You know how everything fabulous has butter in it?! This weeks Guest Blog by the talented Siobhan is no exception! We end this delicious week on a smoooooth buttery high. A big thank you to Siobhan for such a tasty week and don’t forget to check out all of Siobhan’s excellent blogs; The Novocastrian Files, Far Out Brussel Sprout and of course, Cooking from the Heart. Hope you all have a food filled weekend! – Jenny x

Lemon shortbread

Makes about 24 pieces.

Shortbread is hands down one of the easiest and quickest things to bake. Perfect for a last minute thank-you gift. This recipe is from the Rose Bakery cookbook Breakfast, Lunch, Tea and in it Rose Carrarini offers a lemon or vanilla version. If vanilla is more up your alley, replace the lemon zest for 1 tsp natural vanilla extract. Or bake both versions like I do.

I think it’s a sorry state of affairs that the biscuit tin is dying a slow death in Australian kitchens. I scored this vintage tin on eBay and use it to store my biccies safe and sound…until it comes to morning tea time and then they are annihilated. Here is your chance to bring the biscuit tin back to life.  Simply bake a batch of shortbread, pop them in a tin and hand it over to your neighbour as a ‘time we took this relationship beyond a nod and wave when putting the garbage out’ gift.

250g cold unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
100g caster sugar
grated zest of one lemon

225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
60g rice flour

pinch of salt

Butter a baking tray and line with baking paper. Mix together the butter, sugar and lemon zest in a mixer. Add the sifted flours and salt. Mix until the dough just comes together. Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead a little until it is smooth and well blended. Roll out to about 5mm thick and cut into shapes. I used a 5cm round pastry cutter. Place on the prepared tray and chill for about 1 hour, which will ensure they keep their shape during baking. Preheat the oven to 160°C then bake the biscuits for 15-20 minutes until just golden around the edges. The shortbread must be cooked but should remain pale in colour. Cool on rack.

Salted butter caramels

Makes about 40 caramel lollies

This recipe is from sweets master David Leibovitz. There’s not much this man can’t do with some sugar and heat. I attempted this recipe 3 times before I got it right. Caramel can be hard for some people. People like me who rush like a bull at a gate when it comes to following recipes.

So my advice is make sure you have all the ingredients and equipment ready to go. A candy thermometer is essential. Don’t go off reading the confectionary section in On Food & Cooking while you wait for the syrup to get to the right temperature. You’ll need to pay close attention. But honestly you will be rewarded with the most gorgeous sweet treat ever.

Again, I found a great little biscuit tin from eBay and I wrapped them individually in cello from gift bags cut to size from Riot Art & Craft. A little washi tape from Uguisu helps keep it all together.

3/4 cup (180 ml) heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
rounded 1/2 tsp + 1/4 tsp flaky sea salt, preferably fleur de sel
1/2 cup (160 g) light corn syrup (available from health food shops)
1 cup (200 g) sugar
4 tablespoons (60 g) salted butter, cubed, at room temperature

Line a 23 cm loaf pan with foil and spray the inside with cooking spray.

Heat the cream with 2 tbs of the butter in a small saucepan with the vanilla and 1/2 tsp sea salt until the mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat, cover, and keep warm while you cook the syrup.

In a medium (4L), heavy duty saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, heat the corn syrup, with the sugar, and cook, stirring gently, to make sure the sugar melts smoothly. Once the mixture is melted together and the sugar is evenly moistened, only stir as necessary to keep it from getting any hot spots. Cook until the syrup reaches 310ºF or 155ºC.

To get an accurate reading while the syrup is cooking, tilt the saucepan to make sure the bulb of the thermometer is fully submerged in the syrup,

Turn off the heat and stir in the warm cream mixture, until smooth.Turn the heat back on and cook the mixture to 260F or 127C.

Remove the pan from the heat, lift out the thermometer, and stir in the cubes of butter, until it’s melted and the mixture smooth.

Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and wait ten minutes, then sprinkle 1/4 tsp of the sea salt over the top. Set on a cool rack and let cool completely. Once cool, lift out the foil with the caramel, peel away the foil, and slice the bar of caramel with a long, sharp knife into squares or rectangles.

Storage: These caramels can be individually-wrapped in cellophane or waxed paper. Once cut, they may stick together if not wrapped. Store in an air-tight container, and they’ll keep for about one month.

- Siobhan x