Spiderweb shortcakes

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We whipped these caramel shortbread spiderwebs up for our Halloween party last night and the little ones adored them. They’re easy to make yet look so effective – a perfect bit of baking to do with the children the night before Halloween.

Equipment: 12 cupcake cases – silicone work best, but paper ones will do.

Oven: 160 fan/180c/Gas Mark 4

Serves: 10-12


THE INGREDIENTS


Shortbread:

  • 80g butter
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 140g plain flour

Caramel:

  • 90g light muscovado sugar
  • 90g butter
  • 315g condensed milk

Chocolate topping:

  • 200g chocolate – we used a mix of 100g milk chocolate and 100g dark chocolate to cut through the sweetness since pure milk chocolate can be too sickly with the sweetness of the base and caramel centre.
  • 50g white chocolate

 


THE PREP


I used ordinary paper cupcake cases, but silicone ones work best if you can find some.

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 fan/180c/Gas Mark 4.
  2. Starting with the shortbread layer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the plain flour and using your fingers, work together to a crumbly but moist dough.
  4. Place a spoonful into each cupcake case, about 20g or so, and press down with the back of a spoon until firm and smooth.
  5. Pop the shortbread bases in the oven for 12 minutes and set aside to cool.
  6. Next, the caramel layer – in a heavy bottomed, non-stick milk pan gently melt together the condensed milk, butter and muscovado sugar until blended, stirring frequently.
  7. Once combined, turn up the heat a little and bring the mixture to a gentle boil, stirring continuously (as you don’t want your mixture to catch and burn) for fifteen to twenty minutes until you have a perfect caramel.
  8. Divide the mix between your cases, adding it carefully on top of the shortbread layer with a spoon. Be careful as it is incredibly hot and will burn. 
  9. Allow them to cool completely until the caramel has set.
  10. Once set, melt the milk chocolate (or milk and dark) in a bain marie. At the same time, in a separate bain marie melt the white chocolate. Different chocolate brands behave differently – some struggle to melt well, particularly white chocolate which can cause all sorts of headaches, so it can take a bit of trial and error to find out which work best. We’ve found that Waitrose own brand chocolate behaves really well – the chocolate doesn’t melt too thick or two runny, but to a perfect consistency.
  11. Pop your melted white chocolate into a piping bag.
  12. Taking no more than one or two cakes at a time, pour your melted milk chocolate onto the top of the caramel, pushing it into the edges with your spoon and making the layer as flat as you can. You need the milk chocolate to still be liquid for the white chocolate webbing to work so it’s important to complete them just one or two at a time.
  13. Now pipe your white chocolate onto the milk chocolate surface in three concentric circle – they don’t need to be perfect.
  14. Using the tip of a cocktail stick, drag it from the centre of the chocolate out towards the edge and repeat round the face of the cupcake dividing it into eighths, keeping the cocktail stick clean as you go for best results.
  15. Now pop them somewhere cool to set – if needed they can go in the fridge, but the best place is a cool larder.
  16. Finally, turn them out of their cases and serve them up!

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