Thursday, 2 January 2014

Chocolate Caramel Shortbread

Hello, and Happy New Year! I know that at the start of a new year, people often decide to cultivate new habits like eating more healthily, and while I am all for that, my love of baking needs to be satisfied, one way or another, and really the only way to do so is to...bake! 
These caramel shortbreads were the last of the sweet treats to come forth from my oven in 2013. I baked them one stormy afternoon as a small way to say thank you to my husband. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen the reason for my gratitude - the weather was awful on this particular day and I had been taking refuge under a warm quilt. However, I ended up being forced to leave the house, after running out of nappies and milk.

As soon as I had shut the front door, I realised I had picked up the wrong set of keys, leaving me stuck outside in the wind and rain with no car keys. So my husband had to cycle home from work, getting drenched for the second time that day, to let me back in with his house keys. It felt more than a little fitting to bake him something to say a very big thank you and sorry.

I don't tend to make caramel shortbread very often, as I have always thought them to be a little time consuming, due to the different stages of baking. But really, they don't take that long, and the end result is so worth the effort. I definitely intend to make these more regularly, and perhaps next time I will try a salted caramel variation.

I only had 150 grams of chocolate in the cupboard when I came to make these, and after the ordeal that morning of locking myself out, I didn't fancy venturing out again. So the chocolate layer is rather out of proportion to the caramel and shortbread layers in these photos, which is not a real problem, aside from the appearance of the finished treats being disproportionate.
 I want to remember the scene behind the photos here: The natural light in our house was very limited as the afternoon was drawing to a close, so I knew that time was not on my side. I had Ruby in the sling, who was stirring from sleep, ready to feed at any moment. The floor of our living room was filled with scenes of Christmas and babies - cotton wool and changing mats strewn among white tissue paper laid out for the last of the Christmas present wrapping. And so there in the lightest room in the house, I crouched low to the ground with the babe still snug against me, and snatched a few photos as the light faded, and I celebrated the stillness of the moment at the end of a long day, a small chance to take a breath and a photo all at once.

Chocolate Caramel Shortbread
ingredients for shortbread (to fit in an 8" square tin)
250g plain flour
75g caster sugar
175g unsalted butter

for the caramel
1 can condensed milk (397g)
2 tbsp golden syrup
100g light muscovado sugar or light brown sugar

for the topping
150 - 200g dark or milk chocolate
30g white chocolate for the marbled effect

Method for the shortbread.
1. Pre-heat oven to 180C / Gas mark 4 / 350F and grease & line an 8" square brownie tin.
2. Cut up the butter into cubes, and place in a mixing bowl, along with the flour and sugar.
3. Rub the butter into the flour and sugar until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. If you have a food processor, you can speed up this process and pop all of the ingredients in a blender and pulse until you reach the breadcrumb stage.
4. Press the shortbread mixture into your prepared tin and bake in the oven for 12 - 15 minutes, or until the shortbread starts to turn golden at the edges.

For the caramel
1. While the shortbread is baking, place the ingredients for the caramel in a pan and heat over a very gentle heat. Stir the caramel mixture continuously using a heatproof rubber spatula until it thickens - this took about 20 minutes on a gas hob.
It's crucial to stir continuously to stop the caramel from catching on the bottom of the pan. I have found that using a rubber spatula is the most effective way of doing this. If you find that your caramel does catch a little and has brown specs in it, do not worry, it'll still taste fine!
2. Pour the caramel mixture onto the shortbread and leave to cool.

To finish
Melt the chocolate and pour over the caramel. If you want to create a marbled effect, melt the white chocolate and drizzle over the dark chocolate. I used a skewer to swirl the white and dark chocolate together, creating a marbled appearance.

1 comment:

  1. You should get locked out more often! These were amazing...

    ReplyDelete