Caramel shortbread. A name which kind of belies the delight that this traybake is- crumbly, nutty shortbread, rich salted caramel, marbled dark and white chocolate topping. They’re luxurious, yes- probably too luxurious for a Tuesday, which is when I took this batch to work- but so, so worth it.
These were born of the fact that I had half a tub of single cream left in the fridge after making a Jamie Oliver supper on Sunday (which, by the way, was incredibly. I strongly recommend you try the Golden Chicken from his 15 Minute Meals book- took more like 35, but hey- still speedy, still worth it). I had everything else I needed to make them, save for some block butter which was easily picked up on my way home.
I used these as a balm to my colleagues when I told them I was leaving on Tuesday. That sounds pretty self indulgent, to be honest- they probably didn’t need a balm, but they were pretty shocked. I’d kept the whole new job thing pretty quiet, and given that it’ssuch a big move (watch yesterday’s video to find out more!), they were pretty surprised.
These take time- I did them on and off throughout a whole evening. They’re therefore a great thing to do on an evening when you’re in and out, actually- the shortbread can go from ingredients to finished in less than an hour, then be left for as long as you need (or until cold). The caramel takes some concentration (that is to say, don’t try to make it while you prep supper- it’s stressful), but isn’t vastly time consuming and again, once done and on top of the biscuit, can just be left until you’re ready to top. I chilled mine overnight, before chopping to take to work.
These aren’t exactly picture perfect- my caramel was slightly runnier than I expected, leaving them slightly messy- but they’re delicious, and people seem to love you if you make them. I wouldn’t recommend taking them to a picnic, unless you keep them in a well-chilled cool box- they will probably melt- but they’re the perfect addition to just about any afternoon tea table, or for elevenses.
(For the base)
175g plain flour
50g caster sugar
85g mixed nuts
140g unsalted butter
(For the caramel)
225g caster sugar
150ml single cream
50g butter, cubes
(For the topping)
200g dark chocolate
100g white chocolate
Line a 5cm deep baking tray with baking paper, and preheat the oven to 160C.
In a dry pan (as in, no oil), toast your nuts gently (burnt nuts taste awful). Then finely chop, or pulse in a food processor. Stir together the flour, cornflour, sugar, and chopped nuts. Work in the butter by hand to make a dough. Press this evenly into your baking tray, and prick all over with a fork. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until lightly golden. Leave to cool. You can leave it in the tray to cool, or carefully lift out and cool on a rack- but remember if you do this that you will have to return the biscuit to the pan!
When the biscuit is completely cool, make the caramel. Put the sugar and water into a large pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Then turn up the heat and simmer until the mixture is a dark caramel colour- this does take time, so don’t worry! Whatever you do, do not put your finger in or taste it- sugar syrup burns so badly. And also don’t stir- this leads to crystallisation and will ruin your caramel. Just swirl the pan occasionally (carefully).
When the syrup is a dark caramel colour, switch off the heat and pour in the cream. It will bubble up, but put a long oven glove on (to cover your arm) and stir it in. Add the salt and butter, and stir until the butter has melted. Pour over the biscuit (make sure the biscuit is back in the baking tray!), smooth out evenly, and leave to cool.
When the caramel is cool (about an hour or so, I guess?), make the chocolate topping. Melt the dark chocolate and butter together, then pour over the caramel and smooth evenly over the top. Melt the white chocolate (at the same time as the dark is easiest) then drizzle across the top of the dark chocolate. Use a spoon to swirl around to create a marble effect.
Put into the fridge for at least a couple of hours, or preferably overnight, before cutting into squares.