This week I went to the Lake District for three fun days of surprisingly seasonal heat and sunshine. Before the trip I had shockingly little knowledge of what I would be doing, since my friends had done all the planning. It wasn’t until 48 hours beforehand, when I started receiving texts about walking boots and sleeping bags, that I started to wonder what I had let myself in for.
You see, I am not an outdoorsy person. In the past I have had my fair share of family camping holidays (with and without lashing rain); I even did the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award. I’m not averse to being outside, but after living in the middle of nowhere for 18 years I am now a definite city person. I still enjoy the odd adventure, though, so when I was invited along to the Lake District to stay in R’s chalet and take part in Go Ape (where you basically do an obstacle course, but high up in the trees), I was happy to come along.
It turned out that neither the walking boots nor the sleeping bag were needed, though I was taken on a four mile hike around a lake. I was under the impression that we would just be walking around the lake edge but I very quickly realised that we were actually going to be scaling a steep hill before descending to the lake only at the very end of the hike. I am no stranger to exercise, but I have to admit that, since Newcastle is extremely flat, I am no longer used to hilly terrain so this realisation was slightly unwelcome. Though I might have grumbled a little bit, I did enjoy myself in the end.
I’d only been to the Lake District once before and experienced horrific weather, so I was glad that I could enjoy the spectacular views on offer. It was definitely worth putting my life in the hands of my friends for a couple of days, and there is nothing wrong with getting out of your comfort zone.
Now, let’s get onto these Grasshopper Bars. I adapted them from the Roxanne’s Millionaire Shortbread in Nigella’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess, and planned to have a layer of the minty caramel followed by the chocolate layer, but I didn’t buy enough chocolate. Instead, I made a ganache and marbled the chocolate and caramel together. The caramel is flavoured with Crème de Menthe, but the liqueur didn’t make it green enough for me so I also added a bit of food colouring. If you’re making these for children, I’d advise swapping the Crème de Menthe for peppermint flavouring.
I do love these bars, and the shortbread base contrasts well with the gooey topping. The one issue I had was that the caramel didn’t set as well as usual because of the Crème de Menthe making it more wet, but despite the added stickiness they are well worth the minimal effort involved.
For the shortbread
- · 125g Plain Flour
- · 50g Cocoa Powder
- · 100g Caster Sugar
- · 175g Butter
For the caramel
- · 375g Sweetened Condensed Milk
- · 4 Tbsp Golden Syrup
- · 100g Butter
- · 50mL Crème de Menthe
- · Green Gel Food Colouring
For the ganache
- · 200g Dark Chocolate
- 100mL Water
- · Preheat the oven to 180/170C fan and line two square cake tins (or a brownie tin) with parchment paper.
- · Place the shortbread ingredients into a bowl and rub together with your fingertips to form a mixture that resembles breadcrumbs. Transfer to the tin and press into the base, then prick all over with a fork.
- · Bake the shortbread for five minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 160/150C fan and bake for a further 30 minutes. Leave to cool but do not remove from the tin.
- · To make the caramel, place all of the ingredients except the food colouring into a microwaveable bowl and microwave on full power for 7-8 minutes, stopping and stirring after each minute. The caramel mixture should darken when it is ready.
- · Add enough good colouring to give a satisfactory green colour, then pour the caramel over the shortbread.
- · Make the ganache by covering the chocolate with the water and melting it in a pan over a low heat.
- Allow to cool and thicken, then pour onto the caramel and use a spoon to merge the two layers together.
- · Allow to set completely before slicing.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, the Grasshopper is a cocktail made from Crème de Cacao, Crème de Menthe and cream. These Grasshopper Bars are my interpretation of the famous cocktail, so I’m entering them into this month’s Baking With Spirit. This month I asked you to bake something based on a cocktail, preferably using the spirits and liqueurs that you’ve accumulated over time. You’ve got until the 28th to take part, so get baking!
This month's We Should Cocoa is being hosted by Victoria at A Kick At The Pantry Door. She's chosen mint as this month's ingredient, which we are asked to combine with chocolate. These Grasshopper Bars are therefore the perfect entry! We Should Cocoa is a monthly blogging challenge which was started by Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog and Chele of Chocolate Teapot, both of whom are taking a well-earned rest!