March 4, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie – Snickery Squares

Filed under: Chocolate, Cookies, TWD — lynettechng @ 8:37 pm

It’s been a helluva long week, and I was just dying for something sweet to take the edge off. Something full of chocolate, with a crunch! I knew Dorie’s Snickery Squares would do the trick. Lucky for me, this was the recipe for this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie, chosen by Erin of Dinner and Desserts. 

Bottom layer of buttery, crumbly shortbread, next filled with home-made dulce de leche and candied peanuts (not a big fan of peanuts, but anything candied can’t be too bad!), then topped by velvety smooth chocolate… ooooohhh!! I was drooling just at the thought of the assembly of the deliriously sweet treat. 

What I did not anticipate, was the amount of work required into each step. Sure, they all looked simple enough reading, but the actual process of getting the individual layers was not something I had put very much thought into. 

The dulce de leche made, all 90 minutes of baking my jar of sweetened condensed milk (great recipe from here, recommended by Madam Chow) consisted of me walking back and forth between my kitchen and loving room. Constantly. I was so worried that it would burn!! I guess that sort of explains my slightly pale dulce de leche. It still tasted sinfully good, though. 

The next ‘nightmare’ was tackling the candied peanuts. Caramelising? Yet another pothole. I really should try to be more optimistic. I read, and reread, and read yet again the whole bit about caramelising sugar. When to throw in the nuts, what to do after… and I’m now extremely pleased to know that it’s not all that scary, after all!  

All in all, it probably wasn’t all that difficult a task to do, but I wanted to have my snickery squares on the Friday night. Remember the exhausting week? Well, I knew I wasn’t going to get a snickery square that night, so I consoled myself by snacking on my freshly ‘baked’ dulce de leche. 

Bad move! I realised that I now did not have enough dulche de leche (can you tell I just love saying that? Dulce de leche) for my recipe!! So it was on with whipping up another batch while I started with the base. 

Everything proceeded swimmingly after that. Cool the base, scatter the nuts, spread the dulce de leche, pour the chocolate… YUM! I just could not wait. So much so, that I took it out of the fridge 10minutes in, and went for a slice! 

It wasn’t pretty. My caramel wasn’t firm yet, and slicing it at this stage made a complete mess. But of my! It tasted divine! Just like a bar of store bought snickers, only better! It tasted like a grown up bar of snickers. 

This is one recipe that will be repeated again and again. Give this Dorie Greenspan recipe a try. I promise it is worth all the effort that goes into it! 

* * * * *

Snickery SquaresFor 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
Getting Ready: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. 


February 21, 2008

Do you really need a Sweetheart?

Filed under: Chocolate, Cookies — lynettechng @ 12:27 am

I had contemplated back-dating this post. Yes, that’s right. Cheating.

Why?, you may ask. Well, simply because I was late in posting for Valentine’s, that’s why. And not wanting to be left out, I contemplated back-dating this post. But while drafting it in my mind, it started to dawn on me that I didn’t have to. Simply because I was going to say that Valentine’s isn’t just for the couples out there.

This year, I don’t have a Honey to snuggle up to… but I do have a few Sweethearts that deserve my attention. To my girls (and a couple of boys) out there, this year’s Valentine’s treats are for you. For always being there, especially through the rough, for putting up with my whinging, my worse than ever bad temper, and most of all, my absence.

So this year, my Valentine’s is proudly late, because my true Valentines won’t mind…

* * * * *

This is Thomas Keller’s TKOs from his book, ‘Essence of Chocolate’… which is nothing more than a grown-up, classy tribute to the humble Oreo.

My filling is brown (as opposed to the white filling the recipe calls for) because I was initially going for the half recipe, but forgot it while heating my cream, and poured it all over my lovely chopped Valrhona milk chocolate which was a half recipe portion (and all I had!). I had to make up for the other half with a 66% Valrona Alpaco so I would not lose the milkiness the filling was meant for (and also that it was a left over packet from the Gateau frm the last TWD!). Waste not, want not…

It was still a perfect blend, so if you’re a true-blue chocoholic, and want to go for a chocolate filling, please don’t let me (or Thomas Keller) stop you.

This dough does not re-roll well. So I would suggest you roll it only once, and try and get as many cookies as you can out of each. Of course, if you do not mind weird-looking cookies, or if you wish to have some samples for ‘quality control’ (one must always set high standards), feel free to re-roll them. They might not look pretty, but rest assured, they still taste absolutely delish!

I urge you to try these… Remember. You don’t need a Sweetheart to make these… use round cookie cutters instead!


1/2 cup cream
8 ounces white chocolate, chopped

3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
7 1/2 ounces butter, room temperature, cut into small cubes

For the filling:
Place the white chocolate in a bowl. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat on the stove. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk together to melt the chocolate. If it doesn’t melt completely, place it in a double-boiler to finish the melting process.

Transfer the filling to another bowl and let cool until it has thickened enough to spread – it may take a few hours. I quickened up the process by putting it in the fridge for 20mins (while my cookies were baking), and whisking it to give it a bit of fluff and texture. I found that it set pretty quickly after being in the fridge.

For the cookies:
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F / Gas 4).

Combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in an electric mixer. With the mixer still running on low speed, add the butter a few pieces at a time. Let the dough continue mixing until it comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a floured working surface and work into a solid block. Divide the block into two pieces.

Working with one piece at a time, roll out to 1/8″ thick. Using a cookie cutter, cut out shapes and place on the baking sheets about 1 inch apart (cookies will spread a bit in the oven).

Bake the cookies for about 12 to 15 minutes depending on your oven (mine only took 11 minutes, so keep watch!), rotating the sheets halfway through baking time. Remove from oven and let cool on wire racks for a few minutes, then transfer cookies to wire racks and let finish cooling.

To assemble the cookies:
Using a small spoon, scoop a small dollop of filling into the center of the underside of each cookie. Top with another cookie right side up. I love mine with tons of icing (it’s top quality valrhona! so sue me.), so I placed dollops on 3 points of the heart, and squished it. YUM!

Press the cookies together until the filling spreads out to the edges.

The cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

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