I’ll never forget the first time I tried Millionaire’s Shortbread. I was sixteen, and dating a rather dashing Thom Yorke-circa-Pablo-Honey lookalike who lived in St. Anne’s on Sea on the Fylde Coast. We’d spend our weekends together getting stoned, watching bad comedy films and eating tray after tray of his Mum’s delicious Millionaire’s Shortbread. I was addicted to the stuff – it tasted pretty good with a cup of tea, and amazing when you were a bit worse for wear after a sneaky jazz fag. It was so good in fact, that his Mum once caught me red handed when I’d snuck to the kitchen at midnight (wearing only my underwear) to steal the last piece. Thankfully, she was more understanding about my craving for caramel-based products than I would have been had I seen a semi naked woman with crumbs around her mouth in my kitchen.
Now I am a *cough* grown up *cough* I’d like to say that I’m less inclined to spend my free time getting wasted, snogging boys and stuffing my face with shortbread, but that would be a lie. Especially when that shortbread is smothered in rosemary infused sea salt caramel and chocolate.
At first glance, this seems like a bit of a long winded recipe to make. First you have to make the biscuit base, then you have to cook the condensed milk into a rich fudgey caramel, then you have to cover the whole lot in chocolate and leave it to set for an hour. The whole process can easily eat up an afternoon, so this isn’t something that can exactly be whipped up at a moment’s notice. However, if it’s a boring Sunday, and there’s nothing on TV and it’s raining outside, I could think of no better past time than rolling your sleeves up, cranking up some Chicago House music and creating a bit of bite sized indulgence.
Salted caramel is one of those truly amazing things that shouldn’t work but does. The combination of such contrasting flavours dance a dainty tango on your tongue, whilst the herbal notes of the rosemary help to cut through the almost overwhelming sweetness of the condensed milk and the chocolate. The final product is lick-your-fingers clean good – and I imagine would be even better when accompanied by a scoop of cold vanilla bean ice cream. It’s so good in fact that I found myself shouting LOOK AT YOU! AREN’T YOU BEAUTIFUL? at a slice before like it was a newborn child. Send help.
I’d like to think that if my sixteen year old self harnessed the power of time travel, she would go on a midnight reconnaissance mission for this Millionaire’s Shortbread. I know my twenty eight year old self probably will be. Just don’t tell my Weight Watchers group, OK?
MILLIONAIRE’S SHORTBREAD WITH SALTED ROSEMARY-INFUSED CARAMEL
Adapted from Gizzi Erskine
You will need: (Makes 12 squares)
- 225g plain flour
- 85g caster sugar
- 315g unsalted butter
- 1 x 397g can sweetened condensed milk
- 4 tbsp golden syrup
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 200g good quality plain chocolate, containing at least 70 per cent cocoa solids
- Preheat the oven to 170°C/Gas Mark 3 and line a 30cm/12in squared brownie tin with greaseproof paper.
- To make the shortbread,combine the flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl and rub in 200g of the butter.
- The texture will be gritty, but you should still be able to shape it into a ball. Press the mixture into the tin and flatten it with your knuckles.
- Prick it with a fork and cook in the preheated oven for 5 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 150°C/Gas 1 and cook for a further 15-30 minutes or until it is pale golden and no longer doughy.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.
- Melt the remaining butter in a saucepan over a low heat for 2-3 minutes, then add the condensed milk, golden syrup and rosemary. Whisk the mixture until the butter is thoroughly incorporated and bring it to a slow simmer. Cook the caramel for 10 minutes, stirring continuously. This mixture can burn very easily, so don’t take your eyes off it. It’s ready when it thickens, turns a light golden brown and has a sticky fudge-like consistency. Carefully remove the rosemary from the pan, then pour the sauce evenly over the cooled shortbread, sprinkle with the salt and leave it to set.
- Whilst it’s setting, eat the leftover caramel from the pan. Go on, it would be a shame to let it go to waste. Just make sure it’s cooled down first though, otherwise chaos (and a very burnt mouth) will ensue.
- Break the chocolate in pieces into a bowl and melt over a pan of barely simmering water or in a microwave (the latter should take around two minutes – keep checking it though, as it can burn and turn grainy if you overdo it). Leave to cool for 5 minutes. Pour and spread the melted chocolate evenly over the toffee mixture and stick it in the fridge for 1 hour until set. When ready, cut the shortbread into 12 squares and serve with a nice cup of tea.