Bacon Shortbread with Salted Ale (or Stout) Caramel

Help! I’m housebound with access to the remnants of two Christmas cookie exchanges covering my dining room table. Oh the catching up I have to do.

I managed to get all this weekend photos up onto my computer. I started at the end of the images, as in most recent, and didn’t make it past this bacon shortbread topped with salted ale caramel and chocolate. Looks like I’ll be doling out a cookie at a time here. As for the photos, I gingerly held the camera close to my waist, aimed at the finished product and hoped for the best. I kind of like them.

Mike made these last night for my CBC segment this morning, which I did from bed, by phone. Last night I hobbled downstairs and sat on a stool (I know, bad idea) and walked Mike through these babies, getting him to cook the bacon and chill the drippings, beat it with butter, add flour and crumbled crispy bacon and pat it into a pan to bake. Then he cooked down the ale and made caramel, at which point I couldn’t stick around any longer and left it in his charge, candy thermometer in hand. He did good. The caramel gets poured over the baked shortbread, and once it cools, topped with melted chocolate. It all isn’t as big a deal as it sounds – and you wind up with a sort of homemade Twix bar, with bacon in the base. (Or not – you can totally leave it out and replace the drippings with more butter.)

And hey, if Mike can make them, so can you.

bacon shortbread salted ale toffee 2
bacon shortbread salted ale toffee 2

Bacon Shortbread with Salted Ale (or Stout) Caramel

Recipe link


December 13, 2011

adapted from Ole & Shaina Olmanson

  • Makes: Makes about 24 bars.


1 batch bacon shortbread (above)


about half a bottle of ale or stout, divided

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup corn syrup or Roger's golden syrup

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 cup chocolate chips or chopped dark or semisweet chocolate


1Pat the bacon shortbread dough into an 8x8-inch pan and bake at 325F for 30 minutes, until very pale golden around the edges and set. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, simmer 1/2 cup of the ale for about 20 minutes, until it's reduced by more than half.

2In a largish pot (it will bubble up) combine 1/4 cup more of the ale (from the bottle), sugars, butter, cream, syrup and salt over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 244F on a candy thermometer. Stir in the reduced ale and pour over the shortbread base. Let stand or chill until firm.

3Melt the chocolate chips in a small bowl in the microwave, stirring until melted. Spread over the set caramel and let stand or refrigerate for 10 minutes, until set. Run a thin knife around the edge of the pan and invert the squares onto a cutting board, then cut into squares or bars with a sharp, heavy knife.

Makes: Makes about 24 bars.

About Julie

19 comments on “Bacon Shortbread with Salted Ale (or Stout) Caramel

  1. Corinne
    December 13, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Get well soon Julie.

  2. Vincci
    December 13, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    Get well soon! Those sounded *amazing* this morning!

  3. Karen W
    December 13, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    Julie, feel better soon. And great job Mike. And I may have to make these beauties.

  4. H-woman
    December 13, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    I was wondering how you made it down to the station!! Feel better soon =)

  5. sara
    December 13, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    WOW, these look incredible!! Feel better soon!

  6. bev
    December 13, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    I am sooo sorry you are feeling lousy, but WOW look at the bacon-caramel dessert! Sorry sweetie, that is kind of eclipsing back problems and I am off to buy bacon…

  7. Tammy
    December 13, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    Your husband is a wonder… Take care of yourself and get better soon!!!

  8. Carol SB
    December 14, 2011 at 7:56 am

    I love your idea, Julie. A cookie a day until Christmas! DWJ’s temporary cookie blog…
    And, Julie, this IS temporary.
    Your back will get better.
    I promise.

  9. Mar
    December 14, 2011 at 8:00 am

    I share your back spasms. A deep back and hip massage has helped; at least it is possible to sleep.

  10. leanne
    December 14, 2011 at 9:44 am

    I was searching for something bacon to do for my christmas cookie assortment a little different than the bacon chocolate chip cookies I make. These look amazing, thank you, thank you, thank you for continuing to be amazing, even when not feeling well. I really hope I can pull these off, they look amazing. One question, does the caramel harden a little, just wondering for packaging purposes, I didn’t want them to all run together and also, how long should I make them before giving as a gift? Thanks again!

  11. TF
    December 14, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    I’m confused… when I clicked on the link for the bacon shortbread, I got a recipe for Salted Ale Caramel Chocolates, which would be OK too, I guess, but I was interested in the bacon shortbread…

  12. Sandra
    December 14, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    I clicked on the CBC link and found the shortbread recipe

    Bacon Shortbread

    1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
    1/4 cup bacon drippings, chilled
    1/2 cup icing sugar
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1/2 tsp. baking powder
    1/4 tsp. salt
    3-4 slices bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled

    Preheat oven to 325°F.

    In a large bowl, beat the butter, bacon fat and icing sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and beat on low speed or stir until almost blended. Add the crumbled bacon and stir just until blended.

    Divide the dough in half and press each into an 8″ or 9″ pan; score dough into 8 wedges and press around the outer edge with the tines of a fork.

    Bake in middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden. Cool completely in the pans on a wire rack, and cut into wedges with a sharp knife. Makes 32 wedges.

  13. Jan @ Family Bites
    December 14, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Go, Mike! These look incredible (of course!). Feel better soon, Julie. Back pain is truly terrible.

  14. kickpleat
    December 14, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    I hope you start feeling better, Julie! But man, what a trooper Mike is!! Nice job :)

  15. Cheryl
    December 15, 2011 at 7:53 am

    Sweet jesus this look incredible. Glad to hear that you are on the mend.

  16. Caroline Csak
    December 30, 2014 at 8:33 am

    I’m just listening to you talk about dessert trend and I have long wondered why these (without the bacon) haven’t caught on here. Having said that, I have been seeing them around more often. We’ve been eating these for decades – a definite Christmas tradition in our family. Better known in the UK as “Millionaire’s Squares” because they’re so rich, we call them “Scrumptious Lumps”. They’re also very popular in Australia and NZ.

    • Julie
      January 1, 2015 at 4:51 pm

      Hey Caroline! I think the reason they haven’t caught on as much here is because people are generally intimidated by the thought of making caramel from scratch at home… of course once you get the hang of it, it’s not so difficult!

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