I'm sorry, I was planning to post the next Norwegian cake recipe, the wonderfully named 'World's Best' but sadly my efforts have been far from 'Best' and although the one I baked on Friday was better it was certainly not good enough to share nor compete with the wonderful cake I ate on my recent trip to Norway. Will keep trying and keep you posted.
So yesterday I thought I would have a go at the perennial favourite millionaires shortbread. Now I have a confession to make, I don't much like it. Don't know why, maybe it is all too sweet, maybe it is that I don't like caramel made with condensed milk but whatever it is I'm not a great fan, but my daughter is so I decided to set aside my personal preferences and give it a go. I've only made it twice before so was hoping for third time lucky.
I'm a bit obsessed with peanut butter at the moment so decided to bung some into the mix and make my caramel from scratch rather than condensed milk, it all worked out pretty well. I had two slices for breakfast, in the interest of scientific research you understand, and by bedtime had bravely struggled through two more slices! I must admit I quite liked it.
I like to add semolina to my shortbread as it gives a texture and a crunch but when I went to the cupboard I was down to my last couple of spoonfuls, I really couldn't face a trip to the supermarket, but was determined not to be thwarted, so added some polenta and cornflour to the flour mix. It did make a lovely shortbread. It's always worth trying out sensible substitutions, it can sometimes turn out really well and saves a trot to the shops.
I put a thin layer of crunchy peanut butter between the shortbread and the caramel, I didn't want overdo it and I think I got the balance just right but if you prefer a lot of peanut butter just add more.
The caramel is a little tricky to get right, I used a sugar thermometer and took it up to 108 C, it could probably have done with being a touch firmer maybe up to 110 C but I wanted to make the most of the break in the weather and get out into the garden so took it off the heat. It was firm enough to cut so I wasn't too far off the time.
Melted chocolate and toasted peanuts topped off the whole thing. It was quite a hit and I've just parceled up some for my daughter to take to work and kept a couple of slices for my maths student this evening. Lets hope that I manage to resist them.
So in short, I'm a bit of a convert. I will definitely give them another go, maybe hazelnut next time.
Hope you enjoy this recipe.
PEANUT MILLIONAIRES SHORTBREAD
Active time: 1 hour plus cooling allow 4 hours
200g Unsalted butter softened
100g Caster sugar
200g Plain flour
70g Polenta – fine
1 tsp Salt
NOTE: You could use 200g flour and 100g semolina or polenta, I just ran out of semolina!
75g Salted butter
125g Light soft brown sugar
300ml Double cream
1 tsp Vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
6 tbs Peanut butter – crunchy or smooth
125g Dark chocolate
Unsalted, peeled peanuts
Square tin 20cm x 20cm, greased and lined with a single piece of greaseproof paper down one side along the base and up the other side, it will make it easier to get out of the tin.
Preheat oven to 150C Fan or 170C Conventional
Cream together butter and sugar
Mix together the flour, semolina, cornflour, polenta and salt
Stir flour mix into butter mixture until well combined
Press mixture into the tin and prick all over with a fork
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until cooked and lightly coloured, remove from oven and leave to cool in the tin
When shortbread is cool, spread on a layer of peanut butter
Now make the caramel, place all the ingredients in a saucepan and heat gently until butter and sugar have melted, now bring to the boil and simmer until 108 – 110 C on sugar thermometer or for about 8 minutes, keep an eye on it and stir frequently it can catch on the bottom.
Pour the caramel over the peanut butter and shortbread and leave to cool completely, there is enough caramel for a really thick layer, if you want it to be a little less sweet don’t use all the caramel and save some for cupcakes.
While the caramel is cooling dry fry the peanuts until lightly toasted.
When caramel is completely cold place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and place over a pan of barely simmering water until melted or carefully heat in the microwave.
Spread chocolate over the caramel and sprinkle with toasted peanuts. Lightly press them into the chocolate.
When chocolate has almost set remove shortbread from the tin by running a hot knife around rim and lifting out by the greaseproof paper.
Now cut into 16 pieces and leave until the chocolate really firms up