1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temp, cut into tablespoons
3/4 cup heavy cream, room temp
1½ teaspoons sea salt (I used a finely-crushed pink Himalayan sea salt and it was fantastic!)
16 ounces Planters Lightly Salted Cashews Halves and Pieces
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 8″x8″ baking dish with parchment paper.
In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, cream the cream cheese, butter, sugar, salt and vanilla extract until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Turn mixer to low speed and incorporate flour.
Press dough firmly onto the bottom of the baking dish, spreading evenly to the edges. Bake for 15 minutes.
While the shortbread is baking, make the caramel. In a medium saucepan, heat the sugar on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Use a spatula to occasionally stir the sugar, getting to the bottom of the pan. At first the sugar will be lumpy, but will soon melt and start turning a brownish color. Don’t stir too often, just enough to keep everything evenly cooking.
After 5 minutes, the sugar should become fully melted. Once it becomes a medium golden hue, remove from heat immediately and stir in butter. The mixture will violently bubble. You’re doing it right.
Use your spatula to stir the butter and sugar until they melt together completely. This can take 1-2 minutes.
Next, pour in the heavy cream and sea salt. Stir until combined.
Once the shortbread has baked for 15 minutes, remove from oven, sprinkle the cashews evenly over the surface, then pour on salted caramel. Place back in oven and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Allow to cool completely before garnishing with more sea salt and cutting into bars (cut 5 rows by 3 rows).