have you seen that british heritage brand wedgwood have just launched a new website, behind the blue door, which shares inspirational food, drink, style and culture with a particular focus on afternoon tea, weekend brunch and decadent dinners?
to celebrate the launch of the site, wedgwood asked me to style up my own little contemporary tea party and share a recipe for my favourite afternoon delight. well, whenever i plan a little shindig for my nearest and dearest there’s only one person i turn to to whip up some delectable treats: my bestie, charlotte white a.k.a restoration cake.
so, we dug out my favourite wedgwood pieces from the kitchen dresser – i bought these beautiful ethereal teacups and plates nearly ten years ago now – and paired them with my most recent wedgwood acquisition; a beautiful copper hued neo-classical teapot with smart tailored pinstripes. the perfect pairing on which to debut charlotte’s new recipe for vegan salted caramel shortbread, don’t you agree?
let me backtrack a little here and explain how this recipe came to be. millionaire’s shortbread has always been a favourite of mine, ever since i was seduced by the rich buttery layers of crumbly shortbread, sticky caramel and chocolate of my glaswegian aunt’s baking when i was a youngster. a few months back charlotte posted her own take on this classic scottish treat – with a contemporary salty twist – on her instagram feed (recipe here), and i immediately messaged her, cheekily asking for a vegan version as i’ve given up dairy over the past few years.
never one to shy away from a challenge, charlotte managed to negotiate the minefield of swapping out butter and condensed milk for dairy-free substitutes to achieve marvellous results! she’s quick to point out the recipe isn’t 100% perfect just yet (although i quite frankly disagree) and you’ll most definitely be left with sticky fingers as the caramel is far more gooey (read: better) than the original recipe. you can see a side-by-side comparison of the two below, with the vegan version with lighter coloured caramel sat atop the dairy version. just look at all that oozing caramel… ok, you can stop licking the screen now!
so, without further ado, here’s the recipe to create your very own slice of vegan heaven:
charlotte white’s vegan salted caramel shortbread
you will need:
a small brownie tin (around 20x30cm) – lined with greaseproof paper or lightly greased
pre-heat your oven to 160 degrees
225g dairy-free margarine
100g caster sugar
225g plain flour
*the addition of semolina here creates a wonderful crunch to the shortbread – you can replace this with more flour if you cannot get hold of semolina.
pop all of these ingredients into a mixer and combine until one glorious lump of cookie dough.
press into the bottom of your brownie tin and ensure that the dough is well pressed into all of the edges of your tin and nice and level on top. prick the shortbread all over with a fork – this ensures an even bake and prevents the shortbread puffing up in the oven.
bake for 35 minutes until golden. leave the tin to cool on a wire rack while you make the caramel.
150g dairy-free margarine
175g caster sugar
650ml coconut milk
1tsp sea salt flakes
put all of the ingredients, with the exception of the salt, into a heavy saucepan and turn on to a high heat. you are going to think that i am insane – the margarine will float around in the coconut milk and look about as unappetising as it is possible to look. eventually, the margarine and sugar will melt into the coconut milk and bubble nicely.
you will need to bubble this concoction for quite some time, stirring often and watching pretty much constantly. this is a labour of love and will take around 30 minutes to reduce into a pale caramel. you are looking for the caramel to thicken sufficiently to be able to part the mixture in the saucepan with your spoon. stir in your salt at this point.
remove the caramel from the heat and pour straight onto your shortbread, still in the brownie tin. once you have every scrap of caramel in one delightfully flat layer, leave this to cool completely again and transfer to the fridge once cool.
300g dark chocolate
(i used half 85% cocoa & half 70% cocoa)
melt your chocolate, either in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water or gently and slowly in a microwave, until no lumps remain. stir the chocolate for a few moments to cool it slightly before pouring this over your set caramel. leave this to cool and harden at room temperature to preserve its shine. if you would like an extra hit of salt, sprinkle some attractive looking salt flakes over the chocolate layer while still wet so that they will stick into the chocolate as it hardens. i use savor & sens sel tres or gold salt but i think that himalayan pink salt would look amazing too!
you will need to put this in the freezer for around an hour before you attempt to cut slices as the caramel is only very softly set. serve at room temperature or fridge chilled. the resulting shortbread is heavenly but the caramel will ooze as you nibble, so ensure that you have a plate or a bib to hand!
p.s. love this recipe? you can find more wonderful cake recipes & decorating ideas in charlotte’s latest book, deliciously decorated.