Millionaire Shortbread | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Millionaire Shortbread

Millionaire Shortbread | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

My husband is the king of gift giving. It’s basically his super power. Over the years, he has given me so many wonderful, thoughtful gifts that are always totally surprising but also exactly what I want, sometimes without even knowing it. And though he does often spend more money than I would, it’s never about how expensive the gift is. He always finds something that shows that he has been listening and really gets me. Every gift says I love you.

I’m turning forty soon, and I’ve been pretty anxious about it. Signs of age are finally undeniable in my face and body, and I’m not sure how to deal with that. I want to accept it gracefully, but it’s a struggle.

The other night, I came home from my yoga class to a pile of packages on the kitchen table. I overlooked them, assuming they were maybe Christmas gifts or something from various family members that had been sent up early. I couldn’t think what else they would be, and I was too hungry to process them beyond another thing I would need to tidy up.

Ten minutes later, to keep myself from dying while I waited for some real food to be delivered, I dug out some ice cream bars from the freezer, and as I was setting the empty box on the table, I finally noticed the note that was sitting there. A note to me. The sweetest note I’ve ever read declaring that all those gifts and envelopes were actually for me. 40 gifts for the 40 days leading up to my birthday so that I would remember every day how much I am loved, how wonderful my life has been, and what a beautiful future we have together. That note will probably still be my favorite part of the gift by the time my birthday finally arrives. I’ve said it before, I didn’t know what it meant to be truly loved until I met this man. Nothing has changed.

Millionaire Shortbread | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

For Geoff’s birthday a few months ago, I bought him a video game and tickets to a local Oktoberfest event. I’m terrible at gift giving. My brain just doesn’t work like that. The way I showed him my love was to make him homemade caramel ice cream, and these Millionaire Shortbread bars. I’m a terrible shopper, but you best believe, you’ll get the homemade dessert of your dreams. And this Millionaire Shortbread is definitely the stuff that dreams are made of.

A layer of crumbly, buttery shortbread is topped with a layer of chewy caramel, then a thick chocolate ganache is spread over the whole thing. It’s heavenly. While there are three different components, and each needs to be made individually, this can be done after work and still be eaten later that night. Caramel-making is always a little bit fiddly. My pot is old and doesn’t heat evenly, so I get hot spots, but hopefully you don’t have hand-me-down cookware and won’t have to contend with that problem. But even if things don’t go perfectly, this is still gonna be awesome.

Millionaire Shortbread | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

We all have unique ways of saying I love you. Millionaire shortbread is a great place to start.

Millionaire Shortbread
Serves 16
Millionaire Shortbread is an awesome way to show a caramel lover you care.
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Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
30 min
For the crust
  1. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  2. 1/4 cup brown sugar
  3. 2 teaspoons corn starch
  4. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  5. 2 ounces cold butter, cut into chunks
  6. 1 tablespoon cold water
  7. 1 egg yolk
For the caramel
  1. 1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  2. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  3. 3 ounces unsalted butter
  4. 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. Pinch of sea salt
For the chocolate
  1. 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped of chips
  2. 3 tablespoons double cream
For the crust
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F (175C) and line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment or foil leaving a bit of an overhang for easy removal later.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, corn starch, and salt until combined and lump free.
  3. Work the butter into the flour mixture until it looks like wet sand. I find my clean hands are the best tool for this job.
  4. Add the water and egg yolk and blend together with a fork until everything is well combined.
  5. Transfer this mixture to your baking sheet, and press it evenly into the bottom. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
For the caramel
  1. While your crust is in the oven, you can start making your caramel. Start by whisking together your sweetened condensed milk, brown sugar, butter and golden syrup in a medium sauce pan with a candy thermometer attached. Make sure you have enough space as the mixture will expand as it boils.
  2. Cook this over medium heat, whisking gently all the while until the butter melts and the mixture starts to boil. Continue to cook and stir until the temperature reaches 225F. Once you hit your target temperature, turn off the heat and quickly add in the vanilla and salt. Whisk this all together, then quickly and carefully transfer your caramel onto your crust. Allow it to cool for about 15 minutes for the caramel to set.
For the chocolate
  1. Combined your chopped chocolate or chocolate chips with your cream in a microwave safe dish. Microwave the mixture for 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each round, until the chocolate is just melted. Give it a good stir to smooth everything out, then pour this over your caramel layer. Use an offset spatula to spread the chocolate mixture as evenly as possible right to the edge.
  2. Refrigerate the whole thing for at least an hour to set everything before slicing into 16 pieces. These are pretty rich, so you could make them even smaller if you have the patience. If you're finding your bars difficult to cut, allow them to come up to room temperature first.
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
http://awesomeon20.com/
Cinnamon Pull-Apart Cake | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Cinnamon Pull-Apart Cake with Lemon Glaze

Cinnamon Pull-Apart Cake | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

We’ve finally started watching the new season of The Great British Bake Off. We’re meeting up with the rest of the country halfway through because I had actually been binging old seasons of Bake Off on Netflix and All 4 over the late summer, and I wasn’t caught up by the time the new season started. This year’s contestants took a few weeks to warm up to, but I’m finally growing attached to a few of them. Mannon is so beautiful and talented I almost can’t handle it, and Briony is plucky and adorable. But Paul Hollywood continues to blow my mind with how completely out of touch he is.

What Paul doesn’t know about food trends I will never understand. I checked and the man definitely has Instagram. I assume it’s run by someone else because if he went on it even once, he would have seen that chocolate globe desserts are freakin’ everywhere. He clearly doesn’t follow food blogs because he’s apparently never heard of tangzhong. And I can never forgive him for the time he pronounced chipotle as chi-pot-el on one of his cooking shows. Are we sure he’s an actual expert?

Cinnamon Pull-Apart Cake | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Hopefully Paul’s had a pull-apart cake, though I certainly wouldn’t want him to judge mine. Although I feel that the slight wonkiness of this Cinnamon Pull-Apart Cake adds to its charm. Between each layer of enriched yeasted dough is butter and cinnamon sugar that melts into the most delicious goo as it bakes. There’s also a generous layer of lemon glaze that adds a sweet brightness to the whole thing. This dessert is a great combination of crunchy top, chewy bottom, and sweetness and spice. We love it.

Like with any yeasted dough, this cake is a bit of a project, but there’s nothing excessively complicated. It’s just time consuming because of the multiple rises for the dough. There’s also a bit of low key geometry, but don’t worry, you’re not being judged, so no need to get out your ruler. 

Cinnamon Pull-Apart Cake | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

This cake has so many possibilities. You could easily modify it to make your signature flavor. We’re starting with Cinnamon Pull-Apart Cake, but I’m pretty sure you’ll be seeing some variations on this in the future.

Cinnamon Pull-Apart Cake with Lemon Glaze
Serves 8
Cinnamon Pull-Apart Cake is chewy and sweet and perfect for autumn.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
4 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
4 hr
For the dough
  1. 3 cups plain flour, plus a few tablespoons more for the counter
  2. 1/4 cup sugar
  3. 2-1/4 teaspoon yeast
  4. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  5. 1/3 cup whole milk
  6. 2 ounces unsalted butter
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  8. 2 eggs
For the filling
  1. 1 cup sugar
  2. 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  3. 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  4. 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
For the glaze
  1. 3/4 cups icing sugar
  2. 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  3. 1 tablespoon whole milk
For the dough
  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 2 cups f the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt until well combined.
  2. In a small sauce pan over medium low heat, add the milk and the butter and heat until the butter is melted, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and add 1/4 cup water and the vanilla. Check the temperature of your liquid mixture with a candy or instant read thermometer. It should be between 115 and 125 Fahrenheit. You may need to let it cool or put it back on the heat depending on how cold your water was.
  3. Once your wet ingredients reach the right temperature, add them to your dry ingredients, and stir both together with a spatula. Add your eggs and continue to stir. It will seem very wet, but it will eventually start to come together. Finally, stir in your last cup of flour until your dough comes together. It will still be very sticky.
  4. Transfer the dough to a greased mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel, and stash it in a warm place in your kitchen to rise for about an hour or until doubled in size.
  5. When your dough is risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured counter and knead an additional 2 to 4 tablespoons of flour into it until you have a smooth dough. It should take about five minutes. Form your dough into a ball and cover it with a clean kitchen towel. Allow it to rest for about five minutes before rolling it out.
For the filling
  1. While your dough is resting, gently whisk together your sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl and melt your butter for the filling.
  2. Also butter and flour a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
  3. Once your dough is rested, you can begin gently rolling out your dough in a lightly floured surface until you have a rectangle that's about 12 inches by 20 inches.
  4. Use your pastry brush to spread the melted butter evenly over the dough. Try to brush it right to the edge without going over. Next, sprinkle on all the cinnamon sugar. You can use your pastry brush again to spread it evenly over the dough, again up to the edge.
  5. Now it's time to slice and stack. Start by cutting six equal strips vertically. I use my pizza cutter for this. You'll then need to stack these strips on top of each other. I use my small offset spatula to slice under the strip to make sure it's not stuck to the counter anywhere. Start with the strips on each each working your way to the middle until all six are stacked on top of each other.
  6. Next slice your stack of strips into six rectangles horizontally. Line up your piles of dough squares into your loaf pan.
  7. Place your clean kitchen towel over your dough and allow it to rise again for about half an hour until it's filled up your pan.While your dough is rising, be sure to preheat your oven to 350 F (175C).
  8. Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes until beautifully brown on the top. Allow to cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes before turning out onto your desired destination.You'll obviously need to gently turn it upright after you get it out of the pan. Also, it can't hurt to run a butter knife around the edge of the pan before attempting to turn it out.
For the glaze
  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the icing sugar, lemon juice, and milk until smooth. Gently pour evenly over your cooled cake. Allow gravity to do it's thing and drip over the cake.
  2. To serve, gently pull or cut apart a few layer at a time.
Adapted from Homemade Decadence by Joy Wilson
Adapted from Homemade Decadence by Joy Wilson
http://awesomeon20.com/
Hawaiian Bread Pudding | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Hawaiian Bread Pudding

Hawaiian Bread Pudding | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

The rain is back. Summer might be over in Glasgow. It’s by far been the longest summer we’ve had since moving here, so I’m not complaining.

My favorite thing abut Scottish summer is that it never really gets that hot, so you can actually go outside and enjoy the sunshine instead of hiding away in the air conditioning like some sort of weird vampire. I also love the abundance wildflowers. Life cannot be held back in this city. Pretty little blooms are everywhere, brightening up even the grimmest of side streets and alleyways. 

Hawaiian Bread Pudding | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Now that we can turn the oven back on, we can get back to baking. But it’s still July, so maybe we don’t want to give up on summer flavors just yet. Enter Hawaiian Bread Pudding. Custard soaked bread is piled high with pineapple and macadamia nuts then drizzled with a coconut rum creme anglaise for a truly tropical flavor.

Bread pudding is a great dessert for beginning bakers. It’s pretty hard to screw up, and it’s very versatile. You can change up the flavors and add ins without much concern because there’s no leavening to worry about. It’s also a great way to use up leftover bread. Stale bread, eggs, and milk doesn’t sound that delicious, but the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. 

Hawaiian Bread Pudding | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Hawaiian Bread Pudding might not be much of a stunner on the plate, but it’s certainly delicious, and as far as I’m concerned that’s all that matters.  

Hawaiian Bread Pudding
Serves 6
Hawaiian Bread Pudding is a simple dessert with a distinctly tropical feel.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
40 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
40 min
For the bread pudding
  1. 250 grams stale Hawaiian bread or brioche, cut into cubes
  2. 1 small can pineapple chunks
  3. 1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts
  4. 3 eggs
  5. 40 grams (1/4 cup) brown sugar
  6. 2 tablespoons coconut rum
  7. 125 ml (1/2 cup) heavy cream
  8. 500 ml (1 cup) whole milk
For the coconut rum creme anglaise
  1. 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
  2. 2 egg yolks
  3. 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  4. 1/4 cup coconut rum
For the bread pudding
  1. Preheat oven to 350F or 175C. Lightly butter a 2 quart casserole or a nine inch pie pan.
  2. Add your dry bread to the pan. If it's not quite stale, you can leave it out on a wire rack for a while.
  3. Add the pineapple and macadamia nuts. Try and evenly disperse them around the pan. No need to stir, just let everything settle.
  4. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, rum, cream and milk. Pour this over your bread mixture and press the bread down into it to make sure everything is good and squidgy.
  5. Let the bread soak for 20 minutes before putting it in the oven.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes or until everything is puffy, lightly brown, and set.
  7. Let rest until it is just warm.
For the coconut rum creme anglaise
  1. While your bread pudding is soaking or baking, make your creme anglaise.
  2. Add the cream, egg yolks, and powdered sugar to a small sauce pan over medium heat.
  3. Stir constantly for about 8-10 minutes until the sauce thickens. It will coat the back of a wooden spoon when it's ready. Do not boil.
  4. Stir in the rum until everything is smooth.
  5. Pour it through a sieve into a container, then chill in the fridge until ready to use.
  6. Drizzle your cold sauce over your warm bread pudding and enjoy.
Adapted from How to be Awesome on $20 a Day
http://awesomeon20.com/
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