The only thing I love more than chocolate, or caramel, or cocoa pops, is all three combined, and today’s recipe is the Holy Grail. I think I’d like to be buried with a plate of these caramel crispie squares.
This started as Millionaire’s Shortbread. I saw a recipe in the newspaper and wanted to try it, but it required things like caramel and a sugar thermometer and an awful lot of patience, and naturally, I decided against toying with any of those three things. In the far recesses of my mind, I knew I’d made a caramel filling once from condensed milk so I bought a tin- convinced the recipe would come back to me eventually- and by some sort of divine intervention, the recipe was right there on the side of the tin.
I didn’t really fancy following the recipe on the tin, of course. I use recipes more like guides, and just sort of, improvise as I go. It’s much more fun and there’s a sense of panic at every stage when you remember you’re not quite sure where you’re going with it…
So this is a combination of about three things- the recipe on the carnation condensed milk tin, something we sell at work, and using up some stuff I found in the back of the cupboard. And it turned out ah-mazing. Seriously. The cripsie base of these squares is a great way to make millionaire’s shortbread a little bit different. You can swap the cocoa pops for plain puffed rice if you don’t want it quite so chocolatey, or swap the dark chocolate for milk chocolate if that’s more your thing.
You can make each stage of this recipe as you go, leave it to cool, then start the next. There’s no baking involved so you can’t forget about it and you don’t have to arrange your life around cooking times (I actually had a dentist appointment scheduled between making the caramel and the topping, but it got cancelled, thank god. Can you imagine being lectured about proper dental hygiene when you’ve got solid sugar chilling in your fridge?) This recipe is so easy, but it looks pretty impressive and in my mind that’s exactly the type of thing I want- minimal effort, maximum effect, and stacks of sugar!
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MAKES 20 pieces (one 21cm square)
PREP 30 mins
CHILL TIME 1hr 20 mins total
▪ Will keep in an airtight container for three days
FOR THE CRISPIE BASE
100g dark chocolate
100g cocoa pops
FOR THE CARAMEL
150g softened butter
397g (1 tin) condensed milk
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
FOR THE CHOCOLATE TOPPING
150g dark chocolate
25g white chocolate
1 Line the base and sides of a 21cm square tin with baking parchment.
2 To make the base, begin by melting the dark chocolate. You can do this in the microwave easily by heating for short 30 second intervals and stirring well between each turn until smooth. Stir in the cocoa pops and coat well, then press into the base of the lined tin. Leave for about 20 minutes to set.
3 Whilst the base is setting, make the caramel filling. Melt the butter and sugar over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved and the butter is melted, and the two have combined. Add the condensed milk, then turn the heat up to high and keep stirring. When the mixture reaches a rapid boil, let it bubble for about 2-3 minutes or until it turns a straw colour and begins to thicken. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt. Pour evenly over the base, reserving about 2tbsp to pour on top, then leave to set for 30 minutes.
4 Finally, melt the dark chocolate and white chocolate for the topping in separate bowls in the microwave as before. Pour the dark chocolate over the caramel, then drizzle over the white chocolate and use a cocktail stick to swirl the two together to make a marble pattern. Drizzle the reserved caramel sauce over the chocolate (it may need to be heated in the microwave for about 20 seconds to make it pourable). Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes to set the chocolate, then remove from the tin and cut into 20 small squares.▪