Covered in Caramel

I suppose that could be kind of hot given certain circumstances and the presence of someone special. Not the case for me this morning. Just me and doggies and hot caramel flying everywhere. I really do need to invest in some protective cooking gear.

AWOL with the Plague

So I’ve been AWOL for about a month now. I contracted what I refer to as the plague, which others may refer to as a nasty cold that took its sweet time to go away. I spent a lot of time in bed with boxes of tissues, tea and as many British television shows that I could find involving attractive British detectives.

I was so not in the mood to do anything involving thinking or my brain. I didn’t feel too bad about my absence because 1. only about 5 people actually read my blog and 2. does anyone really need another Thanksgiving recipe? I figured the other bloggers and Food Network had all that covered. I’m even hesitant to post this recipe because is it really necessary for me to put out yet another freakin cookie recipe for Christmas? I’m sounding a bit Grinch-ish aren’t I?! Hmm….That could do with the fact that I broke my toe last week when I ran into the bedroom door. I can’t make this stuff up. It really did happen. So I’m hobbling about and it’s kind of making me cranky. The whole pain thing is rather annoying. And there are more things I could share, but I won’t because the broken toe is enough for now.

Why Do Millionaires Need Shortbread?

So back to the superfluous Christmas cookie recipe no one really needs. There are people who enjoy shortbread.  So I though hey I’ll make a shortbread cookie. How hard could that be?! Of course it couldn’t be just any old shortbread recipe it had to be one involving many steps and the making of caramel. For some more experienced cooks this would be no problem. For me…another story. The recipe is for Millionaire’s Shortbread. Why this is only for millionaires I have no idea?! It looked fancy, gooey and delicious.

Even though I really don’t eat much of what I bake. I know that’s totally annoying. What is wrong with me? I’ll have one cookie or a bite just to make sure said cookie, brownies don’t taste all dry and crappish. But then I’m done. I just like baking for other people and of course it feeds my ego when people say all kinds of fabulous things about my baked goods.

So here’s the recipe with some helpful tips so you don’t injure yourself in the making of this cookie. Oh…and Merry Christmas!

Millionaire’s Shortbread 

For the shortbread This step was relatively easy. For the most part. Although my butter wasn’t at room temp so the whole making a soft dough took a little longer than expected. 

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter at room temperature (It’s the holidays. Not the time to worry about fat content.)
  1. Put a rack in the center of the oven and heat it to 350 degrees. Sift the flour and salt into a medium bowl and whisk in the sugar.
  2. Cut the butter into chunks and add it to the flour, stirring with a fork to make a soft dough. Gently pat the dough into a 9-inch square baking pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until it is golden and no longer looks at all wet. (What I discovered that it truly does look all wet if it isn’t ready to come out of the oven. I left the pan in the oven for a good extra 15 minutes.)
  3. Set aside to cool while you make the caramel and chocolate topping. (I did this the next day because I was making my most fav go-to dinner recipe of all time while making this recipe and drinking wine and didn’t think I should mix wine with hot caramel.)
For the caramel and chocolate

  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 5 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 5 tablespoons salted butter, cubed (I told you not to worry about the fat content)
  • 1 tablespoon crème fraiche (I’m thinking I could have just as well used sour cream that only cost $1.65 for a tub as compared to the fancy schmancy creme fraiche that was $3.79. Just a thought.)
  • ½ cup heavy cream (If there is such a thing as ‘light’ lite’ heavy whipping cream you are not allowed to use it.)
  • 4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • Maldon, grey or smoked sea salt (The local Winco was totally out of maldon, grey or smoked sea salt. So I just went with plain old sea salt. I wonder if this is going to be a recipe deal breaker?)
  1. To make the caramel: Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, swirling occasionally until the sugar has melted but without stirring. Simmer for about 10 minutes, swirling the pot every once and a while, until the sugar turns a dark amber color. Do not let it get too dark, or it will taste burnt.
  2. You will know if you’ve done this incorrectly. For example if the sugar never turns a dark amber color you might consider a ‘do over.’ 
  3. As soon as the sugar reaches the right color, remove it from the heat and carefully add the cream, whisking all the time (the mixture will bubble up as you do this, so use an oven mitt or a long-handled whisk). (Another way you’ll know if you mucked it up is that there will be no bubbling and no need for an oven mitt or a long-handled whisk.) Whisk in the butter gradually and then the crème fraiche. Set aside to cool for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. If you own protective kitchen gear. I’m thinking a welder’s mask, apron and those gloves that people wear when blowing glass. Now is the time to use them.
  5. Fortunately the ingredients are only sugar and water so not much is wasted if you indeed muck things up. My first caramel didn’t turn any color whatsoever and there was a definite lack of bubbling and the need to for safety kitchen tools. 
  6. Whatever you do…DO NOT try to taste the caramel as soon as it’s done. You will burn the crap out of your tongue. Not that I’ve actually done this myself, but I have heard about very tragic caramel related incidents. Resist the urge to taste and wait until it cools down to a reasonable temp. 
  7. When the caramel is cool enough to touch, pour it evenly over the shortbread, tipping the pan gently and tapping it on the counter to get rid of any bubbles. Put in the fridge to firm up a little.
  8. To make the chocolate: When the caramel has firmed up a bit, bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Off the heat, immediately whisk in the chocolate until smooth and shiny. Let the mixture cool for about 5 minutes, and then pour over the caramel, again tilting the pan and tapping it against the counter to smooth it out. Let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes, until the chocolate starts to firm up a little.
  9. To finish, Sprinkle the top with salt and refrigerate until firm enough to cut into squares, at least 3 hours. Serve quickly, as the caramel will start to ooze quickly at room temperature.

Next time I’m totally adding bourbon!

Enjoy! Until next time. Moose out. 

Recipe and gorgeous image courtesy of Food52

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