A new Ottolenghi book is always exciting news and I don’t recall a recent book everyone has been so excited to arrive as his latest offering called Sweet. It makes sense to do a book of sweet baking and desserts (I know many of his fans are happy) and you just know there will be exotic and interesting flavour combinations on most of the pages. It really is an exquisite book, as beautiful as all his previous books and these Middle Eastern Millionaire’s Shortbread was one of those recipes with an interesting combination that immediately caught my eye. I just had to make it and after a quick trip to the shops to get some halva I got stuck in.
The Middle Eastern Millionaire’s Shortbread is a layer of shortbread, spread with a mixture of halva and tahini paste and then topped with caramel layer that has a good amount of tahini paste added to it. It is rich, luxurious and very sweet but the tahini adds a welcome depth of flavour and slight bitterness to the caramel. The shortbread is made with cooled melted butter rather than softened butter that I am used to and it delivers a delicious shortbread base. I think I over baked the shortbread slightly as I could not perfectly cut the shortbreads into bars and had some pieces break off when cutting. The Middle Eastern Millionaire’s Shortbread is also topped with a sprinkle of sea salt to counteract all the sugar.
The book is written with Ottolenghi’s collaborator and product developer Helen Goh. There is a wonderful story in the New York Times about how they created the recipes and you can read it here. Both recipes mentioned in the article, that chocolate cake and semolina cake look so good. But I might give the semolina cake a festive makeover for Christmas and replace the rose water with another type of syrup, maybe something citrus and boozy. Will have to give it a think. Enjoy!
PS. I think if you freeze the shortbread, chop it up roughly and mix into some vanilla ice cream you will have an amazing dessert. Let me know if you try it.
- For the shortbread:
- 40g icing sugar
- 35g cornflour
- 40g caster sugar
- 175g unsalted butter, melted, and set aside to cool slightly
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 250g plain flour
- 1/8th tsp salt
- For the halva layer:
- 200g halva, roughly crumbled into small pieces
- 80g tahini
- For the tahini caramel:
- 200g caster sugar
- 120ml water
- 100g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
- 80ml double cream
- 150g tahini paste
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C
- Line a 20cm square tin with baking paper, making sure that the paper rises up over the edges of the tin
- For the shortbread, sift the icing sugar and cornflour into the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place, then add the caster sugar and mix on a medium speed
- With the machine still running, slowly pour in the melted-but-cooled butter and beat until combined Add the vanilla and reduce the speed to low, then sift in the flour and salt and continue to beat until the dough comes together
- Tip the mixture into the tin and use your hands to pat and even out the surface
- Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown
- Remove from the oven and set aside until completely cool: this will take an hour or so, so don’t start making the caramel too soon or it will have set by the time the shortbread is cool
- For the halva layer, place the halva and tahini in a small bowl and mix with a wooden spoon to combine
- Spread the mix over the cooled shortbread and use the back of a spoon to smooth it out to an even layer
- To make the caramel, place the sugar and water into a small saucepan and place over a medium-low heat
- Stir occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved, then increase the heat to medium-high
- Bring to a boil and cook – still at a boil – for about 12 minutes, until the sugar is a deep golden brown
- Remove from the heat and add the butter and cream: take care here, as the mixture will splutter Whisk to combine and, once the butter has melted, add the tahini and salt
- Whisk to combine again, then pour evenly over the halva layer in the tin, so that all of the halva is covered
- Place in the fridge for at least 4 hours until set, before cutting into 16 bars
- Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over the middle of each bar and serve
- The shortbread layer can be made up to 4 days in advance and stored in an airtight container. It also freezes well.
- These will keep for up to 1 week in an airtight container in the fridge. Remove them from the fridge 20 minutes before serving, to take off the chill.
- Recipe from Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh
A few more of my favourite cookie and biscuit recipes :