toffee shortbread

Toffee shortbread – aka chocolate caramel shortbread – aka millionaire’s bar – aka caramel square – is a ‘tray bake’ (that’s an Irish word for a cookie that’s cut into bars) that is made from layers of shortbread, caramel & chocolate. They’re actually fairly easy to make – I followed Nigella Lawson’s recipe:

shortbread layer:
3 cups of flour
1/2 cup of sugar
3 sticks of butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  Put the flour and sugar into your food processor, blitz to mix, then add the butter and blitz again until you have a mixture similar to the texture of sand.  You can do this by hand too if you do not have a food processor – just rub the flour/sugar and the butter together with your fingers until your mixture is the consistency of coarse crumbs. Take this mixture and press into a well greased pan, lined with parchment paper.  I used a 9x13x2 dish, but really it depends on how thick you want your shortbread layer.  You could use a spatula to press it into your pan, but it’s much easier if you just use your hands.  Prick your shortbread with a fork, and place in oven for 5 minutes, then turn down to 300 degrees and cook for 40 minutes until shortbread is golden brown.  Remove and let cool.

caramel layer:
3 sticks butter
2 14 oz cans sweetened condensed milk
8 tablespoons light corn syrup

This layer gave me problems, but thankfully turned out okay in the end.  I’ve tried to make caramel before using a similar recipe (one that required boiling the condensed milk on the stove until it thickens) but it was too runny so I tried Nigella’s way because it got good reviews online.  You melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl, then add the condensed milk and corn syrup and mix it together.  You then put it back in the microwave, and microwave for a minute at a time (stirring in between) for about 8-10 minutes until it’s boiling and turns a light golden color.  This is the tricky part.  First of all it can boil over and burn really easily, so you have to be patient and do this slowly.  My butter wasn’t really incorporating at the beginning so I kept stirring and finally it came together and thickened nicely.  I should have stopped here but I thought it needed about 30 seconds longer which was a mistake – when I opened the microwave door it had gone from being lovely and fluffy to separating back into two distinct layers.  I took a chance and drained the butter layer from the top (hey, less calories!) and then whisked like mad until miraculously it came back together and stayed thick!  Crisis averted.  Put this aside and let it cool.

Next time, I’ll probably cut the butter amount in half.  And I read that you should stir with a wooden spoon – I didn’t, but next time I’ll take note.

chocolate layer
14 oz good quality semisweet chocolate chips (or bars, just cut up into small pieces)

Melt the chocolate by using a double boiler (place a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water) or in the microwave, heating for a couple of minutes at a time.

Then it’s simple… you just assemble.  Pour the somewhat cooled caramel over the shortbread, then chill so it sets a bit.  Then poor the cooled melted chocolate over the caramel layer.  The less you touch the chocolate the shinier it will be.  Once the chocolate sets a little you should cut your squares.  I refrigerated mine first and they were a disaster to cut – who knew, cold chocolate breaks apart and won’t cut in a straight line!

Then just keep in the fridge until about an hour or two before you’re ready to eat!

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