Your definition of “tea” largely depends on where you were raised, and perhaps how much BBC television you watched as a child.
For some, tea is a steaming mug of English Breakfast with milk and sugar sipped in a coffee house while tapping on a laptop keyboard. For others, it’s a delicate cup of matcha accompanying a platter of sushi. To some, “tea” means a decadent, mid-afternoon splurge at The Plaza, plates towering with ornate pastries, delicate cookies, and scones slathered with strawberry jam and clotted cream. And for others, it means a light early evening meal of sandwiches, cold meats, pickles, fish, and maybe a little cake.
So, when this month’s Lets’s Lunch challenge of “High Tea” was announced, my imagination ricocheted from definition to definition to definition.
Once the image of a gooey square of Millionaire’s Shortbread bounded through my brain, though, all other thoughts went out the window. Have you ever tasted this decadent wonder? A base of buttery shortbread, topped by a layer of oozy, rich caramel, covered by a final layer of chocolate? If you have, you know why I’m lamenting the fact that I made the ones pictured above some weeks ago and there are no more in the house.
If you haven’t, well, then… allow me to introduce you!
I first tasted Millionaire’s Shortbread when we visited Scotland a year ago this month. On a trip full of wonderful things, Millionaire’s Shortbread was a standout. We sampled it wherever we found it, but our favorite incarnation was served here, at The Elephant House, where JK Rowling began to write a story about The Boy Who Lived.
I’m sure someone sells these treats in our part of the planet, but I haven’t seen them in any bakery windows near me. So I decided to learn how to make them myself. Fortunately, they are blindingly simple to make (which is a good thing considering how quickly they disappear). They are particularly easy if you have a source of ready-made caramel sauce (many grocery and specialty food shops sell dulce de leche in jars), but making your own caramel sauce isn’t hard at all (you can see an easy recipe here, among many other places).
This morning there was frost on the ground and a thin layer of ice on the water buckets in the barn. I have a fire going now, and the caramel-colored dog has rolled himself into a tight donut beside it. I have a mug of black, black tea sweetened with honey. Although I don’t have any Millionaire’s Shortbread in the larder, I’m planning on sharing tea today with my fellow Let’s Lunchers. I can’t wait to see what they bring to the table!
Won’t you take tea with us? Here’s what the rest of the Let’s Lunchers have cooked up for you:
Little Lemon Meringue Tarts ~ from Lisa at Monday Morning Cooking Club
Lemon-Lime Shortbread cookies, Apple-Cheddar Scones, and making High Tea work in real life ~ from Steff at The Kitchen Trials
Ginger Tea and Kaya Toast ~ from Linda at spicebox travels
Tea with Spiced Chickpea and Sweet Potato Tidbits ~ from Rashda at Hot Curries & Cold Beer
Welsh Rarebit ~ from Patrick at Patrick G. Lee
Sweet Potato Tea Bars ~ from Cathy at Showfood Chef
Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches ~ from Charissa at Zest Bakery
Taiwanese Sandwiches ~ from Grace at HapaMama
Cheese & Onion Sarnie ~ from Cheryl at A Tiger in the Kitchen
Brown Sugar Shortbreads ~ from Emma at Dreaming of Pots and Pans
Mesquite Hemp Cocoa ~ from Linda at Free Range Cookies
Saskatoon Berry Tartlets ~ from Karen at GeoFooding
Cougar Gold and Shallot Shortbread ~ from Mai at Cooking in the Fruit Bowl
(Adapted from Millionaire’s Shortbread at Food52)
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- t tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into small pieces
- 1 cup cajeta, dulce-de-leche, or other caramel sauce (I use David Lebovitz’ recipe for goat-milk cajeta in his terrific ice cream book, The Perfect Scoop. If you are making your own cajeta or dulce-de-leche, make it before you make the shortbread.)
- 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
- 1/2 cup cream, half-and-half, or milk (I used whole goat milk)
- With a rack in the center of the oven, preheat to 350°F.
- Put the flour and salt in a bowl and blend with a whisk.
- Whisk in the sugar
- Add the butter and stir with a fork until just combined, forming a soft dough.
- Gently pat the dough into a 9-inch square baking pan. Don’t press hard. Small holes and gaps are fine.
- Bake for about 25 minutes, until it is just turning slightly golden and the surface looks dry.
- Allow the shortbread to cool while you prepare the other ingredients.
- If the caramel is cold, warm it gently in a double-boiler, hot-water bath, or microwave oven until it is pourable.
- Pour the caramel over the shortbread base, tipping the pan to spread the caramel evenly.
- Refrigerate the shortbread and caramel while you make the chocolate layer.
- In a small saucepan, bring the cream or milk to a boil.
- Remove from the heat, add the chocolate, and stir or whisk until the chocolate is smooth and shiny. This will take only a minute or so.
- Allow the chocolate to cool for a few minutes, remove the shortbread pan from the refrigerator, and then pour the chocolate mixture over the caramel layer, tipping the pan to spread the chocolate evenly.
- Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, then cut and serve.