Caramel

I meant to do this before the Millionaire Shortbread recipe. However I didn’t get any good pictures until after the event. So you’ll just have to put up with it now. This caramel is wonderfully thick and spreadable and with extra salt works really well as a salted caramel too. Therefore I will keep this short and sweet.

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Caramel
 
Prep time
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Ingredients
  • 250gm sugar
  • 400ml cream
  • 50gm unsalted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt (optional)
  • Vanilla extract (optional).
Instructions
  1. In the bottom of a large heavy based stew pot, heap the sugar and place over a low heat.
  2. As the edges start to melt, mix (using a wooden spoon) them in to the non-melted sugar. At this point my sugar started spreading out over the pan.
  3. Keep stirring so it doesn’t catch on the pan. Allow it to completely melt. It will colour at this point. The longer you leave it the more bitter it will be.
  4. Take off the heat. Stir in half the cream. The mixture will bubble up furiously. Be careful of any steam coming out. Parts of the mix may start to harden, but keep on stirring and it should all combine nicely.
  5. Add the remaining cream then return to the low heat. Add the butter and the other ingredients (if using). Keep stirring over the heat until the butter is combined.
  6. Take off the stove and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Pour in to jars and allow to cool. It’ll be very runny at this point but will thicken as it cools. It’ll last about 3 weeks in the fridge.

 

Millionaire’s Shortbread

So last week I made Shortbread, on impulse, for the first time in absolutely ages (years maybe?) and it reminded me how some of the best bakes are the most simple. I mean, Shortbread can be thrown together in the space of 50 minutes (which includes chilling AND cook time) and with very simple ingredients. I contrasted this the next day with one of the more complex things I’ve ever made, my Marmite Caramel Cupcakes. This was the first time I’d ever actually made caramel and it made me want to do it again. So the logical progressing was Millionaire’s Shortbread. The number of store bought millionaire’s shortbread I’ve had and been disappointed in are far too many to count. What’s with the “shortbread”? It’s more like the base of a cheesecake or something. Not even remotely like good old fashioned crunchy shortbread. Couple proper shortbread with well-made caramel, and good chocolate, you get something truly wonderful.

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My only issue is that I made the caramel while the shortbread was in the oven. And it took absolutely bloody ages to cool down. And it needs to cool properly, as it thickens as it cools. If you don’t wait, it’s far too runny but once it’s chilled it’s thick and spreadable. So I’d recommend doing the Caramel in advance (I’m going to upload the recipe for that separately (as well). I also really didn’t want to use the condensed milk method that most places recommend.

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Millionaire's Shortbread
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • For the Caramel:
  • 250gm sugar
  • 400ml cream
  • 50gm unsalted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt (optional)
  • Vanilla extract (optional).
  • For the Shortbread:
  • 125g/4oz butter
  • 55g/2oz caster sugar, plus extra to finish
  • 180g/6oz plain flour
  • For the topping:
  • 150g Dark Chocolate
  • Decent sized chunk of butter. (You can always add more)
Instructions
  1. For the caramel:
  2. In the bottom of a large heavy based stew pot, heap the sugar and place over a low heat.
  3. As the edges start to melt, mix (using a wooden spoon) them in to the non-melted sugar. At this point my sugar started spreading out over the pan.
  4. Keep stirring so it doesn’t catch on the pan. Allow it to completely melt. It will colour at this point. The longer you leave it the more bitter it will be.
  5. Take off the heat. Stir in half the cream. The mixture will bubble up furiously. Be careful of any steam coming out. Parts of the mix may start to harden, but keep on stirring and it should all combine nicely.
  6. Add the remaining cream then return to the low heat. Add the butter and the other ingredients (if using). Keep stirring over the heat until the butter is combined.
  7. Take off the stove and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Pour in to jars and allow to cool. It’ll be very runny at this point but will thicken as it cools. It’ll last about 3 weeks in the fridge and you’ll have MORE than enough.
  8. For the Shortbread:
  9. Heat the oven to 190°C(170°C fan assisted). I currently don’t have a deep tin/dish (anymore, left it at my ex’s oops) for this so just did it on a baking tray. Obviously something with deep sides would be better.
  10. Combine together the butter and the sugar. Mixing until it’s smooth.
  11. Add in the flour and mix until it makes a paste. I had to use a wooden spoon to finish this off.
  12. Turn out on to a lightly floured surface and roll out until it’s around 1cm thick. If using a tin, cut to fit. Otherwise slice up in to a rectangle/square.
  13. Place on baking paper on a tray and chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
  14. Place in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.
  15. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack.
  16. Once this has cooled spoon the caramel over the top and spread it so it’s evenly distributed.
  17. Return to the fridge while you sort the chocolate. Either in the microwave (I don’t own one!) or in a bowl over hot water, melt the butter and chocolate together.
  18. Spread this over the top of the shortbread/caramel and place back in the fridge until it’s set.
  19. Divide up in to squares.

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Marmite Caramel Cupcakes

Love it or hate it, you just can’t escape it. It’s everywhere at the moment, especially today. The day when everyone decides to try and pour scorn on some and adoration on others. I am of course, talking about the day I made Marmite Caramel Cupcakes. It made a line down the middle of the room. Lovers, or haters. And hey, I actually managed to convert some of the haters (in this case at least). The trick to get Marmite into something sweet is to work out what flavours you can take advantage of. It’s such a salty flavour that it works perfectly to add to a caramel. Salted Caramel has seen a huge boom over the last year or so. You can get pretty much anything with salted caramel in or on it. I’m not complaining, I love the stuff. (Oh yeah, it’s Valentine’s day too. So like, hearts and stuff. Pass the gin, pizza and Digimon marathon). I originally found this idea across at Ms Marmite Lover.

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So let’s get this in to gear. You will need to do this in several stages. Starting with the Caramel, then the frosting before moving on to the cakes and then filling/decorating them.

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Marmite Caramel Cupcakes
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • For the caramel:
  • 125ml Cold Water
  • 330g Caster Sugar
  • 250ml Double Cream
  • Marmite to taste
  • For the Frosting:
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 62g cream cheese
  • 32g unsalted butter
  • For the cupcakes:
  • 130g unsalted butter
  • 130g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 130g beaten egg
  • 195g plain flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 60ml milk
Instructions
  1. For the Caramel:
  2. Mix together the water and sugar in a medium sized saucepan until it has dissolved.
  3. Put over heat and bring to the boil without stirring.
  4. Use a wet brush to keep the sides clear of crystals. Once it has started boiling swirl it around occasionally to make the colouring even.
  5. Leave until it is browned to your preferred colour. The darker it is the more bitter. Remember that you will be getting extra colour from the marmite.
  6. Set aside to cool slightly and carefully whisk in the double cream. Leave it to cool a little more and mix in the marmite while it’s still warm enough to melt but not hot enough to burn your lips.
  7. Set a small bowl of the caramel aside and add more marmite to it. This will go in the center of the cakes. The rest will be used for the frosting later.
  8. For the Frosting:
  9. Cream together the cream cheese and ⅓ of the icing sugar until smooth.
  10. Melt the butter until it’s bubbling.
  11. Mix in the rest of the sugar and while it’s mixing add in the bubbling butter.
  12. Fold through the caramel gradually. Don’t add too much or it will collapse. My frosting was still very gooey and not stiff. Set it to one side, covered tightly so it doesn’t crust over.
  13. For the cupcakes:
  14. Preheat the oven to 160°C (140°C fan assisted) and line a tray with cases.
  15. Cream together the butter and sugar on high for several minutes until light and fluffy.
  16. Add the beaten eggs, slowly. Beating well after each addition to prevent curdling.
  17. Sift together the flour and baking powder.
  18. Mix the flour into the wet mixture until properly incorporated.
  19. Add in the milk (at room temperature) and the vanilla.
  20. Slow the speed of your mixer down so as not to beat the air out. Scrape down the sides occasionally.
  21. Divide the mixture out evenly among the 12 cases.
  22. Place in the middle of the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. Until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  23. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack.
  24. Decoration:
  25. Using a small sharp knife, cut a small well into the top/middle of each cake. Keeping the “cap” set aside.
  26. Fill this hole with some of the stronger caramel you set aside earlier and then place the cap back on top.
  27. Using a palette knife cover the cakes with the caramel frosting. Decorate however you please after.
 

 

 

Marmite and Cheese Muffins

Love it or hate it? Marmite. Personally, I fuckin’ love the stuff. It’s Iron Cupcake Leeds this Sunday and because of Valentine’s day the theme is Love or Hate. I’ve been meaning to enter Iron Cupcake for a while now and I want the first time I do to be fun. So I want to do something a bit different. Hence the marmite. There are a couple of ways of incorporating  the stuff in to bakes and I have practised one before the weekend, just to see whether it’d work for what I’d need it for.  The creation was Marmite and Cheddar muffins, and I then tried frosting them with a couple of different alternatives, unfortunately neither of them really worked all that well.

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The “cupcakes” themselves were wonderful. A little lighter than Scones but had a really great flavour (I’d personally put a little bit more marmite in myself to give more of a tang). As I was intending to frost them I didn’t add any extra cheese or marmite to the top, which I’d recommend you doing.

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Now the frosting, I tried two different kinds. The first was a “savoury cream cheese frosting” which came out way too creamy and just didn’t go with the cake at all. The recipe for that can be found here. The second was a “Cheddar Cheese” frosting, which worked MUCH better, however I couldn’t get it to thicken and it piped wrong. The recipe for that one can be found here.

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These cakes, while tasty, aren’t quite there for me to be taking to a competition. So instead I’m going to try some chocolate cones with a Marmite Caramel Ganache frosting.

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Marmite and Cheese Muffins
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 420gflour
  • 20ml baking powder
  • 200g mature cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
  • 100g butter
  • 30ml Marmite
  • 300ml milk
  • 4 large eggs
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C) and line a muffin tin with cases (or grease it).
  2. Mix the dry ingredients together. The flour, baking powder and cheese.
  3. Melt together the butter and marmite, allow to cool slightly and mix in the milk and eggs. Beating until the eggs are incorporated.
  4. With the mixer on a slow speed gradually pour the liquid mixture in to the flour.
  5. Mix until just combined, it will be lumpy but that’s ok.
  6. Spoon the mixture in to the prepared cases. Sprinkle over some remainder cheese and drizzle some extra marmite.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes (slightly less if using cupcake cases).
  8. Remove and allow to cool for a few minutes in the tray before transferring to a wire rack.