Here in Ireland, we have something that is mysteriously yet appropriately named 'Millionaire's Shortbread'. I understand that in other countries it is called caramel shortbread, but it's basically a shortbread base topped with a caramel layer then glazed with chocolate; a far cry from the usual shortbread, which is traditionally associated with poor Scottish folk who couldn't afford fancy ingredients.
It's quite a simple recipe, ingredients and cooking wise, but it's not so easy when it comes to cutting it up as all those three layers have different levels of cutting tolerance. I've found the best way around this is to take the shortbread out of the tin and turn it all upside down - chocolate side facing the cutting surface - on a piece of non-stick paper. This is also made a million times (pardon the pun) easier if the shortbread is pre-cut before layering with the soft caramel layer and chocolate glaze.
For this particular one also, keeping with the minty theme, I marbled the chocolate: milk chocolate and green tinted white chocolate. Remember, though, when colouring chocolate you must not use a water based colour: use an alcohol- or oil-based colour so the chocolate doesn't seize up and go all lumpy and disgusting. I use Sugarflair paste/gel food colours, and they work perfectly.
So, onto the making of said delight!
Makes 1 8 inch (20 centimeter) round biscuit
For the biscuit base
- 4 ounces (115 grammes) white or wholemeal spelt flour
- 1½ ounces (40 grammes) cornflour or rice flour
- Pinch of salt (omit if using salted butter)
- ½ ounce (15 grammes) cocoa powder
- 4 ounces (115 grammes) butter, at room temperature
- 2 ounces (55 grammes) caster sugar
For the caramel topping
- 8 ounces (225 grammes) caster sugar
- 2 fluid ounces (55 millilitres) cream (or just use milk if you don't have any cream)
- 2 fluid ounces (55 millilitres) milk
- 1 ounce (30 grammes) butter
- ½ teaspoon (2½ millilitres) vanilla essence
- ½ teaspoon (2½ millilitres) peppermint essence
- A few drops green colour
For chocolate topping
- One 3½ ounce bar (100 grammes) milk chocolate
- Half a 3½ ounce bar (100 grammes) white chocolate
- 1¼ ounces in weight (35 grammes) sunflower oil
- Green paste/gel food colouring
- Preheat your oven to 160°C (320°F, Gas Mk.2½, or very moderate) and line the bottom of an 8 inch (20 centimeter) round sandwich tin, preferably with a loose bottom.
- Sieve together the flours, cocoa and salt, if using, onto a piece of grease-proof paper. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, beat the living daylights out of the butter until soft and creamy. Use a wooden spoon: it needs more elbow grease, but you have much more control over how soft you make your butter.
- Pour in the caster sugar, and cream until light and fluffy. Then add the dry ingredients and mix until the flour is combined; you may need to use your hands as the dough gets very stiff.
- Press the dough evenly into the sandwich tin and prick all over with a fork or skewer, making sure the holes go right to the bottom of the tin. Score into 12 or 16 equal wedges, depending on how big you want them.
- Bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until thoroughly cooked and dry. It seems like a ridiculous amount of time, but shortbread isn't so much baked as it is cured.
- On removing from the oven, cut the shortbread in the tin along the score lines to make it easier to cut later. Allow to cool in the tin for about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and cool completely before breaking into wedges.
Now, to reassemble the shortbread
- Clean the sandwich tin and re-line, bottom and sides, with non-stick baking paper. If your tin doesn't have a loose bottom, make two thin strips of paper and run them along the bottom and up the sides of the tin, underneath the lining. This will give you handles to lift out your biscuit with once you've caramelled and chocolated it.
- Reassemble the shortbread in the tin, butting it all in and making sure the wedges are in the correct order.
- Prepare the caramel layer using this recipe (yes, it's technically a fudge layer) and the above ingredients. Once you have beaten the caramel mixture, pour in on top of the shortbread. Allow to cool to room temperature before setting for at least 3 hours in the fridge, preferably overnight.
- Once set, prepare the chocolate glaze. Put the chocolates in separate bowls, and add about 1 ounce (25 grammes) of the oil to the milk chocolate, then the rest to the white chocolate. Melt the chocolates either in the microwave or conventionally. Mix a little green into the white chocolate to get a delicate minty shade.
- Using a tablespoon, drizzle a spoonful of each chocolate alternately on top of the caramel layer, not worrying to much about how they land. When all the chocolate is used up, gently tilt the tin all around to level out the surface and get the topping over the whole biscuit. Allow to set completely in the fridge.
To cut, as I mentioned before, turn the whole lot out chocolate side down and cut along the pre-cut wedges. It's much easier this way! This will keep best at room temperature in an airtight tin, but you can keep it also in said airtight tin in the fridge.