Tan Fingers

Tap Fingers

…which are basically the shortbread fingers or squares (if you wish to cut them like so) with a caramel-sort-of layer in the middle. According to Nick Malgieri, the cookies are very popular in New Zealand. I’ve never been there and can’t confirm this fact, but, in our family they were well received. The recipe is my adaptation of the Malgieri’s recipe from “A baker’s tour”. I added some salt to the filling, I think it’s necessary (the cookies were sweet enough even with this addition). I’ve also let myself to question his idea of spreading the steaming-hot filling (cooked on a stove shortly before) over the uncooked shortbread crust. I cooled the filling, stirring often, before spreading it over the chilled crust. It worked well.

Makes about 36 cookies, depends on how you cut them

For the dough:

  • 14 tbsp (1 ¾ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

For the filling:

  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup
  • One 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • Generous pinch of kosher salt
  • ½ tsp natural rum extract (optional, but nice)

Tap Fingers Filling


Set a rack in the lowest level of the oven and preheat to 350F. Line a 9×13-inch buttered pan with parchment paper, butter the paper. Set aside.

Beat the butter with sugar and salt together with an electric mixer (use a paddle attachment if using a stand mixer) until soft and light, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. On lowest speed, beat in the flour, scraping the bowl, until the dough is smooth.

Scrape three-quarters of the dough into the prepared pan. Press the dough down evenly, without excessive compressing. Chill the dough-lined pan. Form a ball from the rest of the dough, wrap it into plastic and either leave it on the counter to crumble it later over the filling, or put the dough in the freezer and grate it over the filling later (it’s a very common Russian way to finish a tart).

For the filling, bring the butter, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan, stirring often. Allow the mixture to boil gently until it starts to thicken and becomes a very light caramel color. Transfer the filling into a stainless steel bowl and cool it to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Remove the dough-lined pan from the refrigerator and spread the filling over the dough, working quickly with an offset spatula. Crumble or grate the rest of the dough over the filling.

Bake until the filling is a deep caramel color and the dough and crumb topping are baked through, about 30 minutes.

Cool for about 10 minutes in the pan on a rack. Lift the slab out of the pan to a cutting board before it has cooled completely. Then cut the slab into rectangles or squares.

The cookies can be kept in an air-tight container at room temperature for a couple of days.

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31 Responses to “Tan Fingers”

  1. Cookies!! I love make cookies and these are really nice, shortbread and caramel… delicious!!


  2. That shot of the caramel sauce, yummy! What’s better than shortbread? Just shortbread with caramel! Looks great!

  3. I really like flaky shortbread cookies. For the winner is the caramel layer!

  4. that filling looks incredible. forget the cookies–it’d go straight down my gullet. :)

  5. These look very, very good Vera. Thanks for the recipe. Shortbread has always been a favorite of mine!

  6. Oh, these are in the danger zone! I think I could eat them single handedly. I’m putting this on my to make list.

    By the way, I made a variation of upside down cake (plum). I’ll be posting it for the “Boobie Bake Off”. Your post inspired me. Thanks!

  7. I love shortbread all the year round.. but this version with the caramel would look especially nice on the holiday cooke tray!

    …and having relatives in town has worn me out! :)

  8. I love the name, and I love shortbread – so this is a keeper for me!

  9. What a great treat! I love the name too! Will have to try these out!

  10. Oh these look lovely!!!

  11. I m going to make these soon. My boyfriend will love them. These look nice and delicious :)

  12. Caramel is one of my favourite flavours and I bet that your “tan fingers” are delicious (as always!)
    Well done!!

  13. This really looks like a Christmas keeper. Going to have to try these just to see if they’ll work for Xmas giving – if you know what I mean (wink wink)

  14. With a caramel-sort-of layer in the middle?
    Oh,Vera,this delicious phrase grabbed the middle of my heart!
    And I have all the ingredients that you listed.
    Now, I’m on the way to my kitchen :)
    Thank you very much!

  15. Ana, thank you! It’s good you like baking cookies, the cookie-baking season is close :)

    Rita, thank you very much! I ate quite a share of this sauce during cooling-stirring :)

    Meeta, thank you very much!

    Grace, thanks! That’s what I did (partially :) The filling layer was supposed to be thicker :)

    Eileen, thank you. I love shortbread myself. If only it would have less calories :)

    Camille, thank you!
    I’m so glad you found this inspirational! :) I’ll definitely check your post.

    Laurie, thank you! You are right, we should probably start thinking about holiday baking already :)
    With the relatives visiting… I’m not surprised you feel this way :)

    Anita, thank you very much!

    Maria, thank you! Let me know if you make them :)

    Leslie, thank you very much for the compliment!

    Natalie, thank you! I hope your boyfriend will like them. Please, let me know his opinion:)

    Leonor, thank you very much! You are too kind :)

    Giz, thank you! I know what you mean :) Please, let me know either way.

    Noa, thank YOU! I hope you’ll like them. I would appreciate the feedback if you don’t mind :) Happy baking!

  16. Shortbread and caramel, my kind of cookie! I love the earthy color of these cookies, so wholesome. Great photos as usual, you have a way of capturing each recipe that tells a story in itself.

  17. I love the caramel picture. It makes me want to stick my hand in it.

  18. Oooh, these looks good. I should try this, definitely. I’ve never had them before. :]

  19. I’m going to try to make these, the recipe seem simple enough. It look so good and tasty. You make your food look so good! I always look foward to your blog and seeing how beautiful you make food look. Thank you.

  20. I succeeded!
    Thank you again!

  21. These look soo good. Delicate, tender and my favorite caramel.
    Thanks for the recipe…

  22. Kim, thank you so much for your words!

    Culinary Cory, thanks! That’s what I did :)

    Gabriela, thank you very much!

    Machelle, thank YOU very much! You are right, the cookies are very easy to made. I’ll be glad if you try these.

    Noa, you are very welcome! I checked your pictures – the cookies look awesome! And I’m so happy you liked them!

    Abby, thank you very much! And you are more than welcome :)

  23. I’ve never heard of these biscuits before, but they look great! Caramel and shortbread.. what’s not to like!

  24. Y, thanks!

  25. Those fingers look incredibly good! A delicious treat and a perfect combo! I love your pictures!

    Cheers and have a nice day,


  26. These look so fun to eat. I like the idea of the caramel layer in the middle, what a tasty surprise :).

  27. Rosa, Sophie, thank you for your kind comments!

  28. Vera, I did try this recipe and the cookies are absolutely delicious! I like the lightness, and the carmel made all the difference. I was thinking you could try different variations like maybe lemon curd or even a raspberry preserve. I just wanted to let you know once again that I appreciate you sharing these recipes and giving us pictures to see what the finally product is suppose to look like. Thank You! This one is a keeper!

  29. Machelle, thank you so much for a feedback, and for your kind words! I incredibly appreciate you coming back and letting me know how it went. It does give me a sense of some necessity of this blogging. Thank you!

    Fruit preserves would be wonderful here, maybe with an addition of some citrus zest to the dough (ex: raspberry/blueberry-lemon or strawberry-orange; combination of apricot jam and orange marmalade is also one of my favorite). I’m not so sure about the lemon curd, though. I’d rather stick to my favorite lemon bars instead:)

  30. I’m from NZ – something similar to these are very popular here. Its called a caramel slice –> A biscuit base (that we bake before putting the caramel on it), a caramel layer which is made with condensed milk (I also add a good pinch of salt) which is cooked on the stove and then baked for a bit, and a layer of choc (i use dark) – YUMMMY! :)

  31. I am fron New Zealand too and I love this slice! My mum often makes it exactly the same as posted here, but with chocolate chips added in on top, which gives an extra chocolate ooomph to the slice. It is also popular with chocolate icing on top as RG said.

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