Sticky almond and date shortbread
- January 2015
- Makes 16 slices
- Hands-on time 20 min, oven time 22-23 min
This crisp, crumbly shortbread topped with a sticky almond and date caramel is a restorative teatime treat – enjoy with a cup of tea.
Or, for a classic afternoon tea, how about making this all-butter shortbread?
- 12g (5.7g saturated)
- 21.2g (11g sugars)
- 100g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra to grease
- 50g caster sugar
- 190g plain flour
For the topping
- 60g unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp golden syrup
- 60g light brown muscovado sugar
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 100g flaked almonds
- 60g pitted dates, chopped
You will also need
- 20cm loose-bottomed square cake tin
- Grease and line the cake tin with baking paper so it overhangs the edges. Heat the oven to 200°C/fan180°C/gas 6. In a mixing bowl, cream together the 100g butter and caster sugar with an electric hand mixer until pale and fluffy. Add the flour and mix into a smooth, dry dough using a wooden spoon (see John’s golden rules).
- Work the dough lightly in the bowl until it just holds together, then press evenly and compactly into the lined cake tin. Prick the shortbread all over with a fork, bake in the heated oven for 10 minutes, then remove and allow to cool slightly.
- For the topping, melt the butter, syrup and sugar in a small heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Once melted, add the flour and beat to form a smooth paste, then add the almonds and dates. Mix until evenly coated and distributed.
- Spoon the nut mixture over the shortbread as uniformly as possible – it will even itself out in the oven – then bake for a further 12-13 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and quickly lift the shortbread out of the tin, using the baking paper overhang. Leave to cool for about 10 minutes, then cut into 16 slices using a sharp knife. Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.
The dough might seem a bit dry in step 2, but trust the recipe – it’ll be fine when it cooks.
John’s golden rules: Use butter at room temperature. Have a light hand when mixing, so the flour’s gluten doesn’t develop and make the shortbread tough, but do compact the mix into the tray or it won’t have that crispiness. Don’t add water or egg as it will alter the texture. It will be more like shortcake.
Make the shortbread 3-4 days before adding the nut topping. Store in a cool dry place in a sealed container.
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