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

Miso Caramel Apple Pie


 
Miso Caramel Apple Pie - Flaky pastry, fresh apples, and a sweet/savoury miso caramel
Miso Caramel Apple Pie - Flaky pastry, fresh apples, and a sweet/savoury miso caramel
Miso Caramel Apple Pie - Flaky pastry, fresh apples, and a sweet/savoury miso caramel
Miso Caramel Apple Pie - Flaky pastry, fresh apples, and a sweet/savoury miso caramel
Miso Caramel Apple Pie - Flaky pastry, fresh apples, and a sweet/savoury miso caramel
Miso Caramel Apple Pie - Flaky pastry, fresh apples, and a sweet/savoury miso caramel
Miso Caramel Apple Pie - Flaky pastry, fresh apples, and a sweet/savoury miso caramel
Miso Caramel Apple Pie - Flaky pastry, fresh apples, and a sweet/savoury miso caramel
Miso Caramel Apple Pie - Flaky pastry, fresh apples, and a sweet/savoury miso caramel

It doesn't feel at all like autumn, even though there are already apples and pears at the green market. The days are still hot and humid, and it's all too tempting to flick on the air conditioning and pretend that it isn't boiling outside. I am right in the middle of a bunch of travel (we leave for the Saveur awards TODAY and I am v nervous but also v excited! You can follow along on stories!), so hopefully once we make it back it will be well and truly warm clothes weather.

I head to San Fran the day after getting back from the blog awards, and then we are going to PARIS!! I am in the middle of an epic planning list, and spend my free time reading up on other bloggers who have been there, just to plan out the list of the eats. I can't wait! We used to travel heaps when I was little, but it was mainly to Canada. Europe is crazy far from New Zealand, so we are going to hopefully make the most of living on this side of the world and visit as many places as we can while we live here!

I'm just going to pretend that it's sweater weather though, because there is pie to be made! I riffed on the traditional salted caramel apple pie, by adding a little miso to the caramel. The first time I made it was when Jill and I made Claudia's miso butterscotch sauce to add to something that we were making. I was super on the fence about adding miso to caramel, but we found ourselves standing over the stove, eating it by the spoonful. The miso adds an amazing umami flavour to the caramel, which cuts through the sweetness perfectly. It goes amazingly with the apples - this is probably one of my favourite pies to date. 

A few wee notes:

  • Both the pie dough and the caramel can be prepared the day before you make the pie - the dough is best if you can give it an overnight rest.

  • Have everything all ready to go when you make the caramel, because things move quickly.

  • I added a braided border to the pie, and covered up the little joins by using stamp cut-outs, which are my fave way to fancy up a pie with very little effort.

 

 

Miso Caramel Apple Pie

- Makes one 9 inch pie - 
 

Pie crust recipe from four and twenty blackbirds

Pie dough
2 1/2 cups (310g) Flour
Pinch of Salt
2 tsp (8g) sugar
2 sticks (226g) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 cup (240ml) cold water
1 cup ice
1/4 cup (60ml) Apple cider vinegar

Miso Caramel
1 ½ cups (300g) Sugar
9 Tbsp (135g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup (180ml) heavy cream
3 Tbsp white Miso
1 tsp flaky sea salt

Filling
1.2kg (2.6lbs) apples, peeled and finely sliced
Juice of 2 lemons
¼ (38g) cup flour
½ cup (50g) raw sugar

Egg wash - 1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water

- 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 discs, one slightly larger than the other, and wrap in plastic wrap. Rest in the fridge for at least two hours, or preferably overnight. 

MISO CARAMEL

Place the sugar in a medium sized heavy bottom saucepan. Place the cream and the miso in a small pan, and whisk together well. Heat until warmed, then keep on a very low heat until needed. Heat the sugar on medium, stirring constantly. The sugar will start to form clumps, then begin to melt. Cook until is it amber in colour, then remove from the heat and immediately add all of the butter. Be careful as the caramel will bubble rapidly. Once the butter is incorporated, add the cream and stir well. Stir in the salt, and pour into a glass jar. Allow to cool completely.

PIE ASSEMBLY AND FILLING

On a lightly floured surface, roll the smaller disc into a circle slightly larger than your pie dish. You want it to be approximately 1/8 inch (3mm) in thickness. Line a 9" pie dish, leaving the extra dough overhanging. Trim the dough so there is about 1 inch overlapping the edge of your dish. Place in the fridge while you prepare the filling and lattice.

Roll out the second, larger disc of dough into a rough rectangle approximately 1/8 inch thick. Use a pastry cutter to cut strips approximately 3/4 inch wide - these will be used for your lattice. Roll out scraps into a long segment, and cut thin strips using a pastry cutter. Braid the strips into 3 strand braids, to use for the border of the pie. Store the strips and braids on a baking sheet in the fridge until ready to use.

In a large bowl, toss together the apple and lemon juice. Leave to sit for 5 minutes, then drain any excess liquid. Add the flour and the sugar, and toss well to combine. Transfer the filling to the lined pie dish, packing the slices of apple in tightly, and mounding in the middle. Pour over most of the miso caramel, reserving about 1/4 cup for serving.

Arrange the strips of pie dough on the top of the pie, weaving a simple lattice. The Lattice that I did on this pie is the same concept, but you place the first line of strips horizontally, then weave in the other line of strips at a 45˚ angle. (Instead of perpendicular like a regular lattice). Trim any overlapping pie dough and lattice strips so that they are flush with the edge of the pie dish. If you are adding a braid border, brush a little egg wash then place on the braid. I used a couple of cut out pie stamp shapes to cover the joins.

Rest the pie in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. While the pie is resting in the fridge, preheat the oven to 425˚f/ 220˚c. Place a baking tray on the bottom rack of the oven. 

Brush the pie with egg wash, and sprinkle liberally with raw sugar. Bake at 425˚f / 220˚c for 20 minutes, or until the pastry is set and beginning to go golden. Reduce the temperature 375˚f / 190˚c, and bake until the pastry is deeply golden and the filling is bubbling. 

Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature, with the extra miso caramel.

Miso Caramel Apple Pie - Flaky pastry, fresh apples, and a sweet/savoury miso caramel

Chai caramel pear pie


 

Pie weather! While I'm kinda bummed that lovely berries and peaches are gone from the green market, I get a little more excited every year about all the amazing apples, teeny pumpkins, pears, and hot apple cider. (Fun fact - I avoided hot apple cider because in NZ Cider to us is the alcoholic sort and I couldn't think of anything worse, thankfully my view has changed drastically)

I do however find it kind of ironic that amazing pie ingredients are available at the hottest time of the year, when pie dough is a picky beast that refuses to co-operate unless chilled. I am definitely not missing the constant rotation between bench and fridge in an effort to keep everything cold and co-operative! 

This is a recipe for a simple pear pie with a chai salted caramel. I had a coffee a few weeks ago with the lovely Amy who has a company called Dona Chai (Turns out we live on the same street!) And she gave me a bottle of her concentrate. I had been meaning to make a chai caramel pie for a while, so it was great timing! After several caramel experiments I found a method that was a balance between a good caramel consistency and a nice chai flavour (the first one was solid enough to make truffles with), through deglazing the sugar with the concentrate mixed with a little cream. If you don't have chai concentrate you can most definitely infuse the cream (replace the concentrate with cream, so use half a cup) with either loose chai or a few chai tea bags - just bring the milk to just below a simmer, add the chai, and steep for 20 minutes before straining well. 

Feel free to sub your favourite all-butter crust in here. (I am a die hard Four and Twenty Blackbirds fan) I topped mine with a lattice and then some shapes stamped out with pastry stampers, but you can really go wild here, or keep it simple with a plain pastry top. It is important to make sure that the pears are packed very tightly in the bottom of the pie to ensure that the caramel does not make the bottom soggy - I managed to seal mine off nicely and it popped right out of the dish all in one piece, which was sort of like Christmas! 

 

 

Chai Caramel Pear Pie
- Makes one 9 inch Pie - 

Pie dough from Four and twenty blackbirds

Pie dough
2 1/2 cups (310g) Flour
Pinch of Salt
2 tsp (8g) sugar
2 sticks (226g) cold butter, cut into cubes
1 cup (240ml) cold water
1 cup ice
1/4 cup (60ml) Apple cider vinegar

Chai Caramel
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp Chai concentrate
2 Tbsp cream (Or if not using chai concentrate, 1/2 cup cream)
1 cup (225g) sugar
6 Tbsp (90g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Pear Filling
1 recipe Chai Caramel
2 lemons
1 kg (2 pounds) pears
1/3 cup (75g) Plus two tablespoons sugar
2 Tbsp (30g) flour
1/2 tsp flaky sea salt, plus more for finishing

Egg wash
1 egg
1 Tbsp water
pinch of salt
Demerara/raw sugar for sprinkling
 

- 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. With a pastry blender, working quickly, 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 12 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. 

On a lightly floured surface, roll one rectangle of dough into a circle slightly larger than your pie dish. You want it to be approximately 1/8 inch (3mm) in thickness. Line the pie dish, leaving the extra dough overhanging. Roll out the second rectangle of dough, and cut enough strips to form a lattice for the top. Place on a lined baking tray. If desired, use pastry stamps to cut out shapes from excess pastry. Refrigerate both the lined dish and the lattice and shapes until ready to fill.

CHAI CARAMEL

Place sugar in a medium sauce pan. Measure Chai concentrate and cream into a second saucepan, and heat over very low heat until it is just below a simmer. Over medium to high heat, heat the sugar until melted, stirring occasionally. Cook until it reaches an amber colour, or 175c/350f on a sugar thermometer. Remove from the heat and carefully whisk in the cream and chai mixture - be careful as it may bubble. Whisk well until incorporated, then add the butter a chunk at a time, whisking well between each addition until all incorporated. Leave to cool while you prepare the pie filling. 

FILLING

Juice the lemons and place the juice into a large mixing bowl. Peel, core and slice the pears into thin slices. Dip them in the lemon juice and place into another mixing bowl. Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp sugar. Leave for 20 to 30 minutes to release some juice. 

Transfer pear slices to another bowl, discarding the juice. Sprinkle with the flour and remaining sugar. Toss until well incorporated.

ASSEMBLY AND BAKING

Preheat the oven to 400f/200c, placing a baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven. Remove prepared crust and lattice strips from the fridge. Layer the pear tightly in the pie crust, mounding slightly in the middle. Pour the cooled caramel evenly over the top of the pie, reserving about a 1/4 cup. 

Arrange the strips in a lattice on top of the pie, decorating as desired. Trim dough to within 1 inch from the side of the dish, fold over and crimp. Alternatively, trim edges close to the side of the dish, and arrange stamped shapes around the outside perimeter of the pie, using a little water or milk to help stick them down if necessary. 

Chill the pie in the oven for 15-20 minutes to set the crust. Whisk the egg, water and salt together and carefully brush over the pastry, being careful not to drag any caramel onto the pastry as it will burn. Sprinkle liberally with demerara sugar and finish with a small sprinkle of flaky sea salt.

Place on the baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes until beginning to brown. Reduce the oven temperature to 375f/190c, and move the tray to the middle oven rack. Bake until deeply golden and the filling is bubbling, approximately 30 to 35 minutes. 

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Serve with ice cream and remaining caramel sauce.