As the days are getting a bit colder and darker, I am hankering more and more for a nice cup of tea and a biscuit. No matter what kind of a day you are having, tea and a biscuit always seems to make the day better. I wanted to make a really nice indulgent biscuit and I started to think back about my favorite biscuits as a child. When we were kids, we would usually have eaten all the store bought biscuits by the end of the week. So, it was always a case of improvising and making our own biscuits at the weekend. We used a cookbook called the Hamlyn cookbook and the pages were caked with chocolate stains and sticky bits through years of use. Thank God we didn’t have iPads! Millionaires Shortbreads were our favorite type of biscuits to make. They are pretty elaborate biscuits, and it took us most of a Saturday to make a whole tray.
When I make these biscuits now, I am always amazed at how many expensive ingredients it takes to make a tray of Millionaire Shortbreads. It would have been cheaper to buy us store bought biscuits, but I guess they were worth it as they kept us occupied for a few hours. I am sure it was all part of my mothers ingenious plan 🙂 First there was the shortbread layer. That was always relatively straightforward. It was simply a matter of mixing the flour, butter, and sugar together and pressing it into the tin. The next layer was caramel, and that was often problematic. It involved a sizable amount of butter, condensed milk and sticky golden syrup. It was by far the most fun layer to make – what kid doesn’t love stirring large bubbling pots of hot caramel – the danger, the sweet toffee smell and the desire to lick the hot molten caramel from a spoon. Sometimes it turned out perfectly and we would have a gooey brown caramel layer. Other times, we under-cooked it which resulted in this anemic caramel with brown spots. The caramel layer was certainly hit or miss, but no matter how it turned out, we always ate it anyway. After the caramel, we were supposed to let it cool and set. It always felt like an eternity waiting for the caramel to set. Then, it was time to melt the chocolate. Melting chocolate provided a great opportunity to lick the bowl after use, and stave off the hunger while waiting for the chocolate to set. This recipe involved a lot of delicious tasting dirty dishes, a lot of waiting and a huge amount of anticipation. I can now see why we loved making these biscuits. No store bought biscuit could have provided that prolonged sense of excitement. When the chocolate finally set, the Millionaires’ Shortbreads were cut into squares and the whole tray of biscuits was usually eaten within the day!
I haven’t made these biscuits in a long time, but I thought it was the perfect recipe to revisit. I wanted to make a more adult version, so I changed a few bits. Then of course the caramel layer caught me out again. After all these years, it’s still problematic! I changed the basic shortbread to hazelnut shortbread. The hazelnut flour makes the shortbread really buttery and crisp. For the caramel, I decided to add a little less butter, and I used Maple syrup as I had no Golden syrup. I was a little distracted when I was making the caramel, and cooked it for longer than I intended. When I woke from my day dream and looked down at the saucepan, I realized I had fudge! FUDGE! So, disappointing, but I should be familiar with this disappointing caramel. I poured the hot fudge onto the shortbread, cleaned the dishes and made a cup of tea. I decided to at least sample one of the biscuits and sliced off a small square to have with my tea. To my total surprise, it tasted pretty great, dare I say it, the fudge tasted better than the squidgy caramel. I decided to add a small amount of chocolate to make these biscuits shine. I drizzled on some dark and white chocolate and cut them into squares. I guess these are a more adult version of the traditional Millionaire Shortbread and still so delicious with a cup of tea. So, if you fancy doing something nice some rainy Saturday evening, I would highly recommend these new and improved Millionaires Shortbreads.
• 150g of all-purpose flour
• 40g of hazelnut flour
• 110g of butter, cut into small cubes
• 50g of castor sugar
• 150g of butter
• 4 tablespoons of maple syrup
• 397g / 14oz can of condensed milk
• 50g of dark chocolate
• 50g of white chocolate
Sieve the flour into a large bowl. Add the hazelnut flour to the all-purpose flour. Add the butter, and then rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Then, add the sugar and gather the whole lot into a ball of dough. Wrap the dough in some Clingfilm and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Once the dough has rested, take it out from the fridge. Preheat the oven to 150 C/ 300 F. Grease a 20cm/ 8 inch square tin with a little butter. Press the biscuit dough evenly into the base of the tin and prick small holes in it with a fork. Put the biscuits in the oven for 30 minutes. It should be just starting to color but still relatively pale and golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
To make the fudge, place all the fudge ingredients into a heavy bottomed saucepan over a medium high heat. Bring the ingredients to the boil and allow to boil for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir continuously so that the fudge doesn’t burn on the bottom. It will a thick gloopy golden brown substance once cooked. Pour the fudge over the shortbread and allow to cool.
Melt the dark chocolate and white chocolate in two separate bowls. Drizzle both types of chocolate over the fudge. Leave to harden and set. Once set, cut the shortbread into squares.