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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.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Buttercream Icing

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Buttercream

Naughty little treat – Gluten-Free Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Buttercream

It’s National Cupcake Week (that’s a real thing, right?) so cupcake baking is happening all over. I used to make cupcakes a lot when I worked in a big office (no squabbling over who gets the biggest slice of whatever treat you’ve taken in), but not so much these days. There’s only one cupcake recipe on here so far, lovely Vanilla Cupcakes that have a secret jam filling; a simple classic. I’m happy to be adding another now, which also has a classic flavour combination of chocolate and peanut butter.

This recipe was born out of wanting to thank a friend for a favour. She sticks (mostly!) to a gluten-free diet, but if you didn’t need to worry about that you could just substitute the gluten-free flour for normal self-raising flour. I have to say, the cakes in this recipe are good, but they’re really a way to justify eating the buttercream, which is (though I say it myself) awesome.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Buttercream Icing

For the cupcakes:

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 50g soft dark brown sugar
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 25g cocoa powder, sifted
  • 100g gluten-free self raising flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 2 tbsp milk

Heat your oven to 170C and line a muffin tray with cupcake cases. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy and the colour of a milky coffee. Add the eggs and beat again. Tip in the sifted cocoa and flour and mix until everything is well combined. Stir in the vanilla, syrup and milk and then spoon (or use an ice cream scoop for perfectly even portions) the batter into the prepared cases. Bake for 15-20 minutes; they’re done when a skewer inserted comes out clean and they have a little spring back when lightly pressed with a fingertip. Remove from the oven and carefully remove the cakes from the muffin tray to cool on a wire rack as soon as possible (I use a palatte knife to ease them from the tin); if you leave them to cool in the tin then they have a habit of peeling away from the paper cases.

For the buttercream:

  • 140g butter, softened
  • 280g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tbsp smooth peanut butter

In a large bowl, mix the butter and icing sugar together. I find it helps to mix them with a wooden spoon to begin with as it means the icing sugar is less likely to leave your kitchen like it’s been in a blizzard. Once they’re combined, go at it with an electric whisk and then continue to beat for a good 3-5 minutes longer than you think you need to. Trust me; this will leave you with far smoother, fluffier, creamier buttercream than you thought you could achieve. Then add the vanilla and peanut butter and beat again.

When the cupcakes are completely cool, ice them with the buttercream using a palatte knife, or if you’re any good with a piping bag, give them a pretty swirl. If you feel like it, and you have some knocking around, grate a little chocolate over the top of the finished cupcakes. Feed them to your gluten-free loving friends and bask in the warm glow of their appreciation!

Gluten-Free Bacon and Peanut Butter Brownies

Gluten-Free Bacon and Peanut Butter Brownies

Totally over-the-top gluten-free bacon and peanut butter brownies

My friend Nicole LOVES bacon. She’s the Pork Princess. So when it came to baking some kind of birthday treat for her I really wanted to include bacon in the recipe; and if you’re going to be bold with your flavours you may as well go all out! That’s how I settled on these bacon and peanut butter brownies. The salty, savoury bacon and peanut butter make for a pretty intense brownie, but birthdays should be about indulgence. The bacon doesn’t really make the brownies taste meaty, you just get little chewy, salty-sweet nuggets in every few bites. I made these brownies gluten-free for Nicole, but if you’re not concerned about avoiding gluten you could make them with normal plain flour.

Gluten-Free Bacon and Peanut Butter Brownies

For the brownies:

  • About 100g streaky bacon (I used 5 rashers Oscar Meyer American bacon)
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 175g butter
  • 125g dark chocolate
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 125g plain gluten-free flour (I used rice flour)
  • 25g cocoa powder

Heat the oven to 180C and grease and line an 8″ square baking tin. Cut the bacon rashers into small pieces (easiest with scissors) and fry off until starting to crisp up. Add the golden syrup and cook for another minute or so until the bacon fat and syrup bubble up into a sticky, delicious looking liquid. Take off the heat and tip the bacon pieces onto a plate to cool, trying to keep them apart so they don’t stick together.

In a large saucepan gently melt the butter on a low heat, then break the chocolate into pieces and add to the pan, stirring until melted. Add the vanilla extract and remove from the heat. Add the sugar and stir vigorously until well combined and there are no small lumps of sugar. Break the eggs into a mug or bowl and give a little mix with a fork to break up the yolk. Pour into the chocolate mix and stir quickly to combine. Sift the flour and cocoa (just because cocoa can be a bit clumpy) into the pan and mix well. Finally, add the bacon and stir through. Place to one side while you prepare the peanut butter.

For the peanut butter swirl:

  • 30g butter, softened
  • 100g smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 40g icing sugar, sifted

In a bowl, mix together the butter, peanut butter and vanilla, then add the icing sugar and mix again until well combined.

Put about half the brownie mix into the prepared baking tin, spreading it out so it reaches the corners. Dollop on about 5 teaspoons of the peanut butter mix and try to spread it a little (you’re not trying to make a layer over the whole base so don’t worry too much if it doesn’t spread well). Spoon the rest of the brownie mix on top and spread it out, then add spoonfuls of the peanut butter mix all over the top and use the tip of a dinner or butter knife to swirl it through the brownie mix until you have a marbled effect.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top is firm and a skewer comes out mostly clean. Brownies should always be a little gooey in the middle so you’re better off under-baking rather than over-baking. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin. Once cooled, cut into squares and serve.