Thanks to Erin of Dinner and Dessert for choosing this week’s TWD recipe!
I have to admit that I was on the fence about participating this week. I’m not a fan of nuts. Never have been. And I don’t see myself being one in the future either. I just can’t get past the texture of them – the same issue I’ve battled with while trying to eat nuts since I was a kid. But in spite of not liking nuts, I decided to give this recipe a go for two reasons: 1). Snickers is Kyle’s all-time favorite candy bar, and 2.) participating in TWD is oftentimes about going outside of our comfort zone, whether that zone be our feelings about our baking abilities or what we eat. The worst that could happen with this recipe is that I didn’t like it.
So I did end up eating the peanuts although, I did sprinkle Heath toffee bits on about 1/3 of the top of the squares instead of peanuts…just in case. 😉 Kyle and I both agreed that the squares were pretty great. Neither of us raved about them like we did about some of the previous TWD recipes I’ve made though. The squares were better on the second day after the flavors had a chance to marry and the shortbread crust really started to come through. (Shortbread really does need a day or two to sit before the flavor comes out.) They were messy to eat and when you bite into the chocolate top layer, the dulce de leche has a tendency to slide out the back, almost like the inside of a hero sandwich on a hard roll. The didn’t cut too easily either; I found that a hot knife helped to cut through the hard chocolate and I dreaded taking them out of the pan. I think next time I’ll consider lining the pan with tin foil or a piece of parchment paper before baking.
Last week’s TWD: Pecan Sour Cream Biscuits
Next week’s TWD: Russian Grandmothers’ Apple Pie-Cake on pages 310-311, chosen by Natalie of Burned Bits
source: Dorie Greenspan, Baking: From My Home to Yours
For the Crust:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 TBSP powdered sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
- 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
For the Filling:
- ½ cup sugar
- 3 TBSP water
- 1 ½ cups salted peanuts
- About 1 ½ cups store-bought dulce de leche
For the Topping:
- 7 ounces bittersweet, coarsely chopped
- ½ stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 8 inch square pan and put it on a baking sheet.
To Make the Crust:
- Toss the flour, sugar, powdered sugar and salt into a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Toss in the pieces of cold butter and pulse about 12 times, until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Pour the yolk over the ingredients and pulse until the dough forms clumps and curds-stop before the dough comes together in a ball.
- Turn the dough into the buttered pan and gently press it evenly across the bottom of the pan. Prick the dough with a fork and slide the sheet into the oven.
- Bake the crust for 15-20 minutes, or until it takes on just a little color around the edges. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool to room temperature before filling.
To Make the Filling:
- Have a parchment or silicone mat-lined baking sheet at the ready, as well as a long-handled wooden spoon and a medium heavy bottomed saucepan.
- Put the sugar and water in the saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Keeping the heat fairly high, continue to cook the sugar, without stirring, until it just starts to color. Toss the peanuts and immediately start stirring. Keep stirring, to coat the peanuts with sugar. Within a few minutes, they will be covered with sugar and turn white—keep stirring until the sugar turns back into caramel. When the peanuts are coated with a nice deep amber caramel, remove the pan from the heat and turn the nuts out onto the baking sheet., using the wooden spoon to spread them out as best you can. Cool the nuts to room temperature.
- When they are cool enough to handle, separate the nuts or break them into small pieces. Divide the nuts in half. Keep half of the nuts whole or in biggish pieces for the filling, and finely chop the other half for the topping.
- Spread the dulce de leche over the shortbread base and sprinkle over the whole candied nuts.
To Make the Topping:
- Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Remove chocolate from the heat and gently stir in the butter, stirring until it is fully blended into the chocolate.
- Pour the chocolate over the dulce de leche, smoothing it with a long metal icing spatula, then sprinkle over the rest of the peanuts. Slide the pan into the fridge to set the topping, about 20 minutes; if you’d like to serve the squares cold, keep them refrigerated for at least 3 hours before cutting.
- Cut into 16 bars.