This week's Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) recipe was chosen by Erin of Dinner & Dessert: Snickery Squares. Dorie describes them as "a made-at-home, slimmer, sleaker version of the beloved candy bar" with a "buttery shortbread base, a layer of smooth caramel dulce de leche mixed with crunch candied salted peanuts and a top coat of dark chocolate sprinkled with crushed candied peanuts."
The recipe was actually quite simple. The most difficult part, from what I could tell, was making the candied peanuts. I must confess, however, that I skipped this step. I made my grocery run without reading through the recipe and purchased honey roasted peanuts instead of plain salted peanuts. I love honey roasted peanuts, and thought they would be great in this recipe. Then I got home and saw what Dorie had intended for them, and wasn't sure what the caramelized sugar would do to the honey roasted coating, so I decided to just skip it all together. Thankfully, I don't think much taste was sacrificed, as the honey roasted nuts are sweet all on their own. I'm sure these would have been even better if I had covered the peanuts in caramelized sugar.
To make up for skipping out on the candied peanuts, I did make my own dulce de leche instead of using the store bought kind. There's been much talk lately among the food blogging community about dulce de leche, thanks to Blake! If you weren't among the lucky few who received free samples of his dulce de leche, you can follow the instructions in my previous post about dulce de leche macaroons to make your own :) The first time I made it, I only cooked the sweetened condensed milk for 2 hours (which was fine for the macaroons); this time I cooked it for 3 hours and it was much thicker and more caramelized. It doesn't seem to cook evenly, so you do get some clumps at the bottom of your can, but you can easily whisk those out at the end, creating a very smooth dulce de leche. My dulce de leche was thick enough for these treats, but it still oozed a little with each bite. Based on these observations, here is my conclusion for the homemade dulce de leche: cook for 2-3 hours if you want something more like a caramel sauce; try 4 hours if you want something thicker that is more spreadable. So for Dorie's Snickery Squares, I suggest a cooking time of 4 hours to get the thicker dulce de leche.
Speaking of Blake, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to use his Peanut Butter Dulce de Leche (PBDDL). Unfortunately, I didn't get as much love as some of the other foodies I know, because I only received one jar of the PBDDL while several others received two (not sure if that was my fault because I didn't tell him in my comment that I would be baking with it?). That made it quite difficult for me to figure out what to do with it (aside from eating it straight from the jar with my fingers!) because it's only about one ounce.
Dorie's recipe seemed the perfect way for me to use it because I could make little tarts instead of squares... that way, I could use the jar of PBDDL for one of the tarts, and the rest of my homemade dulce de leche in the others. This was my first time making any kind of tart; my mother-in-law gave me tart pans for Christmas and I've been trying to figure out what to make with them ever since. I know that tarts aren't the biggest baker's challenge, but I was so proud of how well my tarts turned out :) Of course I ended up with some extra dulce de leche since I did not reduce the recipe and added in the jar of PBDDL, but now I have more to drizzle over ice cream or something :)
Overall, this was a really fun recipe to make. I measured the amount of peanuts to be used in the recipe but then eyeballed it when adding them to the tarts. I ended up only using about half of what Dorie called for. I think using the entire 1-1/2 cups might have been too much (then again, I'm not a big nut fan). The other change I made to this recipe was with the chocolate topping. After my bitter experience with the Almost Fudge Gâteau, I decided to use semisweet instead of bittersweet chocolate for the topping. I think it was perfect with the semisweet, but if you're a dark chocolate lover you might want to try the bittersweet.
What about the PBDDL? It was great in this dessert, but I think I actually prefer eating it straight out of the jar ;) Oh, and if you decide to make the tarts like I did, be careful not to overfill them with the dulce de leche or else you'll end up with a gooey treat like this when you go to add the chocolate topping:
Thanks Erin, for picking this week's recipe. I love Snickers bars and this certainly satisfied my sweet tooth. As the group continues to grow weekly (we've got over 60 now and even our first male member!), make sure you check out the blog roll on the Tuesdays with Dorie blog to see what everyone else thought of this sweet candy treat.
from Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan
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 (click here to learn how to make your own)
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. (I used four 4-inch tart pans.)
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, each roughly 2-1/2 inches on a side.