125g soft butter (Beurre d’Isigny works lovely – you can get it from Sainsbury’s)
50g caster sugar
160g plain flour
300g milk chocolate
50g dark chocolate for drizzling (optional)
For the Caramel:
50g golden syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
200g condensed milk (not evaporated! It needs it to be sweetened)
Good pinch of sea salt flakes
Preheat oven to about 180C/160C (fan)/Gas 4 and line a shallow(ish) 20cm square cake tin with greaseproof paper.
- Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until it becomes light and fluffy – it helps a huge amount if you leave the butter out overnight when you’re trying to do this. Ever tried to beat solid, cold butter into sugar? It seriously sucks.
- Beat in the flour into the mix until it forms a smooth dough. It helps at this stage to mention that although this is shortbread, you don’t have to be quite so delicate with it – not overworking the dough normally keeps your texture beautifully crumbly, but seeing as this isn’t the effect you’re going for, it doesn’t matter a great deal.
- Press the dough into the tin (making sure it’s nice and flat) and bake for 20-25 minutes until it’s just going a lovely golden colour. Try not to under cook it, you want it to have at least a little bit of crispness to it.
- While that’s cooking you can start assembling the things for the caramel. Put all of the caramel ingredients in a small saucepan and set aside for a moment. You want to start cooking the caramel when the shortbread has come out of the oven, simply because it really doesn’t take very long to make and once it’s done, you have to pour it right away.
- When the shortbread’s out and cooling, put the sauce pan on a low heat, just to get everything to melt together nicely.
- Once it’s all dissolved and uniform, turn the heat up to medium and stir it like hell. Do not stop stirring. If your house gets invaded by rapid owls, do not stop stirring it. It is a fudgey, caramelly concoction, it has sugar in it, and it will catch and burn.
- Stir it constantly until you have a thickened mixture, almost like the texture of runny fudge. It’s strange to put it like this, but you’ll know when it’s done. Common sense plays a big factor here. But depending on your hob, it should take about 6 minutes or so to get to the thickness you need.
- Pour it onto the shortbread, and leave it to cool for an hour or two.
- Once it’s nice and cold, pop a piece of greasproof paper on top, turn it out, then turn it the right way up again, caramel on top (…dirty minds, don’t pretend you didn’t think of it!).
- Get a big-ass knife (non-serrated!), a big dish hot water and a tea towel.
- Dip the knife in the water and cut into fingers. It’s good to clean the knife off and re-dip between cuts, just to keep everything looking neat and lovely.
- Melt the milk chocolate, dip the fingers in it, and drizzle with melted dark chocolate after that.