This all-time favourite shortbread dessert used to be only for very special occasions, and had a reputation for ruining many a well-intended diet with its high sugar levels. Now, however, you can enjoy it with quite a bit less guilt, as the caramel is made with dates and coconut oil. The layers work together beautifully, and the sea salt balances out the sweetness well. Worth the try and the treat!
For the shortbread
- 180g plain flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 100g coconut oil, at room temperature
- 50g coconut sugar
- A little coarse sea salt, to sprinkle
For the caramel
- 300g pitted dates
- 100g coconut oil, melted
- 150g coconut cream
- 2 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp salt
For the glaze
- 100g vegan dark chocolate (60-70% cocoa solids), roughly chopped
- 2 tsp coconut oil
1. Preheat the oven to 190º C (170º C fan, gas 5). Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Add the coconut oil to the flour, then rub the oil into the flour using your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over the sugar and stir in 4-6 tbsp water, just enough to bring the mixture together to form a dough. If the dough feels a little dry, add a further 1-2 tbsp water.
2. Put the dough into a 20cm square tin. Using your hands, press the mixture into the base until you have an even layer.
3. Bake in the centre of the oven for 40-50 minutes until the shortbread has turned a light golden colour. Allow to cool in the tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then carefully remove the shortbread onto the wire rack and leave to cool completely.
4. To make the caramel, put the dates into a high-speed blender or food processor and add the coconut oil, coconut cream, vanilla and salt. Process at high speed until you have a smooth, glossy texture.
5. Line the base and sides of your 20cm square tin with a layer of cling film – this will help you get the shortbread out later. Put the cooled shortbread in the bottom of the tin and then pout the date caramel over the top. Use a spatula to smooth the caramel as flat as possible. Put the tin into the freezer for 30 minutes.
6. To make the glaze, melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl does not touch the water. (Alternatively, put the ingredients in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave on full power for 30 seconds.) Stir with a small whisk or spoon until the chocolate and oil have combined completely.
7. Remove the caramel shortbread from the freezer and, using the cling film as a lever, remove the shortbread from the tin and put it onto the wire rack. Put a large plate underneath the rack to catch any drips. Pour the chocolate over the caramel shortbread and, working quickly, use the spatula to spread a thin layer over the top. Sprinkle a little course sea salt over the top, if you like.
8. Once the chocolate has gone from shiny to dull, it is ready to cut. Transfer to a chopping board and cut into 25 pieces. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
This Millionaire’s Shortbread Recipe
Lucy Watson, from whose cookbook we extracted this recipe, is queen of vegan cooking and delish, wholesome meals. Click here for her chocolate fondant volcano pudding – also vegan, also mouthwateringly good.