The smell of boiling butter, sugar and condensed milk is extremely evocative for me, and I had actually forgotten that until I made the fudge in this recipe. It’s an overwhelmingly sweet smell with a slight waft of burnt sugar every so often. It reminds me of being younger and baking millionaire shortbread with my mum and granny on a Sunday afternoon. Once the caramel is on the shortbread and the leftovers cooled in the pan, finishing the remains off with a teaspoon in such a treat….but I digress, this is not a millionaire shortbread recipe!
A couple of weeks ago I made cookies with chocolate, fudge and peanuts which proved to be a delicious flavour combination. This got me thinking…how else could I combine biscuit, fudge, chocolate and nuts. As you will have noticed from the title of this post, these squares don’t exactly have a catchy title but I simply couldn’t miss anything out as each element is extremely important to the overall flavour.
The shortbread, buttery and crisp, gives you a solid base to hold on to for the few seconds it takes to devour and the texture contrasts with the creamy fudge. The fudge is excellent, takes a little while to make (see below) but is most definitely worth it. Dark chocolate is essential here because we have a whole lot of sweetness below. I chose pistachios to sprinkle generously on top but peanuts would also have worked really well. The pistachios just look so pretty though and I love them. Just as the chocolate mellows out the super sweet fudge the sea salt cuts through any sickly sweetness and intensifies the flavours.
The shortbread base is totally easy. Three ingredients, rub them together, press into the tin and bake! This is good news because the fudge…
…well it’s a different story. It does take a little time, and restraint (don’t stick your finger in the scaldingly hot caramel-bad news!) There is lots of standing and stirring…
…and more stirring…
..then beating vigorously. It’s an arm work out! Then you get , lovely, creamy fudge.
The rest is also easy. Melted chocolate. Toasted nuts. Sprinkling of sea salt!
Chocolate & Fudge Shortbread with Pistachios and Sea Salt
makes 25 small squares
For the shortbread:
From Mary Berrys Baking Bible
250g plain flour
75g caster sugar
175 butter, at room temperature
For the fudge:
Nestle Carnation recipe
397g can Carnation Condensed Milk
450g demerara sugar
1tsp sea salt
100g dark chocolate
75g pistacios, toasted and roughly chopped
2tsp sea salt/fluer de sel
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line and lightly grease a square 9 inch baking tin.
To make the shortbread mix together the flour and sugar in a large bowl. Add the butter and rub into the dry ingredients until you have fine breadcrumbs. Lightly knead the dough together until it starts to come together. Tip the contents of the bowl in to your baking tin and press the mixture into the base using the back of a spoon to flatten the surface.
Prick the with a fork all over then bake for 20-25 mins until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
To make the fudge put the condensed milk, sugar, butter and milk in to a large, preferably non stick, saucepan and melt over a low heat, stirring continuously.
Bring to a boil then reduce the heat slightly to maintain a gentle boil for a further ten minutes, again stirring continuously. The fudge should started to darken in colour slightly.
To test the fudge is ready either use a sugar thermometer to read 118 degrees or drop a small amount in to a glass of ice cold water and the fudge should form in to a soft ball.
One ready remove from the heat and add 1 tsp of sea salt. Beat continuously as the fudge cools with a wooden spoon. The fudge will become much thicker and slightly paler towards the end of the ten minutes.
Spoon the fudge on to the shortbread and spread in an even layer. Using spatula that has been run under hot water will make this much easier.
Leave until completely cold and remove from the tin.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave and generously drizzle over the fudge. Sprinkle the pistachios and sea salt over the top.
Allow to cool before slicing.