Rich beyond your wildest dreams: delicious millionaire’s shortbread

Sometimes an unemployed journalist just needs something to help her remember that culinary experiences won’t always be confined to Basics chopped tomatoes. And that thing comes in the apparently outrageously decadent form of millionaire’s shortbread.

Is that really all that separates the mob from the aristocracy? The ability to transform two cans of condensed milk into gooey caramel? I hope so.  Suddenly ‘making it’ in the world  seems a lot more achievable and less likely to estrange you from friends and family or lead to an early stress-induced grave. Here’s what you’ll need to set yourself apart from the hoi polloi:

For a common-as-muck shortbread base:

250g plain flour

75g caster sugar

175g butter, softened

For the caramel (American Express gold card at the ready…)

100g butter or marg

100g light muscavado sugar

2 x 397g condensed milk (who knew ‘connie onnie’ was the height of sophistication…)

For the topping:

200g milk chocolate broken into pieces- predictably I went for Sainsbury’s Basics. I am not a millionaire.

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4. Grease a tin with a dab of butter.

2. Mix the flour, caster sugar and butter together in a large bowl, rubbing the butter in with your fingers until you’ve made a breadcrumb-like mixture. Or get the maid to do it to avoid getting one’s hands dirty.

3. Press the shortbread mixture into your tin so that it forms a layer of dough and prick with a fork. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown.

4. Leave to cool as you make your caramel. For this you need to gently heat the butter, sugar and condensed milk in a pan until the sugar has dissolved. Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat until it’s slightly gloopier. Now this is the tricky bit. I’ve wondered on several occasions why the sugar seems to have resurfaced and be clumping together, only to realise my mixture is burning at the bottom of the pan. I’d suggest constant and vigorous stirring. Or failing that a vigorous sieving to remove any charred sugar.

5. Pour the caramel on top of the cooled shortbread and spread it evenly.

6. Now the real waiting game begins. A word of warning: this pud should never be made for a quick sugar fix. Maybe this is why millionaire’s shortbread should be reserved for the upper classes. Plebs like me are unlikely to have the self-command or polite refinement to wait patiently while the caramel takes an hour or so to set in the fridge. Savaging the crumbly, gooey mess is a real risk.

7. If patience or time is an issue you might want to pop the tray in the freezer. But I can’t reiterate too many times how important it is to let the caramel fully cool and set. I’ve served what is essentially buttered shortbread and chocolate before which was curiously even richer than the chilled and set version. No one thanks you for billionaire’s shortbread.

8. Once the caramel has set, melt your chocolate in a glass bowl above boiling water. Careful you don’t scald yourself with the steam built-up below the bowl (or when ‘tasting’ the molten chocolate).

9. Spread the chocolate over the caramel and pop back in the fridge for 10 or 15 minutes. SOON, I promise.

10. Cut into dainty, toff-sized slices or demolish the lot like the ruffian you really are.

Who wants to be a millionaire?

‘I-scoff, dribble, slurp- do.’



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