Episode 55: Next-Level Caramel Shortbreads

Very Good Millionaire’s Shortbread

This is my base recipe for you to make your own riffs or just follow to get a classic caramel shortbread with a gooey salted caramel, bittersweet chocolate topping and melt-in-the-mouth shortbread. Arguably, there’s no need to change this timeless classic! I used the hazelnut Millionaire’s Shortbread in Benjamina Ebuehi’s A Good Day to Bake, and James Morton’s recipe from How Baking Works, as my starting points.

Use bars of chocolate, or at least some chocolate from bars, in order to temper the chocolate using the seeding method.

To make gluten free, replace both the plain flours and cornflour with 150g gluten free flour blend (I used Doves Freee plain white flour).

Makes 12-16 squares

Shortbread layer

  • 120g plain/ AP flour
  • 30g cornflour/ cornstarch
  • 100g unsalted butter and a good pinch of salt
  • 50g icing sugar

Salted caramel layer

  • A 397g/ 140z can (sweetened) condensed milk
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp flaky salt such as Maldon
  • 100g light brown sugar

Dark milk chocolate layer

  • 150g milk chocolate (around 33% cocoa solids)
  • 50g dark chocolate (around 70% cocoa solids)
  • A few sea salt flakes to decorate (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C / 160C fan. Grease and line an 20cm x 20cm / 8×8 in pan.
  2. Make the shortbread: mix the flour, cornflour and salt. Rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs (I use a pastry blender). Stir in the icing sugar. Pour the crumbs into the pan and press down to get an even spread of filling – I use the back of a dessert spoon and my knuckles to do this. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden around the edges. Leave to cool in the tin, ideally for about an hour.
  3. Make the caramel: tip the condensed milk, butter, salt and brown sugar into a pan. Melt then bring to a soft boil, bubbling, stirring continuously, for about 8 minutes. It will thicken a bit, but not too much – it will thicken and harden while it cools as well. Crumble and stir in the salt. Pour the lot on the shortbread. Allow to cool.
  4. Once the caramel is cool, melt 3/4 of the chocolate in a bain marie or gently in the microwave. Chop the remaining chocolate into small pieces. Stir the melted chocolate to ensure it’s evenly melted, then stir in the chopped chocolate vigorously. This helps the melted chocolate to “copy” the molecular structure of the chopped chocolate, which was tempered. Crumble over a few sea salt flakes, if you want. Use a large sharp knife to cut, you could also heat the blade as well to get a cleaner cut. You could also chill the shortbread for a cleaner cut, but I think it tastes better at room temperature.

Thyme and Hazelnut Millionaire’s Shortbread

This is really lovely – just a slight, aromatic twist on the classic. I tried infusing the butter with thyme but it got way too strong, so happily this easier method was better!

You need to use already tempered chocolate, in nice bars, if you want to have tempered chocolate on the top! If only some of your chocolate is tempered, melt the un-tempered stuff and chop the tempered stuff.

Makes 12-16 squares

To make gluten free, replace both the plain flour and cornflour with a gluten free flour blend (I used Doves Freee plain white flour).

Thyme Shortbread

  • 120g plain/ AP flour
  • 30g cornflour/ cornstarch
  • 100g unsalted butter and a good pinch of salt
  • 50g icing sugar
  • A few sprigs of thyme, leaves chopped unless they are already very small. Mine measured 3g on the scale

Hazelnut Salted Caramel

  • A 397g/ 140z can (sweetened) condensed milk
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp flaky salt such as Maldon
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 160g hazelnuts, plus a few more to decorate the top, if you like

Dark Milk Chocolate Layer

  • 150g milk chocolate (around 33% cocoa solids)
  • 50g dark chocolate (around 70% cocoa solids)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C / 160C fan. Grease and line an 20cm x 20cm / 8×8 in pan.
  2. Make the shortbread: mix the flour, cornflour and salt. Rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs (I use a pastry blender). Stir in the icing sugar and most of thyme leaves. Pour the crumbs into the pan and press down to get an even spread of filling – I use the back of a dessert spoon and my knuckles to do this. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden around the edges. Leave to cool in the tin, ideally for about an hour.
  3. Remove the shortbread out of the oven but leave the oven on. Roast the hazelnuts for 10 minutes. Remove and cool. Switch off the oven. Once the hazelnuts have cooled, roughly chop them.
  4. Make the caramel: tip the condensed milk, butter, salt and brown sugar into a pan. Melt then bring to a soft boil, bubbling, stirring continuously, for about 8 minutes. It will thicken a bit, but not too much – it will thicken and harden while it cools as well. Crumble and stir in the salt.
  5. Mix 160g of the hazelnuts into the caramel then pour the lot on the shortbread. Allow to cool.
  6. Once the caramel is cool, melt 3/4 of the chocolate in a bain marie or gently in the microwave. Chop the remaining chocolate into small pieces. Stir the melted chocolate to ensure it’s evenly melted, then stir in the chopped chocolate vigorously. This helps the melted chocolate to “copy” the molecular structure of the chopped chocolate, which was tempered. Sprinkle over the remaining hazelnuts and thyme leaves and leave to cool completely before slicing. Use a large sharp knife to cut, you could also heat the blade as well to get a cleaner cut. You could also chill the shortbread for a cleaner cut, but I think it tastes better at room temperature.

Sour Cherry and Pistachio Caramel Shortbread

Pistachio caramel is my new favourite thing and plumping up the sour cherries in hot water transforms them from hard bullets to an unctuous soft topping. If sour cherries are difficult to get hold of, you could try another dried fruit – but the sourness really works against the nuttiness, richness and sweetness of the rest of the bake. I found mahleb to taste quite a lot like cinnamon so it’s no stress if you can’t get hold of it. But if you can, it’s definitely worth trying.

Makes 12-16 squares

To make gluten free, replace the plain flour and cornflour with a gluten free flour blend. I used Doves Freee plain white flour.

Spiced brown sugar shortbread

  • 120g plain flour
  • 30g cornflour
  • 1 tsp ground mahleb/mahlepi OR a drop of almond extract and 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 100g unsalted butter and a good pinch of salt
  • 50g soft light brown sugar

Pistachio caramel

  • 200g pistachios
  • 397g/ 14oz can (sweetened) condensed milk
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp flaky salt, such as Maldon

Cherry topping

  • 100g dried sour cherries
  • Very hot water from a kettle
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C / 160C fan. Grease and line an 20cm x 20cm / 8×8 in pan.
  2. Make the shortbread: mix the flour, cornflour, salt and spices. Rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs (I use a pastry blender). Crumble in the brown sugar with your hands to remove any lumps then stir it into the mixture. Pour the crumbs into the pan and press down to get an even spread of filling – I use the back of a dessert spoon and my knuckles to do this. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden. Leave to cool in the tin, ideally for about an hour.
  3. Remove the shortbread out of the oven but leave the oven on. Roast the pistachios for 7 minutes. Remove and cool. Switch off the oven. Once the nuts have cooled, roughly chop them.
  4. Make the caramel: tip the condensed milk, butter, salt and brown sugar into a pan. Melt then bring to a soft boil, stirring continuously, for about 8 minutes. It will thicken a bit, but not too much – it will thicken and harden while it cools as well. Crumble and stir in the salt. Mix 180g of the pistachios into the caramel then pour the lot on the shortbread. Allow to cool.
  5. Pop the dried cherries into a bowl. Pour over enough just-boiled water to cover them. Leave to plump up until the water is cool. Pop into a sieve to drain the liquid off. Scatter the cherries on the caramel, followed by the remaining pistachios.

Middle Eastern Millionaire’s Shortbread

This recipe is truly delightful. Outrageously addictive. But I was unhappy with the ratio of halva to the other layers, so I have used a bigger pan and made a larger amount of the halva layer.

To make gluten free, replace the plain flour and cornflour with a gluten free flour blend. I used Doves Freee plain white flour.

Serves 16-20

Shortbread layer:

  • 250g plain/ AP flour
  • 35g cornflour/ cornstarch
  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 40g icing sugar
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Halva layer:

  • 300g halva, roughly crumbled into small pieces
  • 120g tahini

Tahini caramel layer:

  • 200g caster sugar
  • 120ml water
  • 100g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
  • 80ml double cream
  • 150g tahini
  • ¼ tsp flaky sea salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F/ 180C/ 160C fan. Grease and line a 9×13 / 23x33cm tin.
  2. Make the shortbread: Tip the flours into a large bowl. Rub in the butter using your favourite method – I use a dough blender and twist until I get a breadcrumb-like texture. Stir in the sugars, salt, and vanilla. Pour into the tin and pat down. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside until completely cool, which takes about an hour.
  3. Mix together the tahini and halva. Spread over the shortbread.
  4. Heat the water and sugar in a small saucepan and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil and cook for 12 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and cream, then the tahini and salt.
  5. Refrigerate for 4 hours to set before cutting up. Decorate with a little more flaked salt, if you like.

Published by Kate

Home baker and now podcaster!

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