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Nutty Nougat Caramel Bites


Cookie Base:
2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (stick) butter (softened)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) butterscotch instant pudding
2 large eggs (lightly beaten)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/3 cups (about 8 oz.) butterscotch flavored morsels.

Nougat Filling:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup carnation evaporated milk
1 jar (7 oz.) marshmallow crème
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups (about 8 oz.) coarsely chopped salted peanuts.

Caramel Layer:
1 pkg. (14 oz.) caramels (unwrapped)
1/4 cup whipping cream

1 cup (6 oz.) milk chocolate morsels
1/3 cup butterscotch flavored morsels
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter


Cookie Base:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 17 x 11 x 1 inch baking pan with parchment paper. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add pudding mix, eggs and vanilla extract; mix well. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in 1 and 1/3 cups butterscotch morsels. Spread and pat dough evenly into prepared baking pan. Bake for 10 to 11 minutes or until light golden brown. Carefully hold pan 2 to 3 inches above a heat-resistant surface; drop pan (for a chewier cookie base). Cool completely in pan on wire rack.

Nougat Filling:
Melt butter in medium, heavy-duty saucepan over medium heat. Add granulated sugar and evaporated milk; stir. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in marshmallow crème, peanut butter and vanilla extract. Add peanuts; stir well. Spread nougat mixture over cookie base. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or until set.

Caramel Layer
Combine caramels and cream in medium, heavy-duty saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until caramels are melted and mixture is smooth. Spread caramel mixture over nougat layer. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or until set.

Melt milk chocolate morsels, 1/3 cup butterscotch morsels and peanut butter in medium, microwave safe bowl on MEDIUM-HIGH (70%) power for l minute; stir. Microwave at additional 10 to 20 second intervals, stirring until smooth. Spread over caramel layer. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

To Serve: Let stand at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes. Cut into 1 inch pieces. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator.