Amanda informed me last week that I really needed to write another post about my wedding (see photo below) – and more specifically, the food. When I explained that I haven’t yet had the chance to wrangle any recipes from our fantastic caterer, Amanda reminded me of our favors: local, handmade caramels dipped in dark chocolate and sprinkled with Maine sea salt from a great chocolate maker called Black Dinah. Why not write about something inspired by those, she wisely suggested?
The answer, to me, was clear: Millionnaire’s Shortbread. Even if you don’t know it by its official name (popular wisdom holds that it originated in Scotland and is called Millionnaire’s Shortbread because it is so rich), chances are you’ve had it: a base of buttery shortbread, topped with a blanket of smooth caramel and then a top layer of chocolate.
Now, doesn’t that sound like it could be even better with a sprinkling of sea salt? That’s what I thought, too. Grabbing my basic shortbread recipe from this post, and borrowing Claudia Fleming’s amazing caramel recipe from her Chocolate Caramel Tarts, I came up with what I think is a pretty darn good version of this classic sweet. Let me know what you think!
For the shortbread:
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 5 tablespoons sugar
- 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1. Put a rack in the center of the oven and heat it to 350 degrees. Sift the flour and salt into a medium bowl and whisk in the sugar.
2. Cut the butter into chunks and add it to the flour, stirring with a fork to make a soft dough. Gently pat the dough into a 9-inch square baking pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until it is golden and no longer looks at all wet. Set aside to cool while you make the caramel.
For the caramel:
- 1¼ cups sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 5 tablespoons heavy cream
- 5 tablespoons salted butter, cubed
- 1 tablespoon crème fraiche
1. Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, swirling occasionally until the sugar has melted but without stirring. Simmer for about 10 minutes, swirling the pot every once and a while, until the sugar turns a dark amber color. Do not let it get too dark, or it will taste burnt.
2. As soon as the sugar reaches the right color, remove it from the heat and carefully add the cream, whisking all the time (the mixture will bubble up as you do this, so use an oven mitt or a long-handled whisk). Whisk in the butter gradually and then the crème fraiche. Set aside to cool for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. When the caramel is cool enough to touch, pour it evenly over the shortbread, tipping the pan gently and tapping it on the counter to get rid of any bubbles. Put in the fridge to firm up a little.
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
- Maldon, grey or smoked sea salt
When the caramel has firmed up a bit, bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Off the heat, immediately whisk in the chocolate until smooth and shiny. Let the mixture cool for about 5 minutes, and then pour over the caramel, again tilting the pan and tapping it against the counter to smooth it out. Let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes, until the chocolate starts to firm up a little. Sprinkle the top with salt and refrigerate until firm enough to cut into squares, at least 3 hours. Serve quickly, as the caramel will start to ooze quickly at room temperature (as you can see, mine got a little gooey before we took the photo).
Photo by Betsy Coakley