Well, what a travesty that was.

I had a startlingly bright idea when I sat down to consider this week’s baking effort. How about millionaire’s shortbread, but replacing the shortbread with the softer biscuity stuff from last weekend’s lemon bars? I’ve made Nigella’s millionaire’s shortbread before, and it wasn’t too difficult, as I recall, but the soft caramel oozing between layers of hardened shortbread and cooled chocolate made it almost impossible to cut properly. The caramel kept dripping out of the side, like trying to slice an overstuffed tuna mayo sandwich when you’ve put a foolish amount of emphasis on the mayo.

The solution, I thought, was to make the shortbread softer. So I made up another batch of the lemon bar base using the same method as before, and put it in the oven. It’s the first time I’ve ever mixed-and-matched when it comes to recipes – I don’t at all have a natural sense of what can be substituted for what, so stick to the book like it’s holy writ – and I felt incredibly daring. What a terribly rebellious cook I was. Just like James Dean, only with less hair gel and more spatulas.

I wasn’t quite sure how long to cook the shortbread; for the lemon bars it’s only in the oven for fifteen minutes, but then it goes back in with the lemon topping for a further thirty-five. I kept it in for 25 minutes, in the end, and decided it looked done. But then – oh, then – came the caramel. This was supposed to be my favourite part. Condensed milk and I have a very deeply felt connection, and adding butter and golden syrup to it could only add to the experience, I was convinced. Nigella recommends melting the butter first, and then adding the condensed milk and golden syrup, and boiling the whole lot for a few minutes in the microwave. A relief, as the alternative is boiling for several hours in a pan, and I’m not sure anyone loves millionaire’s shortbread that much.

Well, I followed the instructions. I stirred manically every minute or so. And after seven minutes had gone by, I realised something had gone horribly wrong, and by ‘something’, I mean ‘the butter had curdled into cheese’. Just like with my disastrous pecan pie, remember? Except that time I seriously over-melted the butter, and this time I thought I’d been careful. Not careful enough, it seems, because instead of gloriously thickened toffee, I had a bowlful of cheesy lumps. SOB.

The toffee cheese is sad.

Since I didn’t want to waste the shortbread, I melted the chocolate anyway and spread it on top, thinking that this was quite a lot of effort to go to just to end up with chocolate biscuits. Then, one fridge spell later, it emerged that this hadn’t worked either. The shortbread was too hard. The chocolate layer was too thick. They wouldn’t even stick together long enough to cut out a square. And oh, the ruination of a whole tin of condensed milk makes me want to cry. I would’ve eaten it as it was, if I’d known.

Erm. Yummy.

Explosion of inedible crumbs.

The Other Half's DIY Millionaire's, toffee cheese inserted.

After this terrible blow to my self-esteem, next week I will be making something I’m sure I can make. Stand by for roast dinner cake. Oh yes.

(Thankfully nothing is ever truly a failure in our house: the Other Half, while admitting that the toffee had the appealing consistency of Welsh rarebit soup, still decanted half of it into ice cube trays ‘to make sweets’. He is threatening to have the rest of it on toast. You have to admire the ingenuity.)

SERIOUS about leftovers.

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