Pumpkin Spice Bourbon Caramel Bars

I don’t know if you all remember the salted caramel bars that we would serve at Bella with a cup of espresso or cappuccino. One of my favorites for sure. I love caramel and I love chocolate. Sometimes I revisit my recipes and see if there is a new spin I can put on them, a new flavor profile, or preparing them with a new kitchen tool. Sometimes successful, other times they are not. Well I do believe we have a winner with this one.

We have three layers of deliciousness, shortbread, caramel and chocolate.

The shortbread layer is very easy, placing the flour, sugar, butter etc in a food processor and pulsing. This mixture looks and feels very crumbly, not to worry. Pat it down in a parchment lined 8 x 8 pan and bake.

I like leaving an extra portion of parchment on the sides. This makes it very easy for lifting out the bars for cutting.

The caramel layer is the most time consuming layer, although it is not difficult it does require your attention and time. So grab your coffee or wine and wooden spoon and plan on stirring. I like using a non stick medium sized sauce pan. You will also need a candy thermometer, the caramel mixture needs to reach 248* degrees. This is very important for the consistency of the caramel. If under cooked the caramel will be to gooey, if over cooked the caramel will become to hard. So be patient for a great result.

I purchased my candy thermometer at my local grocery store King Soopers. As you see above it is a glass thermometer with a clip to attach to the pan. I have purchase several of these over the past few years. I use them alot with my cooking and baking, they are pretty accurate.

You will be pouring the caramel layer over the shortbread crust. At this point I let cool 20 minutes or so on the countertop and then I refrigerate to cool down and firm up before I add the chocolate layer.

The chocolate layer is really easy, melting the chocolate with cubed butter and a smidge of corn syrup. Thats it..

Pouring the chocolate layer over the caramel, smooth it out so that it is nice and even. Let this layer cool a bit before sprinkling the flaked sea salt.

Special Kitchen Tools: 8 X 8 inch pan, candy thermometer, parchment paper

Shopping List

  • all purpose flour
  • baking powder
  • sugar
  • salt
  • unsalted butter
  • light corn syrup
  • sweetened condensed milk
  • pumpkin pie spice
  • pumpkin puree
  • favorite bourbon or whiskey
  • flaked sea salt (I like Maldons)
  • semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate
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Pumpkin Spice Bourbon Caramel Bars

Rich, delicious salted caramel bars with a hint of pumpkin spice and bourbon. Really great for the Fall and Holidays. These bars hold up well for up to a week or longer, which is really nice during the holiday season. 


Shortbread Layer

1 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

sprinkle of salt

1 stick unsalted butter cubed

1/4 cup sugar

Caramel Layer

1 stick unsalted butter cubed

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon pumpkin spice

1 – 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup your favorite Bourbon or Whiskey (optional can be omitted with no adjustments)

Chocolate Layer

6 ounces semi sweet or bitter sweet chocolate

1 teaspoon light corn syrup

6 tablespoons unsalted butter cubed

Flaked Sea Salt for sprinkling


Shortbread Layer

Preheat oven to 325* Line a 8 x 8 pan with parchment

Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until well combined. This shortbread mix will be crumbly. Pat down in the 8 x 8 parchment line pan. Bake 12 – 15 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool as you make the caramel layer.

Caramel Layer

Combine all the ingredients in a medium sauce pan, and cook over medium heat. Grab your self a wooden spoon and start stirring. Once you start achieving the big bubbles and foam add the candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Cook over medium heat until the caramel reaches 248* degrees. DO NOT turn up the heat to reach the temperature sooner. You will end up with burnt caramel on the bottom of the pan. Once the caramel has reached 248* remove from the heat. The caramel may look oily from the butter, not to worry just continue stirring while the caramel is cooling and you will notice the caramel smooth out. Pour the caramel over the shortbread crust. Allow this to cool about 15 – 20 minutes on the countertop, then refrigerate 45 minutes before adding the chocolate layer.

Chocolate Layer

Combine the chocolate, butter and corn syrup in a heat proof bowl. Set over a pan of simmering water. Melt the chocolate and butter over the simmering water stirring often. Once the chocolate sauce is melted and nice and smooth remove from the simmering water and pour over the caramel layer. Allow to cool 15  minutes then sprinkle the flaked sea salt over the top. You may cool on the countertop or place in the refrigerator for the chocolate to harden and set up. Allow to chill several hours before serving.


Take a butter knife and run around the edges of the pan. Picking up the parchment lift the whole block of chocolate caramel out of the pan. With a large knife cut to desired size of squares or rectangles. Remember this is rich, so smaller squares work well. 


Many times I do not cut all the squares at once. I will cut what I need and place the block of salted caramel back in the parchment line pan and refrigerate until I serve again. For the holidays you can place these little squares in little candy papers.  Some refrigerators that have a lot of moisture will leave a little bit of moisture on top of the chocolate layer. You may use a paper towel and blot.

Buon Appetito, I hope you enjoy!

  • Author: Chef Shelly