Spotted Nutellionaire’s Shortbread

Polka dotted. I was extremely puzzled the first time I heard this word. Why? In Italy, the Polka is a traditional type of dance which is usually danced by the older generations, therefore I hope you can see my confusion when I was trying to link fluffy dresses and a ballroom environment to a spotty pattern. Etymology aside, I think the juxtaposition of pearly white chocolate buttons and the dark chocolate couverture on top strongly gives this bake a real ’60s look and yet manages to keep it quite modern and upbeat. The recipe comes from the spring issue of the Feel Good Food magazine, although I modified it to have a firmer caramel layer in the middle.

You don’t need to use Nutella if you don’t want to. I know this hazelnut spreadable paste is the subject of controversy, namely the fact that the hazelnut content is indeed very limited (only 13% for a 400g jar). You can make your own hazelnut/chocolate spread if you want to, the Internet is full of recipes to obtain a more or less spreadable paste. However, despite all of the brouhaha, I find myself going back to Nutella all the time. It’s so convenient and, for someone who grew up in Italy, quite iconic – Ferrero is an Italian brand, after all. Don’t be scared by the list of ingredients, this traybake requires very little baking. The cake mostly needs assembling and resting in the fridge overnight with very little input needed on your part.

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Ingredients (for the shortbread base)

  • 140g unsalted butter, softened
  • 80g light soft brown sugar
  • 200g plain flour
  • 40g chopped roasted hazelnuts

Ingredients (for the Nutella layer)

  • 250g Nutella
  • 2 large eggs
  • 50g ground almonds

Ingredients (for the caramel layer)

  • 75g light soft brown sugar
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 200ml condensed milk

Ingredients (for the decoration)

  • 100ml double cream
  • 200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
  • white chocolate buttons

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 180C. Butter and line a 30x20cm Swiss roll tin (or a 22x22cm square cake tin with a removable base).
  2. For the shortbread base, in the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add the flour and cocoa powder, then fold in the chopped hazelnuts with a rubber spatula. Pour in the tin and use your hands and/or the back of a spoon to press the mixture in the corners and smooth the top. Prick liberally with a fork, then bake for 25 minutes until firm to the touch.
  3. To make the Nutella layer, whisk together the Nutella with the eggs and ground almonds, then spread onto the shortbread and smooth. Return to the oven for 10 minutes until just set. Remove the tin from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  4. To make the caramel layer, gently heat the sugar and butter in a saucepan, stirring until melted. Add the condensed milk and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5-8 minutes, stirring constantly, until the filling has thickened slightly. Pour the caramel onto the (now stone cold) Nutella layer and give the tin a gentle tap onto the work surface to remove any air bubbles. Place in the fridge to harden for at least 30 minutes.
  5. To make the chocolate ganache for the topping, finely chop the chocolate and transfer to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a saucepan until almost boiling, then pour onto the finely chopped chocolate and mix until fully melted and combined. Allow to cool slightly, then spread onto the caramel layer. Distribute the white chocolate buttons on top as you wish (I went for a very symmetrical design). Place back in the fridge to harden completely, then cut into squares and serve. Enjoy!

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