Something lovely in the afternoon…
I’m a big fan of afternoon tea. There’s something particularly lovely (and properly indulgent) about sitting down to a selection of tiny, perfect sandwiches, exquisite little cakes, and proper tea from a warmed teapot (not just a mug-and-a-bag).
Martina Jackson, who already supplies coffee shops and caterers locally with cakes of all varieties, has built her own love of a perfectly-brewed cuppa and a vintage cake-stand into SerendipiTea — bringing a pop-up tea party, complete with everything, to wherever you’d like to have tea. Your living room, your garden, the village hall, wherever.
I’m hoping to book SerendipiTea for my littlest’s next birthday party. Martina can also tailor her tea parties to small folk — mainly little girlies, let’s face it — where the guests get to sip hot chocolate from pretty vintage teacups, scoff Nutella sandwiches, and decorate their own sparkly cupcakes as well. I can almost hear the squeals of delight already…
I’ve managed to persuade Martina to share one of her closely-guarded recipes with us, and this one’s a doozie. As well as the ‘at home’ pop-up tea parties that she loves to do, Martina also bakes for a local company who provides coffee and treats on set for some serious movie stars.
So serious, in fact, that none other than Jude Law (sigh…) put in a special request to have her Millionaires’ Shortbread on set every day. He couldn’t get enough of it, by all accounts. So, if you bake this and eat it, you’re technically sharing something lovely in the afternoon with Jude Law…
Into the kitchen, lovelies!
Martina’s Millionaires’ Shortbread
What you’ll need to make 24 squares of shortbread….
140g Caster sugar
280g butter, softened
420g Plain Flour
220g Caster sugar
1 tin of sweetened condensed milk
Just enough to cover the caramel when it’s melted. How thick it ends up being, well, that’s up to you.
What to do…
Line two 34cm x 20cm brownie tins with grease proof paper
Preheat oven to 180c.
Mix all the shortbread base ingredients together in a large bowl. Divide the mixture evenly between the brownie tins and press it into the base of the tins.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20mins.
Pop all the caramel ingredients into a saucepan and stir over a medium heat. Bring to the boil and stir continuously for about 15 minutes (think how toned your arms will get!) until the caramel has turned a deep brown colour. Please be careful: the caramel gets very hot and will start spitting when it starts to boil. Best plan is to wear oven gloves and try to stand to the side. You must keep stirring continuously though, to prevent the caramel from catching on the bottom of the pan – and you having to start all over again. (Or just eat the shortbread on its own.)
Set the caramel aside to cool slightly and thicken. It’ll also get a bit deeper in colour.
Once the shortbread has cooled, pour on the caramel, dividing it evenly between the two tins (and trying not to lick the spoon). Then let that all set for a couple of hours.
Melt the chocolate (you’ve not been ‘testing’ it, have you?) and then pour it evenly over the two caramel-shortbread bases. Let that cool and set – be patient! – before you cut it into pieces.
And remember, it’s good to share….