O Canada! Our home and native land… (NOT sung to the tune of ‘O Christmas Tree’, as so many of you delight in doing. /evil glare.)
Happy Canada Day! Well, yesterday was Canada Day (July 1) but I still hope you had a merry one! It was also my dear borther’s birthday (he gets to celebrate with everyone in the country!). Last year, for his 21st, we threw him a big party and instead of a cake, I made cupcakes, each with a chocolate flower on top. I remember for at least a week beforehand I was at it each night, molding the chocolate plastic into pansies, lilies, and roses… until our freezer began to resemble a bizarre stash of the decapitated heads of flowers.
This year, I spent my first Canada day abroad in a much more low-key fashion. I’m the only Canadian in my lab, so I thought it my duty to let the others know that my wonderful country was celebrating its 143rd birthday! I brought in Millionaire Shortbread, aptly named for being one of the richest, most delicious bar cookies around.
Millionaire shortbread consists of a crumbly shortbread base, followed by a gooey caramel layer, and crowned with a layer of chocolate. I chose milk chocolate, but if you want to cut the sweetness of the caramel layer I think that a darker chocolate would also be great too. I was given this recipe by the wife of the post-doc who has been supervising me in the lab. She calls them ‘Triple Decker Squares’, however I’m happy to stick with the name “Millionaire Shortbread”.
I had to make one modification to her recipe, but it wasn’t intentional! I opened up my can of condensed milk (for the caramel) to discover that I had grabbed the pre-made caramel instead. Having already made the shortbread base, I decided that I would go ahead and make it anyway. To help thin the thick caramel a bit, I added a 1/4 cup of single cream. I think the recipe would be excellent the original way (that is with just a tin of condensed milk and no caramel or cream), but since I modified it, I’m posting the modified recipe.
Millionaire Shortbread or Triple Decker Squares
Ingredients (for a 9′ square pan)
For Shortbread base:
6 oz flour
1 oz castor sugar
4 oz butter
For caramel filling:
4 0z butter
4 oz soft brown sugar
2 level TBSP golden syrup (corn syrup for the Canadians)
1 small tin caramel
25 mL/ 1/4 cup of single cream
1/2 TSP of vanilla
For chocolate coating:
1/2 lb milk chocolate
1. Butter the cake tin, sieve the flour into a bowl, add the sugar and run in the butter. WHen the mixtures looks like bread crumbs, knead it into a ball.
2. Press it well into the base of the tin. (Tip: using a glass tumbler is a good tool to help press down your base) Bake in a moderate oven at 350F (180C or gas mark 4) for 25 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin.
3. For the filling, put the butter, sugar, syrup, premade caramel and single cream into a ban and stir over a gentle geat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil, stirring continually, boil gently for 7 minutes.
4. Add the vanilla essence, beat well and pour in the shortbread base.
5. For the topping, cut the chocolate up roughly and put in a heat-proof bowl. Stand plate over a pan of ot water until the chocolate begins to melt. Be very careful not to get it too hot or it will streak with white when set. Beat the chocolate with a palate knife to make it smooth. Then spread it evenly over the filling. When the chocolate has partially set, score the top of the bars. When completely cool, cut the bars into pieces along the lines that you have made in the chocolate. This will help prevent your top from cracking as you cut the the bars.