If you watched the Great British Bake Off last year then you will have seen Candice Brown join the likes of Nadiya Hussain and John Whaite as she became the latest winner.
Candice was my favourite from the start. Not only were her bakes impressive, but I loved how she pushed her baking above and beyond as well as the vintage accessories she placed her bakes on. Plus who could resist tuning in to see what lipstick shade she would wear next. Now her debut cookbook Comfort is out and when I discovered that she was doing a book signing in WHSmith in Bristol (on my day off), I promised Tom lunch in exchange for a lift.
Candice was gorgeous and down to earth, just as she seemed on GBBO. As I watched her on the telly, spoke to her in person and read the introductory pages of her cookbook, I felt many similarities between us. So while I like her advice on making notes on the pages and folding down the corners, I can’t do that to this beautiful book. I will however let my inner Candice come out – I’ll experiment, salvage bakes that go wrong and continue to push myself, who knows, maybe one day I’ll make my own gingerbread sculpture. In the meantime, I’ve decided to bake a decadent, sweet treat from Comfort, the millionaire shortbread hearts.
I don’t usually choose biscuit recipes as it’s not one of my strengths, but like many recipes in this book, the picture captivated me. The recipe was a good one to start with though, simple and sweet and I have obviously learnt from past biscuit ventures, as for once I felt like I had done alright.
In her book, Candice highlights that they would be good for gifts, which is exactly what I did as I packaged up some of the finished biscuits for my grandparents. If you too would like to give these a go, then the recipe is below. Happy Baking!
Millionaire Shortbread Hearts, Comfort by Candice Brown, p.82-83
For the caramel:
120g unsalted butter
120g light brown muscovado sugar
100ml double cream
½ teaspoon of rock salt (optional)
For the shortbread hearts:
85g golden caster sugar
170g unsalted butter
230g plain flour
25g ground almonds
A pinch of salt
For the topping:
150g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
50g good-quality white chocolate
Toasted flaked almonds
To make the caramel, melt the butter and sugar on a medium heat, swirling the mixture to prevent it from sticking to the pan
When the sugar has dissolved, allow the mixture to bubble and froth until it turns to a golden caramel colour
Remove from the heat, add the double cream and whisk thoroughly until smooth and thick
Sprinkle with salt, then transfer to a bowl and pop in the fridge to cool and thicken
To make the shortbread, beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
Add the flour, ground almonds and salt and mix together briefly with your hands – do not overwork the dough
Wrap the dough in cling film and pop in the fridge for 30 minutes
Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C if it’s a fan assisted oven) and line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the shortbread dough to about 3mm thick
Using a heart shaped cutter, cut out the hearts and place onto the baking trays. Re-roll the dough trimmings and continue to cut out the heart shapes until the dough is used up
Return to the fridge to firm up for 20 minutes
Then pop them in the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes until lightly golden and set – keep an eye on the shortbread during baking to ensure the edges do not catch
Remove from the oven. If the heart shapes have spread a bit, you can trim the edges using the cutter but you will need to be quick and do this before the biscuits set
Allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely
To toast the almonds, preheat the oven to 180°C
Scatter some flaked almonds onto a lined baking tray and pop them in the oven for 3 minutes. Check how they look, give them a shake and return to the oven for a minute at a time until you reach the desired colour.
Once the biscuits are cool, turn over half of the heart biscuits and put a dollop of the homemade caramel onto the centre of each base
Set a second heart biscuit on top and press down lightly
Place the sandwiched biscuits in one layer on a flat tray lined with greaseproof paper
Melt the dark chocolate in a bowl and drizzle over the top of the hearts
Melt the white chocolate in a bowl and then drizzle over the top of the hearts
Sprinkle toasted flaked almonds on to the chocolate so they stick
Leave to set in a cool place