The recipe is from an American cookbook and I used the original measurements which were in cups, as I had a cup to measure in. I’ve translated into grams for this recipe. Keep it British. But I can provide the cup measurements if required.
If you’re squeamish then you may not enjoy this recipe? Or the below photo of my maimed finger?
Sea salt caramel bars (plus cautionary instructions about using blenders).
Adapted from Chloe’s Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli. Her recipe is fully vegan but I used normal chocolate when I made it.
Ingredients for the three layers
- 140 g plain flour
- 70 g butter or margarine or vegan alternative.
- 45 g icing sugar
- Half a teaspoon cinnamon
- 130 g soft brown sugar
- 35 g butter or margarine or vegan alternative
- 4 teaspoons milk. I used vanilla soy milk but any kind of non dairy or dairy milk would work.
Top choc layer
- 100 – 200 g chocolate (dark). I used a Green & Blacks 100g 70% bar…and then another one although the original recipe only said 130 g. You could go easier on the chocolate, or do half dark, half milk etc. I think mostly dark chocolate is good as it goes well with the sea salt.The original recipe uses vegan chocolate.
- You may also need a drop of milk to melt with the choc so you can spread it on your layers later.
- Sea salt.
1. Preheat the oven to around 180 degrees Celsius and prepare your baking vessel, see italics below for ideas on that.
I burnt my first batch of shortbread but I think this was to do with the size of tray I used – I lined a glass lasagna type dish with baking paper, but it wasn’t the ideal vessel as the layers were very thin, and it burnt. Next time I would maybe use a cake tin or something less wide. I think 180 degrees would be fine if you used a sensible vessel to cook in.Also important is to have the baking paper hanging over each side of the dish you use, so you can pull out your bar at a later stage.
2. a) Mix the shortbread ingredients (flour, butter, icing sugar and cinnamon) in a blender until crumbly.
b) Do not under any circumstances put your finger in the blender to get some mixture out and then accidentally turn it on*, spraying blood all over the kitchen and rendering your finger useless for two weeks.
c) If you do follow in my footsteps, at least make sure you don’t get any blood in the mix.
d) You can also mix these ingredients by hand, a good technique if you’re really shaken by your recent blender injury and have to make the shortbread layer a second time because you burnt it.
3. Press your non-bloody mixture into the baking paper lined pan and bake for 18 – 20 minutes. My advice here is to keep a close eye on it as it is very easy to burn (especially if you are nursing a gushing finger and slightly shocked by everything, but somehow you still want to carry on baking).
When the edges are golden, remove the tray from the oven, let it cool completely and refrigerate when cold.
4. To make the caramel, heat the brown sugar, butter and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. When it begins to boil and there are bubbles in the centre, remove from the heat and let sit for ten minutes. Again very easy to burn so keep an eye on it.
5. Pour the caramel over the chilled shortbread crust and let cool completely, then transfer to fridge again.
6. Melt the chocolate in whatever way you prefer, I had to add a couple of teaspoons of milk to my chocolate to get the right pouring consistency. Evenly spread the melted chocolate layer over the caramel layer (which should be completely cold). Sprinkle with sea salt and return to the fridge.
7. When everything has solidified, you can take the pan out of the fridge, pull the bar out of the pan by the edges of the baking paper, and cut into pieces of whatever size you prefer.
Hopefully your memories of the baking experience won’t be so bitter that every bite tastes like ashes in your mouth. Everyone I gave this to loved them, so maybe one day the memories of blending my finger will fade and I’ll make this again.
* Footnote that you might not want to read if you’re squeamish: Everyone I’ve told my blender story to gets really distressed and can hardly bear to hear it, but it’s probably slightly less disgusting to read about. It’s an awful compulsion to do something you shouldn’t do that you know will be bad for you, like when you really want to press the fire alarm at work, or throw your phone off a bridge, or jump onto the empty train line. I think because you know you shouldn’t do it but you suddenly get this idea in your head, like this. And so as your finger hovers on the ‘on’ button of the blender whilst your other finger is right in there scraping cake mix out of the metal, your finger on the button somehow decides to turn the blender on.
Luckily I removed my finger from the button pretty fast once the searing pain kicked in. My finger was numb for a couple of weeks, couldn’t bend, couldn’t type with it or touch any objects at all without it being agonising. Even now, about a month later, it’s still sensitive.
Lesson learnt – TURN OFF THE BLENDER AT THE MAINS, don’t just go in there, you can’t trust yourself. And also, stop being so impatient. There’s really no hurry that’s important enough to put your finger in a turned on blender. These bars are good but they can wait.