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Caramel Pecan Filled Shortbread Bars

These delicious, gooey bars were the result of me tweaking a recipe called Salted Caramel Butter Bars that I got from my friend, Shana.  Those were tasty, but I decided that I wanted to create a version without the course sea salt and add some pecans, my favorite nut.
1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour

Center filling
1 bag (14 ounces) caramels, unwrapped
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pecan pieces

1 cup butter, chilled
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup pecan pieces, finely chopped

Mix together the crust ingredients in stand mixer, then press dough onto the bottom of a prepared 9x13 pan that has been lightly sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees, then cool for 15 minutes.

While crust is baking, microwave the caramels, heavy cream, and vanilla for two minutes on high.  Stir together until smooth.  If needed, cook for an additional 30 seconds, and stir until smooth.  Add the pecans and set aside until the crust has been out of the oven for fifteen minutes, then pour caramel on next.

Mix together the topping ingredients in stand mixer. These ingredients are almost the exact ones as the crust, except for the butter temperature being cold, and the additional finely chopped pecans.  You'll want a crumbly topping, and cold butter keeps it that texture.    After mixing everything together, dump the crumbly topping on top of the caramel layer, then spread it evenly over top.  Bake an additional 30 minutes.  Cool, cut, and serve.


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