9 December 2012

Little Treats: Salted Millionaire's Shortbread

Millionaire's shortbread has always been one of my favorite treats. In the summer, I had a go at making a batch for a picnic. I used condensed milk for the caramel -you can buy it already caramelized or you can pierce the top of the tin and leave it in a saucepan of simmering water for a couple of hours. That was delicious, but I wanted to have a go at using my own caramel this time around.
In theory, millionaire's shortbread is simple, but each stage requires your judgement as to when it is ready. You need a little time, as you need to allow time for everything to cool and set.

  • For the shortbread:
  • 150g butter at room temperature.
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 180g plain flour
  • 55g rice flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt (unless using salted butter)
  • For the caramel:
  • 150g sugar
  • 150ml double cream
  • 1 tsp course sea salt 

  • 120g chocolate, milk or dark

Firstly make the shortbread. Preheat the oven to gas mark 3, 170'C. Grease and line a rectangular baking tin.
Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric beater or mixer until light and fluffy. Sift over the flours baking powder and salt, and combine until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Press the  mix into the tin using the back of a spoon and smooth over. If the butter is too cold, the mix may seem dry and not come together so well.
Bake for 40-45 minutes. You don't want any colour on the shortbread, so keep an eye on it. Mark out and score where you want to cut your shortbread pieces and leave to cool on a wire rack.

As the shortbread cools, make the caramel. Sprinkle a thin layer of sugar onto a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. As the sugar starts to melt, sprinkle over another layer of sugar. Continue to gradually add more sugar. NEVER stir the caramel as it will crystallize a be spoilt. Swirl the sugar a little in the pan instead if needed. After all the sugar has melted, keep heating and swirling until almost coca-cola coloured. Now pour in the cream and salt, being careful as the sugar may spit. Heat until 108'C or until the caramel coats the back of a spoon, and transfer to a bowl to cool.
When the caramel is no longer runny, carefully spoon it over the shortbread (if it is too runny, you will loose most of the caramel and end up with a very sticky biscuit...). Again, leave to cool completely.

Now break up all the chocolate into a bowl. Even if you're not a fan of dark chocolate, try to use a little as the chocolate will set slightly harder, which contrasts really well against the soft, gooey caramel. Heat the bowl of chocolate over a pan of simmering water until melted.
 Immediately remove from the heat, and pour or spoon over the set caramel and shortbread. Leave it to set at room temperature if you can, as the chocolate will look dull and soft if chilled in the fridge. Feel free to use your artistic license with drizzled white chocolate, chopped nuts, salt or whatever you fancy.
 Enjoy x

8 December 2012

Making the Mince Pies...

It wouldn't be Christmas without mince pies would it? Every year, we reach for the faded print contained in my Mother's old Cordon Bleu folder, and get a big bowl of mincemeat made. It sits there all through December, lasting us through several batches of mince pies, not to mention numerous stolen spoonfuls of bliss when I think nobody is watching....

The mincemeat will last for weeks, improving and maturing over time.

  •  225g (8 oz) apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 225g (8 oz) raisins
  • 225g (8 oz) currants
  • 115g (4 oz) sultanas
  • 170g (6 oz) green grapes, peeled and quatered
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 170g (6 oz) brown sugar
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 40g (1.5 oz) butter, melted
  • 1 small glass of sherry, brandy or other liqueur

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, and keep covered with clingfilm in a cool place until needed.

Mince Pies (using sweet shortcrust pastry)
  • 255g (9 oz) plain flour
  • 115g (4 oz) cold butter or lard if you're feeling really traditional
  • 1 egg
  • 1 dstsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Mincemeat
Using you fingertips, rub the flour and butter together (You can use a food processor or mixer, but it is really easy to overwork the gluten in the flour, so make sure that you use a pulse setting). Shake the bowl at intervals to bring any lumps of butter to the surface. Keep rubbing until the mixture iresembles breadcrumbs.
 Tip: If you have time beforehand, chill the butter in the freezer and grate it to make rubbing in the butter easier.

In a separate jug, whisk the egg and add in sugar and water. Make a well in the dry ingredients, and gradually pour in the egg mix and mix using a palette knife. Chill the pastry in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Grease a 12 hole bun tin and flour a surface and rolling pin. Preheat the oven to gas mark 5, 190'C.
Roll out the pastry, turning it a quarter to stop it from sticking to the surface. Use two different sized pastry cutters for the pastry and cut out enough to make cases and lids for each pie. Fill each with a teaspoon of mincemeat and top with one of the smaller pastry disks. Glaze with a little milk and pierce the top of each pie.
Bake for around 12-15 minutes, until golden and puffy. Allow to cool for 10 minutes on a rack, and dust with icing sugar before storing or serving.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...