Boozy billionaire’s shortbread

While there are certain recipes which I love, are always popular and are fun to bake, it’s very rare that I’ll make the same thing twice as there are just so many other recipes waiting to be tried.

Millionaire’s shortbread is a classic example – almost everyone I know loves it, and I like making it as there are several elements involved which makes it a bit more fun than a simple biscuit or cake – but I’ve done it before, more than once.

Still, when I wanted to bake something for the office a couple of weekends ago, millionaire’s shortbread was the one thing on my mind, and so I decided to turn to the universal solution to almost any problem – add alcohol.

There are quite a few variations on ‘billionaire’s shortbread’ if you search for it – salted caramel, white chocolate and peanut butter all feature – but I think I have come up with a real winning combination that seriously takes the traditional treat to a whole new level.

It starts with a shortbread base, but chocolate rather than plain. Then instead of a regular old caramel, I boozed it up with a salted rum caramel. Oh my – it was good! Then it’s finished off with a milk chocolate topping, with just a little added salt to counter the sweetness.

These are 100% better than the original, and went down very well with my taste testers. The flavour of the rum is most definitely there, but it isn’t overpowering, and ditto with the salt.

I loved these so much that I may even have to break my rule and bake them again, exactly the same…

Boozy billionaire’s shortbread (adapted from here)

For the base:

  • 130g butter
  • 150g flour
  • 15g cocoa powder
  • 55g caster sugar

For the caramel and topping:

  • 400g condensed milk
  • 115g butter
  • 40g light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2-3 tbsp rum (I used Havana Club Anejo Especial, but any golden or spiced would be good)
  • 150g milk chocolate
  • Salt to taste

For the base, rub the butter into the flour until it reached a breadcrumb-like consistency, then stir in the cocoa powder and sugar. This could also be done in the food processor if you want to speed things up! Press into the base of a greased and lined 8×8″ square tin and bake at 180 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, until just starting to crisp up.

While the base cools, make the caramel. Heat the condensed milk, butter and sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat, stirring until it starts to bubble and thicken and turn a lovely golden brown. Once it’s pretty much ready, add the salt and the rum, one 1/2 tbsp at a time until it tastes right to you – I like a fair amount of salt and rum, you might want to go more subtle. Pour the caramel over the base and leave to set.

Finally, melt the chocolate and add a little more salt to taste. Spread this in an even layer over the set caramel, then leave again. Once the chocolate has firmed up, remove from the tin and cut into squares.

Ginger chocolate shortbread bars

Ginger chocolate shortbread bars

Ginger is one of my favourite flavours and when I hosted We Should Cocoa back in October I came very close to choosing it before settling on pumpkin instead, so I was more than a bit happy that birthday girl Jen at Blue Kitchen Bakes chose it for this month – the only difficulty was deciding what to bake!

I was toying with a few recipe ideas that used chunks of either stem or crystallised ginger, but the pony and I are attempting to have a bit of a money saving month (although he is doing a bit better than me!) so I ended up using what I already had on hand, in the form of ground ginger.

Inspired by these ginger crunch bars at Technicolour Kitchen, I set about making a sort of ginger version of millionaire’s shortbread, which is one of the pony’s favourites.

I used my own shortbread recipe, the icing from Technicolour Kitchen, and finished it with a layer of dark chocolate. If you are a ginger lover like me, then these bars beat millionaire’s shortbread hands down – the icing is so so good and the ginger really cuts through the sweetness.

I made quite a large batch of these, so I’m really hoping the pony devours them quickly or I can see myself heading back to the tub again, and again, and again…

These bars are my entry to We Should Cocoa, founded by Choclette and Chele and this month hosted over at Blue Kitchen Bakes. Be sure to check out all the other ginger goodies at the end of the month!

We_Should_Cocoa_V3

Ginger chocolate shortbread bars

Makes 18 bars

For the base:

  • 250g butter
  • 330g plain flour
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 110g caster sugar

For the topping:

  • 150g butter
  • 80g golden syrup
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ground ginger
  • 225g icing sugar
  • 200g dark chocolate

To make the base, stir the ginger into the flour and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar then press into the base of a greased and lined 9×11″ shallow rectangular tin. Bake at 180 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until just starting to go golden, then leave to cool in the tin.

For the ginger layer, heat the butter, golden syrup and ginger in a saucepan over a medium heat, stirring until the butter has melted. Sift in the icing sugar then whisk until no lumps remain. Pour over the base and leave to set at room temperature.

Melt the chocolate over a low heat, don’t let it get too hot, then spread over the set ginger layer. Leave at room temperature until the chocolate has just hardened then cut into bars.

Millionaire’s Shortbread

This is the second of the bakes I made for our bank holiday barbecue, at the Pony’s very firm insistence.

I’ve made a chocolate caramel shortbread before, but it wasn’t perfect – the caramel kept burning and the chocolate was too hard to cut neatly – so I decided to try again with a slightly different recipe to iron out the faults.

Instead of cooking the caramel at a boil for 5 minutes, I cooked it on a lower heat for a much longer time, which did stop it burning although it was maybe just a tad on the soft side. I added a spoonful of sunflower oil to the chocolate to go on top so it wouldn’t set quite so hard, and that definitely seemed to work.

I think these were probably the most popular of the things I made for the barbecue, and they’re definitely one of the pony’s favourites (he’s already asking when I’ll make them again!) so if you need a crowd-pleasing dessert, give this a try!

Millionaire’s shortbread (adapted from here and here)

  • 165g flour
  • 130g butter
  • 55g caster sugar
  • 1 400g tin condensed milk
  • 115g butter
  • 40g dark brown sugar
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil

Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the caster sugar and press the mixture down into the base of an 8×8″ square tin, lined with baking paper. Bake at 180 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until just turning golden.

To make the caramel, heat the condensed milk, butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over a medium heat. Keep stirring until the mixture thickens and turns a rich, golden, caramel colour. Pour over the cooled biscuit base, and leave in the fridge to firm up.

For the chocolate layer, melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water, and then once melted stir in the spoonful of oil. Spread on top of the set caramel and leave to harden. Once the chocolate it set, lift out of the tin and cut into squares or bars. Keep refrigerated.

Rapunzel castle cake & Cornwall Clandestine Cake Club

Last night, I attended my second Cornwall Clandestine Cake Club.

For those of you unfamiliar with Clandestine Cake Clubs, they are essential monthly gatherings where everyone bakes a cake, takes a cake and eats lots, and lots of cake.

The theme this month was ‘A Fairy Tale’, and the venue was perfect – a yurt in the middle of the forest! There were some fabulous cakes there, and between the pony and I we managed 12 slices on the night and brought another 5 home with us. Never let it be said that we can’t handle our cake!

This Rapunzel castle cake was a bit of a mission, and took 2 days to bake and assemble, but it was a labour of love and I think it was worth it!

If anyone wants the specific recipes I used to make this just give me a shout, but here’s the basic rundown:

Two layers of chocolate fudge cake, sandwiched with chocolate raspberry ganache and frosted with milk chocolate fudge icing.

Black fondant icing for the door and window slits, and chocolate shortbread for the bricks and roof.

Squares of brownie to make the battlements…

… covered in more icing and biscuits.

A tower of chocolate cake baked in a baked bean tin, covered in yet more icing and biscuit bricks.

And finally, a Rapunzel on top, in all her golden-haired glory.

(Yes, my fondant people need a little work!)

Hopefully everyone who tried a slice liked it – I certainly liked all the cakes I tried! In fact I may have to help myself to another slice of the pumpkin cake right now…

Here are some of the other fairy tale delights we had last night – big thanks to Ellie for organising and the Woods Cafe for hosting!

Fairy Godmother chocolate and rose cake from Choclette – brilliant to finally meet in person and a delicious cake with the perfect amount of rosewater!

Snow White’s Poison Apple Cake – definitely not poisonous but very tasty!

‘Cabin in the woods’ chocolate and cherry cake – the pony’s favourite

Cinderella’s Pumpkin cake – with crocodiles on top?!

Porridge and Honey Cake – was a bit sad the bear wasn’t a cake too!

Red Riding Hood’s Red Velvet Cake

Black forest gateau cake

Homemade Twix bars

When I saw these homemade Twix bars on Pinterest, they jumped straight to the top of my to-bake list.

They aren’t really that different to the millionaire’s shortbread I’ve made in the past, but being called a Twix was enough to sell it to me, as I love recreating shop bought treats at home.

I was a bit dubious about the base as it was a very liquid mixture, and it seemed spongy when it came out of the oven, but once cooled it did turn biscuity. The only problem was that as a result of it being so liquid to start with, all the butterscotch chips sank to the bottom, and a lot go stuck on the foil, making the bars not quite as perfect looking as I would have liked, but still tasty.

If I were to make them again, I think I would just cream the butter and sugar without melting the butter first and see if that makes a difference. On the plus side though, I think this was the best caramel I’ve made so far!

Homemade Twix bars (adapted from Bakers Royale):

(Makes 24 finger-sized bars)

For the base:

  • 115g butter, melted
  • 110g brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 110g plain flour
  • 75g butterscotch chips

Mix together the melted butter and sugar, then beat in the egg and vanilla before folding in the flour and butterscotch chips. Pour into an 8×8″ square tin, lines with foil or baking paper, then bake at 175 degrees for 15 minutes, or until firm. Leave to cool completely while you make the caramel.

For the caramel:

  • 200g caster sugar
  • 90ml water
  • 60g butter
  • 60ml double cream

Heat the sugar and water in a saucepan over a low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Bring to the boil, then continue to boil without stirring until it turns a golden amber colour. Remove from the heat, tip in the butter and cream, and whisk vigorously until combined and the mixture stops bubbling. Pour into a bowl or jug and leave to cool before pouring on top of the base.

For the chocolate layer:

  • 170g dark chocolate
  • 1tsp golden syrup
  • 75g butter

Melt all the ingredients together in a bowl over simmering water. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little, before spreading on top of the set caramel. Leave the tin in the fridge for an hour or so to allow everything to set, before cutting into finger-sized bars and serving.

Orange shortbread thumbprints

For my last day at work this week, baked goods weren’t just expected, but demanded. I made some marzipan chocolate cupcakes which I will post about soon, but as I wasn’t sure if they would be to everyone’s tastes I decided I needed something else that I could whip up fairly quickly as an alternative.

As I still had some homemade orange curd to use up, I decided to give thumbprint cookies a go, as they always look so pretty and I’ve never tried them before.

The recipe I was planning on using needed an egg, which I didn’t have, so that led to me making them with shortbread instead so I wouldn’t need to go to the shops (laziness can lead to the best creations!)

They turned out really well, a lighter alternative to the cupcakes with a nice fruity tang. They were really easy to make, so I would definitely make them again, maybe trying out a few different fillings…

Orange shortbread thumbprints (my own recipe!)

Makes about 20 biscuits

  • 75g caster sugar, plus extra to dust
  • 150g butter, cubed and softened
  • 200g plain flour
  • 25g cornflour
  • Roughly 1/3 jar orange curd

Beat the butter to soften, then add in the caster sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Sift in the flour and cornflour, then run together with your fingers to make breadcrumbs, then knead into a soft dough. Roll into a fat sausage shape, wrap in clingfilm and leave to chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Take the dough out the fridge, then slice the log into rounds. Roll each into a ball, then roll in the extra caster sugar to cover them. Place on a baking sheet, then make an indentation in the middle of each with your finger or thumb – so they look a bit like this:

Spoon about half a teaspoon or orange curd into each shortbread, filling them not quite to the top as the curd will bubble over when they’re in the oven. Bake at 170 degrees for 10-15 minutes, until they’re firm and just about to start turning golden. Leave to cool on the tray for 5 minutes, then move to a wire rack.

Turtle shortbread biscuits

A couple of months ago now, I saw a turtle shaped cookie cutter on ebay and obviously bought straight away, full of excitement for turtle shaped biscuits.

When it arrived however, I knew that it wouldn’t really be right to use it until I’d be able to decorate the biscuits in the manner they deserved – which meant waiting until I had green food colouring.

Last week I finally got around to buying the green paste colouring, and these biscuits are the result!

Unforunately I couldn’t find a good light that really showed the colour of the turtles, this is the best I could do, although the picture isn’t great:

I was really happy with how they looked though – super cute! And well worth the effort of icing.

Turtle shortbread biscuits:

  • 50g caster sugar
  • 100g butter
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 140g white chocolate
  • green food colouring paste
  • splash of milk

Rub together the butter and flour until it forms breadcrumbs. Mix in the sugar and vanilla extract and work the dough until it comes together into a ball.

On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about half a centimeter thick, then cut out the biscuits and place onto a silicon baking mat. Bake at 180 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until just starting to turn golden brown.

While the biscuits are cooling, melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water, an add in a little of the green paste to make a light minty green colour. Spread a layer of chocolate on top of each biscuit, remembering to save some of the chocolate for the decoration. Put the biscuits in the fridge for the chocolate to set.

Once the first layer of chocolate is set, re-heat the melted chocolate and add in more of the colouring paste to make a darker green icing. I found that the amount I needed to use to make it dark enough thickened the chocolate too much, but mixing in a splash of milk fixed this. Spoon the dark green icing into a piping bag and pipe on the round shell, pentagon pattern and eyes. Leave to set.

Makes about 32 biscuits.

As this made over 30 biscuits, I gave some to my boss to take home for his two young boys, as one of them has been housebound since breaking his leg and ending up in a full leg cast. I don’t know much about children, but who wouldn’t be cheered up by these cute little turtles?! For that reason, even though I’m about a month late, I’m going to enter these for Vanessa’s Random Bakes of Kindness – an inspired and generous idea that has got lots of people baking for a good cause this autumn!