Millionaireâ€™s shortbread is what my Mother in law, and most of the rest of Scotland call it. Toffee cake is what my Mother in lawâ€™s Mother in law called it (as you can see above). But by either name, for my husband, itâ€™s the quintessential home treat.
I skyped my Mother in law today to check the oven temperature in my recipe, and discovered that she was at that exact moment melting chocolate to finish a batch that she was sending to grandson Joseph to sustain him through his exams. It doesnâ€™t seem so long ago that we were the recipients of the same carefully wrapped care packages, to sustain us through our exams.
Millionaireâ€™s Shortbread is a great Scottish culinary tradition, of course, and I suppose I was put into a mind for baking it because itâ€™s Burns’ Night on Tuesday.
Burns’ Night is a celebration of the life and poetry of the poet Robert Burns, and a great excuse to dress up in a kilt, drink whisky and cavort about to Strip the Willow, should any excuse be needed. Traditionally, people eat haggis, but not before reciting a long ode about the general greatness of haggises, and getting fairly drunk.
Address to a Haggis
FairÂ fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang’s my arm.
A haggis, for the uninitiated, is an animal that has two long legs and two short legs so that it is able to easily run around Scottish mountains. Or, itâ€™s a mixture of blood, oats and offal contained within a stomach. You decide.
Either way, haggis is a tradition that I find hard to get on board with, but Jon is Scottish, and here in New York, miles away from home, such traditions take on a more resonate importance. And so we celebrate Burns’ Night, and we drink whisky, and we eat Millionaireâ€™s Shortbread instead.
Millionaireâ€™s Shortbread is a treat that takes a little bit of patience. Itâ€™s made in three layers. First, a crumbly shortbread, then a sticky caramel, and finally, a smooth dark chocolate glaze. None of these layers is particularly taxing on the cook, and the gentle rhythm of the dish makes it especially satisfying â€“ a good snowy afternoon in the kitchen sort of a dish.
Millionaireâ€™s Shortbread â€“ Granny Hannahâ€™s recipe
The shortbread:2 sticks of cold butter cut into cubes 2 cups flour 2/3 cup sugar pinch of salt A tin about the size of a brownie tin – though I make mine in an old pyrex pie dish Â
- Preheat the oven to 320 (160 if youâ€™re cooking this in the UK in C)
- Rub the butter and the flour together until they resemble sandy breadcrumbs, then rub in the sugar
- Butter the tin, then press in the mixture (it should be about 1cm deep)
- Prick it all over with a fork, then bake for half an hour until it is golden and firm
Toffee:2 sticks of margarine/butter 2/3 cup of sugar 4 tbsp golden syrup 2 can of sweetened condensed milk (14oz each) Â
or (non Granny Hannah version):2 tbsp butter 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk (14oz each) Â
- Melt the butter, sugar and syrup in a pan
- Add the condensed milk and bring to a boil
- Allow the mixture to boil while you stir it for five minutes exactly. Both my Mother in law and her Mother in law are very emphatic on this point â€“ and theyâ€™re right â€“ itâ€™s the perfect caramel consistency
- Pour over shortbread and allow to cool
Chocolate:100g (or more) of 70% cocoa chocolate Â
- Melt the chocolate (in a bowl over simmering water or in the microwave)
- Pour it over the toffee layer and smooth with a spatula
- Let the chocolate cool and harden before slicing and serving (about half an hour in the fridge)