The New Year is always full of optimism, resolutions and excitement. What is your resolution this year? Some people choose dieting/getting healthy/losing weight as their resolution and to those of you reading this who may have just started their path to a healthier lifestyle, I apologise. This recipe is not for those who strive for a smaller waist. This is pure, unashamed indulgence; layers of buttery shortbread sandwiched with dulce de leche, topped with salted caramel and dark chocolate. Not millionaire’s shortbread, but Zillionaire’s Shortbread.
I had this need, this craving for a properly good biscuit. Nothing disastrous, or even slightly unusual, had occurred but sometimes you don’t need an excuse. I had a fridge load of rhubarb that needed a good home. Rhubarb is always very happy under a crumble topping but a crumble wasn’t going to help my desire for a biscuit. I devised a cunning ensemble where biscuit and crumble would meet.
You will need:
400g plain flour
100g sugar and a little extra
300g butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp chopped, toasted hazelnuts
6 small sticks of rhubarb
So you’re in the kitchen feeling a bit peckish and you spot the biscuit tin. My biscuit tin had previously been looking after some elderflower and white chocolate shortbread but was there any left? Yes. Yes there was some left, but just one piece. Should I eat it myself and snub all knowledge of its existence?
Unfortunately as I was plotting how to cover my tracks my other half walked in to the kitchen with a similarly devilish plan. I think for a moment we both considered lunging for the tin and throwing all sense of caution out of the window. I’m glad this didn’t happen as one or more of us would probably have ended up with crumbs in our eyes and shards of shortbread embedded in our forearms.
When you’ve gone to the effort of making elderflower sugar it is paramount that you make the most of it in ever varying and interesting ways. I thought I’d run out of sugar much sooner than I have; indeed I still have around 500g left. The sugar itself has an incredible aroma and every time you open the lid it smells of hedgerows. The little elderflower cakes I made were lovely but I wanted something a little more biscuit orientated. Not only does shortbread fill this requirement it’s also much easier to take to work; no icing to melt/squash before lunchtime.
I managed to get hold of some delicate Champagne rhubarb and set about making my sorbet. Two large sticks of rhubarb weighed around 500g which turned out to make enough sorbet for four. Discard the ends of the rhubarb before cutting into inch sized pieces. Put the chopped rhubarb in a pan with small amount of water and about 80g in total of sugar. When I make sorbet I always add a tablespoon of glucose syrup and half the sugar I think I’ll need. The glucose syrup gives it a certain texture; it sort of makes it sticky and gives a thicker mouth feel.
With the chocolate set, the kettle was on. The tea was in the pot and the milk in the cups. My Granny had had the foresight to cut the shortbread into pieces before the caramel and chocolate had set and three glorious pieces were put on a plate.It is a good thing that neither of my grandparents have false teeth. The hardness of that caramel would have ensured we were finding bits of false enamel in the lounge for months to come. I was at the age where loose teeth were commonplace and I’m surprised I didn’t lose them all with the first bite. We all looked at each other, somewhat relieved at the lack of shattering teeth noises and decided we would give our best efforts to the birds. Who knows how many beaks got broken. As far as I’m concerned, if my Granny had had a caramel failure then there was no way I could be successful. She has culinary bravery that I know not. However, despite all my concerns I tried it again.
IngredientsYou will need (for 8 pieces of Millionaire’s Shortbread):
- 125g margarine or butter
- 75g caster sugar
- 50g cornflour
- 150g plain flour
For the caramel
- 100g margarine or butter
- 75g caster sugar
- 1 tbsp golden syrup
- 1/4 small can evaporated milk
For the topping
- 150g dark chocolate
MethodIf you want to play toffee roulette, then here’s how. You’ll need to beat together the margarine with the caster sugar. When fluffy, sieve in the cornflour and plain flour. Bring it together how you want your shortbread to be. I like mine crumbly so I leave it like big breadcrumbs. Press into a greased tin and bake at 150C for 30-40 minutes. For the dreaded caramel, put the margarine, sugar, golden syrup and evaporated milk into a pan and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring the mixture to the boil, (it smells like everything good is happening in the pan) boil it for 10 minutes and do not abandon it. Stir it continuously. It doesn’t matter if the doorbell rings or the dog wants to go out because you’ll feel far worse regret from abandoning your caramel. Be careful as the mixture tends to gain volume with alarming ferociousness. After 7-8 minutes it will darken in colour and you really need to make sure it doesn’t catch at the bottom.
Perhaps I’m taking the caramel part a little seriously but I wasn’t risking losing my precious gnashers. Spoon the caramel out onto the shortbread base and spread out with the back of the spoon.
Melt yourself some chocolate in a small bowl over some gently simmering water; I went for dark but whatever is your favourite, and pour this on top of the caramel.
I fancied making some shortbread and in my quest I stumbled across an interesting variation of this classic. It was in James Martin’s book entitled ‘Desserts’ (see link below). I love this book, the recipes are so easy to follow and are always yummy. He calls this particular recipe ‘Grandma’s caramel shortbread’ and I am so grateful she shared this recipe with him so I was lucky enough to be able to make and eat it.
IngredientsWhat you will need:
397g can of condensed milk