Salted Caramel Crumble Shortbread

These are like a chewy shortbread with salted caramel nestled in between.  I use two 9" removable bottom cake pans, you can use two cheesecake pans or do this in a 9X13 pan.  My reasoning for wanting a removable bottom (or side) is due to the caramel center.  When it sets, it hardens and having the sides of the bars unobstructed makes it easier to cut and serve.  I used my handy dandy salt grinder for this, and ground the salt directly over each pan to my liking - I would guess I used 1 tsp. per pan.  Let these fully cool before cutting - it is worth the wait.
1 1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups. granulated sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. vanilla-bean paste
3 cups flour

Cream butter and sugar together in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, scraping bowl if necessary to fully incorporate them.  Add cornstarch, vanilla-bean paste and flour, mixing well until it gets crumbly.

Divide mixture into three, placing two parts equally into the 9" pans.  Bake for 20 minutes in an oven that has been preheated to 325 degrees.  Remove from oven and allow to rest for 20 minutes.  THEN, AND ONLY THEN - place into a microwave-safe bowl:

1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup whole milk

Place into the microwave and cook for 30 seconds.  Remove from microwave, stir with fork.  REPEAT until milk is hot enough to melt caramels and you can stir it smooth.  Pour caramel mixture evenly between two pans and allow to cool for 5 minutes, tilting pans intermittently to even out caramel on all sides.  Sprinkle coarse sea salt over caramel.  Crumble remaining dough between both pans and place back into oven and bake for 25 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before cutting.  Enjoy!

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