Salted Caramel Shortbread Bars


 
Salted Caramel Shortbread bars - buttery shortbread is topped with a creamy salted caramel, then finished off with a dark chocolate layer and flaky sea salt. The perfect sweet treat. #caramelslice #caramelshortbread
Salted Caramel Shortbread bars - buttery shortbread is topped with a creamy salted caramel, then finished off with a dark chocolate layer and flaky sea salt. The perfect sweet treat. #caramelslice #caramelshortbread
Salted Caramel Shortbread bars - buttery shortbread is topped with a creamy salted caramel, then finished off with a dark chocolate layer and flaky sea salt. The perfect sweet treat. #caramelslice #caramelshortbread
Salted Caramel Shortbread bars - buttery shortbread is topped with a creamy salted caramel, then finished off with a dark chocolate layer and flaky sea salt. The perfect sweet treat. #caramelslice #caramelshortbread
Salted Caramel Shortbread bars - buttery shortbread is topped with a creamy salted caramel, then finished off with a dark chocolate layer and flaky sea salt. The perfect sweet treat. #caramelslice #caramelshortbread
Salted Caramel Shortbread bars - buttery shortbread is topped with a creamy salted caramel, then finished off with a dark chocolate layer and flaky sea salt. The perfect sweet treat. #caramelslice #caramelshortbread
https://www.phaidon.com/store/food-cook/simple-and-classic-9780714878119/
Salted Caramel Shortbread bars - buttery shortbread is topped with a creamy salted caramel, then finished off with a dark chocolate layer and flaky sea salt. The perfect sweet treat. #caramelslice #caramelshortbread

Hi hi! I’ve been wanting to share a caramel slice recipe on here for the longest time! Caramel slice was a classic bakery treat I grew up eating (we call a ‘bar’ a slice in New Zealand), and they are an absolute favourite of mine. They are essentially a baked shortbread base, which then has a salted caramel mixture poured over it, followed by a dark chocolate ganache topping, and, if you like, a heavy sprinkling of salt. I love to get them out when I am at a bakery, but they are also super easy to make at home, and make the perfect sweet treat. From a quick google, it seems as if this is called a bunch of things - salted caramel shortbread, millionaire’s shortbread, caramel slice, etc. They all seem to be iterations of the same recipe, but all super delicious.

This version comes from a beautiful new book I was sent by the lovely folks at Phaidon - it is the newest from Jane Hornby, called ‘Simple and Classic - 123 Step by Step recipes’. The idea behind it is super clever - it is jam packed with recipes, ranging from sweet to savoury, all with step by step photos accompanying each recipe. So often in cook books there will only be one hero image of each recipe, so it is amazing to see not only step by step photos of each part of the recipe, but also broken down ingredient shots. This book would be perfect for a visual learner, or for someone who is beginning to cook and needs a little more guidance in terms of breaking down the recipe steps. I have my eye on a bunch more recipes, and have already sent one to a friend as a gift!

This recipe is super simple, but tastes anything but. It starts with a baked shortbread dough, which is baked until golden brown in the oven. Once it is slightly cooled, a thick layer of salted caramel is poured on, and left to set. The whole thing is then finished off with a layer of dark chocolate, and loaded up with flaky sea salt. A little goes a long way with this, but once you start snacking on it, you somehow find it disappearing much faster than you thought it would. The best.

A few wee tips:

  • This looks a little complicated, but I promise that it is not - each component is super simple.

  • I left my caramel to cool overnight, but you can probably just leave it for a few hours if you need - it does hold onto heat for longer than you think!

  • I wanted the top of my slice to have some texture in the chocolate, so I poured the chocolate on, then popped it in the fridge for about 10 minutes, then used an offset spatula to swirl up the chocolate, then left it to set completely.

  • According to Jane, to make this traditional Millionaire’s shortbread, you can add only a pinch of salt in the filling, and leave it out from the top, and then use semisweet chocolate on the top (about 30% milk solids)

 

 

Salted Caramel Shortbread Bars

- Makes about 12 large pieces, or 24 smaller pieces -

Recipe reprinted with permission from ‘Simple and Classic’ by Jane Hornby

Crust
110g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
50g superfine (caster) sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
140g all-purpose flour

Salted Caramel
110g unsalted butter
200g dark brown sugar
80g golden syrup or corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1 400g (14oz) can of sweetened condensed milk

Chocolate topping
200g bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
1 Tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
1/2 tsp salt

Flaky sea salt, for topping

 

- PROCESS -

SHORTBREAD BASE

Lightly grease an 8” (20cm) shallow square baking pan, then line with parchment paper. Put the butter into a large bowl and beat well with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer until creamy and pale. Add the sugar, salt, and vanilla and beat again until even paler.

Sift the flour over the creamed butter and sugar. Using a spatula, gently work the flour into the mixture to make an even dough that starts to clump together.

Press the dough into the prepared pan, then level and smooth it with the back of a spoon. Prick it all over with a fork, then chill for 10 minutes, or longer if you like, until firm. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325°f /160°c.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the shortbread is golden all over. Let cool completely.

CARAMEL

Melt the butter, sugar, syrup, and salt together gently in a saucepan, then stir in the condensed milk.

Bring the caramel to a simmer, stirring constantly with a spatula, and let it bubble for 4 minutes, or until it thickens and smells like creamy toffee. It should be thick enough for the spatula to leave a trail in the caramel for a few seconds. Don’t leave the pan or stop stirring during this step, because it can easily burn on the bottom.

Pour the caramel over the shortbread, then let it cool completely.

CHOCOLATE TOPPING

Melt the chocolate either over a saucepan of water or in the microwave. Stir in the oil, then pour this over the caramel. Sprinkle with the salt and let set at room temperature, or in the fridge if it is a hot day. The oil helps stop the chocolate setting too hard, which can make it difficult to cut.

When the chocolate is just set, mark it into squares, then chill until completely firm.

Cut into cubes to serve. For a really clean finish, wipe the blade of your knife with a slightly damp cloth between each slice. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Salted Caramel Shortbread bars - buttery shortbread is topped with a creamy salted caramel, then finished off with a dark chocolate layer and flaky sea salt. The perfect sweet treat. #caramelslice #caramelshortbread

Simple and Classic is copyright Phaidon Press Limited, and was written by Jane Hornby and published in 2019

The Ultimate Easter Treat Box


 
The Ultimate Easter treat box - iced cookies, cardamom linzers, hand pies, macarons, crispy rice treats and Easter mallows make the most amazing treat box, and are complimented perfectly by super cute foil wrapped chocolate eggs. This box would make the most perfect Easter gift, or the components are perfect alone for Easter treats. #easterbox #cookiebox #easterbaking
The Ultimate Easter treat box - iced cookies, cardamom linzers, hand pies, macarons, crispy rice treats and Easter mallows make the most amazing treat box, and are complimented perfectly by super cute foil wrapped chocolate eggs. This box would make the most perfect Easter gift, or the components are perfect alone for Easter treats. #easterbox #cookiebox #easterbaking
The Ultimate Easter treat box - iced cookies, cardamom linzers, hand pies, macarons, crispy rice treats and Easter mallows make the most amazing treat box, and are complimented perfectly by super cute foil wrapped chocolate eggs. This box would make the most perfect Easter gift, or the components are perfect alone for Easter treats. #easterbox #cookiebox #easterbaking
The Ultimate Easter treat box - iced cookies, cardamom linzers, hand pies, macarons, crispy rice treats and Easter mallows make the most amazing treat box, and are complimented perfectly by super cute foil wrapped chocolate eggs. This box would make the most perfect Easter gift, or the components are perfect alone for Easter treats. #easterbox #cookiebox #easterbaking
The Ultimate Easter treat box - iced cookies, cardamom linzers, hand pies, macarons, crispy rice treats and Easter mallows make the most amazing treat box, and are complimented perfectly by super cute foil wrapped chocolate eggs. This box would make the most perfect Easter gift, or the components are perfect alone for Easter treats. #easterbox #cookiebox #easterbaking
The Ultimate Easter treat box - iced cookies, cardamom linzers, hand pies, macarons, crispy rice treats and Easter mallows make the most amazing treat box, and are complimented perfectly by super cute foil wrapped chocolate eggs. This box would make the most perfect Easter gift, or the components are perfect alone for Easter treats. #easterbox #cookiebox #easterbaking
The Ultimate Easter treat box - iced cookies, cardamom linzers, hand pies, macarons, crispy rice treats and Easter mallows make the most amazing treat box, and are complimented perfectly by super cute foil wrapped chocolate eggs. This box would make the most perfect Easter gift, or the components are perfect alone for Easter treats. #easterbox #cookiebox #easterbaking
The Ultimate Easter treat box - iced cookies, cardamom linzers, hand pies, macarons, crispy rice treats and Easter mallows make the most amazing treat box, and are complimented perfectly by super cute foil wrapped chocolate eggs. This box would make the most perfect Easter gift, or the components are perfect alone for Easter treats. #easterbox #cookiebox #easterbaking
The Ultimate Easter treat box - iced cookies, cardamom linzers, hand pies, macarons, crispy rice treats and Easter mallows make the most amazing treat box, and are complimented perfectly by super cute foil wrapped chocolate eggs. This box would make the most perfect Easter gift, or the components are perfect alone for Easter treats. #easterbox #cookiebox #easterbaking

Thank you so much to ALDI for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own - thank you for supporting the businesses that keep Cloudy Kitchen going!

I’m not sure how, but it’s suddenly almost Easter. Which makes me so excited for a few reasons - the weather should finally warm up, I love Easter Eggs (I always get Mum to send me some from home), but most of all - Easter baking is so, so much fun! I love how many different treats can be made to incorporate Easter and Spring flavours, and pastel coloured anything is always going to be a winner in my books.

I figured the best way to kick off the Easter Baking season was with a treat box! These are super fun to make, and make incredible gifts. I have partnered with ALDI for this treat box - showing off some of their baking staples. Their products are incredibly well priced (something that is super hard to come by in NYC!!), and are great quality. They are definitely my go-to for stocking up on basics such as their Countryside Creamery Unsalted Butter, Baker’s Corner Powdered Sugar, and Baker’s Corner All-Purpose Flour. Also - I’m not sure if it’s just me (it most likely is just me), but I get a huge kick out of going to new supermarkets and looking at all the new and different things that they have! If you have an ALDI I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t already!

I wanted to make a variety of treats for this box to show how easy and fun they are to put together - I like making a couple of time intensive recipes that can easily be doubled (such as the macarons and hand pies), and then pairing them with some easy to make treats (Cardamom Linzers, Marshmallows, and Brown Butter Crispy Rice Bars), and then rounding it out with some store bought items - this time I chose to use a bunch of Moser Roth and Choceur Easter Eggs from ALDI (which are available Starting the 27th of March). I also like using recipes that can be used in a few applications - for example I made one batch of the Cardamom Linzer dough, and filled some with Jam, and iced others with some Royal icing to provide a variation in designs. Adding in the Easter eggs was the perfect finishing touch - not only are they super delicious, but they are crazy cute and really help with driving the Easter theme home! This treat box would make a great Easter gift, or as something to take along to an event or Easter brunch - either one or two batches of the recipes that I have included here would be great for making 7-8 boxes for family and friends.

A few wee tips:

  • I find that prep is key for these! The day before I put these together, I made the cookies for the Linzers and iced Cookies, made the Crispy Rice Treat bars, made the shells for the macarons, made the dough for the and pies, covered some of the cardamom cookies in royal icing, and made the marshmallows. That meant that on the day of assembly, I just had to bake off the hand pies, fill the macarons, fill the linzers, and cut shapes from the marshmallows. Breaking up the jobs like this really helped to keep on top of things.

  • You can use whatever box you like! I used a wooden box and made some dividers from craft wood, but I have seen them done in cardboard boxes using dividers or even cupcake liners to pop the treats in.

  • Don’t feel like you have to make everything in a treat box! Even just one homemade cookie with a bunch of Easter eggs is perfect - you do you here. ALDI has an amazing range of Easter goodies that would go great in your box. I used the Choceur Milk Chocolate Hollow Eggs, the Choceur Hollow Mini Bunnies, the Moser Roth Mini Truffle Easter Eggs in Milk Chocolate and Hazelnut, and the Choceur Solid Milk Chocolate Eggs.

 

 

Cardamom Linzer Cookies

- Makes about 32 Cookies -

Prep time: 20 minutes, plus chill time
Bake time: 30-40 minutes total (8-10 minutes per tray)

Note - I cut a couple of the cookies using a larger egg cutter, and iced them with royal icing, just as a fun little visual variation for the box! I have included my royal icing recipe and directions below.

Cardamom Linzer Dough
170g Countryside Creamery Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
150g sugar
50g brown sugar
1 Simply Nature Grade A Organic Cage Free Brown Egg, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
310g Baker’s Corner All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Filling
Jam or Preserves of choice (I used the Award Winning Specially Selected Blackberry Fruit Spread)

To Finish
Baker’s Corner Powdered Sugar, for dusting

Royal Icing Detailing (optional)
1/4 cup (60g) water
15g (1 Tbsp) meringue powder
340g (2 3/4 cups) Baker’s Corner Powdered Sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

 

- PROCESS -

CARDAMOM COOKIES

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together on medium high speed until pale, 3-4 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and mix to combine, scraping down the edges as needed.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cardamom. Add to the wet ingredients, and mix until just combined.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface, and gently bring together with your hands. Form into a rectangle, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for approximately an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°f /180°c. Line 3-4 baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the fridge and divide into two. Working with one piece of dough at a time, place between two large pieces of parchment paper, and roll to approximately 1/4” (7mm) thickness. Transfer, still covered in the parchment, to a baking sheet, and place in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes to allow the dough to firm. Repeat with the second portion of dough.

Remove one sheet from the freezer, and peel off the Top sheet of the parchment paper. Using a cutter of your desired size (I used an egg cutter that was 2” in height), cut out shapes from your dough. Place on the lined baking sheets, leaving a little room in between. If the dough starts to soften, return to the freezer to firm up. Repeat until all the dough has been used up.

Place the cut out cookies in the freezer for 10 minutes, then, using a small shaped cutter (I used a small egg cutter), cut out a hole in the middle of half of the cookies. Repeat the rolling and cutting process while the first sheet is baking. You may end up with 3-4 baking sheets worth of cookies - store any cookies that aren’t being baked in the freezer while they are waiting to be baked off.

Bake each sheet one at a time for 8-9 minutes, until the edges are set. You may need to increase the baking time if your cookies are slightly larger.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Repeat the baking process with the remaining cookies. Store in an airtight container until you are ready to assemble.

FILLING AND ASSEMBLY

Pair up the cookies so each has a solid half, and half with a cut-out. Place the cut-out pieces on a wire rack, and, if desired, dust generously with powdered sugar. Place all the solid halves smooth side down (so the side that was against the baking sheet is facing up), then, using either a spoon or a piping bag, place about 1 tsp of jam on each cookie. Top with a cut-out half. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Store in an airtight container - these are best served on the day they are assembled, but you can store the components separately for several days.

ROYAL ICING

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whisk together the water and meringue powder. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla, and then mix on low for 8-10 minutes. The mixture will become very thick.

Transfer about half of the icing to a small bowl, and place the rest in a small container with plastic wrap pressed against the surface. Thin down the icing with more water, adding a teaspoon at a time until it is a pipe-able consistency. Transfer to a small piping bag fitted with a small round tip. Pipe a border around the edge of each cookie, then fill in by piping icing within the border. Smooth down with a skewer. Repeat on as many cookies as desired. Allow to dry for at least a few hours before you pipe on detail.

To pipe on the detail, thin down the remaining icing, and colour as desired. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a round tip, and pipe designs onto the cookies. Allow to dry before eating.

Store cookies in an airtight container.

 

 

Vanilla Bean Marshmallows

- Makes one 9” x 13” pan of marshmallow -

Prep time: 30 minutes, plus 3-4 hours for marshmallows to cure

Note - I repeated the recipe twice to give me pink and yellow marshmallows. The thing I love about homemade marshmallows is that they last a super long time - just keep them in an airtight container. I cut mine out using Easter shaped cutters, but cutting into squares with a sharp knife works just as well too - just be sure to dust either the knife or your cutter in the marshmallow dust to make sure that it doesn’t stick.

Marshmallow Dust
35g (1/4 cup) Baker’s Corner Powdered Sugar
35g (1/4 cup) corn starch

Vanilla Marshmallows
Countryside Creamery Unsalted Butter for greasing pan.
75g cold water
14g (2 sachets) powdered gelatin
75g cold water
270g sugar
105 g light corn syrup
1 tablespoon (18g) vanilla bean paste, or 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
Gel food colouring as desired (optional)

 

- PROCESS -

MARSHMALLOW DUST

Sift together the powdered sugar and corn starch. Set aside - this will be used to dust the pan.

VANILLA BEAN MARSHMALLOWS

Grease a 9” x 13” quarter sheet pan with butter, and dust with marshmallow dust. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine 75 grams water with the powdered gelatin. Combine well and leave to bloom while you prepare the sugar syrup.

In a medium sized heavy bottom saucepan, heat the second measure of water, granulated sugar, light corn syrup, and vanilla bean paste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until a candy thermometer registers 240˚f (116˚c). Remove from the heat, and allow to cool to 210˚f (99˚c).

Turn the mixer to medium speed, and allow it to break up the gelatin slightly. Carefully stream in the sugar syrup mixture. Increase the speed to high, and beat until the marshmallow has doubled in volume, holds a small peak, and is fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes. Add food colouring if desired. Working quickly, scrape into the prepared pan, and smooth down with a lightly oiled offset spatula. Dust with additional marshmallow dust, and allow to cure for at least 3 hours.

Dust a work surface with marshmallow dust, and turn the marshmallow onto it. Using an Easter cutter of your desired size, cut out marshmallows, dusting the cutter with marshmallow dust as needed. I used egg cutters and a chick cutter.

Store in an airtight container until ready to use.

 

 

Macarons with Dark Chocolate Mint Swiss Meringue Buttercream

- Makes about 24 macarons -

Prep time: 45 minutes, plus time for macarons to dry
Bake time: 30 minutes

Note - After mixing in the powdered sugar and almond flour mixture into the meringue, I divided the mixture into three, and coloured each individually, then continued to mix until they were the correct consistency. This is an easy way to make several colours from one batch of batter. I also added some ‘speckles’ by flicking on some black gel food colouring diluted with water using a paintbrush after they had baked.

Macaron Shells
170g Baker’s Corner Almond Flour
300g Baker’s Corner Powdered Sugar
180g Simply Nature Grade A Organic Cage Free Brown Egg whites, at room temperature
160g sugar
Gel food colour as desired
1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Mint Chocolate Chip Swiss Meringue Buttercream
65g egg whites, or 2 large egg whites - I used Simply Nature Grade A Organic Cage Free Brown Eggs
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
1/8 tsp kosher salt
225g (8oz, or two sticks) Countryside Creamery Unsalted Butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1 tsp vanilla
125g dark chocolate
1/8 tsp peppermint extract

 

- PROCESS -

MACARON SHELLS

Preheat oven to 300˚f / 150˚c, and position the oven rack in the centre of the oven. Using a round cookie cutter or the base of a large piping tip (something about 1.5 inches in diameter), draw a "template" for your macarons on a piece of parchment paper, leaving about 3/4" between each circle. 

Combine the almond flour and powdered sugar together in a large bowl. Sift the mixture twice, to ensure there are no large lumps and that the mixture is properly aerated. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add the sugar, increase the mixer speed, and whip on high until the meringue starts to firm up. Add gel food colour if desired. Add vanilla and mix until incorporated. Continue to whip until the meringue forms stiff peaks.

Remove the bowl from the mixer. Add half of the almond flour and powdered sugar mixture, and fold into the meringue. You want to deflate the meringue just a little at this stage, to combine the meringue and almond flour mixture.

Add the remaining almond flour mixture, and stir lightly to combine. Now comes the important part - mixing the batter to the correct consistency. Fold the mixture in a series of 'turns', deflating the batter by spreading it against the side of the bowl. Turn the bowl slightly and repeat the movement - scooping the batter from the bottom of the bowl, and spreading it against the side. Continuously check the consistency of the batter - you want it to flow like lava when you lift the spatula from the bowl, and you should be able to 'draw' a figure 8 with it, without the batter breaking (again, watch lots of videos to get an idea! They help so much). This step can take some practice until you know what it should feel and look like. If in doubt you are better to under mix them than over mix them - the process of putting the batter into the bag and piping out will help mix a little too.

Fit a large pastry bag with a medium sized round tip, such as an Ateco #805. Place the macaron template on a sheet pan, and place a second piece of parchment over it. Holding the piping bag at a 90˚ angle to the surface, pipe out the batter into blobs the size of the circles drawn on the template. Finish off each piped circle with a little "flick" of your wrist to minimise the batter forming a point (it will still form a small one, but we can get rid of this with banging). Remove the template from under the macarons.

Hold the baking sheet in two hands, and carefully but firmly, evenly bang it against the bench. Repeat this a few more times - this will get rid of any air bubbles, remove points on the top, and help them to spread out slightly. 

Repeat the piping and banging process until you have used up all of the batter - I usually make three sheet pans worth.

Allow the macarons to dry at room temperature for approximately 30 minutes, or until they form a skin that you can touch without your finger sticking to them. This time will drastically vary depending on the humidity. 

About fifteen minutes before you are going to bake the macarons, place a spare sheet pan in the oven to preheat - this is going to be used to place under the pan with the macarons on it, to double up, which should help with even baking. Bake the macarons one sheet at a time - place the sheet with the macarons on the preheated sheet, and place in the oven. 

Bake for approximately 18 minutes, rotating the pan once during the cooking process, and checking for doneness after 15 minutes. The macarons should develop a foot (the ruffled part on the bottom of the macaron), and bake without browning. To see if they are done - press down lightly on a shell. If the foot gives way, it needs a little longer, if it is stable, then it is close to being done. Test a macaron shell - if you can peel it away cleanly from the paper, they are done. If they are stable but cannot yet peel away cleanly, give them another minute or so. Again, this part takes a little trial and error depending on your oven. If they seem done but do not peel away cleanly, do not worry - there is a little trick for that! 

Remove from the oven, and allow to cool on the sheet pan for 10 minutes before peeling off the parchment paper and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack. Repeat the baking with the remaining trays, using the same spare sheet pan to double up.

If your macs do not peel away cleanly, place them, on the parchment paper, into the freezer for 5-10 minutes, then peel away from the paper. 

Store shells in an airtight container until ready to fill. These can be made 2-3 days in advance, provided they are stored in an airtight container.

DARK CHOCOLATE MINT SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM

Place the egg whites, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer or a heat proof bowl. Place over a pot of simmering water, ensuring that the water does not touch the bowl. Heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture registers 160˚f / 70˚c on a thermometer and the sugar has dissolved. Carefully transfer the bowl to the mixer, and fit with the whisk attachment. Whip the egg whites on high until the mixture has begun to cool slightly and the egg whites are white and fluffy and hold a stiff peak, 8-10 minutes. Add the butter one chunk at a time. The mixture may look curdled - but just keep mixing! Once all the butter is incorporated, mix on high for a further 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix until incorporated.

While the buttercream is mixing, melt the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl in 30 second increments in the microwave. Set aside to cool slightly. 

Once the buttercream has finished mixing, and is smooth and silky, add in the cooled chocolate, and peppermint extract. Mix for a further 2-3 minutes, then switch to the paddle attachment and mix on low for one minute to remove any air. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a round tip.

ASSEMBLY

Pair up each macaron shell with another of equal size. Pipe a blob of buttercream on one side of the pair, and gently press the second half on to adhere. Macarons can be eaten immediately, but are best after a night in the fridge in an airtight container to let the flavours meld.

 

 

Brown Butter Crispy Rice Treat Bars

- Makes one 9”x9” pan of bars -

Prep time: 15 Minutes, Plus time for the bars to set

115g (one stick) Countryside Creamery Unsalted Butter
285g (one 10oz bag) marshmallows
175g Millville Crispy Rice cereal
Flaky sea salt, to finish
Sprinkles of your choice, to finish

- PROCESS -

Grease a 9”x9” pan with butter (I used the Crofton Speckled Bakeware Pan from ALDI, available starting March 27th).

Place the Crispy Rice cereal in a large bowl. In a medium heavy bottomed saucepan, place the butter over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until the butter melts, and then continue to cook, stirring well, until the butter begins to go brown and smell toasty. Remove the butter from the heat, and add the marshmallows and vanilla, stirring well. Leave to sit for 1-2 minutes to help the butter melt the marshmallows, then stir until the marshmallows are melted and the mixture is well combined.

Pour the marshmallow mixture over the Crispy Rice cereal, and mix well until well combined. It may seem sticky, but make sure that you keep mixing to make sure all of the cereal is evenly coated.

Transfer to the greased pan, and press down with a spoon or wet fingers. Sprinkle with sprinkles and flaky sea salt, then leave to cool and set before slicing into bars. Store in an airtight container

 

 

Mini Jam Hand Pies

- Makes about 20 Hand Pies -

Prep time: 45 minutes, plus overnight rest for the dough and chilling time for the hand pies
Bake time: 25 minutes

Note - You can fill these with whatever you like! I used the Specially Selected Fruit Spread from ALDI in Blackberry, Strawberry and Raspberry. You can mix and match the fillings - using a premade jam makes these super quick and easy, and they are so good! They are also great to make ahead and store in the freezer - make them up to the point where you freeze them solid, then transfer to an airtight container and store in the freezer until you are ready to bake!

Pie Dough
2 1/2 cups (310g) Baker’s Corner All-Purpose Flour
Pinch of salt
2 tsp (8g) sugar
2 sticks (226g) Countryside Creamery Unsalted Butter, cold, cut into cubes
1 cup (240ml) cold water
1 cup ice
1/4 cup (60ml) apple cider vinegar

Filling
Fruit Spread or Jam of your choice

Egg wash - one Simply Nature Grade A Organic Cage Free Brown Egg, whisked with 1 Tbsp water
Turbinado or raw sugar to finish, optional

 

- PROCESS -

PIE DOUGH

Place flour, sugar and salt into a large bowl. Cut butter into chunks, and add to the flour. Toss lightly to coat. Working quickly, using a pastry blender or  your fingers,  cut the butter into the flour mixture until there are only pea-sized chunks left. You want a few lumps of butter remaining to keep the pastry nice and tender.

Combine ice, water and cider vinegar in a bowl. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of the ice water into the flour and butter mixture, and using a stiff spatula or your hands, mix in well. Continue adding water a tablespoon at a time ( I normally need about 8-10 tbsp.) until you have a dough that holds together well, but is not too wet. Squeeze together with your fingertips to make a homogenous dough. Shape into two rectangles, and wrap in plastic wrap. Rest in the fridge for at least two hours, or preferably overnight. 

FILLING AND ASSEMBLY

On a lightly floured surface, working with one piece of dough at a time, roll into a rough rectangle, with a dough thickness of approximately 1/8”. Using a circle cutter (I used a 2 3/4” cutter), cut circles of dough, and place onto a lined baking sheet. Repeat with the second piece of pie dough, until you have used it all. Scraps can be gently pressed back together and wrapped in plastic, then re-rolled and used for extra circles. Store cut circles in the fridge while you finish rolling out the dough.

Once you have cut out your circles, combine the egg wash in a small bowl. Working with two circles at a time (otherwise the egg wash tends to dry out and not stick), paint two of the circles with egg wash. Place a small teaspoon of jam filling in the centre of one circle, then place the second circle, egg wash side down, on top, making sure to press out any air.

Lightly seal the hand pie with your fingers, then transfer to a lined baking sheet and crimp the edges with a fork (do not crimp the edges on your work surface or it makes the hand pie very hard to move).

Repeat with the remaining circles, until you have made all of your hand pies. If you would like to add cut-outs, you can roll together some scraps, briefly freeze the rolled out dough, and then use pie stamps to stamp out the dough. Adhere to the hand pies with egg wash.

Place the baking sheet with the hand pies in the freezer, and freeze for 20-30 minutes, or until completely solid. While the pies are in the freezer, preheat the oven to 425°f / 220°c.

Create air holes in the top of the pies using a fork, to allow steam to escape while baking. Brush the hand pies all over with egg wash, and then sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake the hand pies for 20-25 minutes, until deeply golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature - store leftovers in foil, and reheat in the oven to re-crisp the pastry.

The Ultimate Easter treat box - iced cookies, cardamom linzers, hand pies, macarons, crispy rice treats and Easter mallows make the most amazing treat box, and are complimented perfectly by super cute foil wrapped chocolate eggs. This box would make the most perfect Easter gift, or the components are perfect alone for Easter treats. #easterbox #cookiebox #easterbaking

Thank you so much to ALDI for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own.

Choux au Craquelin - Cream Puffs with Passionfruit Cream and Passionfruit Whipped Cream


 
Choux au Craquelin - Cream Puffs with Passionfruit Cream and Passionfruit Whipped Cream. Crispy, light cream puffs, topped with crunchy craquelin, are filled with a tart passionfruit cream, then topped with a smooth passionfruit whipped cream. The perfect dessert for if you are feeling a little fancy! #creampuffs #passionfruit
Choux au Craquelin - Cream Puffs with Passionfruit Cream and Passionfruit Whipped Cream. Crispy, light cream puffs, topped with crunchy craquelin, are filled with a tart passionfruit cream, then topped with a smooth passionfruit whipped cream. The perfect dessert for if you are feeling a little fancy! #creampuffs #passionfruit
Choux au Craquelin - Cream Puffs with Passionfruit Cream and Passionfruit Whipped Cream. Crispy, light cream puffs, topped with crunchy craquelin, are filled with a tart passionfruit cream, then topped with a smooth passionfruit whipped cream. The perfect dessert for if you are feeling a little fancy! #creampuffs #passionfruit
Choux au Craquelin - Cream Puffs with Passionfruit Cream and Passionfruit Whipped Cream. Crispy, light cream puffs, topped with crunchy craquelin, are filled with a tart passionfruit cream, then topped with a smooth passionfruit whipped cream. The perfect dessert for if you are feeling a little fancy! #creampuffs #passionfruit
Choux au Craquelin - Cream Puffs with Passionfruit Cream and Passionfruit Whipped Cream. Crispy, light cream puffs, topped with crunchy craquelin, are filled with a tart passionfruit cream, then topped with a smooth passionfruit whipped cream. The perfect dessert for if you are feeling a little fancy! #creampuffs #passionfruit
Choux au Craquelin - Cream Puffs with Passionfruit Cream and Passionfruit Whipped Cream. Crispy, light cream puffs, topped with crunchy craquelin, are filled with a tart passionfruit cream, then topped with a smooth passionfruit whipped cream. The perfect dessert for if you are feeling a little fancy! #creampuffs #passionfruit
Choux au Craquelin - Cream Puffs with Passionfruit Cream and Passionfruit Whipped Cream. Crispy, light cream puffs, topped with crunchy craquelin, are filled with a tart passionfruit cream, then topped with a smooth passionfruit whipped cream. The perfect dessert for if you are feeling a little fancy! #creampuffs #passionfruit

Now that they sell passionfruit at my local, that’s me done - the passionfruit recipes aren’t going to stop. I have to make up for four years of passionfruit deprivation all in one go. Hahahhaha. I’m kidding, but it is really just my fave.

I’ve had this one rolling round in my head for a while now since I saw these lemon cream puffs on Pinterest. I love everything about cream puffs, particularly when they have a disc of cookie dough like craquelin on the top, which kind of melts down in the oven to form this perfect, crackly top. Cream puffs without the craquelin tend to bake up a bit lumpy and bumpy (but still taste super yum), but the craquelin ensures that it rises in a perfect circle, which is not only super satisfying, but makes it super easy to fill - you just pop the top off with a sharp knife, and fill away.

I filled these with a super delicious and fairly easy filling. It’s technically two components - a passionfruit cream a passionfruit whipped cream, but the part that makes it easy is that the passionfruit whipped cream is literally just passionfruit cream folded through some whipped cream. So by making the passionfruit cream, you’re really making the base of both the filling components. If you haven’t had passionfruit cream before (or lemon cream), it’s essentially a curd, but instead of cooking everything down together like a curd, you leave the butter out and then emulsify it in at the last step, giving you something with a little more stability than a curd. Same ingredients, different process. Science is the best. The passionfruit cream is perfectly smooth and tart, and then the whipped cream is also amazing - it still has the flavour of the passionfruit from the cream, but also adds some smoothness to help cut through the tart flavour.

These would make an incredible wee dessert to take to a dinner party or something - it’s not too hard to make loads of them (this recipe makes 24), and they look like they are way more effort than they are. I love using the choux as a base and making up different fillings - they are amazing just filled with a vanilla bean whipped cream!

A few wee tips:

  • I have included an extra 'just in case' egg in the ingredients. The reason that this is in there, is that sometimes you need to add extra egg to the pastry if necessary. You want the mixture to be at a consistency where if you dip in the beater of the mixer, the batter will form a 'v' shape and eventually break off. If it is too stiff, and breaks off very quickly, you may need to add another beaten egg, and mix again, before performing the test. 

  • I can only do one tray of these at a time because of my oven, so I pipe all of them, then add craquelin to one tray, bake it off, then add the craquelin to the second tray before I bake it.

  • The passionfruit cream takes a while. Make sure you bring it right up to 180˚f / 80˚c. This will make sure that it is thick enough so that when it cools, it gets super thick. Ideally it needs overnight to cool and thicken. It will look sloppy when you are done, but just give it time to chill overnight and it will thicken nicely.

  • Choux Freezes! Freeze the cream puffs just after they have been piped out, then once solid, place in a ziploc bag in the freezer. Bake off as usual - do not add the craquelin until just before you bake.

 

 

Choux au Craquelin - Cream Puffs with Passionfruit Cream and Passionfruit Whipped Cream

- Makes about 24 buns -

Flavour Profile and Whipped Cream from Hint of Vanilla, Lemon Cream adapted from Tartine

Passionfruit Cream
230g passionfruit juice (I whizzed passionfruit pulp in the food processor then strained to remove the seeds)
15g Lemon Juice
4 large egg yolks
4 large eggs
255g Sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
350g Unsalted butter, at room temperature

Craquelin
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
120g all-purpose flour
120g dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Choux Dough
125g whole milk
125g water
110g unsalted butter, cubed
5g Kosher Salt
5g vanilla bean paste
15g Sugar
165g All-purpose flour
240g eggs, lightly beaten, plus more if required (see tips)

Passionfruit Whipped Cream
375g Heavy Cream, Cold
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
250g passionfruit cream  

- PROCESS -

PASSIONFRUIT CREAM

Create a 'double boiler' by placing a medium pot of water over a medium heat, and bringing to a simmer. Place a heatproof glass or stainless steel bowl over the pot, making sure that the bowl does NOT touch the water. 

Combine the passionfruit juice, lemon juice, egg yolks, eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla bean paste in the heatproof bowl, whisking together immediately to stop the sugar from cooking the egg yolks. 

Cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until it reaches 180°f / 80°c. This may take some time (approx 15 minutes). Be patient, and make sure you do bring it right up to the required temperature. 

Remove the bowl from the heat, and set aside, whisking occasionally, until the mixture is 140°f / 60°c. Strain through a sieve into a clean mixing bowl. Add the butter, a chunk at a time, blending well with an immersion blender until completely combined before adding the next chunk. Alternatively you can do this in a blender. The cream should be pale and thick by the time you are finished. 

Transfer to an airtight container, press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the cream, and cover. Refrigerate overnight, or until ready to use. 

CRAQUELIN

Place all ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium until combined. Turn out the dough onto a large piece of parchment paper, and top with a second piece. Roll out to 1-2mm in thickness. Place the dough, still between the parchment sheets, in the freezer for an hour, or until ready to use (Can be made ahead). 

CHOUX AU CRAQUELIN

Preheat the oven to 400˚f / 200˚c. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a cooike cutter, trace 1 3/4” circles on each baking sheet using a pen or a pencil, leaving some room for spreading (about 2” between each), then flip over the baking sheet so that the side with the drawing is facing downward. 

Fit a large piping bag with a large round piping tip.

In a medium pot, combine the milk, water, butter, salt, vanilla bean paste, and sugar. Place over medium heat, and stir until the butter has melted and the mixture has begun to boil. Remove from the heat, and add the flour all at once, mixing quickly with a wooden spoon to combine. The mixture will form a thick paste. 

Return to the heat, and, stirring constantly, cook the mixture for 2 minutes to help dry it out. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed for 1 minute to help cool down the mixture. 

With the mixture running on low, slowly stream in the 240g egg. Mix on medium speed for 4 minutes, or until the egg is fully incorporated. Test the consistency of the batter by dipping in the beater and pulling up. If it forms a v which eventually breaks off, you are good to go. If it seems too stiff, slowly add another beaten egg and mix to incorporate. 

Transfer the choux pastry to the prepared piping bag. Using your traced circle as a guide, pipe mounds onto the baking sheet, ending each with a little flick of your wrist. If the choux has left a point, you can flatten down with a wet fingertip. Repeat with the second tray - you should end up with about 24 mounds. 

Remove the craquelin from the freezer, and peel off the top piece of parchment. Using the same sized cutter you used to trace the circles on the parchment paper, cut out circles of dough. Place each carefully on top of a mound of choux, pressing lightly to adhere. If you are baking one tray of these at a time, ensure that you only put the craquelin on one tray worth at a time - put the craquelin on the second tray just before you bake them.

Bake the cream puffs for 15 min at 400˚f / 200˚c, then turn down the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c, and bake for a further 20 minutes, until the puffs are deeply golden. Remove from the oven and poke a small vent in the side of each using a paring knife or chopstick, to help the steam escape. Place on a cooling rack to cool completely. If baking in two batches, return the oven to 400˚f / 200˚c, and repeat the baking process with the remaining buns. 

PASSIONFRUIT WHIPPED CREAM

Place the heavy cream and vanilla bean paste in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on medium speed until stiff peaks form, then fold in the passionfruit cream. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with an open star tip - I used an Ateco #827.

ASSEMBLY

Transfer the remainder of the passionfruit cream to a piping bag fitted with a round tip.

Using a sharp bread knife, cut the tops off the cream puffs, about three quarters of the way up. 

Pipe passionfruit cream into about the bottom third of the cream puff, then top with a swirl of the passionfruit whipped cream. Top with the choux lid you cut off earlier.

Finish with gold leaf if desired. Chill until ready to serve. Store remainders in the fridge - I like to keep them loosely tented with plastic wrap rather than in an airtight container to stop them from going soggy.

Choux au Craquelin - Cream Puffs with Passionfruit Cream and Passionfruit Whipped Cream. Crispy, light cream puffs, topped with crunchy craquelin, are filled with a tart passionfruit cream, then topped with a smooth passionfruit whipped cream. The perfect dessert for if you are feeling a little fancy! #creampuffs #passionfruit