This post could easily be made into three, but we’ll call it an early Christmas present – three for the price of one! I’ll try not to make it three times as long though :)
Shortbread + salted caramel + chocolate ganache.
Yeah, you read that right.
Let’s go over a few things. Shortbread. Shortbread is delicious. This particular recipe results in a sweet, dense, delicious cookie base for a fantastic trifecta of awesome. Too much? I think not!
Salted caramel is one of those things that has seen a boom in popularity lately. It’s a little more sophisticated than your everyday, run of the mill caramel. Let’s be honest though, caramel making at home can be quite a daunting task. It seizes easily, if not melted together correctly can be extremely grainy, and seems to be in a constant state change (solid to liquid) almost all the time once it’s finished. But fear not, there are all kinds of steps you can take to ensure a silky smooth, absolutely tasty caramel for your finished treat.
Chocolate ganache is not complicated, but you could fool many people into thinking that it is. It’s a luxurious addition to any dessert, and with a pinch of sea salt on top you really have something extraordinary on your hands. I promise I’ll be posting more about this topic soon, because you won’t use the whole batch you’ll end up making for this recipe. Sure, you could chop it in half and call it a day, but why would you want to deprive yourself of a second round of loveliness?
You can find the original recipe here at Doughmesstic, but I’ve made some modifications.
Dark Chocolate & Salted Caramel Topped Shortbread
10 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt
the zest of half an orange
1 egg yolk whisked
1 2/3 c flour
14 Tbsp butter
3/4 c light brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
3/4 c light corn syrup
2 tsp sea salt
1/4 heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
You’ll also need a candy thermometer
2/3 c heavy cream
1 1/2 c chocolate chips
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Okay, you could gather all these ingredients now, but we’re really able to work in stages here. You can start with shortbread and go from there.
Shortbread is a terrifically simple item to put together, and shouldn’t take too long. Take your melted butter and combine it with the sugar, salt, and orange zest. You don’t even need to pull out a mixer – a fork in hand will do just fine. Next, take your egg yolk (which can also be whisked with a fork before hand) and stir it into the sugar mixture. Lastly, add in the flour and either stir with a spoon or even with your clean hands. That’s it. Now it can be pressed into an 8×8 pan. I would suggest lining your pan with some parchment paper so that it can be easily removed from the pan once all the layers are finished. The caramel that will go on top is very sticky, and the parchment will make your life easier.
While the shortbread is cooling in the pan, you can begin to prepare your caramel. Now, if you’ve ever made candy before you should be aware of the cardinal rule – DO NOT WALK AWAY. You must be attentive, or risk something that will be frustrating & not rewarding. If you absolutely have to walk away, aside from needing a good reason you should also considering stopping the process altogether. One good reason might be fainting at the stove…but that’s a story for another day :)
On to the recipe. This recipe has a lot of fail safes built in so you don’t need to worry about seizing or grainy caramel. Put your caramel making fears aside and hop to it! Place all your caramel ingredients except the vanilla in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium to high heat. Go for the medium to large pan – you’ll see why in a bit. As all of this is melting together you can stir it, but once it starts to boil I would back off a bit.
Check your candy thermometer regularly, and wait for it to reach 230°F. At this point you can begin stirring it again. Actually, you should be continually stirring it until it reaches 240°F – or soft ball stage.
Once you’ve reached soft ball stage take your caramel from the heat and stir in the vanilla. It may foam up a bit when you do this, but just keep stirring until you get that smooth, shiny caramel you’ve worked so hard for.
Now let this cool for a few minutes before pouring it directly over the shortbread. You’ll want this to set up a bit before adding the ganache, so stick it in the fridge and enjoy some downtime.
When your caramel has reached a more solidified state you can begin your ganache. Remember when I said this was easy? Easy might not even be the correct word. Is there a word that means more easy than easy? Let’s say it’s schmeasy. Measure out your cream and vanilla into a glass measuring cup. Place this into the microwave and heat at intervals of 30 seconds on high until everything is very hot. Mine took about a minute and a half. Once it’s heated up pour your chocolate chips directly into the measuring cup with the cream & vanilla. Let these three sit for a while to make the chips start to melt. You can then stir these together (gently – we don’t need a splashy mess) until the chocolate is completely smooth. If you find that you still have a few small lumps, put the whole thing back into the microwave for another 3o seconds to melt it down even further. Viola – ganache! Schmeasy.
Now for this recipe you really only need half of what you made. Just go ahead and pour it directly over the caramel layer, and follow up with a sprinkling of sea salt. This can all go back in the fridge (or freezer) to set completely. I also put the remaining ganache in the fridge because when I need it next it will need to be solid – but again, another post :)
I let this all set up in the freezer for about an hour before taking it out and removing the parchment (I was in a hurry). Let’s be completely transparent – this is going to be a messy dessert. The thing about caramel & ganache is they don’t really like to stay solid. You added the cream to the chocolate because you wanted it smooth and spreadable. This caramel recipe doesn’t stay solid for long once it’s at room temperature – remember you only cooked it to soft ball stage. The solution here would be to cook it longer, or try another recipe, but this one is so delicious! By setting everything in the freezer you at least have a window to cut it all up, so grab a big, sharp knife & work quickly!
These are delicious but you really do need to keep them cool if you want them to keep this lovely shape. Of course you could just eat them all right away, but you’d probably have a pretty significant tummy ache when you were done. I would even suggest freezing these pieces, and only taking out what you plan on eating right before serving. Yes, it makes you gnaw on them a little but otherwise you end up with this at room temperature for a prolonged period of time.
Haha! Oops. Still tasty, but learn the lesson I didn’t have time to: people will gladly eat your disaster, but you may not be as comfortable presenting it. I would suggest having this at home, and not taking it to a party – which really isn’t all that much of a loss if you ask me. I’d gladly keep my freezer well stocked with this layered (intact) treat!