I was invited round to my boyfriend’s house this weekend for a sumptuous afternoon tea organised by his sister, who is a super brilliant baker! I was obviously very excited, until I realised that I had to bake something too. My boyfriend eventually advised me (read: made me) to make some millionaire’s shortbread.
I do like millionaire’s shortbread a lot, but I haven’t had much luck with making it in the past. I must have baked it about four or five times, but I’ve only managed to nail it once, due to issues with the caramel and shortbread on separate occasions. Annoyingly, I can’t for the life of me remember the recipe I used for the perfect millionaire’s shortbread. So, I decided to adapt a recipe for salted caramel shortbread from the Guardian instead.
I like this recipe mainly because of the shortbread itself, which contains semolina – creating a really nice, substantial texture. The caramel is made by simmering an unopened tin of condensed milk in water for 2 hours, while the topping is melted milk chocolate and butter.
I’ve used the tin-boiling method for the caramel before, but it didn’t turn out quite right – too pale and gloopy. So I decided to simmer the tin for a good deal longer this time, and it seemed much better.
However, it still failed to set despite an overnight stay in the fridge, so I just decided to plough on and make the chocolate topping anyway, using some ‘extra special’ milk chocolate and a little bit of Milka chocolate, along with a knob of butter. I was a bit worried that I’d put too much butter in, as the resulting mixture seemed to be more like a ganache, but it did set overnight (phew!).
The final product was very nice indeed – everything tasted as it should. However, I’m still annoyed about the caramel not setting. As you can see in the first picture above, the caramel ended up dripping everywhere – not great when it’s on a beautiful cake stand filled with other perfect-looking goodies! If anyone can tell me what the secret is to the perfect set caramel, I’m all ears.
Yesterday’s afternoon tea went swimmingly – there were four kinds of sandwiches, two types of macarons, mini Bavarian slices and mini scones (which I knocked up at the last minute from this recipe) served with strawberry jam and clotted cream, as well as cava and lashings of tea, of course! We had to ‘get rid’ of some of the leftovers this afternoon as well, and now I’m all sugared out, but it was well worth it!
Adapted from this River Cottage recipe for salt caramel shortbread in the Guardian – just omit the salt in the caramel and shortbread, and feel free to use salted butter instead of unsalted in the shortbread itself (which is what I did!).