The Comfort of Caramel

My morale has always been boosted by caramel in all its glorious forms.

I know, I know, the dieticians would have a fit. You know the drill: “food is not a crutch, you shouldn’t eat for comfort”. To which I rudely reply Nuts To That. It’s quicker, cheaper and easier than therapy, drugs or support groups, and you can keep it conveniently in the cupboard in case of emergencies! I don’t think my caramel habit is too dangerous just yet…

So anyway, it’s been a trying couple of days and I wanted a nice slab of something, well, comforting. So I made some. This therapeutic creation is Chocolate Caramel Shortbread. It’s also, but not for any reason of virtue, gluten free. But not by any stretch of the imagination dairy free, so be warned.

You’ve seen it everywhere, but probably never made it. And it’s easy. Want to try some?  If there’s anyone out there who said No, would you please leave quietly, shutting the door behind you, while the rest of us make pigs of ourselves and have lots of spoon-licking moments.

It breaks down into three ingredient groups: A, B and C

A) Shortbread
1 cup flour, whatever you have
1/2 cup almond meal
3/4 cup caster sugar
125g/4oz melted butter

B) Caramel
1/3 cup golden syrup. This is heavy dark syrup with the consistency of cold honey, not pancake syrup, which is too thin and runny.
125g/4oz melted butter
2 x 395g/14oz cans sweetened condensed milk

C) Choc topping
200g/7oz dark chocolate (eating or couverture)
2 tblsp light vegetable oil

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 8.42.03 pm

The baked shortbread

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 8.42.49 pm

Butter, condensed milk and syrup, some of my favourite food groups….

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 8.43.15 pm

Pouring the thickened caramel onto the shortbread

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 8.43.41 pm

Baked caramel with little volcanic crunchy bits

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 8.43.58 pm

No prizes for guessing where that spoon went afterwards…

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 8.44.43 pm

Another pouring shot. This time it’s chocolatey

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 8.45.07 pm

The whole wonderful taste explosion: shortbread base, thick caramel layer and velvety chocky top

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 8.45.27 pm

Well, of COURSE I licked the knife afterwards….

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF.

Grease and line a square brownie pan with baking paper. Greasing it will help you remove any spilled caramel in the pan that would otherwise set like concrete.

Mix all (A) ingredients together and press the resulting dough into the base of the brownie pan. Make sure you get right into the corners and have a level edge. Bake for 15 minutes and cool for 30 minutes.

Mix all (B) ingredients together in a heavy bottom pan over a low to moderate heat. Stir continuously for about 10-15 minutes, while the ingredients blend and thicken. Once it starts clotting and bubbling, and has thickened a bit, pour it over the shortbread base and bake for 15 minutes until golden brown and bubbled on the top. When it is no longer hot, refrigerate for at least half an hour and preferably a bit longer till the caramel is very firm.

Put the (C) ingredients in a microwaveable bowl and heat on high for 30-60 seconds till the chocolate is just melted. Blend thoroughly with a spoon till smooth and glossy. Lick the spoon (oops, did I say that out loud…?). Pour quickly over the chilled caramel layer, tilting the pan to get it into the corners. Tap the base of the pan gently on the counter to level the surface, and return to the fridge to set.

This is incredibly rich, incredibly yummy and dangerously moreish. Ensure you are forced to share it with family or dear friends who can be relied on to heroically save you from yourself by eating their fair share.

Otherwise you will end up sticky, dishevelled …and seriously sugar loaded.

Oh, and by the way:  I owe my minor obsession with pouring shots to Conor at One Man’s Meat, who is a genius in the kitchen and with a camera. Get over there and start salivating at the pictures and enjoying the prose, which is wonderful.


34 thoughts on “The Comfort of Caramel

  1. Gorgeous – I think you deserved it (and licking the spoon!) after that post I read the other day 😦

  2. Kim says:

    Wow, that is beautiful! Do you mean corn syrup? Or would another one do? I have been trying to avoid corn syrup, gmo and all that. Molasses? Looks positively divine and my mouth was watering as I read the post. 🙂

    • katechiconi says:

      Our golden syrup is cane syrup. Something of the same consistency as corn syrup, I think. Molasses might be a bit heavy in flavour, but worth a try if you can’t find anything else. Or perhaps try it with an equal volume of soft dark brown sugar, which would be my suggestion.

  3. This seems more or less the same at my millionaire’s shortbread, though the caramel is made with ordinary granulated sugar rather than golden syrup (which they’ve recently started stocking in the local supermarket, after years of bribing visitors to bring it from UK). I haven’t made it for yonks, as if it’s there I will eat it all!

  4. tialys says:

    Lordy! TWO tins of condensed milk??

    • katechiconi says:

      Yup. It gives you a thick layer of caramel. You can halve the B ingredients and have a thin layer, but then the shortbread and chocolate flavours rather take over, and it’s not nearly as squidgy! And they are quite small tins….

  5. Nanette says:

    Glad you have such a delicious looking comfort food, and right at the end of your wooden spoon. It doesn’t appeal to me at all, but as requested, I shut the door very quietly as I left you all to it. Now if it was a spicy curry……..:)

    • katechiconi says:

      Hmm, well we did have Bengali chicken curry with coconut cream and poppy seeds, all cooked together with broccoli, cauliflower, capsicum, onion and mushrooms for lunch. Perhaps I would have made it vegetarian if I’d known you were coming for lunch!

  6. Nanette says:

    mmm, now that I say yes to, without the chicken, my kind of comfort food.

  7. EllaDee says:

    I was never a fan of caramel (think Caramello Koala caramel) until I tried the stuff made with condensed milk… and I never liked condensed milk until I made caramel with it (as in Banoffee Pie). I love Golden Syrup… on its own, in dumplings or as a sticky sauce… and of course chocolate, so I think I could manage a piece of slice with a cup of good balck coffee… sadly I’ll have to settle for only the coffee!

    • katechiconi says:

      I’ve always loved caramel, but can’t stand condensed milk on its own. Golden syrup just tastes of my childhood, when we had syrup tart and cream quite often for dessert. I do think you owe it to yourself to try this recipe at some stage. It’s quite delicious, it lasts well in the fridge, and so long as you don’t make the portions too large, it won’t instantaneously block your arteries or send your blood sugar through the roof. Coffee does seen a perfect accompaniment, black or white…

  8. Lynda says:

    Killer cake! You’re a knife licker too? I have never admitted that in public. OH WAIT! :mrgreen:

    • katechiconi says:

      The cake/slice is sensational. The spoon and knife licking are virtually compulsory, but I have to time things so that the Husband of Chiconia isn’t hovering at my right shoulder ready to ‘help’. Knife licking is perfectly safe so long as you lick towards the edge. I’ve been doing it for 44 years and my tongue is undamaged!

      • Lynda says:

        Me too, but when my hubby sees me he goes bonkers and worries I’ll maim myself! I guess he doesn’t relish the idea of a wife who speaks with a forked tongue…

      • katechiconi says:

        And yet men do the most dangerous things but get annoyed when we worry about them… I think knife licking is rather tame by comparison with some activities I could name…

  9. Kirsten says:

    Nom, nom, looks delicious!

  10. Conor Bofin says:

    I would have to think of my heart before making this. Dangerous!

  11. I say ‘nuts to that’ too. I rarely bake, but there is a block of chocolate in the pantry for snacking on.

  12. rutigt says:

    I´m not gonna comment this…….drewling 🙂 🙂

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