz can condensed milk*
3 Tbsp corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla
3 squares of semi sweet chocolate
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a large bowl, or with a stand mixer, beat together 1 cup of the butter with the icing sugar and salt, until light and fluffy. Add the flour and mix only until combined. Press into a 9x9, non-glass pan that has been buttered and floured.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden. Allow to cool while you make the caramel.
In a medium sauce pan, melt the remaining 1/2 cup of butter over low heat. Stir in the condensed milk and the corn syrup. Keep an eye on this mixer and stir frequently until the caramel becomes golden and thick. When the caramel reaches your desired color, stir in the vanilla.
Pour the caramel over the crust, spreading evenly.
Melt the chocolate squares in the microwave, then drizzle the warm chocolate over the top of the caramel.
Chill for 3-4 hours before cutting into squares or bars. If you plan to freeze the squares, be sure to cut them before you freeze them.
Good at room temperature and still slightly frozen.
* Btw, a can of condensed milk in Canada reads 10 oz, whereas one from the US reads 14 - however I recently took a can from each country and weighed them. The can from Canada weighed 2 grams more than the one from the US, but it had a pull tab on the can. In other words, they are the same!