Archives for posts with tag: Milk chocolate

Due to the “storm” that was about to hit London (even Barry the Thames Barrier has gone down) on Thursday, my train to the gym was severely delayed, therefore I abandoned exercise and was able to come home from work at a decent time.

My Mum and Dad were coming late last Sunday night, determined that we would fit in a Lebanese at a newly opened local establishment down the road upon arrival. The purpose of their visit was some minor DIY, and I needed to give them energy whilst tiling my kitchen windowsill the following morning.

So I recreated one of Mum’s favourite biscuits, if that is indeed the culinary category in which this treat falls. Millionaire’s shortbread. What better tea time (or any time) treat?

Sparkly shortbread

Crunchy shortbread biscuit, a large amount of soft, sweet, caramel, and a definitive dense chocolate topping, The chocolate and biscuit are working together to hold in that caramel, and the ratio of biscuit to caramel in this recipe is far more generous than most shop bought equivalents (and of course contains no nasty preservatives).

As has been a feature of several recent(ish) posts, I have borrowed someone else’s recipe (in this case Carnation’s, of condensed milk fame) and adapted it a little.

http://www.carnation.co.uk/recipes/60/Millionaires-Shortbread

This is a rather simple recipe, and you don’t even need a sugar thermometer to get the caramel right (see reference to disastrous macarons in previous post I am still holding out for one for Christmas).

I have made this recipe several times, and feel that I am close to perfecting it. I find the base works best when you blitz the shortbread in the food processor, finer crumbs = sturdier biscuit base. This is the cheat’s shortbread base, you can also make your own from scratch which is straight forwards but more time-consuming.

Stirring up shortbread

Next, you make the caramel. Gently stir together the butter and sugar until fully melted, and then drizzle in the condensed milk, stirring continuously as you don’t want it to burn. I don’t know why but I find a wooden spoon helps this process. And you can smack away any fingers trying to get an early dip of the sweet nectar!

Keep stirring even though you don’t want to, for fear of burning. I also have a fear of the caramel not setting, so I do stir it until notably thicker. Then pour on to the cooled shortbread and leave to chill out for a while.

Caramel

Leave the caramel to cool in the fridge and melt two bars of chocolate (200g in total) over a bain-marie, which is easier to control the temperature than melting in a saucepan directly. Dark, milk and white chocolate toppings are all delicious, or even a combination of them together.

To get a celebration-like finish to the shortbread, I then melted white chocolate and flicked it across the top, then scattered tiny edible gold stars over the tray.

Mini shortbreads

I am experimenting with finger-sized treats that I can parcel up as presents, and so made some tiny shortbreads in silicone petit-four cases.

Petit fours

My biggest tip for making shortbread is to score the chocolate topping before it has entirely set, otherwise it is a nightmare to cut in to straight lines.

Scoring the chocolate topping

There are loads of sweet (terrible pun – sorry!) recipes on this site. I want to try the fudge recipe next time, but not until I have my sugar thermometer…

I call these brownies “coveted” because in the many years I have been making them, I have probably been asked for (and have shared) the recipe around 25-30 times by various friends, family and colleagues.

I really feel that brownies must be intensely chocolatey and also have some sort of treats within them; I can’t stand dry, bland tasting brownies that feel like you are eating a stale chocolate sponge. Therefore, triple chocolate chips are used throughout the intensely moist, chocolate-packed brownie mixture.

They are so easy to make that at work I have shamelessly bribed numerous office workshops and group exercises with brownie-shaped refreshments. The last team that I worked with instigated a “brownie bake off” following my departure, to see who can make the best brownies in order to replace me – a compliment I’m sure!

It must be said upfront however that this is not wholly my own recipe, it is indeed adapted from Anthony Worrall Thompson for BBC, and this is the link I always offer people when asked for the recipe:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/triplechocolatebrown_7685

Over the years I have adapted Anthony’s recipe, but feel free to use either version (see below) and read on for a few tips I have learned along the way.

Firstly, I have never claimed that these brownies were low in calories, as I may do with some recipes, since a full 600g of chocolate are required to make these little beauties. My biggest tip would be to use good quality chocolate (minimum 70% solids dark chocolate and decent white chocolate), it truly does make a difference to the richness and taste of the finished product.

Quality chocolate

Secondly, follow the recipe. Whilst I do not often stipulate the order in which ingredients should be added, the ingredients in this recipe must be added in order due to the heat of the butter/ chocolate mixture at the start. You want to stir the sugar in whilst the mixture is still hot, however you must wait for it to be cooled with flour and eggs added before adding the chocolate chips, otherwise they will melt before cooking and end up a squidgy mess (and not in a good way!).

Brownie mixture

Thirdly, trust your judgement when deciding whether the brownies are sufficiently cooked. This can be a bit tricky, but make sure that the top is firm and only moves a little if you shake your hand whilst pressing lightly onto it. Unlike a sponge, it is fine for the mixture to still be a little moist after cooking since they will solidify as they cool.

Brownie tray

Fourthly, these chocolatey treats are great cooked just before guests arrive, since they will fill any space with powerful cocoa aromas.

Good enough for a true celebration as well as a tough workshop, they were recently requested for a wedding by my great friends Vic and Rowan as part of the dessert table I made for them.

Brownie stack

Ingredients:

300g plain chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
250g unsalted butter
325g caster sugar
100g milk chocolate, cut or broken into large chunks
100g white chocolate, cut or broken into large chunks
100g dark chocolate, cut or broken into large chunks
175g plain flour
1 tsp. baking powder
4 large eggs, lightly beaten

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F. Grease a 30x20x3.5cm/12x8x1½in tin (I use a standard sized roasting tin) with butter
  2. Put the plain chocolate and butter in a large bowl, place over a pan of simmering water and allow to melt. Stir often
  3. Remove the melted chocolate from the heat and stir in the sugar
  4. Add the eggs and mix all together by hand until combined
  5. Fold in the baking powder, flour and chocolate
  6. Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared cake tin. Place in the oven and bake for around 30 minutes. The top should be firm but the inside should feel soft when cooked
  7. Cut brownies into squares whilst still warm but wait until cool to remove from tin. I tend to trim any crisp edges.
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