WEEK 4 – CARAMEL
Week four saw a brand new category added to the Great British Bake Off Tent this year, with caramel. Something I personally don’t cook too often; hot sugar is not a thing for the permanently accident prone to be handling too often. However, I thoroughly enjoyed doing the bake I did, my own take on millionaires shortbread; and I figured it would be an easy task too as my time is limited this week. But, the caramel sauce I usually make is ‘runny’ and seemingly has one essential ingredient missing, it’s water, sugar, butter and a couple of drops of vanilla. You would think that I would actually check some recipes out (never having made it before) for the thing I am going to bake before I went shopping, right? Nope not me, I like to live on the edge!! So, after a 30 minute mare, I decided that the only thing for it was a trip back to the supermarket (where I had spent the morning) – bearing in mind it’s at least a 50 minute round trip to ‘pop’ to a large shop for me, but I could not bank on the small local market having a tin of sweetened condensed milk (which it transpires soft setting caramel needs). But with my brain ticking and alternatives going through my head I thought to myself “surely theres got to be an alternative, maybe coconut milk?” So iPad in hand I did a search for set caramel sauce suitable for making millionaires shortbread, and low and behold there they were, lots and lots of recipes and blogs using coconut milk and cream, hurrah! So, here it is folks millionaires shortbread made without the condensed milk.
4oz/125g plain flour
4oz/125g proper butter (really cold)
2oz/60g sugar (caster is usual but for this one is used caster and coconut sugar)
2 tins of coconut milk (just the cream, do not shake before opening, discard the ‘water’)
1 cup coconut sugar (250g/8oz)
6oz/200g dark chocolate plus some white chic chips for decorating
- Put oven on at 175°C. Use a butter wrapper to just grease a suitable tin for the tray bake. (Mine is 30 x 12 cm).
- Put the flours into a bowl. Cut the butter up into small cubes, add to the flours and rub in until it resembles breadcrumbs. (I cheat and do this in the food processor for 2 reasons, don’t like stuff up my fingernails and it pains the arthritis).
- Stir in the sugars and, working it gently, bring it together to just form a dough. Press this crumbly dough into the tin evenly and then pop in the fridge, or pantry to chill for 10-15 minutes.
- Put the biscuit base into the oven for 12-15 minutes until golden around the edges.
- Put the biscuit, still in its tin, back in the pantry to cool totally.
- Carefully open the 2 tins of coconut milk, being careful not to disturb the water underneath, remove the cream from the tins and dollop into a heavy saucepan. Add 1 cup of coconut (or granulated) sugar, mix well and set over a medium/high heat to boil; watch it constantly and stir with a wooden spoon most of the time. Once this come to the boil turn heat down to medium/low. It needs to roll boil for about 20-25 minutes now. If it rolls up to almost boiling out of the pan, simply move off the heat for a few seconds until it drops. You will notice that it gets darker and darker, and eventually will just begin to thicken; by this time it should be conker brown. Take the pan off the heat and add 1 tsp of banana flavouring and leave somewhere cool to go completely cold.
- Pour the set caramel onto the shortbread (still in the mould) give it a sharp bang to remove bubbles, and leave for 1-2 hours in the cool, to set off.
- Melt the dark chocolate and tip it over the caramel, smooth out then with a tap hot palette knife, smooth the surface over. Guess what now, yup leave it for 1-2 hours to set (at room temperature). Decorate with the white chocolate.
- Phew, finally you get to eat and enjoy.
TOP TIP TIME. – Couple of things here, I highly recommend making this over 2 days, allow your caramel to cool totally, pour over the biscuit and then leave to fully set overnight (you can see where is put my finger on mine to see if it was set, in the photo, I was concerned that it would not set enough the night before) before adorning with chocolate. Do not, like I did, then scrape the chocolate flat with a proper cold palette knife, it set instantly, took the shine off it and made it wavy! Fill a jug with hot tap water and sit the knife in it for a minute or 2, dry it, then scrape the top over. I like to put my chocolate in the microwave to melt, put ¾ in a bowl and melt fully then add the remaining ¼ and whisk it in with a fork, I think it makes it glossier as it cools it quicker and the whipping seems to help too. Again when cutting the biscuits into fingers keep it in the tin and use a hot, sharp, smooth bladed knife.
Well, this was my first foray into making caramel shortbread, not something I would usually go for, too sickly sweet for my liking but I have to say this was freaking gorgeous. The coconut sugar gave the shortbread a caramelly taste and left pretty little brown flecks in it too. I actually went without lunch the day I made it, after having a piece for elevenses, just so I could have another slice in the afternoon! I was already planning on going with the banana flavour before I had the panic about the caramel, but using the coconut milk just gelled it all together and the Banoffee Shortbread was created. Heaven!
Sadly I will be unable to join in with the blog and bake next week as I am off for a week in the sun, leaving poor Mr Timothy and son to look after the farm and fend for themselves. I did contemplate cooking a pud this weekend and blogging anyway, but it is the Misters birthday the day I get back so will be baking his cake to freeze in readiness. A cow theme me thinks! So fingers crossed I will get my first proper farm blog ‘September’ posted instead. But if you want to check out this weeks’ other blogs, and next weeks for that matter, pop on over to our host blog by Jenny Paulin to see them all.