This Nutty Nougat Caramel Bites recipe was a finalist winner of the Nestlé Toll House "Share the Very Best" recipe contest, this dessert was created by Diane Bartels of Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Have you ever made your own nougat? If not, here's a great first-try recipe!
FOR COOKIE BASE:
PREHEAT oven to 350° F. 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 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 and allow pan to drop. (This creates a chewier cookie base.) Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
FOR 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. Boil, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
STIR in marshmallow creme, peanut butter and vanilla extract. Add peanuts; stir well. Spread nougat mixture over cookie base. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or until set.
FOR 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, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on MEDIUM-HIGH (70%) power for 1 minute; STIR. Morsels may retain some of their original shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10 to 15-second intervals, stirring just until morsels are melted. Spread icing over caramel layer. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
TO SERVE, let stand at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes. Cut into 180 1-inch pieces. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.