Food of my youth.
These are becoming my trademark offering, loved by everyone. When I was growing up in Scotland, I spent a lot of time making Chocolate Caramel Squares The recipe I used then, was from the classic ‘All Diary Cookbook’, which used to sold by the local milkman. I know the new trendy name is Millionaire’s Shortbread but I grew up calling them Chocolate Caramel Squares. You can obviously call them anything you like. On the same plate are strawberry and chocolate tarts and mini pavlovas.
These are now somewhat ubiquitous in the U.K. and available in every store, but the home made version is still something special. I have amended the traditional US shortbread proportions of 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup flour and have reduced the sugar as the filling is very sweet. I like to take the shortbread base to the edge and allow it to turn a lovely dark colour. Not burnt, I hasten to add but crispy to contrast with the soft filling. A slightly less well baked version will work perfectly well too so do not stress.
I find the caramel is still tricky and occasionally separates just as it has reached the required color. If this happens take the mixture of the heat and beat for a few minutes and it should return to a smooth caramel. I sometime use an electric hand held whisk, although recently an immersion blender also worked. be careful as caramel can become very hot.
If all the different stages seem too much, slice the job. Make the shortbread base one day, caramel the next and then finish with the chocolate nearer when you plan to eat them. Good Luck!
- 1 2/3 cups*/9 ounces/225g of all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup*/21/4 ounces/65g sugar ( I put a whole vanilla pod in my sugar container so there is always a subtle vanilla flavor)
- 1 2/3 sticks of butter*/61/2 ounces/170g( I always use salted, so add a pinch of salt if you do not)
- (I use the cups recipe when I make this recipe – a stick of butter is four ounces)
- 11/2sticks/6ounces/170g butter
- large tin (379g) tin condensed milk
- 4 tablespoons golden syrup – if you cannot find Lyle’s Golden Syrup then Karo light corn syrup will work, but the caramel may be slightly lighter.
- 10oz/250g Chocolate – I use half of a Trader Joe’s Belgian MILK chocolate block in the US, Cadburys Chocolate in the UK and in Denmark have found that Marabou works well (Thanks Avril for the heads up)..experiment!
- 1/4 sheet baking tray gives a nice thick square but in the UK I used to make these in Swiss roll tins, which also works.
Gilding the Lily or variations
These caramel squares really need no improvement but…
Salted Caramel Squares
I made these recently for my dear friend Denise, who is now running the bakery at a cute little organic farm, Amber Waves Farm. As we talked about the ingredients I realised I had used unsalted butter and omitted to add salt. We had a brainwave, Maldon salt sprinkled on the chocolate! Rather good.
My mate, Sharon recently made these. By accident she picked up the chocolate with added nuts. Undeterred, she used it anyway and said the resulting nutty caramel squares were great.
Prior to starting my own catering business I worked at Good Food Good Things, now called Browne and Co. I was out front serving soup and coffee, looking longingly at the chefs in the kitchen. Diane Browne, the owner, makes this amazing wonder bar. Layers of shortbread, pistachios, caramel, coconut and white and dark chocolate. I have tried to replicate it by simply adding pistachios and coconut to the caramel and it works, up to a point, but is nowhere near as good as the original bar.