Christmas was odd this year because December was such a whirlwind. It was early in the month and then we were back from Ireland and it was suddenly Christmas. I did all of my shopping in Ireland but the timing didn’t leave me much time to bake.
I did end up making Wellington Squares, which I had for the first time at Avoca during our day in Wicklow/Kilmacanogue. We were getting lunch and there was a huge spread of pastries and cookies out, which I was about to pass up, and then I remembered I was on vacation so I picked up a Wellington Square. At the time I didn’t know what it was called, but my boyfriend’s sister mentioned them by name later in the trip. When we got home I looked up the recipe (cookbooks are just too heavy to buy and then pack) and decided to make them for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
There are two issues with the recipe: One, you have to convert all the quantities to US measurements (I have conveniently done this for you!); and two, a couple of the ingredients are not what I’d call readily available. The conversion thing isn’t a huge issue thanks to Google (and uh, math, I guess) although you want to be quite careful you’re converting correctly. The ingredients in question are Lyle’s Golden Syrup (I ordered mine from Amazon and Cookbook told me she’s seen it at World Market; apparently it’s easier to find in larger cities such as New York and San Francisco) and caster sugar, which I found at Whole Foods. Caster sugar is superfine, but not powdered, sugar, and you should be able to find it more easily than the syrup.
They are fantastic. The caramel layer is worth the near hour you spend simmering and stirring it and the shortbread layer is delicately crumbly, sweet and slightly salty.
The recipe makes a good quantity of squares, depending on how large you cut them. They’re fairly rich and sweet so a smaller square is just as much of a treat as a larger one. I cut them in a good size and stacked them in treat bags to give to a few people on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I got between three and four dozen squares.
I ended up using a small jelly roll pan as well as a Pyrex dish for these because the recipe made so much. I had better results with the jelly roll pan, probably because I lined the bottom of it with parchment paper (which I highly recommend). Either way, grease your pan with butter before putting the squares together. I sliced the squares when they were just set and didn’t have too much trouble with the chocolate cracking, but you do want to be a bit gentle with it.
scant 3c self-rising flour (or use all-purpose flour and add 3t baking powder and 3/4t salt)
1/2c caster sugar
1c caster sugar
scant 1c butter
5T Lyle’s Golden Syrup
2/3c sweetened condensed milk (or, an entire 397ml can of Nestle’s)
3/4lbs candy melts, milk chocolate or dark chocolate
white chocolate candy melts for decoration (optional)
Preheat oven to 350. Cube the butter and using a pastry blender, incorporate into flour until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and press into a 9×13 baking tray or jelly roll pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden. Set aside to cool.
For the caramel, over medium heat melt together butter, caster sugar, golden syrup and condensed milk in a medium saucepan. Stir continuously for 40-50 minutes until the mixture has thickened and become a nice golden color. Spread the caramel mixture evenly over the crust and set aside to firm up.
Melt chocolate according to package directions and spread evenly over the caramel to set. Melt white candy melts for drizzling if desired. Once the chocolate has set, cut into squares and serve.