The things we do when we are lonely... My loved one is away for work, my toddler threw another tantrum. It's raining... On the upside I haven't gained weight over the past four weeks (whereas I put on 4 kilos in 6 weeks between July and early August -if you're are here for the first time and wondering, I'm pregnant, that's all). Well, if they checked my weight right now it might have suddenly and very dramatically increased after sampling one time too many these outrageously delicious biscuits, but let's not think of such things, lest I reach one more time for them.
I have long lusted after this recipe, and ignored my lust because I thought it contained a hideous amount of butter and sugar. Plus I wanted to have an opportunity to bake for a larger number of people. As it turned out, I baked this on a lonely afternoon with a view to stash most of the results in the freezer. Mid-week too.
Before I started, I did some research and could find not one single lighter recipe for millionaire's shortbread, sometimes also called caramel slice. It's funny that people will go to trouble to lighten up, say, brownies, but no one seems to bother when it comes to such a decadent little treat as mill's SB. Nigella's recipe calls for 375g butter, yes THREE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FIVE GRAMS of 82% FAT BUTTER. That's 3/4 of a pound. Ha ha! The thought makes me reel! Even Bill (Granger) has quite a lot of butter in his version (in Holiday).
So, dear reader, I have volunteered to end this attack on our already cellulite-laden thighs by taking the matter into my own hands and trying to cut out a lot of all that saturated, albeit tasty, fat. You'll notice there's a no added fat to the chocolate layer, a huge reduction in the caramel part, and quite a cut to the shortbread bottom. While the latter is not as rich as a normal shortbread, it was difficult to cut the butter further down as otherwise it would have been hard as a rock, and perhaps not so great with the soft caramel on top. Still, I'll honestly say that on the first day, I found it a bit too crackly, but after a night in the fridge, it had time to mellow with all the rich toppings so became crumblier and overall tastier. I noticed I like the chocolate better when it's still a bit cold and crunchy.
So, here we are, with a millionaire's shortbread that satisfies a craving for a luscious little treat, with a nice biscuit bottom, a rich and softish caramel layer, and a cracking good chocolate crust, yet it won't leave you feeling nauseated by all the butter it normally contains.
For the shortbread :
a good pinch of salt
50g brown sugar
Preheat the oven on 180°C. Place everything in a processor and process until fine crumbs. Finish it off with your hands, adding cold water, a little at a time to help bind it. Push it down into a square tin (mine is about 22 cm square, that's about 8,5 inch or so). Prick it all over with a fork and bake for about 20 mins. Only the edge should start getting golden. Cool completely on a rack before topping.
397g tin of sweetened condensed milk
40g brown sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
a little sea salt
Put everything but the salt into a saucepan and heat moderately , stirring all the while. When it starts boiling, turn the heat down a little and keep stirring until it thickens and turns a deeper hue. Let it cool a little off the heat. Add a little crushed salt and mix. Spread over the cold shortbread.
100g milk chocolate
100g bittersweet chocolate
Melt the chocolate on a low heat in the microwave. Mix well. Spread evenly over the caramel. Cool in the fridge then cut into squares as big or small as you please. Keep refrigerated or freeze.
Variation : of course, you can add more fleur de sel, both to the caramel and the chocolate if that's how you rock. (And if you want the Pierre Hermé touch). I personally left it out of the chocolate, but added 2 teaspoons of smooth peanut butter to 1/4 of it for the last corner of my slices. It ads another dimension, reminiscent of peanut butter cups.
You might also want to use only dark choc, or only milk choc, or to swirl some white choc for a marbled effect.