Tamarind Is The Unexpected Ingredient To Balance Millionaire's Shortbread

There's little one can do to improve upon the formula for millionaire's shortbread. As referenced in the name, the richness of this dessert is almost unparalleled: buttery shortbread is topped with creamy caramel and then blanketed with a just-set ganache. Still, that might be the delicious treat's one flaw. All that decadence needs a little something to cut through the sweetness. 

That's where tamarind can help you change the game. Tamarind — a tropical plant that produces a pod containing a jammy-like fruit — has a slightly sweet, mostly sour flavor that brightens up any dish it touches. For millionaire's shortbread, the tamarind can be worked into the luscious caramel layer, adding a fruity nuance that surprises the tastebuds and can add a welcome tartness to its dense layers. It offers you an opportunity to bring some tropical flair to a traditional dessert. So how should you go about adding this tamarind twist to millionaire's shortbread? 

The tropical taste of tamarind

First, let's talk about what tamarind product you'll be working with. Though fresh tamarind has its charms, for this application, it will be better to use tamarind paste, which has a smooth consistency that can be easily stirred into the caramel. You can find tamarind paste at certain specialty grocery stores or online. Though, in a pinch, you can make your own by covering 15 to 20 pods worth of tamarind pulp with boiling water for 35 minutes, then straining through a sieve to get a thick, smooth slurry.  

Once you have your tamarind paste squared away, decide whether you want a classic, buttery shortbread or would like to incorporate another tropical surprise — a bit of flaked coconut. Once that's set baking, you can focus on your caramel, and luckily, whatever recipe you choose, the tamarind can easily be incorporated. Proceed with the recipe as directed, and stir in a tablespoon of tamarind paste at the same time you would add the vanilla extract or other aromatics. If you feel like it could use a bit more of a sour punch, mix in more to taste. 

To finish this masterpiece off, add a velvety chocolate ganache topping. If you're tripling down on the tropical theme, added some ground ginger to the chocolate for an extra dash of sweet heat. Put all together, this bar will offer the perfect balance of decadence and depth with an Asian flavor surprise.