This is my take on Millionaire’s Shortbread, but slightly jazzed up: a real excuse for indulgence – but is an excuse ever needed?
(Re-photographed – August 2017)
Essentially, you have a buttery shortbread base, topped with a generous amount of salted caramel and coated in thick milk chocolate. A real treat for chocolate lovers and caramel lovers.
It’s salted caramel all the way with me!
You will get no apologies from me for doing my bit to ubiquitise salted caramel; it is still a truly wonderful thing! Even if you buy caramel ready made, add some salt to it and you have a delightful ingredient in its own right.
I have added salt to my caramels ever since I first made caramel many decades ago – I was always one for playing around with flavours. It was one of my many “I wonder what would happen if…” food moments as I reached for the table salt (there was no such thing as sea salt or rock salt back then in our kitchen!).
If you are not convinced about salted caramel, I would urge you try some caramel without salt and then try some with a little salt…….I will be surprised if you’re not an immediate convert!
About 1 level teaspoon fine sea salt, or finely crushed salt crystals, per 200g caramel gives enough saltiness without over-powering.
Individual biscuits or tray bake?
Rather than make these up in a large baking tray to cut once the baked shortbread has been covered with caramel and chocolate, I like to make small individual ones: there is something theraputic about dunking each one in the melted chocolate.
And I am quite aware that I am gilding the lily somewhat by adding a drizzle of white chocolate and the like to the biscuits ….but I also make no apologies for that!
These biscuits can of course be made with standard caramel if preferred, or any one of many caramel variations:
- a generous spritz of lemon juice
- some chopped fresh thyme: it works!
- a small splash of good quality balsamic vinegar: this is a gorgeous sweet-sharp-sour combination
- a little coffee (use granules dissolved in just a little hot water)
Recipe: salted caramel shortbreads (makes about 20)
- 110g plain flour
- 30g cornflour
- 70g caster sugar
- 105g unsalted butter, softened
- pinch of salt
Salted caramel (or use bought caramel and add salt – see above)
- 120g granulated sugar
- 60g unsalted butter
- 90ml double cream
- 1 teaspoon best quality sea salt, finely crushed. You can add more if you want; just go cautiously
- about 250g best quality milk chocolate (or dark if preferred)
- 50g best quality white chocolate, optional
For the shortbread:
(1) Mix the flour, cornflour and salt into a bowl. Mix in the sugar and rub in the butter until a dough is formed – don’t overwork or the biscuits will be too tough and will not melt in the mouth. Ideally chill the dough for about 30 minutes, which makes it easier to roll out.
(2) Roll the dough out thinly (this is easiest rolled between two sheets of baking parchment) and cut into small circles with a plain cutter: a 6cm diameter cutter yields about 20 biscuits. Prick each with a fork and chill for about 20 minutes.
(3) Meanwhile preheat the oven to 150C (fan). Bake for about 10-12 minutes until golden brown but watch them carefully so they do not over-cook. Cool on a wire rack – they will crisp up as they cool.
For the caramel:
(4) Heat the sugar in a medium, but fairly deep non-stick saucepan over medium-low heat. Be patient: it will melt and become a dark honey-coloured liquid caramel in 10-15 minutes. Don’t stir during this stage or the sugar might crystallise, but you can gently shake the pan to help any undissolved sugar mix into the molten liquid.
Top tip: avoid using a non-stick pan – a normal pan is more effective for making caramel as it is less prone to crystallising.
(5) Stir the butter into the caramel until completely melted and slowly pour in the cream, being careful as it will splutter somewhat. Let the mixture to boil for 1 minute – keep an eye on the pan and turn heat down if the caramel is in danger of rising up and out of the pan.
(6) Remove from heat and stir in the salt. Allow to cool.
NB: the caramel should hold its shape without being too runny. If you feel it is too runny, add a little melted white chocolate (about 40g) which will set the caramel just enough so that it holds it shape but without going solid.
NB: the caramel can be stored for a couple of weeks in the fridge, or even frozen. I tend to put the caramel in a clean jam jar with the lid on.
To assemble and finish:
(7) Put some caramel on the top of each biscuit, as in the picture below. Store the remains of the caramel in a jar in the fridge.
Top tip: pop the caramel-topped shortbreads in the freezer for about 15 minutes or so until the caramel firms up, so that when you pour over the chocolate, it doesn’t blend into the caramel!
(8) Melt the milk chocolate and cool it a little. Place the biscuits on a wire rack with greaseproof underneath. Spoon chocolate generously over each. Apply another coating of chocolate if you want a thicker chocolate layer. The chocolate drips, once set, can be removed from the paper and popped into a container for use as and when.
(9) If you need further flourish to these treats, melt the white chocolate and drizzle over the biscuits. A few golden chocolate balls or a dusting of edible gold lustre add extra over-the-top-ness!