Serves: Makes about 30
I think we all need a treat during these testing times so I suggest spending an afternoon making these beauties. Baking is, after all, one of the few activities we can do, provided you can get hold of flour. An umami hit of miso flavours the caramel layer in these bars which, to all intents and purposes are millionaire’s shortbread. I don’t know why it has taken me so long to try adding a little miso paste to the caramel as I can rarely resist stirring a tablespoon or two into most things-sweet or savoury. I have used an unpasteurised soy miso paste but you can use white miso (Miso Tasty is my favourite and is widely available). All I can say is that it takes the cloying sweetness away from the caramel and adds a layer of unexpected (but definitely not unwelcome) flavour to these perennial favourites.
- For the shortbread
- 250g unsalted butter softened at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
- 155g golden caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 250g plain flour
- 125g semolina
- For the miso caramel layer
- 175g unsalted butter
- 1 x 397g tin condensed milk
- 175g caster sugar
- 60ml golden syrup
- 2 tablespoons miso paste (see intro)
- For the topping
- 150g plain chocolate
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 130g white chocolate, chopped into small pieces
- For the shortbread, grease with a little butter and base-line a 30 x 20cm tin with non -stick parchment. Put the softened butter into a food processor with the sugar and blend until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, flour and semolina and pulse until everything is thoroughly mixed. The mixture should look like crumble topping. Tip the contents of the bowl into the prepared tin and spread out to the edges, pressing the dough into the tin with you fingers, in an even layer. Prick with a fork and chill the dough for about 2 hours.
- Heat the oven to fan 150˚c, mark 2. Bake the shortbread for about 45 minutes until evenly golden brown. Leave to cool completely.
- For the miso caramel layer, place all the ingredients for the caramel in a large, heavy-based saucepan and stir over a low heat until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved. Turn the heat up slightly and continue to stir while the caramel bubbles away for about 7-9 minutes until it becomes thick and deep tan brown. If you want to check the caramel will set you can drop a teaspoon of the mixture into a bowl of cold water. It should set to a soft toffee consistency within a minute. When the caramel is ready pour it over the shortbread layer and leave to cool completely.
- For the chocolate layer, put the plain chocolate and oil in a heatproof bowl and melt in short bursts in a microwave or melt by placing the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Set aside to cool slightly. Put the white chocolate in a separate bowl and melt in the same way. Set aside.
- Spread the plain chocolate over the caramel in an even layer. Place spoonfuls of the white chocolate, fairly evenly spaced, over the plain chocolate. Drag the point of a skewer or knife across the surface from side to side, to feather the chocolate. Chill until the chocolate has set hard. Cut into even bars or squares.