Caramel Shortbread? Toffee square? Millionaire’s Shortbread? I call them Caramel Squares, just to confuse things!
They all mean one thing – a crunchy, crumbly shortbread base, filled with creamy toffee and topped with milk chocolate. In my old hand-written recipe book I see that I first made these caramel shortbreads for my daughter’s 16th birthday. Her nut allergy meant that we could never trust the ones in coffee shops, and even then it was no great loss, as they tasted pretty awful. I wanted something like those I remembered from my childhood, and these are streets ahead of anything available in the shops.
It’s quite a time-consuming recipe, as there are 3 separate bits to a perfect Caramel Squares – the shortbread, the caramel, and the chocolate topping. Truthfully, I don’t make these more than once or twice a year, however, the end result is certainly worth it. I also tend to double up the recipe, and freeze one lot for the future
It’s worth pointing out that you shouldn’t make these with the kids under your feet – we’re talking about boiling sugar here, and the necessity of being able to concentrate on what you’re doing – the caramel can burn really quickly, if you’re not standing over it. In retrospect, perhaps this is why my daughter was 16 before I attempted them!
- A Swiss roll tin, lightly greased and lined with baking paper.
- A heavy bottomed saucepan
- A whisk suitable for a non-stick saucepan or a wooden spoon (until now I’ve always used a wooden spoon, with no bother, but this whisk was a great help today)
- A bowl to melt the chocolate
- tin opener
- A Food processor, a tablespoon, a flat-bladed knife – these are optional, but helpful
INGREDIENTS: Let’s divide this into 3 parts:
- 175g/6oz plain flour
- 125g/4oz unsalted butter
- 50g/2oz caster sugar
- 1 can of sweetened Condensed milk
- 50g/2oz caster sugar
- 3 tablespoons (that’s 2 and a half ounces or 60g) of Golden Syrup
- 125g/4oz butter
- 100g/4oz milk chocolate, melted – this gives a very thin layer of chocolate, which is the way I like it. If you prefer a thicker chocolate layer – just double or triple the amount of chocolate – you can use as much as you like
Do the shortbread first:
- Heat the oven to 160 fan.
- Put all the shortbread ingredients into a food processor and blitz until it looks like bread crumbs. (Or if you don’t have a processor, just rub the butter into the flour, then add the sugar)
- Pour the whole lot into the lined Swiss roll tin, and press down with the back of a spoon in an even layer. Make sure you push it well into the corners.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden.
- Keep it in the tin, and let it cool on a rack.
- While the shortbread is baking, you can make a start on the caramel..
- Put all the ingredients into the saucepan, and put it on a medium heat until the butter is melted and you can’t see any grains of sugar on the back of the spoon. This should take 5-10 minutes.
- Then raise the heat until it comes to the boil, keep stirring all the time at this stage, gently but firmly, especially into the corners of the pot.
- If it starts to bubble and pop, reduce the heat slightly to protect your hands.
- When the caramel turns from a light golden colour to a deeper colour, it’s done.
- Give it one last good stir, then remove it from the heat and allow to cool in a safe place for 15 minutes.
- After the 15 or so minutes are up, it will have cooled significantly.
Putting it all together:
- Pour the caramel over the shortbread in the tin, and using a flat bladed knife, spread it gently until all the shortbread has been covered, again paying attention to the corners and edges.
- Melt the chocolate in the microwave, and check every 30 seconds.
- When it’s all melted, pour it all over the caramel, and then gently push it around with the knife until everything is covered. Don’t worry if it’s not smooth, You won’t notice when you’ve cut it up.
- Put the whole lot into the fridge for about an hour, on a level shelf.
- Remove it, and using a sharp knife, cut it firmly into the size and shape that you want.
- You can store this in a Tupperware box, with baking paper between the layers, or put each piece onto a flattened out cupcake paper, and again separate the layers as before.
- Store in a cool place (I find the fridge ideal), or put them into a tightly sealed box and freeze until required.
- My non-stick saucepan whisk is by Oxo – I really like their products, and no, they’re not paying me to say that 😉
- I use Galaxy milk chocolate, because we’re used to it, but choose your own favourite.
- You’ll notice that I cut mine into fairly small pieces – they are the perfect size to accompany a cup of coffee. Of course you can make them any size or shape you like – that’s your choice, as this is your creation!
- These freeze like a dream, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be glad to have them out of sight!