I hope you're well and staying warm. The winds have gotten so chilly and the garden is full of leaves. Each time hubby goes out to clean them up, next morning.... yep. there's more :) Our furbaby Jade adores this time of year because she loves to play with the leaves :)
With the colder weather, Autumn brings a change to my kitchen too. Hubby works really hard and I like to make sure he has a warming meal ready for him when he gets home at night. Salads, although still appearing occasionally as a side dish, mostly disappear in favour of lovely warm casseroles & roasts with potatoes & tons of steamed veggies, as well as traditional Scottish dinners such as Mince & Tatties or Stovies. I'll write a tutorial on both of these for you soon honeys.
Yesterday I was hit by the baking bug and made another family favourite. Now I've seen this yummy treat online being called millionaire shortbread, but as a child growing up in the West of Scotland it was always referred to as simply "caramel shortbread." It was a staple, served with custard, as part of school lunches at both Primary and Secondary school.
The main difference between what is now called Millionaire Shortbread and the much loved school dessert of days gone by is the topping. Where Millionaire Shortbread has a top layer of chocolate, the version served to us in mid 70s "dinner schools" had instead a layer of chocolate sprinkles.
Anyone over a certain age in Scotland will smile if reminded of caramel shortbread, although maybe not so much when reminded of the "school custard" which had the uncanny ability to grow a "skin" over the top before you got your tray to your table :) So, do you want to make some yummy caramel shortbread too? Let's go....
Scottish Caramel Shortbread Traybake
IngredientsFor the shortbread:
225g of plain flour
125g of butter or margarine
75g of caster sugar
For the Caramel:
One large tin of condensed milk
25g of sugar
25g of butter or margarine
For the Topping
Chocolate Vermicelli (sprinkles) if you can find them! :)
1. Pre-heat your oven to 160C/320F/Gas mark 4. While it's heating, fetch a large mixing bowl and add your plain flour. Add your butter (or margarine) to your flour and combine until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add your caster sugar and make sure its well mixed. Alternatively, use your food processor and blitz them all together in that :)
2. Turn out into an oiled baking tray. When I'm making a tray bake I use these aluminium foil trays. Lovely when gifting, such as when hubby takes tray bakes into work to share with his colleagues or when I make baked goods for our lovely GP Practice.
Either grease your baking tray with butter (or margarine) or, as I do, lightly spray with olive oil. I have a little spray bottle containing olive oil which is never far from our cooker :)
4. Once spread evenly across the tray, prick all over with a fork.
Bake on the middle shelf of your oven for 5 minutes and then reduce the temperature of your oven to 150C/300F/Gas mark 2 continuing to bake for a further 14-16 minutes until a light golden brown.
5. Leaving it in the tray, set your shortbread aside to cool and fetch a saucepan.
6. To your saucepan add the butter (or margarine) and sugar. Place on a medium heat, too high and it will burn, too low and you'll be standing there stirring for far too long :) Stir, stir and stir again until the sugar has melted and combined with the butter.
7. Add your whole can of (full fat) condensed milk. Continue to stir constantly, reducing the heat a little. Don't take your eyes off the caramel for a second, it's sneaky and will burn in a heartbeat! It should start to thicken in no time. Once it has started to thicken you can remove from the heat, but be sure to continue to stir.
8. Many years ago, when making this recipe for the first time in Secondary School, I remember our wonderful teacher telling us that when we think our caramel is thick enough to use, to fetch a glass of cold water. Using a teaspoon we were then told to drop a small drip of our caramel into the cold water. If it immediately "sets" we can be sure it's ready. Basically your caramel should be runny enough to be carefully poured (while hot) it will continue to thicken when placed into the fridge.
9. When your caramel is ready, and being very careful not to burn yourself honeys, pour it over the shortbread base spreading it evenly.
11. The fun bit! Our last step is to sprinkle the top of your caramel with chocolate vermicelli or sprinkles. I found a problem though, when planning this post I tried to buy some, only to find they were nowhere to be found! So, I'm afraid honeys, I had to make do with chocolate drops. Oh dear, well they do I suppose but it's not exactly as it should be. So, if you can find some lovely choccy sprinkles, do add those and you'll have a far more accurate version of the famous Scottish school dinner staple. To be complete of course, it has to be served with lovely creamy warm (never cold)custard.
12. Enjoy! If you've never eaten caramel shortbread Scots style you are soooo in for a treat! It really is better with choccie sprinkles instead of the choccie drops I was forced to use here though :)
So, honeys. What do you think? How does the Scottish version compare with the completely chocolate covered version? As I said, this recipe is a fond favourite from my childhood but I wonder if this version was served in other "dinner schools." Did you ever have it at school?
Have a fabulous weekend dear ones, have fun tonight if you're going trick or treating, but stay warm everyone there's a chill in the air. Till next time, sending heaps of hugs xx
Edit: Do you look forward to Burns Night? Marked every year in late January, Burns night is a celebration of the birth of our bard himself Robert Burns. Click here for musings & links to a wealth of Scottish music. Enjoy honeys x