So, initially I was excited about the Tuesdays with Dorie recipe for this week, picked by Erin of Dinner & Dessert. She choose Snickery Squares.
Then, I read through the recipe and looked at the picture. Hmph. These sure don’t look like Snickers bars, I decided. I love shortbread, but shortbread in my snickers??? I don’t know about all that business.
Upon reading the recipe I realized that I didn’t have 3 things mentioned in this recipe.
A food processor
A pastry brush
An 8x8 square pan
Jeez. So, I ended up making and baking the shortbread crust at my parent’s house on Saturday, using their food processor and also borrowing an 8x8 square pan. Then I left the shortbread hanging out in the fridge from Saturday till Monday, when I finally made the bars. I bought a fancy dancy pastry brush at Target. I really feel like 6.99 is too much to spend on such an item, but… I felt like the cheaper ones they had would just shed and I didn’t want to be gagging on bristles while I was enjoying my faux snickers
The candying of the peanuts was interesting. At first, while I was letting the sugar “color” I was able to flit around the kitchen, making dinner, flipping through cookbooks, etc… occasionally brushing the sides of the pan with my fancy dancy pastry brush and saying to myself.. jeez. What’s the big deal about making candy??? This is a breeze.
And then as time went on, I started to wonder about the sugar. What does “just start to color” really mean? Color at all? Or color as in start to turn caramel colored? I let it color a little bit… meaning, I could tell that it was starting to color, but I let it color just a little bit more. Then I threw my peanuts in. And yes, they turned white just like Dorie mentioned. But, I wasn’t prepared for the constantly stirring for about 20 minutes that ensued. I totally thought I cooked the sugar too long, because for like 15 minutes the sugar was coloring, but it was all clumpy and not caramel-y with the peanuts. It was like forming its own little mini peanuts. I cranked the heat up and that seemed to help… eventually it all came together.
Here’s the thing though…. I thought that these peanuts were going to taste like the peanuts in snickers. But they don’t. They taste like the peanuts in cracker jack (which I really really dislike). So when I anxiously cut into it and tasted my first square. I took one bite and tossed the rest of the square in the trash. Yuck. The peanuts totally ruined it for me. I think I would have liked it better with just the peanuts layered in, instead of candied.
Oh well. Win some, lose some and at least I conquered the candy peanuts. Those rascally little attention-screaming bastards.
Soundtrack: John Legend's Get Lifted. I love to groove when I’m in the kitchen and this was the perfect accompaniment to standing over the stove stirring peanuts for so long.
For the Crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour¼ cup sugar2 TBSP powdered sugar¼ tsp salt1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
For the Filling:
½ cup sugar3 TBSP water1 ½ cups salted peanutsAbout 1 ½ cups store-bought dulce de leche
For the Topping:
7 ounces bittersweet, coarsely chopped½ 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.