Chocolate Caramel Squares

Chocolate Caramel Squares

Food of my youth. These are becoming my trademark offering, loved by everyone.  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. 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!

Base
  • 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)
Filling
  • 13/4 sticks/7ounces/200g butter
  • large tin (379g) tin condensed milk
  • 4 tablespoons golden syrup
  •  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.

Method

Preheat oven to 350.
Add the flour and sugar to a large bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture starts to come together, I use my Kitchenaid and mix everything until the dough starts to come away from the side.  Tip the mixture into the tin and press evenly over the base.  Prick with a fork and cook for 5 mins then lower oven to 300.  Cook for a further 35-40 mins until a golden brown, see notes above.
For the filling melt the butter in a large thick bottomed pan and then add condensed milk and syrup.  Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a slow boil.  Continue to stir, adjusting the heat as necessary, until the mixture has thickened and turned a medium golden brown.  Pour the caramel over the cooled shortbread and leave until room temperature.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a small pan of simmering water. Do not allow the water to boil or you may burn the chocolate.
Once fully melted, spread over the caramel mixture. Okay, so this last part you can make as easy or as hard as you wish.  If you can temper the chocolate it makes for a wonderful shiny finish. Sadly it is horribly complicated and not always successful, click on this great post by David Lebovitz for more info.  My advice is to simply melt the chocolate and then refrigerate the tin once you have poured the chocolate. Try to catch it before the chocolate has set completely, otherwise it can crack when you are cutting it.  At this stage divide the tin into equal pieces, I generally make 48 squares per tin. If the chocolate is not tempered it can discolor or ‘bloom’ so these are best kept in the fridge.
I also normally make a double batch when I am making this recipe, and freeze the other tin for later.
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