Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Caramel Chocolate shortbread or Millionnaire´s shortbread

Rich, buttery, chocolaty and sweet, a perfect dessert
My first experience with caramel chocolate shortbread was three years ago. I found them in a local delicacy store, they looked too tantalizing to dismiss. I am glad a bought a few; indeed they were amazing. Unfortunately, they are not readily available and if I were to rely on stores to quench my appetite for these delicacies, well I would hungry! No such thing is allowed under my watch! Do your ingredient hunting and prepare yourself to make these chocolaty treats at home.

Shortbread is not new to the culinary world. In fact, it has been made since the 16th century in reference to a crumbly type bread. Shortbread relies on the taste and the texture that butter infuses in the dough. Earlier recipes, like the Elizabethan ones, had oatmeal as a main ingredient and was popular among unprivileged classes. Almonds were sometimes added to fancy things up, but the main ingredients were simple including   wheat flour, butter and sugar. Back in the days, sweet cookies were mainly consumed during festive times, especially Christmas, as everything nice and sweet was reserved for such occasions!

Now, we can enjoy those cookies all year long with their endless varieties and ingredients such as chocolate chips, cranberries, nuts among other ingredients. Caramel chocolate shortbread, a decadent recipe that can satisfy any craving soul for comfort, is like a cookie based sandwich  which you will be happy to know how to prepare.

The traditional recipe is made with dark or milk chocolate, but I decide to try something new and make one with white chocolate. For now I will share the dark chocolate recipe first which will be followed by the white chocolate recipe.

The first recipe is the closest to the original, but again, it has a twist. It has a double of chocolate since the shortbread has chocolate too. You can never have enough chocolate, right?
Dark and white chocolate shortbread!
So to prepare the double chocolate caramel shortbread, you will need (makes about 15):
For the dough (18 x 18 cm tray):
  • 67 g butter
  • 8 g cocoa powder
  • 78 g flour
  • 10 g vanilla-infused sugar (I used castor sugar to which I added a pod of vanilla in advance)
  • 15 g powdered sugar
  • A teaspoon of orange zest (optional)
Preparing the dough can be done in several ways: beating the butter and sugar with an electric mixer then add the flour with a wooden spoon or you can mix all the ingredients by hand. However, you can do what I did which is to mix the butter and sugar in the food processor for few seconds then add the flour and cocoa powder, and mix for an additional times, usually not more than few seconds, until the dough comes together, add the zest and mix again for a very short time until all is blended well.

Place the dough on a tray lined with parchment paper to prevent it from sticking and to ease the job of removing it from the tray when baked.

Flatten the surface of the dough, making sure it's even. Like all buttery dough, it is best to chill it before baking; 30 min is ideal.

Before baking the dough, prick it and place in a preheated oven at 180 C degrees for about 20 min. 
The chilled and the baked dough
While the dough is cooling start preparing the caramel, which requires the following ingredients:
  • 35 g butter
  • 20 g vanilla-infused sugar
  • 5 g dark brown sugar
  • 20 ml condensed milk
  • 20 ml cream
  • 7 ml of corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla
In a heavy bottom sauce pan, combine sugar, butter and corn syrup, place over a gentle flame and wait for the sugar to dissolve with the butter, then add the milk and cream. Let the mix simmer for few minutes until it starts to thicken, stir gently from time to time, then add the vanilla.

I cut the amount of condensed milk and used cream to get a balanced caramel taste and not a sickly sweet taste. 

Pour the caramel over the cooled dough. Let it cool at room temperature then place in the fridge until it is well set.
Pour the caramel on top of the baked dough and let it set
And now for the final adornment, the chocolate layer. Pick your favorite chocolate type (dark, semi-sweet, milk,...) and brand and melt around 100 to 150 g of it in a double boiler or bain-marie.  When melted, pour over the caramel and let it set. 
The set caramel on top of the shortbread and the set molded chocolate
Leave it to cool and try to cut it before the chocolate completely hardens, because if you do it will crack and the slice won't come out as nice as you wanted. It's not an easy job, but it will be made easy if you use a serrated knife.
The various layers of the this chocolate treat

If you examine the pictures you will notice that the chocolate on top looks like a piece of chocolate bar, which is not difficult to reproduce. Place half the amount of melted chocolate in a silicone molds which has a chocolate candy bar look. As they set they take the shape of the mold. Layer the molded chocolate over the shortbread pieces, brush lightly with melted chocolate to the layers together. This is an optional decorative step, you can simply pour the chocolate, let it set, slice it and serve it as such.

A chef once named these chocolate shortbread cookies as millionaire´s shortbread because they are very rich and indeed, it cant get any richer!

While you wait for the white chocolate caramel shortbread version, sit back, relax and enjoy the chocolate ones with coffee or tea.
Perfect for a 5 o´clock tea!

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