Monday, 12 April 2010

Millionaires shortbread

Or as its sometimes known caramel shortbread squares.

Last year I ate at the fat duck in Bray, I got to eat many wonderful things and was given a copy of the big fat duck cookbook, the original giant 5.6Kg format. Now its a very very nice book, but it is full of recipes and they demand to be used. The shortbread (and accompanying chocolate wine) wasn't on the menu when I was there but I really wanted to taste it.

Some of the recipes in here are scary, the chocolate wine being a case in point, a centrifuge ? whey powder ? Gellan ? I know why these ingredients & techniques are used, but it can''t really happen in my kitchen. The millionaires shortbread didn't seem too scary. I couldn't get T45 flour, but knowing its a plain fine white flour allowed me to substitute.

 Those are the ingredients for the shortbread. The method and measures are precise (this is a feature of Heston Blumenthal (HB) recipes). I needed 45g of egg yolk (turns out that is almost 2 co-op large eggs) and actual vanilla seeds, also required was olive oil, which came as a bit of a shock since I'm used to butter being the only fat in short bread. Due to a cockup with the amount of olive oil I had in I had to add a little mandrine olive oil. The dough comes together remarkably well but feels a bit sticky. It goes in the fridge to rest for 24hrs (look at the treacle tart recipe for HB's take on pastry resting) When it comes out you've got a rich firm dough, which you roll out very thin & return to the fridge to rest for a couple more hours.

Whilst that's happening let's make a start on the caramel. The glucose is easy to get hold of, just go to your local pharmacy and they have it. You are going to end up with a pretty rich caramel. I had a little issue in that my thermometer only goes up to 130c & I needed a temperature of 147c so a bit of science got involved. unsurprisingly once the caramel is done (and stirring in the cream to the hot sugar mixture is one of those scary cookery procedures) that needs to go into the fridge too, this time its going to set.
That leaves the chocolate top. The recipe calls for 24hrs of sous-vide but a bit of reading suggested that this was to temper the chocolate, a bit of reading suggested some work with a digital thermometer would allow me to temper the chocolate reasonably well, so I got that all set up & ready.

The shortbread goes into a slow oven (gas 2) for 15 minutes, you've rolled it out pretty thin, so it doesn't take long. At this point I realized I had a lot more caramel & chocolate than shortbread, but never mind I had a plan.

The book calls for 1cm x 4cm slices, which I felt were a little small so we went with 4cm squares instead. The caramel is a bit of a bugger to work with, that could quite easily be me not getting it to the correct temperature or just my lack of skill with caramel.

That's the final assembled product. I had gold leaf, not powder so I scribbled gold onto the chocolate rather than gold coating the salt crystals. Once again hard work with a worthwhile outcome. 

The left over caramel got used with a more ordinary millionaires shortbread that we christened "public sector shortbread". I used a straight flour & butter shortbread & just spread the top with melted chocolate, which gives a very different mouth feel from the sharp snap of the tempered chocolate. We gave it a light gold scribble because as we all know the public sector isn't that rich

All jolly tasty and I''ll definitely give it another go when I've got a better thermometer and a smooth sided & bottomed pan for the caramel.

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