We arrive at Scotland!! (I said that in my head with a Scottish accent. And what a great accent it is!)
So I’ve decided that my “visits” to these European countries so far have been informative but not quite as much as I realized I’ve been hoping to learn about each place. My expedition has taught me varying amounts of information about each country itself, but more just in the way of where the recipes have come from, like a specific city or region. And my hope originally was to learn more about baking, AND about each country, even if it has nothing to do with baking. So my solution is to research some current events in each country as I go.
First thing I noticed in the headlines: Donald Trump is apparently traveling to Scotland this month for the opening of a golf course he built there. I’m sorry Scotland. I look forward to hearing what kind of nonsense he’ll be spewing there! Actually…no. No, I won’t be.
Also in the news for Scotland, is the EU Referendum, where Scottish citizens will be voting on whether or not they (UK) want to stay part of the European Union. The article I just read was a very interesting discussion.
There was also something about the Euro 2016 Finals, and there only being one Scottish player going to it, but my attention span is short today, so that’s all I got out of that news bit.
OKAY enough jibber jabber. Let’s talk about this Caramel Shortbread shall we?? Also known as “Millionaires Shortbread,” apparently just because it is rich in flavor? First off, it’s delicious. It’s a three-layer sweet, made of shortbready, chocolatey, caramely goodness. Usually cut into squares or bars. The bottom is a layer of shortbread cookie crust. That is covered with a layer of “caramel” (actually sugar and sweetened condensed milk cooked together), and topped off with a layer of chocolate.
I mean really, where can you go wrong??
When I looked this up, I saw some people had swirled white chocolate into the top of the bars, which was a nice touch, and I thought, for about a split second, that I might try that too. But….since I can’t leave well enough alone, my mind immediately rejected that idea as too simple. “Well swirled chocolate is nice, but what if I could swirl it in a pretty pattern?” But I wasn’t satisfied. “Hmm..but there’s only so much you can do with drizzled chocolate and swirling it around…what if I used dark chocolate AND white chocolate? For a two-toned effect!” Well that’s certainly an idea. “But then if I’m going through the trouble to melt an extra kind of chocolate, might as well do something a little fancier…what about making a specific pretty design on top? Like a strip of flowers across the top?” Well that could be tricky to do if I’m just swirling around with toothpicks or offset spatulas. Might as well reach for the piping bag! “Ok well this IS a Scottish thing, maybe I should try make some sort of Scottish or Celtic design??” *Open google to search what traditional Scottish designs might entail* “Oh, celtic knots/crosses, of course, but good Lord, do I really want to try PIPE a celtic knot or cross on top??” Well I couldn’t just give up after that whole debacle, so I brainstormed and designed for an unnecessary amount of time, and settled on a sort of Celtic pattern around the edge, and a strip of stylized thistle flowers slightly offset from the center, crossing the top.
I gotta put my Fine Arts degree to use somehow okay, don’t judge me.
I discovered that purple thistle flowers are commonly used in Scottish designs, and thought of as sort of the national flower of Scotland? According to “Google” this is the reason why: “According to a legend, an invading Norse army was attempting to sneak up at night upon a Scottish army’s encampment. During this operation one barefoot Norseman had the misfortune to step upon a thistle, causing him to cry out in pain, thus alerting Scots to the presence of the Norse invaders.” So…yeah. Thistles!
This was kind of a super easy recipe that didn’t offer much to learn, especially since the baking portion included mixing butter, flour and sugar together and baking it…
But alas…It was good, and I have no regrets. Because I got to do what I do best, and put waaaay too much effort into the visual aspects!
The recipe said to use a 9″ square pan, which I did not have, so I instead used a 9″ round cake pan. Worked fine!
Notes: I am trying to get in the habit of using my kitchen scale to measure out ingredients, since that is generally more precise than using measuring cups. This recipe offered measurements in ounces, grams and cups. I used ounces.
Here is the recipe I used, gotten from here: >>CLICK ON MEEE<<
Traditional Scottish Caramel Shortbread
Ingredients (Biscuit Base):
8oz (200g or two US cups) plain flour
6oz (150g or 1� US sticks) margarine
30z (75g or half US cup) caster (fine white) sugarIngredients (Filling):
2oz (25g or � US stick) margarine
2oz (25g or between a � and a � US cup) soft brown sugar
A large tin of condensed milk
8oz (200g or one US cup) light brown chocolate
Rub the margarine and flour together in a bowl until you have a mix which is similar to breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar. Spread the mixture evenly into a 9″ (23cm) square tin which has been lined with baking parchment. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 170C/340F (160C/320F if fan assisted) for approximately 35 minutes until it is golden brown. Allow the base to cool.
Heat the filling ingredients together in a pot, making sure that you stir it constantly (otherwise it will stick!) until it begins to simmer. Continue stitting until it thickens (which it should do in a few minutes). Spread the filling evenly over the base and again allow to cool.
Melt the chocolate so that you can spread it over the filling.
When it has cooled and you are ready to eat it, cut up into squares or rectangles with a sharp knife.