When I was 15 we went on a family holiday to the Simpson Desert. During this trip we stayed in Quilpie, a town 980km west of Brisbane, the state’s capital. With a population of approximately 600 people, Quilpie is a humble town, with all the necessities of rural life: A post office, a church, supermarket, a pub and a bakery. The Quilpie bakery will forever be in my mind for one reason – its caramel shortbreads. Each morning while we were in town, we’d head to the bakery before setting off on our activities for the day and buy multiple packets of their freshly made caramel shortbreads. The baker at the time – a formidable, hard-working woman, even made a few extra batches for us on our final morning in Quilpie so we had some for the road. It was unanimous amongst my family, and the friends we were travelling with: These were the best biscuits we’d ever eaten.
In the 10 years since our trip to Quilpie, we have talked about these caramel shortbreads multiple times. Nothing beats them and we will all forever link those delectable little parcels to that outback town.
I’m not sure why it took me 10 years to try and recreate these myself, but I finally gave it a go. I won’t lie – they’re not as good as the Caramel Shortbreads at Quilpie Bakery circa 2011, but I think that might have something to do with the nostalgia attached to them.
Disclaimer: I cheated and used Nestle Top ‘n’ Fill Caramel. I contemplated making homemade caramel, but that was pretty much a disaster waiting to happen.
Prep: 50 minutes
Cooking: 11-12 minutes
Yield: 50 biscuits
- 3 cups of plain flour
- 250 grams butter, softened
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 395gram can of Nestle Top n Fill Caramel
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- Use a mix master or hand-beater to cream butter and sugar. Once a pale-yellow colour, add egg and vanilla. Don’t overwork the butter.
- In a separate bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Add in flour in increments. You want the dough to be just combined, otherwise it’ll become overworked when handled.
- Use a rolling pin to roll dough out until 1cm thick. It is easier if you split the dough into 4 sections to do this.
- Use a 5cm cookie cutter to cut shapes from the dough, place half the shapes on a lined baking tray.
- Add ¼ teaspoon of caramel filling into the center of the dough on the baking tray.
- Use the other half of your dough to cover the caramel circles. Use your fingers to press the outsides together to seal the two pieces of dough together.
- Cook in oven for 11-12 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on tray a few minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.
- You’ll have half a can of caramel left, freeze it and save it for your next batch.
- If you’re feeling extra fancy, you can create your own caramel filling.
- Put a piece of baking paper between the rolling pin and dough to stop it from sticking.
- Biscuits will not expand too much, so you can place them relatively close together on the tray.