This isn’t something we have very often. In fact, I posted a very similar recipe almost a year ago, and that was the last time we made it! But after tasting this, I’ve decided that it deserves more than just an annual celebration. Life is short, after all.
The fruity tang of orange and the salty crunch of pistachios turn the typical, traditional treat into something extra special. Don’t get me wrong, classic caramel shortbread is a wonderful thing. But if you’re in the mood to deviate oh-so-slightly from the original – let’s just say, I doubt you’ll be disappointed! I used a whole vanilla pod in the caramel here, which is delicious, but extravagant, and it’s not going to be the end of the world if you don’t. The caramel turned out richer and darker than previous attempts (preferable, for me) because we used dark sugar (which of course makes sense, but I can’t claim to have had the thought myself – it was B’s suggestion.) Make sure to bake the shortbread until nice and golden to ensure a crumbly yet crisp texture, and of course, be prepared to delay your gratification for this stuff. It takes time, but is so worth it!
For the shortbread:
125g salted butter
50g caster sugar (we like to use golden)
175g plain flour
Pinch of salt
For the caramel:
2 tbsp. golden syrup
200g condensed milk
100g dark brown soft sugar
125g butter (not fridge cold, but not softened)
1 vanilla pod
Pinch of salt
200g chocolate (we used a mixture of 70% and 50%)
25g salted pistachios (shelled weight)
Zest of 1 large orange
Preheat your oven to 170ºC.
Begin by making the shortbread – sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Stir through the sugar, then add the butter cut up into little cubes. Rub it in with your fingertips until it starts to form a dough. Work it for just long enough to form into a ball.
Press it in to a greased cake tin or silicone pan. Bake for around twenty minutes, until firm and golden. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Next, prepare the caramel. In a saucepan, melt together the butter, sugar, and pinch of salt. Once the sugar has all dissolved, stir in the condensed milk and golden syrup. Bring it to a boil, give it a good stir, then reduce the heat and cook on a simmer for about 5-10 minutes, until it starts to thicken and darken in colour. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod and stir through. Bear in mind that the caramel sets a little once cooled, so whilst you don’t want the hot caramel to be too runny, you don’t want it to be really thick, either. Pour the caramel over the shortbread, and let it cool.
Next, chop the chocolate into small pieces and throw into a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure that the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Add the orange zest. Once the chocolate has melted, pour over the cooled caramel. Sprinkle over the salted pistachios.
Let the chocolate cool for about ten minutes before using a knife to score lines into the surface of the chocolate to allow for easy portioning up later. Once the it’s cool enough to put in the fridge, let it continue to set in there. Re-trace the lines with a sharp knife after an hour or so, before returning to the fridge to set completely (best left overnight – in this instance, we couldn’t wait for very long, which meant some messy slicing.) Try not to eat it all at once!