Sunday, December 6, 2009
Once again Dorie Greenspan has taken an familiar food and attempted to give it a unique twist. Not quite a desconstruction, but more like an experiment where the stakes are not very high if you fail.
The crust on the squares is described in the cookbook as having a "buttery shortbread" flavor. It's not quite as buttery as a true shortbread, but I understand what she's shooting for here as far as taste goes. The crust is fairly easy to make with basic ingredients that most bakers keep on hand. While the dough was still in it's raw form I don't feel that I pressed it down into the pan quite hard enough. I used a very light hand because I have a bad habit of pressing the dough too hard and it then comes out of the oven with the conistency of drywall. So, this time I was determined to change my evil ways (baby). I guess I went too far in the other direction, because the "shortbread" came out a little too loose and crumbly. The texture is quite nice, but when you're trying to eat the bar it wants to collapse in your hand.
Once the base cools you then spread store bought dulce de leche over the crust.
You've heard me drone on in my other posts about living in Hickelvania, and not being able to find "exotic" ingredients. This time was no different. I considered ordering the dulce de leche from the internet, and then was saved the shipping charges by my well timed and much needed vacation to Florida
While in Florida I easily found the canned dulce de leche, and thanks to my mother-in-law brought back a large cache with me. Let us all take a moment and give a shout out to my MIL, who just happens to be AWESOME. Hi Carol :)
Anyway, the dulce is just a very firm, sweet caramel in a can. It's really not a good idea to try using a substitute ingredient here. This is not that lame ass ice cream topping people, this is potent stuff! You also make your own candy coating that is used to cover peanuts with. As the cookbook says, the nuts, once coated, should taste similar to Cracker Jack peanuts, and lo and behold, they do. You press the peanuts into the dulce de leche, then top the whole thing with melted, bittersweet chocolate.
Let me say, the bittersweet chocolate is a great call on this recipe. Any other type of chocolate in conjunction with the extremely sweet dulce de leche, would have made for an overwhelmingly sweet dessert and could have ruined this very nice cookie bar.
The cookbook picture shows the squares sitting beside a tall, cold glass of milk. I advise having a glass of milk nearby while you eat these too. The milk helped with the intense richness of the overall experience.
I say that you give making these bars a shot, just keep your mitts off my dulce de leche stash.