Luscious Shortbread Caramel Chocolate Pecan Squares

(NC)—These luscious squares are perfect at the holidays when time is tight but you need to bake for guests. They also make a lovely hostess gift. Package them up in a tin with some ribbon and they’ll never guess you started with a cookie mix.

1 1/4 cups (300 ml) unsalted butter, softened
1 pkg (500 g) PC Shortbread Cookie Mix
34 Individually wrapped caramel squares
1/2 cup (125 ml) 35% whipping cream
2 1/2 cups (625 ml) toasted pecan halves
2 bars (each 100 g) milk chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C). Line rimmed 17 X 11-inch (43 X 28 cm) baking sheet with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

In large bowl and using electric mixer, beat butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add cookie mix; beat on low speed for 30 seconds or until combined. Increase speed to medium; beat for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes or until mixture forms a mass. Dough will be soft. Place dough on prepared baking sheet. Place another sheet of parchment paper on top; using rolling pin, flatten dough evenly on baking sheet. Discard top layer of parchment paper.

Bake in centre of oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden. Cool on baking sheet.

Meanwhile, unwrap caramels; place in saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until smooth. Stir in cream. Remove from heat. Immediately pour over warm shortbread base. Tilt baking sheet to evenly distribute caramel. Sprinkle pecans evenly over surface.

Place chocolate in microwave safe bowl. Heat in microwave on High for 1 minute or until fully melted. Stir until smooth. Place in zippered plastic bag. Cut tip of one corner off; drizzle chocolate over pecans. Place in refrigerator to set.

Cut into squares to serve; store cut squares in refrigerator.

Makes 32 servings

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For more holiday recipes and entertaining ideas, visit our Holiday section.