So as you all know by now, I make a lot of treats and baked goods. Of course I don’t eat ALL of it. I wish I were one of those people who could eat whatever they like and remain whippet like. I haven’t resembled a whippet since 1995. However, every so often I make something that really gets under my skin. I then tend to give it teenage music treatment – you know, where you play a record to death upon buying it? These are one of those bakes that I can’t stop making. They are good… I can only apologise.
Makes a minimum of 12 squares
- 175g butter
- 85g caster sugar
- 200g plain flour
- 15g cocoa
- 225g pecans, half roughly chopped
- 150g dark chocolate, finely chopped
For the caramel:
- 90g butter
- 215g soft, light brown sugar
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 397g condensed milk
- 155mls double cream
Grease and line a 30cm x 20cm tray with non-stick parchment that reaches up the sides. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add the flour and cocoa and beat again. Press into the prepared tin using clingfilm on the top and a tin to get an even base, then chill for 1 hour. Whilst the shortbread is chilling, toast the pecans in a frying pan over a low heat until lightly browned. Pour onto a plate to cool.
Next make the caramel… first, choose a method.
Microwave method: Make the caramel mix the butter, sugar and salt in a microwave proof bowl and microwave on high until the butter has melted – about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the condensed milk, stir and microwave for a further 3 minutes. Stop half way through to stir well. Add the double cream, stir well and microwave for 30 seconds. Leave to cool a little.
Hob method: Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Add the salt and sugar and stir. Add the condensed milk, stir well and turn the heat up until the mixture bubbles. Keep stirring on a medium heat like this for 3 minutes. Add the cream, stir well and return to the heat for 1 minute, stirring all the time. Remove from the heat.
Scatter the pecans over the shortbread along with the chopped chocolate, then pour over about 600g of the caramel sauce – enough to cover the nuts completely and bake in a preheated oven at 180C/gas mark 4 for 25 – 30 minutes. The top of the caramel will bubble up and crisp, the caramel underneath will remain soft. (Keep the remaining caramel in a jar in the fridge and pour over ice cream or crumble).
Allow to cool and then chill the traybake in the fridge for 4 hours before cutting.
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