Easy Millionaire’s Shortbread has to be one of my all time favourite sweet treats, something my mum can throw together with her eyes closed after years of providing the WI market stall with it, but I found daunting the first time I tried making it a few years ago. But once I’d attempted the recipe, I realised it was actually not difficult at all!
Edible Christmas Gifting
When I made it the first time around in 2011, Christmas fair duties were calling for Arlo’s playgroup so I decided to bake this moreish and ridiculously calorific treat. Despite my nerves at messing it up, it turned out really well. So well it was incredibly hard to package it up and not cave in to scoffing the lot.
It sold out very quickly… I reckon it’s one of those classic bakes that will always go down a storm as an afternoon tea treat or packaged up as a gift.
Cookery Class Bakes
Fast forward seven years and this time I wanted to use it as part of a cookery class for my best friend’s daughter Iona, who was visiting us over the summer holidays. When I asked her what she’d like for her birthday back in June, she told her mum she’d like a one-to-one cookery lesson with me – I couldn’t have been more chuffed!
I thought showing her how to make Easy Millionaire’s Shortbread would be great to demonstrate three different skills – shortbread, caramel and working with chocolate.
I wanted to show Iona that these processes needn’t be difficult – especially with the use of gadgets to cut a few corners. We used a food processor to blitz the shortbread dough together and a microwave to melt the chocolate.
Young apprentice baker
Iona was a brilliant student and only needed a small amount of guidance, I think it’s important to let kids try things for themselves so they can see how it’s done first hand. She’s lucky enough to have cookery classes at her school, so is already pretty adept at making quite a repertoire of dishes, but she hadn’t made Millionaire’s Shortbread before.
The resulting bakes were heavy on the caramel – we decided this was a VERY good thing indeed!
I also showed Iona the ropes with a spot of food styling before the light faded for the day – the main lessons learnt here were:
- You need natural light for the best results
- The picture ended up looking far better with some crumbs and roughly sliced squares of caramel shortbread in the foreground
- How hard it can be trying to fend off the rest of the hungry kids who were eagerly circling to sample the goodies!
An indulgent bake perfect for packaging up for gifts for friends and family
- 250 g plain flour
- 75 g golden caster sugar
- 175 g butter
- 2 x 397g cans condensed milk
- 100 g soft brown sugar
- 100 g butter
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 200 g milk or dark cooking chocolate
Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Mix the flour and sugar together and then rub in the butter with your fingertips - or blitz in food processor if you have one. Bring together into a dough and then press into a prepared swiss roll tin. Prick all over with a fork. Bake in the oven for 20 mins until golden. Leave to cool.
Gently heat the ingredients for the caramel in a pan on the hob for 15-20 mins on a low heat until it thickens. Cool for 10 minutes and then pour over the shortbread. Leave to cool completely.
Melt the dark/milk chocolate in a bowl in the microwave, or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Pour over the cooled caramel and spread out to form an even layer.
Leave to set for at least 30 minutes or until it's dry to touch then cut into even squares.
I didn't put it in the fridge at any point during the process until I'd sliced it up at the end. I'd read that the chocolate tends to harden too much, so cracks excessively when you try and slice it.
When you make the caramel, be sure to let it cook long enough to thicken adequately - I've read lots of messageboards where people can't get theirs to set.
Also make sure you stir it lots so it doesn't catch on the bottom of the pan and spoil.
Cooking with kids
I’ve done a lot of cooking with kids over the years, it can be so rewarding watching them learn new skills and grow in confidence to the point where they just start doing things themselves without even needing to ask for help.
Sam and Arlo might only be 9 and 12, but they know their way around the kitchen, and I’m pretty certain that they’ll be able to happily cook for themselves when they’re out in the world.
Read my article: Tips for Cooking With Kids for loads of useful advice and recipe ideas.
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