Recipe from Good Housekeeping, April 2019
I knew we’d be having a few guests during the week and as caramel & chocolate are such crowdpleasers, I thought this would be a good choice of something to offer as both a tea time treat and a pudding after dinner.
Difficulty rating- 3/5, making caramel takes a certain amount of care and confidence, other than that the recipe is pretty straightforward.
1x 20.5 cm square cake tin
1x food processor
1x mixing bowl
For how many people? It yields 25 squares.
Total time taken (according to the recipe)- 1 hour 10 minutes
Total time taken by me- 1 hour
Hands-on time (according to the recipe)- 25 minutes
Hands-on time taken by me (including ingredients prep)- 15 minutes
Cooking time (according to the recipe)- 45 minutes
Cooking time taken by me- 45 minutes
I didn’t have the correct sized tin, so I lined a 23cm square cake tin with baking parchment and preheated the oven. I put the flour and butter in the food processor and whizzed it all together, stopping every so often to push the mixture away from the sides.
I transferred the mixture to the cake tin and found there were still a couple of lumps of butter. At this point it was going to be too difficult to transfer the mixture back to the food processor, so I rubbed the butter through the rest of the mixture by hand. I pressed the mixture into the cake tin and smoothed it over, then pricked it all over with a fork before putting it in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes.
After chilling, I put the shortbread in the oven to bake. It didn’t seem quite done after 20 minutes so I left it in for an extra 5 minutes before taking it out and leaving it to cool at room temperature for an hour.
After the shortbread had cooled I made the caramel. I brought all the ingredients for the caramel to a boil, then simmered them while whisking for 10 minutes. They hadn’t quite turned a caramel colour, so I carried on for a few more minutes before taking the pan off the heat, stirring through the vanilla essence and pouring it over the shortbread.
After the caramel had cooled down I melted the chocolate and remaining butter. I was naughty, because the mixing bowl I would usually use for doing this over a pan of hot water was being used for another part of our evening meal, so I melted the chocolate in the microwave. I know that you’re really not supposed to do this but if you’re really careful and start off with 30 second bursts, then 10 second bursts when the chocolate is nearly melted, you should be able to avoid the chocolate burning or seizing.
When the chocolate was melted, I poured it over the caramel, used a spatula to spread it out evenly and put the shortbread in the fridge to chill until we needed to serve it. I then pressed some gold leaf onto the top of the shortbread.
Any cheats or changes?
I cheated using the microwave to melt the chocolate, which is always a risky shortcut.
Any extra tips?
Be prepared to adjust timings based on your judgement.
Anything you’d change for next time?
I would make the shortbread mixture by hand instead of in a food processor- starting with room temperature butter mixed with the sugar then rubbed into the flour- as I find it more effective and about as quick as doing it in the food processor.
In spite of the fact that I used a tin that was slightly larger than the recipe specified, I would be tempted to use one even larger next time for a thinner base.
I might add a bit of salt to the caramel as well as using salted butter, for more of a salted caramel flavour.
If I was going to take it somewhere special, I would use more gold leaf- the one packet I bought contained two small gold squares and did not go very far, another packet or two would have made more of an impact but at upwards of £4 a packet, it would need to be somewhere very special!
Serving Size- The squares are small but very rich.
This was pretty much exactly as you’d expect billionaires shortbread to be. Short, biscuity base, oozy caramel and set chocolate on top. It tasted really lovely and it was very rich. I also like that it lasts for ten days, so you can have the odd square throughout the week, it was a fantastic countertop bake.
I do think the base needed a bit more crunch, although that improved after a couple of days, and the flavour of the caramel could have had more interest.
Any comments from other people?
A direct quote from my husband- “Chocolate-y, caramel-y richness- yum!”
Another friend said they liked that there was a nice thick layer of chocolate on the top.
Verdict– 4/5, a good, easy to follow recipe for a classic sweet treat that might benefit from a couple of tweaks.