Salted Caramel Shortbread



Recipe from Olive magazine, Feb 2014.

Ingredients:

  • 300g butter
  • 150g golden caster sugar
  • 350g plain flour
  • 100g corn flour
  • 150g dark chocolate, chopped
  • Salt flakes, for decoration

For the caramel:

  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • Salt flakes

Method:

To make the caramel, heat the sugar in an even layer in a frying pan until it melts and then starts to bubble golden brown. Swirl the pan if you need to keep the melting and browning even. Add a good sized pinch of salt flakes and tip the caramel onto an oiled baking sheet set on a wooden board. Cool and then break into chips with a rolling pin.

Whizz the butter and sugar in a food processor until you have a smooth paste. Add all the flours and a pinch of salt and whizz to form a dough. Tip onto a lightly floured surface, pat out gently and sprinkle with the caramel chips. Fold in half and then transfer to a 20cm x 30cm (or similar) tin and push into an even layer. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 180C/Fan 160C/Gas 4. Bake the shortbread for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, mark into fingers with a knife (you should get about 20 decent sized pieces) and then cool completely. Cut along the marked lines into pieces.

Heat the chocolate in a bowl set over (but not touching) a pan of water until it starts to melt, stir until smooth and take it off the heat. Lay the shortbreads next to each other with a tiny gap between them on a cooling rack and spoon over the chocolate in strips. While the chocolate is still wet, sprinkle with some salt flakes and then leave to set.



Salted Caramel Shortbread: a family affair. We arrive home from school and it is cold but sunny. Ollie and I decide to finally prune back the raspberry canes (yes, it should’ve been done months ago), while Daisy goes to her room to examine her injured knee. She feel over at school, then tripped over Ollie’s stabiliser in her desperation to tell me about it at pick up. Her knee is a bloody mess. The non-regulation tartan tights are ruined and she’s feeling fragile. 

In the garden, Ollie is the boy-version of a robin: he is a gardener’s best friend. I am on bended knee cutting back the raspberry canes. I don’t know what I’m doing and I do not have the right equipment, but it’s better than nothing. Ollie has his hand supportively on my shoulder and he’s chirruping away, whilst feeding me Haribo hearts from Saturday’s party bag. 

I move the fire bin to a sunny patch at the bottom of the garden and we put the dried up canes in it to make a fire. Daisy will only be coerced out of the house if she can sit on my knee with her hot drink. Manning a fire whilst sitting down proves difficult so I suggest we do some baking, just me and her. The chances of this actually working out are about 0% but it makes her feel better. 



We wait until Ollie is deep in Lego role-play, crawling around muttering in the other room. Then I give Daisy a frying pan of golden sugar and we start to make the caramel, whispering all the while. It’s fun watching the sugar melt and turn runny. Next we pour it into a board to let it set. We become complacent and start using our normal voices again. A large growl come from the lounge:

“Muuuummmmeeee! Are you two cooking without me!” 

The boy comes storming in, bottom jaw jutting out, scowl on face, hands on hip. 

“You are the worst mummy in the world!” he bellows. 

Sometimes living in this house can be very confusing. I’m sure he was feeding me sweets and whispering sweet nothings in my ear a few moments ago? 

I give him the rolling pin to take his anger out on the caramel. He smashes it to smithereens with a little help. 

Tom arrives home and I am going out. I shout instructions from the front door, “Another five minutes in the oven! Leave to cool in the tray! Score! Melt some chocolate! Drizzle! Oh and Daisy needs to do her homework!”

I arrive home two hours later and Tom is hunched over the hob melting chocolate. The kids are finally in bed. He drizzles it all over the shortbread then we taste a reject piece. It is amazing – still warm and buttery with the salted caramel sandwiched in the middle. I call Daisy downstairs to see the finished article. She doesn’t need asking twice. She sits at the table licking the chocolate spoon, while we arrange the shortbreads on a board. A joint-family baking effort that tastes delicious. Maybe we should cook like this more often?!

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