Chocolate-dipped shortbread with vanilla Salt
Vanilla salt is one of the most fashionable ingredients around right now. It’s being made and marketed by everyone from Heston at Waitrose to Halen Mon, purveyor of poshest Anglesey sea salt, and it’s turning up on menus at Michelin-star restaurants and fashionable caterers. It’s also absolutely delicious, with a heady scent that will linger on in your kitchen. It’s simple to make and is a brilliant gift to have on hand for foodie friends.
Vanilla salt can be used for a wide range of savoury dishes: it’s delicious on scallops, in scrambled eggs, or in a crust on roast lamb. It compliments a variety of veg, including Jerusalem artichoke, fennel and pumpkin. And, of course, it’s an amazing addition to sweet treats too – try it sprinkled over treacle tart, scattered on strawberries or added to cheesecake. Or try the Chocolate-dipped shortbread recipe below, as a decadent desert, a teatime treat, or a gift (perhaps to accompany a bottle of the salt, so the lucky recipient can recreate it for themselves).
- 50g Maldon or other good quality sea salt
- 2 vanilla pods
- 175g soft butter
- 75g golden caster sugar
- 175g plain flour
- 75g cornflour
Take two vanilla pods, slice them in half lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds with the back of a knife. Add 50g Maldon or other good quality sea salt, and mix well. You’ll need to use your fingers to blend some of the clumps of vanilla seeds into the salt, and to give the salt a more uniform texture. Use a funnel to decant the salt into a 25cl Marasca bottle, and place the scraped-out vanilla pods in the bottle too. Seal and store until needed.
Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add the flours and combine. Bring the dough together with a spoon and scrape it into a 10-inch fluted flan tin, lined with non-stick baking parchment. Use the back of a spoon to spread the dough over the base of the tin, pushing it well into the edges. Prick the surface all over with a fork, and bake at 150°C for 60 minutes, until pale gold.
Remove the shortbread from the oven and use a knife to mark out 12 wedges on the surface. When it’s completely cool, remove it from the tin and slice.
In a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, melt 100g of dark chocolate. Spoon the chocolate over the pointed ends of the shortbread wedges, sprinkle with vanilla salt and allow to set.