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

Raspberry Ricotta Bundt Cake


 
Raspberry Ricotta bundt cake - a tender vanilla bean bundt cake is accented with tart raspberries. This easy, stir together cake is the perfect texture, is simple to put together, and is perfect for feeding a crowd. #bundtcake #ricottacake #raspberrybundt
Raspberry Ricotta bundt cake - a tender vanilla bean bundt cake is accented with tart raspberries. This easy, stir together cake is the perfect texture, is simple to put together, and is perfect for feeding a crowd. #bundtcake #ricottacake #raspberrybundt
Raspberry Ricotta bundt cake - a tender vanilla bean bundt cake is accented with tart raspberries. This easy, stir together cake is the perfect texture, is simple to put together, and is perfect for feeding a crowd. #bundtcake #ricottacake #raspberrybundt
Raspberry Ricotta bundt cake - a tender vanilla bean bundt cake is accented with tart raspberries. This easy, stir together cake is the perfect texture, is simple to put together, and is perfect for feeding a crowd. #bundtcake #ricottacake #raspberrybundt
Raspberry Ricotta bundt cake - a tender vanilla bean bundt cake is accented with tart raspberries. This easy, stir together cake is the perfect texture, is simple to put together, and is perfect for feeding a crowd. #bundtcake #ricottacake #raspberrybundt
Raspberry Ricotta bundt cake - a tender vanilla bean bundt cake is accented with tart raspberries. This easy, stir together cake is the perfect texture, is simple to put together, and is perfect for feeding a crowd. #bundtcake #ricottacake #raspberrybundt
Raspberry Ricotta bundt cake - a tender vanilla bean bundt cake is accented with tart raspberries. This easy, stir together cake is the perfect texture, is simple to put together, and is perfect for feeding a crowd. #bundtcake #ricottacake #raspberrybundt
Raspberry Ricotta bundt cake - a tender vanilla bean bundt cake is accented with tart raspberries. This easy, stir together cake is the perfect texture, is simple to put together, and is perfect for feeding a crowd. #bundtcake #ricottacake #raspberrybundt

This cake tested me a wee bit. The funny thing about recipe testing is that you never quite know which way it is going to go - sometimes I set out to make something I assume will need tweaking and nail it first try, other times I think I can quickly bring something together, like this cake, only to have it totally fail on me a whole bunch of times (6 to be exact). I love the process so much, but it is always good to remember that sometimes the things that seem the easiest are the ones which are going to trip you up the most!

I’m always so interested in the recipe testing process, so I thought I would share a little bit of it today! I started off knowing I wanted to make a raspberry bundt cake in this party pan, and that’s all I knew. My process was:

  1. Start with a bundt version of a vanilla cake recipe of mine that used the reverse creaming method. Giant, giant fail. Cake looked fine, then collapsed in on itself. Giant mess. Abort mission.

  2. Change direction completely. Go for a pound cake style bundt. Learn that pound cakes don’t have any leavening agent in them (we don’t have them in Nz!). Possibly densest cake I’ve ever made.

  3. Figure If I add leavening agent into it, it will help lighten it up. Still super dense. Abort mission.

  4. Go in another direction - adapting a loaf cake recipe of mine. Total flop. weird cooked parts and raw parts and a strange texture on the outside (super yum as a cake, clearly not meant to be a bundt).

  5. Not quite abort mission, but change almost all the components of the loaf cake recipe, tweaking and tweaking. Comes out ok texture, but super bland and big holes on the outside.

  6. Up the moisture, switch the milk to buttermilk, bang the shit out of the pan on the counter before it bakes. Ok, but kind of bland, texture is amazing.

  7. Switch out some of the oil for butter and add in some lemon zest. Waaaay better - switching out the butter was just what I needed to do. Super happy with the outcome. Done!

And that’s how it went down! The resulting cake is, to me, perfect - it is a dense bundt cake (not pound cake dense but just the right texture), with a tender crumb from ricotta and oil, but some richness of flavour from vanilla bean and butter. I added in some almond meal to help elevate the flavour, and folded some raspberries through the batter, which I managed to get to stay very nicely distributed! I was initially going to give this a glaze, but after the final test came out as well as it did, all it really needs is a light dusting of powdered sugar.

After all those tests, the cake itself is actually super simple. It is a stir together situation - all you have to do is combine your wet ingredients (plus sugar), then whisk together your dry ingredients, add the two together, then fold in raspberries which have been dusted in a little flour to stop them sinking. It all then goes into a well sprayed bundt pan, and is baked off, before having a wee cool in the pan, then turned out and allowed to finish cooling. Bundt cakes are my favourite in that they are generally super easy to make, with the fancy details coming from the shape of the pan. This one will most definitely be on heavy rotation from now on.

A few wee tips:

  • The recipe here is by weight - if you bake by weight you won’t have to use a single measuring cup, as everything can be weighed directly into the bowl. The best.

  • I tossed the raspberries lightly with flour before incorporating them into the batter, to help prevent them from sinking.

  • I used fresh berries, but frozen would also definitely work - make sure that if they are frozen they get a good coating of the flour!

  • The trick to getting a bundt cake out cleanly comes down to a few factors. The first is a well greased pan - you can either grease and flour your pan (make sure you get in all the crevices), or you can use a baking spray with flour in it, which is my preferred method for a bundt. The second is the cooling time - 10 minutes is the sweet spot to allow the cake to pull away from the sides enough to release cleanly. Too soon and it may not hold its structure if it is too warm, and too long in the pan and you run the risk of it sticking. Set your timer for 10 as soon as the cake comes out of the oven!

  • The cake needs to be baked enough that it will not stick to the sides - make sure that a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean - I like to stick it in a few different spots just to check

  • Make sure your ingredients are nice and room temp before you bake the cake - I like to take mine out an hour or so before.

 

 

Raspberry Ricotta Bundt Cake

- Makes one Bundt Cake, 10 larger serves or 20 smaller serves -


320g sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
300g good quality ricotta, at room temperature
100g neutral oil
90g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
180g buttermilk, at room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature
420g all-purpose flour
80g almond meal
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
250g raspberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen do not thaw)

 

- PROCESS -

Preheat the oven to 350°f / 180°c.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar and lemon zest. Using your finger tips, rub the zest into the sugar until well incorporated.

Add the ricotta, oil, melted butter, vanilla bean paste, buttermilk, and eggs to the bowl, and whisk until well combined.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, salt, and baking powder. Add to the wet ingredients, and mix until well combined, making sure to scrape down to the bottom of the bowl and ensure that there are not any wet spots. Mix until the batter is smooth.

Place the raspberries in the medium bowl, and gently toss with about 2 tsp of flour until coated. Add the flour coated raspberries to the mixture, holding back any excess flour that may be gathered at the bottom of the bowl. Carefully fold in using a rubber spatula, until evenly incorporated.

Spray a 10-cup bundt pan with baking spray with flour, or grease and flour well. Add the cake mixture to the bundt pan, smoothing down with a spoon or offset spatula. Tap the pan firmly about 10 times on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Place on a sheet pan.

Bake the bundt cake, on the sheet pan, for 65 to 70 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire cooling rack and allowing to cool completely.

Dust with powdered sugar and freeze dried raspberry powder to finish, if desired.

Store leftovers at room temperature in an airtight container.

Raspberry Ricotta bundt cake - a tender vanilla bean bundt cake is accented with tart raspberries. This easy, stir together cake is the perfect texture, is simple to put together, and is perfect for feeding a crowd. #bundtcake #ricottacake #raspberrybundt

Cheese, Spring Onion, and Chive Brioche Buns


 
Cheese, Spring Onion, and Chive Brioche Buns - fluffy brioche is rolled out thin, then spread with a cheese sauce filling, sprinkled with spring onion and chives, and rolled up into a tight spiral. It is then cut up into buns, snuggled into a skillet, and baked to golden perfection. The perfect savoury bun! #cheesebuns #cheeserolls #cheeseandchive
Cheese, Spring Onion, and Chive Brioche Buns - fluffy brioche is rolled out thin, then spread with a cheese sauce filling, sprinkled with spring onion and chives, and rolled up into a tight spiral. It is then cut up into buns, snuggled into a skillet, and baked to golden perfection. The perfect savoury bun! #cheesebuns #cheeserolls #cheeseandchive
Cheese, Spring Onion, and Chive Brioche Buns - fluffy brioche is rolled out thin, then spread with a cheese sauce filling, sprinkled with spring onion and chives, and rolled up into a tight spiral. It is then cut up into buns, snuggled into a skillet, and baked to golden perfection. The perfect savoury bun! #cheesebuns #cheeserolls #cheeseandchive
Cheese, Spring Onion, and Chive Brioche Buns - fluffy brioche is rolled out thin, then spread with a cheese sauce filling, sprinkled with spring onion and chives, and rolled up into a tight spiral. It is then cut up into buns, snuggled into a skillet, and baked to golden perfection. The perfect savoury bun! #cheesebuns #cheeserolls #cheeseandchive
Cheese, Spring Onion, and Chive Brioche Buns - fluffy brioche is rolled out thin, then spread with a cheese sauce filling, sprinkled with spring onion and chives, and rolled up into a tight spiral. It is then cut up into buns, snuggled into a skillet, and baked to golden perfection. The perfect savoury bun! #cheesebuns #cheeserolls #cheeseandchive
Cheese, Spring Onion, and Chive Brioche Buns - fluffy brioche is rolled out thin, then spread with a cheese sauce filling, sprinkled with spring onion and chives, and rolled up into a tight spiral. It is then cut up into buns, snuggled into a skillet, and baked to golden perfection. The perfect savoury bun! #cheesebuns #cheeserolls #cheeseandchive
Cheese, Spring Onion, and Chive Brioche Buns - fluffy brioche is rolled out thin, then spread with a cheese sauce filling, sprinkled with spring onion and chives, and rolled up into a tight spiral. It is then cut up into buns, snuggled into a skillet, and baked to golden perfection. The perfect savoury bun! #cheesebuns #cheeserolls #cheeseandchive

I think we all know by now my intense love for swirly bread. I developed a killer brioche recipe a few years back, and it sneaks its way onto here at least once a month - in doughnuts, babka, fancy knots, buns, rolls, pull-apart bread, you name it, it’s probably lurking around here somewhere. The thing I love the most about brioche is how versatile it is. You can switch up the filling or ingredients slightly, change up the baking or frying method, and you have a whole new recipe.

Today I am sharing the recipe for these Cheese, Spring Onion, and Chive Brioche Buns. These first came about when I was testing for another recipe and was left with a batch of brioche dough in the fridge. I also happened to have a batch of cheese sauce from another recipe test, so I combined them, and the result was magical. These are just essentially a savoury version of the cinnamon roll - enriched dough is spread with a chilled cheese sauce filling, sprinkled with spring onions (scallions for those in the US) and chives, and then rolled into a tight spiral and snuggled up in a skillet. They kind of taste like the pizza rolls that we grew up on as kids that we used to get from the supermarket. They are great on their own, or amazing served alongside a soup for an easy meal. The cheese sauce filling is also perfect for using up the weird odds and ends of cheese you have in your fridge (or is that just me). Either way, swirly bread is the best, and I think this is a recipe you are going to love. Enjoy! x

A few wee tips:

  • The great thing about the cheese sauce in this recipe is that you can use whatever you like in it - I usually have a whole range of cheese in my fridge, so use whatever you have! Just make sure that the total amount of cheese is the same as the weight in the recipe (250g).

  • The cream cheese in the recipe really helps to smooth out the filling.

  • Ideally the cheese sauce needs to be chilled overnight, but no worries at all if you don’t have time for that- just place it into a shallow container or bowl, chill for 20 min in the freezer, give it a good stir, then place in the fridge to continue chilling. Ideally make it before you get started on the bread dough so that it has as much time to chill as possible.

  • I like making my brioche dough the night before sometimes - it means that it’s super easy to roll out if it’s a little cooler, and it breaks up the tasks, making it a little more manageable.

 

 

Cheese, Spring Onion, and Chive Brioche Buns

- Makes 9 buns -

Bread Dough
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
250g (1 cup) whole milk, lukewarm
2 Tbsp (25g) sugar
565g (3 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, at room temperature
90g (6 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Cheese Sauce Filling
30g unsalted butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
300g (1 1/4 cup) whole milk
Salt and Pepper to Season
100g sharp cheddar, grated
75g gouda, grated
75g parmesan cheese, grated
70g cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tsp wholegrain mustard

Filling
2 Spring onions (scallions), finely chopped
3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh chives, plus a little more for garnish

Egg wash - 1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water
Pretzel salt for finishing (optional)

 

- PROCESS -

BREAD DOUGH

In a small bowl, combine the yeast, milk and 1 Tbsp of the sugar. Mix well, and leave to sit for 10-15 minutes, or until foamy.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, salt, and remaining 1 Tbsp sugar. Mix briefly to combine. Add the eggs and foamy yeast mixture to the bowl. Mix on low for 2-3 minutes, until the dough is starting to come together. It may look slightly dry but do not worry - it will mix together nicely in the next steps. Increase the mixer speed to medium, and mix for another 10 minutes, until the dough is soft and smooth.

Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add the butter a little at a time, waiting until it is fully incorporated into the dough before adding the next piece. This process should take 3-4 minutes. Once the butter is fully incorporated, increase the mixer speed to medium, and mix for a further 5 minutes, until the dough is very soft and smooth.

Transfer to an oiled bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot until doubled in size, approximately 1 - 1 1/2 hours. Alternatively the first rise can be done overnight in the fridge.

 

CHEESE SAUCE FILLING

In a medium pot, melt the butter, and then add the flour, whisking well to combine. Cook, for 1-2 minutes over medium heat, or until the mixture is bubbly and foaming slightly. Remove from the heat, and, whisking constantly, add the milk. Whisk well to combine, then return to the heat and cook for a further 4-5 minutes, whisking continuously, until the mixture has thickened. Season well with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and add the sharp cheddar, gouda, parmesan, and the cream cheese, and mix well to incorporate, continuing to stir until the cheese is melted. Add the wholegrain mustard and stir well.

Transfer to an airtight container, and press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cheese sauce. Place in the refrigerator until completely cool, 3-4 hours or ideally overnight.

ASSEMBLY

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and roll to a 18”x20” (45cmx50cm) rectangle. Spread with the cheese sauce filling, and sprinkle with the spring onions and chives. Starting with the short edge, roll up the dough into a tight spiral. Press lightly on the seam to seal.

Lightly grease a 10” cast iron skillet or springform pan. Using a sharp bread knife and a ruler, cut the log of dough into 9 2” pieces. Arrange in the skillet, leaving room between for rising.

Lightly cover the skillet with plastic wrap, and place in a warm spot for 45 minutes to an hour, until puffy. About 20 minutes before the buns are finished rising, preheat the oven to 350°f / 180°c. Brush the tops of the buns with egg wash, and sprinkle with pretzel salt.

Bake the buns for 30 to 35 minutes, until they are golden brown on top and register 200°f / 95°c internal temperature.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with additional chives. Serve warm or at room temperature - reheat briefly in the microwave before eating to help freshen up.

Cheese, Spring Onion, and Chive Brioche Buns - fluffy brioche is rolled out thin, then spread with a cheese sauce filling, sprinkled with spring onion and chives, and rolled up into a tight spiral. It is then cut up into buns, snuggled into a skillet, and baked to golden perfection. The perfect savoury bun! #cheesebuns #cheeserolls #cheeseandchive