Thursday, 15 November 2012

Marvelously Moustachioed Millionaire's Shortbread

Dear All,

It is Movember this month, I have been doing my part by growing my leg hair. But that's a bit gross, and I need to shave them to go out on Saturday. So I also decided to bake some moustachioed biscuits, or 'cookies' to my American colleagues.

Shortbread is a marvelous thing. Done properly, it's buttery, soft and crumbly, with neat little rows of pinpricks all over its golden brown surface. It's also ridiculously easy, as it uses only three ingredients, ingredients even the most lacklustre baker should have in their kitchen: butter, caster sugar and plain flour.

You start shortbread by putting all the ingredients in a bowl and rubbing the butter into the sugar and flour with your fingertips, just as you would to make a crumble topping. This is an essential baking/pastry skill that is used in many recipes. If, as every good pastry chef should, you have cold hands, soften the butter by leaving it in a bowl of lukewarm water for 10 minutes. This is a tip from Mary Berry that you can see here.

I made my shortbread slightly differently to the usual method, because I was cutting it into circle shapes for my moustachioed faces. I also had to roll my shortbread out slightly thinner than I would have liked to, because I needed to make enough for all my class at uni, and I didn't use the condensed milk method to make caramel because I already had some of the other kind of caramel, which I just mixed with cream.

You will need:

For the shortbread:
250g plain flour
75g caster sugar
175g butter (in small cubes)
For the caramel:
100g butter or margarine
100g light muscavado
2 x 397g cans condensed milk
For the topping:
200g white chocolate
200g milk chocolate

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Put the shortbread ingredients in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips until the butter is distributed evenly throughout and the mixture resembles a crumble topping. If you don't know what a crumble topping looks like, go away. I can't be friends with you anymore.
2. If you want the shortbread in bars (much easier) press the crumbly mixture into a greased baking tin, leaving it about 1 cm thick. Otherwise knead it into a dough and roll out, then use a biscuit cutter to achieve desired shapes.

3. Prick the shortbread all over with a fork. As you can see, I started doing this very very neatly and then got bored and just poked them willy-nilly with a fork. Put in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until light golden brown.

4. While the shortbread is baking, put all the caramel ingredients in a pan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat down to a simmer, stirring continuously until it thickens slightly. If you are making bars, pour over the shortbread when it comes out the oven. If not, wait until the shortbread is cool and the caramel is cool enough to spread over shortbread with a knife. Leave to set.

5. For the topping, melt the chocolate in a bowl over a barely simmering pan of water. If you're making bars, pour over the cold caramel. If not, this is where it gets slightly tricky. Do not try and dip your shortbread in the chocolate (more on this later), but instead drop a spoonful on top of a biscuit and use a combination of tilting the biscuit and spreading with a knife to ensure even coverage. Cover half the biscuits in milk chocolate, and the other half in white chocolate. If you want to do moustaches, put the remaining chocolate in piping bags, snip the tip of the bag off, leaving about a 3 mm hole. Then, pipe white moustaches onto the milk chocolate and milk ones onto the white chocolate. Leave to set.

6. Eat!

Now, one of the reasons I style myself the begrudging baker"  is because I like to think of myself as an intrepid baker, who plunges fearlessly into recipes and makes the mistakes, so you don't have to. So, some important notes for this recipe:

Don't try to dip the biscuits in the chocolate to cover them, because the caramel will melt into the chocolate and make it go all lumpy. And then, like me, you will have to drive to Co-op at 9.30 pm and the only white chocolate they have will be chocolate coins. And you will have to stand there in the kitchen unwrapping chocolate coins like a numpty.

Don't put the chocolate on the caramel when either of them are still really hot, because you will just make a sloppy mess.

Ensure you have a paper bag/cake box to take the biscuits to uni before you bake, or you will have to go to Waitrose and steal bags from their bakery. Which is not classy.

That is all.


1 comment:

  1. Nice tache biscuits. I too have baked this weekend - check out my empanadas!

    With your sweet and my savoury we could start our own business! (Good to have a back up if the journo thing doesn't work out...)