Thursday, May 11, 2006
A close call
Complete Baking Cakes, Puddings and Pastries Copyright 2000
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup butter, cut into small pieces
3 tbsp soft brown sugar, sifted
10 tsp butter
3 tbsp soft brown sugar
14 oz can (sweetened) condensed milk
5 ½ oz milk chocolate
1. Grease a 9 inch square cake pan.
2. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and rub in the butter with your fingers until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Add the sugar and mix to form a firm dough. (My dough is usually crumbly but it still works.)
3. Press the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan and prick with a fork.
4. Bake in a preheated oven, 375 degrees F, for 20 minutes until lightly golden. Leave to cool in the pan.
5. To make the topping, place the butter, sugar, and condensed milk in a non-stick saucepan and cook over a gentle heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil.
6. Reduce the heat and cook for 4-5 minutes until the caramel is pale golden and thick and is coming away from the sides of the pan. Pour the topping over the shortbread base and leave to cool.
7. When the caramel topping is firm, melt the milk chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Spread the melted chocolate over the topping, leave to set in a cool place, then cut the shortbread into squares or fingers to serve.
I've made these shortbread bars several times in the past few years with no problems but this time I almost messed them up. I started cooking the filling, absent-mindedly forgetting that I hadn't even put the crust in the oven yet. So I turned off the filling but left it on the burner. The bottom started to carmelize and I had specks of caramel in the filling. It wasn't attractive. Even after straining it, there were still some specks left but they weren't noticeable in the final product. At least I didn't burn it because all would have been lost - I didn't have any more sweetened condensed milk on hand.
This cookbook comes out of Europe and even though it uses American measurements, sometimes the ingredient names are confusing. I've had this book for years and I'm not sure if I've tried any other recipe besides this one but it doesn't matter. There are beautiful full-page color pictures of each recipe - this is food porn at it's best. They even include step-by-step pictures for some of the recipes.
Question of the Day: Do you even mess up recipes that you've made several times before with no problems?