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Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Millionaire’s Shortbread

Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Millionaire's Shortbread

Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Millionaire’s Shortbread, a pimped up version of a classic.

My friend Tora and I have been making salted caramel millionaire’s shortbread for years – both of us are obsessed with salted caramel. But then I thought, there’s not many things in life that aren’t improved by a little peanut butter. So I did this. And it was good.

You can easily omit the salt from the caramel if you want as the peanut butter will most likely be a bit salty anyway. But if you are using it, always add your salt last and in tiny amounts, tasting as you go. You can always add more, but you can’t take it away if you add too much!

This is pretty rich, so I definitely suggest cutting it into small portions.

Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Millionaire’s Shortbread

For the peanut butter shortbread:

  • 150g unsalted butter, softened
  • 30g smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 225g plain flour

Heat the oven to 180C and grease and line a tin (approximately 25x20cm) with greaseproof paper. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, peanut butter, vanilla and sugar. You can use an electric whisk for this but if your butter is nice and soft then it won’t take much work with a wooden spoon. Once well mixed, add the flour and rub it in with your finger tips until it’s the consistency of bread crumbs. Tip the mixture into your lined tin and squash and press it down and into the edges of the pan until you have an even layer – use your knuckles or the bag of a large spoon. Prick it all over with a fork and put it in the oven. Bake at 180C for 5 minutes, then turn down to 150C and bake for a further 30-35 minutes until evenly golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool a little before you’re ready to apply the caramel.

For the peanut butter salted caramel:

  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 397g condensed milk (that’s the standard size in the UK. It wont matter if it’s a few grams more or less)
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  • 2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • up to 1 tsp sea salt

You can make the caramel whilst the shortbread is in the oven. In a medium sized heavy bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat. Once the butter is melted add the condensed milk and golden syrup and continue to heat, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon. Seriously, don’t be tempted to leave this and do something else – the high sugar content means that it can easily catch and burn – I’ve made that mistake in the past and it’s frustrating and a waste when you have to chuck a batch of burnt caramel away, not to mention the mess it makes of the pan. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, hot enough to boil but not vigorously, and be careful as you don’t want to get splashed with it as it’s super hot. The caramel is ready when it’s, well, caramel coloured. Remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter. Before adding any salt, taste a little bit (blow on it first and be very careful not to burn your tongue). Add the salt a pinch at a time, tasting after each addition. Once you’re happy with it, pour it over the cooked and slightly cooled shortbread. Spread it out with a spatula until it’s reached the edges and you have an even layer. Leave it to cool, or even put it in the fridge to set up a bit before you add the final layer of chocolate.

For the chocolate:

  • 200g milk chocolate
  • 100g dark chocolate

(To be honest, it won’t matter if you just use milk chocolate, but I prefer a mix of milk and dark) Melt the chocolate, either in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, or in short, 20 second bursts in the microwave, stirring in between zaps.

Once melted, pour over the shortbread and spread it to the edges. Give it a shake and a sharp rap on the kitchen counter to get a nice even finish. Leave to set in the fridge for at least a couple of hours. Remove from the pan, peel off the greaseproof paper and use a big sharp knife to cut into portions (I got 32 pieces out of this). This should keep well for 3-5 days in an airtight container, but I doubt it’ll last that long once anybody tries it!

If you’re as big a fan of salted caramel as I am, check out my other recipes here. Or if it’s peanut butter that floats your boat, have a peek at these.

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Fully Loaded Favourite Cookies

Fully Loaded Favourite Cookies

Cookies, stuffed full of raisins, milk and white chocolate and toasted hazelnuts

Inspiration for new bakes can come from all kinds of places, but I never thought the One Show (don’t judge me, my landlord watches it) would lead me to bake such a cracking cookie. They did one of their scintillating features on biscuits – the science of dunking, the nation’s favourite biscuit – all that need-to-know stuff. Anyway, they made some biscuits with the nation’s favourite ingredients – chocolate, raisins and hazelnuts – and apparently they were really rather good. So I decided I’d have a bash at something like it myself and here’s the result.

The hazelnuts keep the cookies from being overly sweet, what with all the chocolate and raisins in there. If you can’t get hold of toasted hazelnuts, put them on a baking tray in a hot oven for about 5 minutes. You can then get the papery skins off quite easily by rubbing them with a clean tea towel or some kitchen paper, but it doesn’t matter too much if you don’t remove the skins.

Fully Loaded Favourite Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 120g butter, softened
  • 100g soft, light brown sugar
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 190g plain flour
  • half tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • small pinch salt
  • 50g raisins
  • 50g milk chocolate (drops, or chopped into smallish chunks)
  • 50g white chocolate (drops or chopped)
  • 50 toasted hazelnuts, chopped a little

Heat the oven to 190C. In a bowl, or in a freestanding mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy and light. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well until well incorporated.  Add the flour, bicarb and salt and give another good beating so that you have a thick, sticky cookie dough with no lumps of flour. Chuck in the raisins, both types of chocolate and the nuts and give a good stir so that everything is well distributed in the dough.

You’ll need a couple of baking trays. Use your fingers to pinch off a lump of dough and roll roughly into a ball shape, about the size of a gold ball. Place the balls on the baking sheet, well apart as they will spread as they cook. I only got 4 to a baking sheet – you can always cook them in batches. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes. They’re done when golden, but should still be soft to the touch as they’ll firm up as they cool and it’s better to under-bake a cookie so you get that soft, chewy middle. Leave to cool on the tray for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool (eat one while they’re warm – lush!).

I made 8 cookies with just over half the dough. Cookie dough freezes brilliantly, so just put any that you don’t use in a freezer bag, sling it in the freezer and then the next time you want a quick batch of cookies take the bag out and leave it on the kitchen counter – it’ll be ready to use in about 30-40 minutes!

For more of my cookie and biscuit recipes, take a look here.

Boozy Chocolate and Hazelnut Pie

Boozy Chocolate and Hazelnut Pie

Boozy Chocolate and Hazelnut Pie; plenty of festive spirit in this one!

This week was the December meeting of the Bake Club I’m part of and the theme was Boozy Bakes – helpful for getting us all in the festive spirit (sorry, I’m a bit of a pun fan)! Though I rarely drink, I have a fairly extensive array of liqueurs that mostly get used This week was the December meeting of the Bake Club I’m part of. Our theme was for baking. When deciding what to make I recalled making grasshopper pie a while back and thinking there were endless possibilities for other flavour combinations; after a little deliberation I settled on hazelnut and chocolate.

This isn’t a pie in the classic sense of the word, certainly it’s more US inspired than GB, but calling it a tart didn’t seem right somehow. Regardless of the name, it’s delicious; the marshmallow cream gives the filling an incredible texture and the liqueurs make it a distinctly grown-up dessert. My top tip when making this is to melt the marshmallows slowly – too much heat can mean the gelatine from the marshmallows doesn’t work its magic and the filling doesn’t set properly. Other than that, this is super easy to make so give it a go!

Boozy Chocolate and Hazelnut Pie

For the base:

  • 300g bourbon biscuits
  • 50g dark chocolate
  • 50g butter, softened

Chuck all the ingredients in a food processor and whizz them up until they begin to clump. Tip into a tart tin and press down with the back of a spoon, smoothing into the edges and up the sides, trying to make it as even as possible. Place in the fridge and chill until your filling is ready.

For the filling:

  • 125ml full-fat milk
  • 150g mini marshmallows
  • 60ml (4 tbsp) creme de cacao blanc (or other chocolate liqueur)
  • 60ml (4 tbsp hazelnut liqueur (Frangelico or similar)
  • 375ml double cream
  • a few grams dark chocolate to decorate (optional)

Put the milk and marshmallows in a saucepan and melt slowly on a low heat – the milk should never boil, just begin to foam, and you’ll be able to hear the marshmallows foaming as they melt. I can’t stress enough that you should take your time with this stage; keep taking the milk off the heat and stirring the marshmallows to get them to melt without letting the temperature get too high. Once the marshmallows are completely melted, remove from the heat and stir in the liqueurs. Transfer the liquid to a heat proof bowl and leave to cool.

Once cooled, whisk the cream in a large bowl until it’s getting to soft-peak stage. Add the boozy marshmallow mixture and continue to whisk until smooth and thickened – it should be the texture of very soft (Mr Whippy) ice cream. Pour into the biscuit base and smooth out to the edges. Finely grate a little dark chocolate over the top and chill in the fridge for a few hours or overnight before serving.

Snow-topped Minty Rocky Road

Snow-topped Minty Rocky Road

Snow-topped Minty Rocky Road – easy to make and very easy to enjoy eating!

I’m mostly getting into the Christmas spirit through the feasting aspect (always my favourite part of any festivities). I think these easy treats would make lovely little gifts, prettily bagged-up when visiting people over the Christmas season. A word of warning; go easy with the peppermint essence or flavouring – a few drops should be plenty, taste as you go and you can always add more, but if you’re heavy-handed it can get a little toothpasty tasting!

Snow-topped Minty Rocky Road

Ingredients:

  • 450g milk or plain chocolate (or a combination of the two)
  • 70g butter
  • small pinch salt
  • 3×4 finger mint KitKat biscuits (or other mint chocolate biscuits of your choice)
  • 150g mini marshmallows
  • 1 large packet mint Aero balls (or get some of the bars and chop them into chunks if you can’t find the balls)
  • 300g white chocolate
  • a few drops peppermint essence or flavouring

Grease and line a high-sided baking tray (approx 22x25cm) with greaseproof paper. In a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water (making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water), melt the milk/plain chocolate, 50g of the butter and add the salt, stirring occasionally until smooth. Turn off the heat and leave for a few minutes to cool a little. Chop the mint biscuits into chunks and add them to the chocolate mix, along with the marshmallows and mint chocolate Aero balls, stirring to ensure everything gets coated; be as brief as possible to avoid the Aero balls melting too much. Scrape into the prepared tin and smooth into the corners so you have an even layer, but still lots of lumps and bumps – this is Rocky Road after all! Leave to cool in the fridge for about half an hour or longer so the top is set.

Following the same method of melting in a bowl over simmering water, melt the white chocolate along with the remaining 20g butter, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from the heat and add a couple of drops of mint essence, stir it through and taste a little to see if you think it’s minty enough. Add more, a drop or two at a time until it’s to your taste. Allow to cool slightly before taking the tin from the fridge and pouring the white chocolate on top, trying to coat as much of the surface as possible whilst pouring. Tilt the tin or use a spatula to carefully spread the white chocolate evenly, trying to get as little of the brown chocolate showing through on top. Return to the fridge for a few hours to set completely.

When ready to serve or bag up as presents, remove from the fridge. If you have any white edible glitter, give the top of your snowy rocky road a frosty dusting. Remove from the tin and peel away from the greaseproof paper. Cut into squares and get stuck in.

Christmassy Snow-topped Minty Rocky Road

Double chocolate and minty goodness

Amaretti Biscuits

If you follow my Facebook page you may have seen that I’ve been a bit obsessed with baking bread this week (currently on my fourth bake in a week from James Morton’s Brilliant Bread book). As I’ve been baking other people’s recipes, my lovely friend and fellow Brighton Baking Bunch member, Hannah, has done a guest blog post for me on her recent adventures in biscuit making. Enjoy!

Amaretti Biscuits

Amaretti Biscuits – fancy dunkers!

With a visit to the in-laws in the diary, I thought I would score some brownie points by baking amaretti biscuits. I don’t have a good track record with small bakes. However, with only four ingredients and a recipe by Mr Gino D’Acampo himself, what could possibly go wrong?

Well first off, instead of baking approximately 20 biscuits like the recipe stated, I ended up with 33. They were also quite chewy when I expected them to be hard. Thankfully, most people who tried them liked the texture. If you want a crunchier biscuit, take them out the oven to cool for a bit then put them back in on a low temperature until they’ve dried out.

Amaretti Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 340g / 12 oz ground almonds
  • 340g / 12 oz caster sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 30ml / 1 fl oz amaretto liquor
  • Butter for greasing

Heat the oven to 170C and grease a tray lined with greaseproof paper. Separate the egg and plop the whites into  a large bowl. Now, if you’re sensible, you’ll own an electric whisk. If you’re a glutton for punishment like myself, you have to beat the egg whites by hand, which takes forever. Beat them until peaks form.

Gently fold in the caster sugar and ground almonds before adding the amaretto. The recipe says mix this to form a smooth paste – I’d argue it forms a sticky mashed potato-like substance but it tasted good (yes, I eat raw biscuit mix).

If you want rustic splats, scoop little piles of the mixture onto the baking tray, allowing enough space for the biscuits to expand.  For a proper biscuit shape, roll the dough into small balls – approximately 2cm in diameter. Place the tray in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the amaretti biscuits are golden brown.

                                                       

Chocolate Orange Baked Cheesecake

Chocolate Orange Baked Cheesecake

Rich, creamy and delicious Chocolate Orange Baked Cheesecake

Whilst there are lots of things that I like to make regularly, I love to try out new recipes as often as possible. This was my first attempt at a baked cheesecake, adapted from Jo Wheatley’s (Great British Bake Off winner from series 2) recipe in her book A Passion For Baking. I’ve made a few things from this book and they’re all pretty fool proof so I felt confident enough to stray from the fairly plain (but lovely, I’m sure) flavours in Jo’s recipe and add the classic pairing of chocolate and orange. The result is a creamy and decadent dessert that would be excellent for a dinner party. Go carefully with your portions – it’s very rich.

Chocolate Orange Baked Cheesecake

For the base:

  • 25g dark chocolate
  • 70g butter, melted
  • 12 chocolate digestive biscuits (I’m sure plain would work just as well)

If you have a food processor, whizz up the chocolate, then add the biscuits and pulse until you have a fine breadcrumb texture. If you don’t have a food processor, chop or grate the chocolate as finely as possible, then put the biscuits in a large (clean) sandwich bag and bash with a rolling pin or heavy object until crumbled and no large lumps are left. Put the chocolate/biscuit rubble in a bowl and add the melted butter and mix together. Tip the mixture into a 9″ springform cake tin and press down with a spatula or back of a spoon to cover the base, trying to make it as even as possible. Chill in the fridge until the topping is ready.

For the topping:

  • 600g full fat cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk
  • 300ml sour cream
  • 1 tbsp orange liqueur (optional)
  • finely grated rind two oranges
  • 100g milk chocolate

Heat the oven to 180C. In a large bowl beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the flour, sugar, vanilla, eggs and yolk, half the sour cream and the liqueur (if using) and beat again. Add the orange zest and stir in to the mixture until evenly distributed. Remove the biscuit base from the fridge and pour on the topping, smoothing it out with a spatula. Place on a baking tray and bake for 30 minutes.

Carefully remove from the oven after 30 minutes (it will be barely set at this stage) and set to one side whilst you prepare the chocolate topping, but leave the oven on.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over barely simmering water. Once smooth and melted, add the remaining sour cream and stir together until well mixed. Gently pour this chocolate mix over the top of the cheesecake, smoothing it out so it covers everything as evenly as possible. Return to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, transferring to the fridge to chill for a few hours or overnight. Remove from the springform tin just before serving.

Baked Cheesecaked with Chocolate and Orange

Chocolate Orange Baked Cheesecake – a delightfully decadent dessert

Little Lemon Shortbread Biscuits with Blueberry Jam

Little Lemon Shortbread Biscuits with Blueberry Jam

Little Lemon Shortbread Biscuits with Blueberry Jam

These are simple little two-bite morsels – great with a cuppa or pop a few in a pretty bag or box to give as gifts when visiting friends. You can use whatever jam you like – raspberry is always a winner when paired with lemon. I always use a bit of cornflour in shortbread as it makes them tender and crumbly, but you can make these with just plain flour. You can also make them gluten-free by using any plain gluten-free flour you wish.

Little Lemon Shortbread Biscuits with Blueberry Jam

Ingredients:

  • 190g butter, softened
  • 85g caster sugar
  • 200g plain flour
  • 70g cornflour
  • 1 lemon
  • half tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp blueberry jam

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the flours, finely grated zest of the lemon and 2 teaspoons of the juice, and the vanilla extract. Stir until well combined. Roll the dough into walnut sized balls and put them on an un-greased baking tray then use the handle of a wooden spoon to make a little well in the biscuits. Loosely cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge to chill for about an hour.

Heat the oven to 175C. Remove the tray of uncooked biscuits from the fridge. Arrange them so they’re about an inch apart – you’ll probably need two baking trays or to cook in two batches as you need to have the biscuits spaced out as they’ll spread a little on cooking; if you make two batches leave the second batch in the fridge until ready to cook. Use a teaspoon to fill the holes in the biscuits with jam; you may not need all of it so don’t be tempted to overfill them. Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes until pale golden. Take them out of the oven and allow them to firm up on the tray for a few minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.