For my birthday, Charlene, one of my oldest friends (29 years and counting of friendship!) gave me the two Baked books by Matt Lewis and Renato Polifiato. I had blogged before about how I had checked these out of the library to see what they're like and even tried a couple of recipes from them. Now I'm the happy owner of both Baked books. I may have banned myself from buying any new cookbooks until I've finished my baking challenge but that doesn't mean other people can't give them to me as gifts :).
So this officially counts in my baking challenge. One of the recipes I have been wanting to try is this one. It's described in the book as a rich version of a Twix bar. I decided to up the ante and have the Twix bar meet the Nestle Crunch bar. Yup, I did the nutella crunch topping instead of the chocolate glaze. I also took a shortcut and instead of boiling the two cans of sweetened condensed milk, I simply used two cans of dulce de leche which is what sweetened condensed milk becomes after you boil it long enough to caramelize it. I've had people advise me on how to make dulce de leche from sweetened condensed milk but, as I've mentioned before, there's not much of a price difference between a can of sweetened condensed milk and a can of dulce de leche and I'd rather save the time and energy it takes to caramelize the milk and go straight for the dulce de leche.
|Easy to make shortbread crust|
The shortbread base is really easy to work with and pat into the pan, not too soft and not too dry or crumbly. Because of the warmer temps in the summer, make sure your butter doesn't get too soft before you use it or else the dough will be too greasy. Don't forget the butter will soften and warm up even further once you beat it with your mixer so it's okay to start with cool (not cold) butter. Pat the dough evenly into the pan. The top doesn't have to be perfectly smooth since you're going to be covering it with a layer of dulce de leche anyway but you do want it to be of a fairly uniform thickness so one part doesn't bake faster or brown more than another part.
|The dulce de leche layer|
So I have to admit, I expected to like this bar cookie better than I actually did. I think the reality didn't meet my expectations for a couple of reasons. One: the canned dulce de leche I used wasn't as high a quality as the jar version I normally get from Williams Sonoma. I think I would've liked this better had I just used melted caramel instead. Two, my Rice Krispies possibly started to get stale so they weren't all as crunchy and crispy as I wanted in the topping. The shortbread itself was fine and made a good base for the confection layers on top. Next time I'm going to make it with caramel and a fresh box of Rice Krispies. I still love the concept but I have to tweak the execution.
½ cup sugar
1 ¼ cups (2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg yolk, slightly beaten
28 ounces sweetened condensed milk (two 14-ounce cans)
6 ounces dark chocolate (60% cacao), coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
1. Make the shortbread: Preheat the oven to 350⁰F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and butter together until blended.
3. Add 2 cups of the flour and beat until well combined. Add the egg yolk and beat for a few seconds, or until just combined.
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Dust the top of the dough and your hands with a little flour. Use your hands to gently work the dough into a 6 by 6-inch square. You will have to turn the dough and sprinkle with top with flour as you go. Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup flour on the surface of the dough. Fold the dough over and knead until incorporated, then flatten the dough into a rectangle. Transfer the rectangle to the prepared pan and press it into the pan.
5. Prick the dough all over with a fork and bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 22 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
6. Make the caramel filling: Stovetop method – put the sweetened condensed milk in a medium heatproof bowl and set it over a saucepan of boiling water over low heat. Cook for 1 to 1 ½ hours, until thick and caramel colored. Remove the bowl from the pan and beat until smooth.
7. Microwave method: Put the sweetened condensed milk in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cook on 50% power (medium) for 4 minutes, stirring briskly halfway through, until smooth. Cook on 30% power (medium-low) for 12 to 18 minutes, until very thick and caramel colored, stirring briskly every 2 minutes, until smooth.
8. Pour the caramel filling over the cooled shortbread and place the pan in the refrigerator until cool, about two hours.
9. Make the chocolate glaze: In a large nonreactive metal bowl, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is completely smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for 30 seconds to cool slightly. Pour the mixture over the chilled caramel layer and use an offset spatula to spread it into an even layer.
10. Put in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until the glaze hardens.
11. Remove the pan from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving so as not to crack the chocolate glaze. Cut into squares and serve.