One thing I have learnt over my years spent in the kitchen is not to be too quick to judge a recipe by its ingredients. Sometimes the most unlikely bedfellows can give surprisingly good results.
The addition of something savoury to something sweet (and vise-versa) can enhance the flavour and create hidden depth. A square of chocolate added to a chilli con carne, a few grindings of black pepper over a tropical fruit salad, a teaspoon or two of Marmite in a caramel spread . . . yes you did read that right . . . . Marmite and caramel, who would have thought they would work so well together!
I didn’t want to overpower the flavour of caramel, I just wanted to give it that umami kick, but of course you can adjust the amount of Marmite to suit your own personal taste.
Whether you are a lover or a hater of this savoury spread, give these a try. I don’t think you will be disappointed.
SAVOURY CARAMEL SHORTBREAD
For the Shortbread:
225 grams plain flour
175 grams unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
75 grams caster sugar
For the caramel:
50 grams light brown sugar
30 grams butter
180 grams sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon crunchy peanut butter
2 teaspoons Marmite
100 g dark chocolate
Preheat the oven to 170°C / 150°C fan / Gas 3. Grease and line a 25 cm square tin with baking paper.
Put the flour and butter in a large mixing bowl and rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs (this can also be done by pulsing in a food processor).
Add the sugar and stir or pulse until well mixed.
Tip the loose mixture into the prepared tin and press it down firmly to create an even, compact layer.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes, or until the top is a pale biscuit colour. Remove from the oven and place the tin on a wire rack. Leave to cool while you make the caramel.
Place the brown sugar and butter in a heavy based saucepan over a low heat. Stir continuously until the butter has melted. Add 1 tablespoon of water and continue to cook, stirring, until the sugar has completely dissolved.
Remove from the heat and beat in the condensed milk. Return to the heat and continue to stir until the mixture starts to bubble, about 30 seconds. Add the peanut butter, Marmite and a pinch of salt, mix well.
Continue to cook, stirring until the mixture thickens to a soft, spreadable consistency – about 1 minute. If the mixture thickens too much you can loosen it up with a splash of boiling water.
Spoon the caramel over the shortbread and spread into an even layer with a pallet knife. Set aside until completely cold.
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a simmering pan of hot water. When melted spread quickly over the top of the caramel in a thin layer. Leave in a cool place until completely set before cutting into squares.