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

Salted Caramel and Milk Chocolate Ganache filled Brioche Doughnuts


 
Salted Caramel and Milk Chocolate Ganache filled Brioche Doughnuts - Fluffy brioche doughnuts are rolled in sugar, then filled with a silky salted caramel and milk chocolate ganache. These are the ultimate treat - the rich chocolate ganache is a total game changer. #doughnuts #briochedoughnuts
Salted Caramel and Milk Chocolate Ganache filled Brioche Doughnuts - Fluffy brioche doughnuts are rolled in sugar, then filled with a silky salted caramel and milk chocolate ganache. These are the ultimate treat - the rich chocolate ganache is a total game changer. #doughnuts #briochedoughnuts
Salted Caramel and Milk Chocolate Ganache filled Brioche Doughnuts - Fluffy brioche doughnuts are rolled in sugar, then filled with a silky salted caramel and milk chocolate ganache. These are the ultimate treat - the rich chocolate ganache is a total game changer. #doughnuts #briochedoughnuts
Salted Caramel and Milk Chocolate Ganache filled Brioche Doughnuts - Fluffy brioche doughnuts are rolled in sugar, then filled with a silky salted caramel and milk chocolate ganache. These are the ultimate treat - the rich chocolate ganache is a total game changer. #doughnuts #briochedoughnuts
Salted Caramel and Milk Chocolate Ganache filled Brioche Doughnuts - Fluffy brioche doughnuts are rolled in sugar, then filled with a silky salted caramel and milk chocolate ganache. These are the ultimate treat - the rich chocolate ganache is a total game changer. #doughnuts #briochedoughnuts
Salted Caramel and Milk Chocolate Ganache filled Brioche Doughnuts - Fluffy brioche doughnuts are rolled in sugar, then filled with a silky salted caramel and milk chocolate ganache. These are the ultimate treat - the rich chocolate ganache is a total game changer. #doughnuts #briochedoughnuts
Salted Caramel and Milk Chocolate Ganache filled Brioche Doughnuts - Fluffy brioche doughnuts are rolled in sugar, then filled with a silky salted caramel and milk chocolate ganache. These are the ultimate treat - the rich chocolate ganache is a total game changer. #doughnuts #briochedoughnuts
Salted Caramel and Milk Chocolate Ganache filled Brioche Doughnuts - Fluffy brioche doughnuts are rolled in sugar, then filled with a silky salted caramel and milk chocolate ganache. These are the ultimate treat - the rich chocolate ganache is a total game changer. #doughnuts #briochedoughnuts

Oye. It’s been a rough few days. My heart hurts for New Zealand - I am heartbroken that such a thing happened in my country, which has always seemed like such a safe haven. It’s reminded me just how important unity and acceptance is, and that we must always stand in each other’s corner. Everyone is welcome here.

Something else I was reminded about though, seeing the country rally behind a community, was how instrumental food is in bringing people together. Whenever things get a bit rough or a bit stressful, either for us or for someone I love, I always find myself turning back to food. It provides a bridge - a common ground everyone can relate to, and is a way of sharing. It can speak the words that may be too difficult to say. It really is my way of expressing love, and I know that rings true for a lot of people. There are few better ways to show you’re there for someone than through providing food.

This recipe is particularly relevant today, because Doughnuts are something that I often make to bring to others if I know they are having a hard time or are in need of some support. I took my all time favourite brioche recipe, which seems to sneak its way into so many things I make, spiked it with some vanilla bean, and shaped it into balls, which I then fried up into fluffy, crunchy, sugary brioche doughnuts. You really can’t get any better than a fresh doughnut.

I then filled them with a new to me filling - a salted caramel milk chocolate ganache. The process behind this is super clever - you make a caramel, and then pour it over chocolate and emulsify it in, the same way you would with the ganache. The result is silky and fudgy, with a creaminess from the milk chocolate and a sweetness from the caramel. It makes the perfect doughnut filling - I will definitely be using it in a bunch more things to come.

In the past I have always used a vegetable oil or canola oil to fry with, but recently I have started using Filippo Berio’s Extra Light Olive Oil. Not only is it a more healthy option, but it is great quality and has a high smoke point (410°f - 446°f), which makes it perfect for frying. It is super light in taste, so there is no need to worry about the flavour of the oil transferring to your baked goods. It is definitely my go to from now on - I really recommend giving frying in olive oil a try and see how it goes!

A few wee tips:

  • The Ganache (which is possibly my new favourite thing) needs to cool overnight in order to firm up. It can be made ahead if desired. If you have any leftover, it makes incredible salted caramel hot chocolates when you mix it with warm milk.

  • You ideally need a stick blender / emulsion blender for the ganache. It helps to emulsify the caramel, giving you a super silky finish. A stick blender is a great investment - I use mine loads for making curds and creams, and also a whole bunch for making salad dressing (It makes super quick aioli!).

  • I made the brioche dough the night before, and did the first rise overnight in the fridge, which makes the process feel a little less involved.

  • Make sure that you give the doughnuts adequate time to cool before filling, otherwise the ganache will melt.

  • It seems like a lot of oil used, but I wait for the oil to cool once I am finished frying, then just return to the bottle and use again another time. You can use it a bunch of times before you need to dispose of it! You need it to be deep enough that the doughnuts don’t touch the bottom.

  • A thermometer is super important when you are deep frying - too hot and the doughnuts won’t cook inside, and too cold and they will soak up oil and be too greasy. Make sure to test the oil between batches to make sure that it hasn’t changed too much. Frying in cast iron helps this a lot.

 

 

Salted Caramel and Milk Chocolate Ganache filled Brioche Doughnuts

- Makes about 12 -

Salted Caramel and Milk Chocolate Ganache
270g milk chocolate, chopped
540g heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
3/4 tsp salt
35g water
240g sugar
30g light corn syrup or glucose
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature

Brioche Dough
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
250g (1 cup) whole milk, lukewarm
4 Tbsp (50g) sugar
565g (3 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
90g (6 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature

For Frying
Filippo Berio Extra Light Olive Oil
150g sugar, for rolling doughnuts


 

- PROCESS -

SALTED CARAMEL MILK CHOCOLATE GANACHE

Place the chopped chocolate in a medium heat proof bowl.

In a small, heavy bottomed saucepan, place the cream, vanilla bean paste and salt, and place over low heat. You just want to warm it - not let it boil.

In a medium heavy bottomed pan, combine the water, sugar, and corn syrup. Place over medium heat. Cook, stirring or swirling the pan occasionally, until the mixture is a deep amber colour. Remove from the heat and adda third of the warmed cream mixture. Be careful as it will steam and sputter. Whisk well to combine. Add the second third, combine, then add the remaining cream, and whisk until well incorporated.

Pour a third of the the caramel cream mixture over the chopped chocolate, then cover the bowl with a lid or plate and leave to stand for 2 minutes. Mix with a stick blender to emulsify the mixture. Add the remaining caramel mixture in two additions, mixing well with the stick blender to ensure even incorporation.

Cool the mixture to 95°f / 35°c (you can either leave it at room temperature, stirring occasionally, which will take some time, or you can pop it into the fridge, stirring and checking the temperature often), then add in the butter and mix with the stick blender to emulsify. Transfer to an airtight container and leave to set overnight in the fridge.

BRIOCHE DOUGH

In a small bowl, combine the yeast, milk and 2 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 2 Tbsp sugar. Mix briefly to combine. Add the eggs, vanilla, 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.

Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface. Weigh the dough, and divide into 12 equal weight portions. Roll each portion into a tight ball. Place the rolled doughnuts on a baking tray sheet with parchment paper, leaving adequate space between (you may need two baking sheets).

Leave the doughnuts to proof for a further 20 minutes. When you poke them lightly with your finger, it should leave a small indentation that springs back.

While the doughnuts are proofing, heat Filippo Berio Extra Light Olive Oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot (cast iron works great). Heat the oil to 350°f / 180°c. Place a wire rack over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the sugar in a shallow bowl.

Once the oil has come to temperature, test it with a few scraps of dough. Gently lower the doughnuts, two at a time, into the hot oil. Cook , flipping every 30 seconds, for 3-4 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oil using a slotted spoon and place on a cooling rack. Allow to cool for 30 seconds before tossing in the sugar. Repeat the process with the rest of the doughnuts. Once the doughnuts are totally cool, poke a hole in them using a chopstick, and widen the hole using your finger.

FILLING

Transfer the chocolate ganache to a piping bag filled with a round piping tip. Fill each doughnut with the ganache - you will feel it become heavy in your hand, and will begin to come out the top a little. Pipe a small blob of ganache on the doughnut where the filling pokes out.

Doughnuts are best served on the day that they are made.

Salted Caramel and Milk Chocolate Ganache filled Brioche Doughnuts - Fluffy brioche doughnuts are rolled in sugar, then filled with a silky salted caramel and milk chocolate ganache. These are the ultimate treat - the rich chocolate ganache is a total game changer. #doughnuts #briochedoughnuts

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

Mixed Nut and Dulce de Leche Brioche Knot


 
Brioche dough is spiked with vanilla bean and muscovado sugar, and spread with dulce de leche and sprinkled with mixed nuts. The finished knot is dusted with powdered sugar - the perfect christmas treat to feed a crowd.
Brioche dough is spiked with vanilla bean and muscovado sugar, and spread with dulce de leche and sprinkled with mixed nuts. The finished knot is dusted with powdered sugar - the perfect christmas treat to feed a crowd.
Brioche dough is spiked with vanilla bean and muscovado sugar, and spread with dulce de leche and sprinkled with mixed nuts. The finished knot is dusted with powdered sugar - the perfect christmas treat to feed a crowd.
Brioche dough is spiked with vanilla bean and muscovado sugar, and spread with dulce de leche and sprinkled with mixed nuts. The finished knot is dusted with powdered sugar - the perfect christmas treat to feed a crowd.
Brioche dough is spiked with vanilla bean and muscovado sugar, and spread with dulce de leche and sprinkled with mixed nuts. The finished knot is dusted with powdered sugar - the perfect christmas treat to feed a crowd.

I do not, in any way, shape, or form, have my shit together for Christmas. We don’t have a single decoration up (and tbh we probably won’t), and I still feel like I have a zillion things to make recipe wise (probably won’t do that either), but I have a few things lined up for you between now and Christmas - starting with this mixed nut and dulce de leche brioche knot. I took my standard brioche dough, spiked it with some vanilla bean and muscovado sugar, and spread it with dulce de leche and sprinkled with mixed nuts. I then rolled it up into a log, cut it lengthwise babka style, then twisted it into a swirly knot. The creamy caramel and crunchy nuts are perfect alongside the fluffy dough - this will give you a little Christmas in your life, even if you have zero of your shit together like me.

I love brioche because it is super versatile and this is no exception - you can make this all in one day, or you can make the dough the evening before and do the first rise in the fridge, in which case you can skip the step of chilling the dough when it is rolled up, as it should already be cold enough to work with.

A few wee tips:

  • I made my own Dulce de Leche by boiling a can of condensed milk. To make this, peel the wrapper off a can of condensed milk, and place it on its side in a large pot. Cover with water by at least 2 inches. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer the can for 3 hours, checking often to make sure the water is well above the level of the can, and topping up when necessary. Remove from the pot with tongs and allow to cool completely, then chill overnight. You can use store bought too if that is easier for you.

  • This is easier to braid than you think! All you do is cross one end over the other, and then tuck the ends under. You look super fancy, but it's super easy. 

  • Depending on the weather the dough may need a teeny bit more liquid - add this a teaspoon at a time in the first kneading stage if it is having a hard time forming a soft dough.

  • If you can, don’t skip the toasting of the nuts - they really give them a great depth of flavour.

 

 

Mixed Nut and Dulce de Leche Brioche Knot

- Makes one brioche knot - serves about 8 -

Bread Dough
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
200g (3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp) whole milk, lukewarm
4 Tbsp (50g) muscovado sugar, or dark brown sugar
565g (3 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
115g (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Filling
65g Pecan halves
65g Hazelnuts
65g Walnut halves
150g (1/2 cup)dulce de leche (see notes)
2 tsp flaky sea salt

Egg wash - 1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water
Flaky Sea salt to finish (optional)

 

- PROCESS -

BREAD DOUGH

In a small bowl, combine the yeast, milk and 2 Tbsp of the muscovado 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 2 Tbsp sugar. Mix briefly to combine. Add the eggs, vanilla, 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. 

 

FILLING AND ASSEMBLY

Preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c. Place the Pecans, Hazelnuts and Walnut halves on a sheet pan, and roast for 10 minutes, shaking the tray often. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, then, if necessary, rub together the hazelnuts and discard the skin. Chop the nuts roughly and set aside.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out into a 16" x 24" (40 x 60cm) rectangle. Using an offset spatula, spread the surface of the dough with the Dulce de Leche, and then sprinkle with the chopped nuts and flaky sea salt.

Starting from the long side of the dough, roll up the dough into a tight spiral. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, curving the sausage a little if needed. Cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for an hour.

 Line a 9" cake tin, springform pan or skillet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, straighten out the chilled sausage of dough. Using a sharp knife, cut the sausage of dough in half lengthwise, leaving a small section approximately 1 1/2 inches long intact at one end. Turn the halves carefully so the filling is exposed. Cross the dough halves over each other, then repeat the process until you have a long, twisted piece of dough. 

Cross one end of the twist over the other, and tuck the ends under, forming a knot. Gently shape into a round if needed (I found it easiest to practice with a rolled up tea towel at first). Transfer to your prepared baking sheet. Cover lightly with plastic wrap, and leave in a warm place to rise for 1 - 1 1/2 hours, or until puffy. While the bread is rising, preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c. 

Brush the knot with egg wash, and sprinkle with additional flaky sea salt. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until golden brown and baked throughout, and registering 200˚f / 95˚c. Tent with foil in the last 10 minutes if necessary. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.  Reheat leftovers in microwave before eating.

Brioche dough is spiked with vanilla bean and muscovado sugar, and spread with dulce de leche and sprinkled with mixed nuts. The finished knot is dusted with powdered sugar - the perfect christmas treat to feed a crowd.