It’s been a very busy, but quite exciting, couple of weeks. Not only did I go on a week’s trip to Madrid & Barcelona (which I’ll be getting into soon on the blog), but I popped up to Leeds for the 2017 Bloggers Blog Awards, where I was shortlisted for ‘Best Food Blog’. After winning last year, and having some incredibly strong competition, I was incredibly humbled to discover I’d won. Thank you so, so much to everyone who voted for me. You have no idea how much it means to think that people like my ramblings about cheese and cinnamon enough for me to have won an award once, let along twice. It was also wonderful to see so many old faces on the night, as well as meeting a bunch of new ones. These events have all gotten in the way of actually doing the blogging though, so it’s time for another Bake Off Bake Along; Marmite Caramel Millionaire’s Shortbread.
I’ve been lacking on the recipe posts the last few weeks. Sorry! I’ve been pretty hectic and been out of the house a lot/getting to grips with the new kitchen and being given the chance to go to a ton of fun events. I’ve baked a few things but outside of the bread I uploaded previously, and I’ve not gotten the snaps that I necessarily wanted, which for me can be a sticking point. However, on a recent trip down to Brighton with work (these work trips won’t be happening for much longer, more on that to come), I let my eye be caught by some fancy biscuits in M&S while I was in Victoria station. The fancy biscuits were Lemon, Earl Grey & Poppyseed Butter 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.
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.
- 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)
- For the caramel:
- In the bottom of a large heavy based stew pot, heap the sugar and place over a low heat.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- For the Shortbread:
- 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.
- Combine together the butter and the sugar. Mixing until it’s smooth.
- Add in the flour and mix until it makes a paste. I had to use a wooden spoon to finish this off.
- 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.
- Place on baking paper on a tray and chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
- Place in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack.
- Once this has cooled spoon the caramel over the top and spread it so it’s evenly distributed.
- 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.
- Spread this over the top of the shortbread/caramel and place back in the fridge until it’s set.
- Divide up in to squares.