• Photo credit: Pierre Javelle (Hardie Grant)Source: Hardie Grant

Breton shortbreads topped with vanilla crème brûlée, caramel crémeux and caramelised stewed apples. For a tropical variation replace the apples with mangoes and reduce your cooking time to 30 minutes.






Skill level

Average: 3.2 (175 votes)


Breton shortbread

  • 75 g butter
  • 70 g caster sugar
  • 30 g egg yolk
  • 100 g plain flour
  • 2 g baking powder
  • 2 g salt


Vanilla crémeux

  • 80 g egg yolk
  • 30 g caster sugar
  • 10 g cornflour
  • 80 g milk
  • 240 g whipping cream (30% fat)
  • 1 vanilla bean


Caramel crémeux

  • 6 g leaf gelatine
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 250 g whipping cream (30% fat)
  • 50 g butter


Caramelised apples

  • 6 royal gala apples
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 50 g butter

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Freezing time 4 hours

Resting time 3 hours

To make the Breton shortbread, preheat the oven to 170°C. Work the butter until it is smooth and soft (see Note), add the sugar and mix using a spatula (see Note). Add the egg yolk then the flour, baking powder and salt, and mix until smooth. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Put the shortbread mixture in a 12 cm × 24 cm × 5 cm dessert frame, smooth the top and bake for 20–30 minutes.

Remove from the oven, wait a few minutes, pass the blade of a knife around the sides, then lift off the frame. Cut into six bars 4 cm wide. Cutting while hot prevents the shortbread crumbling.

To prepare the vanilla crémeux, preheat the oven to 90°C. Blanch the egg yolk with the sugar (see Note) and cornflour by whisking in a stainless-steel bowl. In a saucepan, heat the milk, cream and split and scraped vanilla bean. Whisk frequently. As soon as it boils, strain into the egg yolk mixture and whisk. Line the dessert frame with oven-safe plastic wrap, pour in the vanilla crémeux and bake for 30–50 minutes. When you shake the mould gently, the crémeux should not move. Let it cool to room temperature then freeze for 1 hour. Make sure the vanilla crémeux is chilled before commencing the caramel.

To make the caramel crémeux, hydrate the gelatine (see Note). Make a caramel sauce (recipe here), then add the butter and the drained gelatine. Blend, then allow to cool to lukewarm (the crémeux should not go below 30°C). Pour the caramel crémeux over the vanilla crémeux then freeze for about 3 hours.

Once the caramel crémeux is set, remove the frame and the plastic wrap, then cut into rectangles the same size as the shortbread pieces. Place on top of the Breton shortbread.

For the caramelised apples, preheat the oven to 160°C. Core and peel the apples then cut into very thin and even slices. Make a dry caramel (see Note), adding the butter at the end of cooking, then blending.

Pour half into the frame, arrange the apple slices on top, then cover with the rest of the caramel. Bake for 1 hour, then reduce the oven temperature to 120°C and bake for another 1 hour. Put a sheet of baking paper then a weight (such as a carton of milk) on top of the apples and leave them to rest for at least 3 hours.

Remove the frame, cut to the size of the desserts using a serrated knife and place on top of the vanilla crémeux.



• This is butter softened and worked until it takes on the consistency of a cream before being incorporated into a mixture. It helps avoid lumps and provides creaminess. Cut the butter into pieces, let it soften at room temperature or soften it by applying gentle heat (without letting it melt, or it will lose its creaminess), then work it into a smooth cream using a spatula or whisk.

• This operation consists of rendering butter or a mixture of butter and sugar airy and creamy by whisking it vigorously. Generally start with softened butter.

• Whisk the egg yolks with sugar to obtain a foamy mixture. It will double in volume. The process of homogenisation will take several minutes and is achieved faster with an electric whisk.

• Leaf gelatine has been dehydrated and must be rehydrated in order to melt it into a mixture. If it isn’t hydrated well, it will absorb any missing water from the mixture itself, causing it to shrink. Immerse the gelatine in a bowl of very cold water (it melts at low temperatures). Let it soak for at least 15 minutes, then drain it and squeeze it between your hands before adding it to the mixture. 

• Put the sugar in the saucepan over medium–high heat. As soon as the sugar starts to dissolve and transform into caramel, stir with a whisk.


Recipes and images from Patisserie by Mélanie Dupuis and Anne Cazor (Hardie Grant, $59.95 hbk).


View our Readable feasts review and more recipes from the book here.