Salted Caramel Shortbread
I followed the recipe in the Feb/March issue of Readymade Magazine, but boy do I wish I had looked online first, as there are some major problems with the recipe. First of all, the shortbread dough would not hold together. I added butter to remedy the situation on the fly, but the end result was still pretty crumbly. Another problem, the caramel turned out much too runny. I boiled it a little longer than the 5 minutes recommended and hoped it would thicken when chilled, but it didn't. Caramel ooze everywhere! They were pretty difficult to cut into bars, for this reason. I only got one or two nice squares out of it. The rest looked like a natural disaster hit my pan. Finally, this recipe is super time-consuming: I baked at least 4 dozen other cookies in the time that I was making these 12 bars! All that being said, I agree with the many comments on the site that these are really "tasty little messes," so I think I'll give them another chance, with adjustments (included below).
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup less 1 heaping T icing sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp crushed sea salt
7 oz dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
Either mix the shortbread ingredients together in a food processor or do it the traditional way by sifting the flour, cornstarch, and icing sugar into a large bowl, adding the cubed butter, and using clean fingertips to rub together until a dough forms. Form dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap; put dough in the fridge to rest for 1 hour. Meanwhile, prepare a 9-inch-square pan, lining the base and sides with a single piece of foil or parchment paper. Use the back of a spoon to flatten rested dough into pan.
Preheat oven to 325°F. Prick the top of the dough all over with a fork and bake for about 40–45 minutes, until light brown and starting to come away from the edges of the pan. Allow to cool in the pan for at least 1 hour before you make the caramel.
To make the caramel, put the sugar and cream in a heavy-bottom saucepan set over low heat. Heat gently, stirring with a wooden spoon as it comes to a boil. Once it is boiling, add the butter and stir. Bring the caramel back to a boil and let it bubble gently for 10 minutes or until it thickens, stirring occasionally. Take the caramel off the heat, add the salt, and stir vigorously to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed in. Then, working quickly, pour the caramel on top of the cooled shortbread. Put the pan in the fridge for at least 1 hour to cool and set.
Once the caramel has set, melt the chocolate following the instructions for tempering. Pour the melted chocolate on top of the caramel and spread it evenly with a rubber spatula. Allow the chocolate to set before lifting the shortbread out of the pan (using the foil or baking parchment) and cutting into squares with a hot knife. The squares will keep stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
My second new recipe came from the book Marie Claire: Zesty and was much more forgiving than the above, thank goodness. Be forewarned, however, hey are very very rich, so you may want to dust them with icing sugar rather than the cocoa powder, as the recipe suggests, and I don't think they really need to be sandwiched. But what's done is done and they look cute. So grab a glass of milk and choke those suckers down, ok?
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 T cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
heaping 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups chopped dark chocolate
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup chopped chocolate (I ran out of chocolate and used chocolate chips)
2 tbsp light whipping cream
Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat. Add the sugar, stirring until dissolved. Stir in the eggs, one at a time, until well combined, then fold through the dry ingredients. Refrigerate the mixture for 20 minutes or until just firm.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Roll into one-inch balls and place onto cookies sheets. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until firm. Cool slightly on the sheet before transferring to a wire rack.
To make the chocolate cream, heat the chocolate and cream in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Stick the bases of the cookies together with the chocolate cream and lightly dust with cocoa or icing sugar. Store in an airtight container.
Makes 40 cookies (20 sandwiches).