I am obsessed with the Great British Bake Off. Like, so obsessed I’ve probably watched each episode of EACH season about 12 times. And as a baker myself, I find what they create so inspiring.
A while ago my friend Barbara and her son made the Millionaire Jaffa Shortbread desserts that Sophie made on season 8. She didn’t make them as individual rounds like Sophie did (she needed them to be patissere window quality, while any normal person does not), but she did tell me that they were “something special.”
I found the recipe and converted the grams to ounces so that this American cook could attempt it. And then I let it sit. For ages.
Until yesterday. I just really needed to bake. I needed something that could be fussy and take my mind off of the enormous amount of stress that I’m dealing with right now and yet have a really delicious pay-off. I didn’t want to waste my time and then have more stress because one of my bakes failed (yet again. someday I will tell you all about the Yorkshire Pudding Incident. Actually that could be a great band name. Dibs!)
Anyway, I decided to make the actual fussy, individual, cylinder-shaped Millionaire Jaffa Shortbread.
I’d never heard of millionaire shortbread before this episode. It turns out it’s like a Twix candy bar. Shortbread base, caramel layer, and chocolate on top. Usually these are made in a pan and just sliced into squares and served. Twix is my favorite candy bar ever and so I was pretty excited to find out that I could actually make these in my home!
I’d also never heard of Jaffa Cakes before GBBO. (The J in Jaffa is capitalized because it refers to a particular type of orange.) It was a technical challenge in Season 4, episode 1. The base is a sort of a yellow cake and is topped by a small dish of orange jelly and covered with tempered chocolate.
This particular recipe combines the orange of the Jaffa cakes with the shortbread and caramel goodness of the millionaire shortbread.
It also calls for a tempered chocolate disk, but I skipped that part because I just decided not to do it.
Here we go…
Sophie’s Millionaire’s Jaffa Shortbread
For the Shortbread
3.5 oz cornstarch
3.5 oz powdered sugar
5.6 oz flour
7 oz butter, chilled and diced (but I found that I needed the full cup of butter because American butter doesn’t have as much fat as the European butter)
1 tsp vanilla
the finely grated zest of one orange
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a food processor, pulse together the cornstarch, powdered sugar, and flour to blend. Then add the butter, vanilla, and orange zest and turn the processor on until it all comes together in a sort of ball.
(I started with the 7 ounces of butter and forgot the zest, but the dough wouldn’t come together and it was a pale crumbly mass that fell apart like beach sand when I tried to get this crap to come together as a dough. In desperation I put it all back in my processor, added the last tablespoon of butter and then the zest and it came together like a dream. And the zest gave the dough a really lovely light orange color, too.)
Dump it out of the processor and onto a baking sheet covered with a Silpat or parchment paper. I suggest rolling it out from here. I think I rolled mine out way to thin. It should be twice that thickness so the layers are all equal. Live and learn. If you are NOT crazy like me and cutting these into individual rounds you can press this into an 8-inch square pan lined with parchment paper.
Dock with a fork so the dough doesn’t puff up and chill for 15 minutes. Then bake for 17 – 20 or until a pale golden color.
If you are cutting them out, use a cutter that is 6cm across and do it while they are warm. They will cut much more smoothly. Use a spatula or pancake turner to scoop them out and then place them on a clean cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Take some acetate sheets and cut them into strips of 22cm long by 4 cm wide. Wrap them tightly around the base of the shortbread and secure the edges of the acetate with tape. The tighter the better as the caramel will leak down, as you will see. Set them aside for later. (You can do this set while you wait for the caramel to cool.)
4 oz (1 stick) butter
125 ml heavy cream
1/2 tsp salt
7 oz sugar
50 ml water
In a small saucepan, slowly heat the butter, salt, and the cream together until it is almost boiling.
In a medium, heavy-bottomed sauce pan, heat the sugar and the water together on medium heat until the sugar is melted. Then increase the heat to med-high and bring the liquid to a boil. Boil it until it turns from clear to a lovely light brown sugar color. Careful not to let it get too brown or it will taste burnt!
Remove the pan from the heat and very carefully add the hot cream and butter – pouring in a steady stream.
Warning! This will bubble, foam, and spit! You will burn yourself if you are not careful!
Put the pan back onto the heat and bring the temperature up to 230F/110C on a sugar thermometer. Cool the caramel to between 95F to 105F (35-40C). This will take at least 20 minutes and the caramel will thicken and look a little greasy. Once it is cool measure out 2T for each shortbread round and pour into your acetate molds.
Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Orange Chocolate Ganache
300 ml orange juice (I used the juice of the orange I grated the zest off of and then used store bought juice to make up the rest. If you can’t find a Jaffa orange grown on the hillside of Jerusalem, watered by the Jordan River, and picked by the descendants of Egyptian pharaohs, store bought is fine.)
2.6 oz dark chocolate
2.6 oz milk chocolate
2.6 oz heavy cream
In a small saucepan, bring the orange juice to boiling and keep it boiling until it is reduced in volume to about 1/4 cup or 50ml. This will take about 20 minutes, but watch it because once you are near the end it can burn quite easily. (Ask me how I know!) Set it aside while you work on your ganache.
Chop the chocolate into small pieces and combine them in a heat-proof bowl (I use metal or a Pyrex measuring cup). Heat the cream to the boiling point and then pour it over the chocolate. Let them sit together for 30 seconds and and then stir them together until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is very smooth.
Add the orange syrup you made and stir together well.
Spoon 2 tablespoons of the ganache over each layer of caramel.
Let this chill for about 20 minutes. At this point you can follow the directions from Sophie and temper some chocolate to make disks for the top, but I preferred to save my energy for the eating.
Right before you serve them, gently peel off the acetate from the rounds. The caramel, being caramel, will stick, so I had to use a very sharp parring knife to peel them away from the acetate. But here are the results!
They were gorgeous to eat! The orange in the ganache really packs a wallop of flavor. It’s almost overwhelming it’s so much orange. And the bitterness of the dark chocolate helps to cut the sweetness of the caramel really nicely. The shortbread has a nice subtle orange flavor and my oldest wanted to eat all my off-cuts. The ganache has a nice shine to it so you could get away with not having a chocolate disk on top.
You do want to keep these refrigerated as the caramel will start to loose it’s shape and bow out in the middle. But they would be lovely as a sweet treat at a small gathering with friends or as a special dessert for a larger party.
I had fun making them. I know I said they were fussy, but it was really just because of all the steps. If you have the time they are fun to make and even better to eat!
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