Louisa in the Kitchen



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For a bit of comfort television I like to watch BBC show The Great British Bake Off. Last night I caught up on the latest episode where contestants were asked to make several Religieuse buns.

They say the Religieuse is supposed to resemble a round, plump nun. The French patisserie is made from 2 choux buns dipped in ganache, one smaller than the other stacked on top and both filled with creme patisserie (confectioner’s custard), finished with a little delicate cream pipping.  

Watching the program took me back to my Paris days where I would call off after work and get myself a Religieuse when I needed a pick me up. The cream filling and sticky chocolate ganache are so delicious - it is still my favorite patisserie. 

I’ve made chocolate eclairs before and choux pastry is quite easy to make, so don’t let people put you off. The tricky thing with making the Religieuse buns is to get the size right when you pipe onto the baking tray! You don’t want wobbly nuns! 

I am always a bit skeptical about these celebrity cookery shows, however I’ll admit I was pleasantly surprised with fashion model Elettra Wiedemann’s new cooking videos for Vogue.

Vogue had asked Elettra to do some cute little cookery videos - each episode she teams up with someone who inspires her to cook their favorite dish. Some of her episodes include guests such as actress Blake Lively and model Karlie Kloss, but my favorite so far has to be the one with Grace Coddington. 

The recipes are varied, they chat about cooking and there are cute little graphics that pop up on the screen to remind you of the preparation instructions. It’s all very sweet and calm. For me cooking food is very personal and calming - each cook has a different rhythm and style - so it’s great to get to see the more personal side of these celebrity guests.

Worth a watch in my opinion.

Ingredients:

Biscuit Base:

220g Self Raising Flour

175g Butter

50g Caster Sugar

Caramel Middle:

390g Condensed Milk

50g Butter

50g Caster Sugar

2tbsp Golden Syrup

Chocolate Topping:

200g Milk Chocolate (you can use white or dark instead)


Method:

  1. 1. Prepare the biscuit base first. Line your tin with greaseproof paper the sides of the tin included. You need a tin about 20cm x 8cm. If you like your caramel shortbread thin use a bigger tin if you like them tall use a smaller tin.
  2. 2. Mix the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  3. 3. Then rub in the flour in until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  4. 4. Pat the mixture down into the tin until it’s smoothed over and even. Prick lightly with a fork.
  5. 5. Bake the base in the oven at 180C for 30 minutes or until golden. 
  6. 6. Take the base out and put to once side to cool. Now you can prepare the caramel middle.
  7. 7. In a heavy based non stick sauce pan, melt the butter, sugar, syrup and condensed milk. Once it has come together stir continuously without stopping until the caramel has reduced in size and is very thick - this should take about 10 minutes to get to this consistency. Don’t leave it for a second or it will burn at the bottom.
  8. 8. Once the caramel is thick and ready pour onto the biscuit base and leave to cool.
  9. 9. Once the caramel has set you can prepare your chocolate topping.
  10. 10. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt until there are a few solid pieces left and then take off the heat and stir until fully melted. This will give the chocolate a shine when it hardens.
  11. 11. Pour the chocolate on top of the caramel and biscuit and put in the fridge to harden.
  12. 12. Once the chocolate has gone hard you can chop the squares up into whatever size pieces you prefer. Keep in a tin.

At the request of my lovely sister Lizzie I have been asked to share my secret recipe for Caramel Shortbread. They take quite a bit of time to do but they’re my Mother’s favourites so I do them for the family every time I visit home as a treat.

A few tips:

What kind of base do you like? If you like your biscuit base crunchy take some butter out if you like it soft almost fudgy add some more butter in. Crumbly texture for crunchy, doughy texture for squidgy.

How not to burn your caramel! It has taken me some practice as the caramel burns so easily and sometimes I wouldn’t have cooked it long enough and the caramel would’t set. The trick is to constantly stir the caramel, don’t leave it even for a second, until it becomes really thick and has reduced in quantity. Should look like the caramel on a twix bar. It usually takes up to 10 minutes to get to that consistency. It also helps if you use a non-stick heavy based pan.    

If you think you can handle the caramel then give the recipe a go - they’re melt in the mouth good.