Inspired by one of my favorite recipes for Ginger Crunch Slices, these rich bars combine buttery shortbread, spicy ginger-cardamom caramel, creamy bittersweet ganache and sweet-salty hazelnut “croquant.”
I planned on giving them to the new neighbors across the street, but after eating two, decided to keep this batch all for myself.
More like an exotic candy than a cookie, the combination of butter, heady spices, bittersweet chocolate and hazelnuts create quite a flavor bomb.
¾ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
7 Tablespoon butter
4 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoons cardamom
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons corn syrup
6 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons water
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted
4.5 oz. bittersweet chocolate
½ cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 inch square pan with aluminum foil and butter the foil.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour and salt and beat until the batter just starts to clump together. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan, lightly prick the shortbread with the tines of a fork, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until pale golden in color. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool while you make the caramel.
In a 1-quart saucepan over medium heat, combine caramel ingredients, bring to boil and pour over shortbread. Cool.
While caramel is cooling, heat sugar and water in a small nonstick skillet over high heat, swirling, until sugar dissolves. Reduce to a simmer, and cook, swirling occasionally, until amber, about 4 minutes. Add hazelnuts and stir for 30 seconds to coat.
Pour mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a nonstick baking mat, and immediately spread nuts on sheet and sprinkle with salt. Let cool. Coarsely chop.
Once caramel is cool, place bittersweet chocolate, heavy whipping cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and whisk until completely melted and combined. Pour over caramel and smooth. Sprinkle with hazelnut croquant. Let set for an hour or two, or refrigerate until set. Remove from pan using foil, cut into 16 fingers.
I adore candied citrus peel. You won’t offend me if you’re not a fan (yet). You probably only know those chewy, tooth sticking, flavorless, processed nuggets that come in a grocery store tub. That’s what I thought candied peel was all about, too – until I made my own. Then, ooohhhh, I fell in love. Hand-crafted candied peel is pliant and juicy with the perfect balance between bitter peel and sweet syrup. Making your own takes a bit more work than opening a tub, but it’s the difference between a frozen beef patty and aged ribeye steak. I always make more peel than what’s needed for a recipe. That way, I can toss the remaining peel in sugar for a sweet snack.
Call me the uncertain Siren, keeping sentry over heaving oceans, afraid to beckon you; frightened that my foolish desires will leave you shipwrecked on rocky shores below. Yet, equally, I fear that the sweet chorus from my lips is not enough to entice you from your charted course. So I watch your ship pass, this melody trapped within my throat, and collapse heartsick atop my island bluff.
Oh my – chocolaty and creamy deulce de leche on top of a buttery shortbread crust.You can also reduce the salt in the shortbread to ¼ t. and sprinkle the tops with sea salt just before serving. Recipe from Gourmet magazine
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream
1 13.5 can dulce de leche
4 large egg yolks
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, at least 60%, finely chopped
Make shortbread: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter 9” square pan, line bottom and sides with 2 sheets of aluminum foil, butter foil.
With a fork, blend together butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add flour and blend until a soft dough forms. Spread dough evening in pan, patting evenly into pan and prick all over with folk. Bake until golden 15 to 20 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack, about 30 minutes.
Make Topping: Bring cream and dulce de leche to simmer in a pan until fully combined. Whisk together yolks in a bowl and then slowly add cream mixture to yolks, tempering to avoid curdling eggs. Return to pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture registers 170 degrees. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate until melted.
Pour chocolate mixture through a sieve over cooled shortbread and chill, uncovered, until set, about 2 hours. Transfer to cutting board using foil and cut with a hot, clean knife (dip in hot water and wipe clean between cuts). Chill until ready to serve.
Each Easter, in addition to the milk-chocolate bunny, a nest of malted robins eggs, jelly beans and rows of peeps, the Easter bunny would leave me a ginormous fudge egg from See’s Candies called a “chocolate butter egg with pecans.” This thing was 13.5 ounces of pure chocolaty, sugary fudge and unconquerable for a child of four or five year old. I would try to consume this fudgy confection that was bigger than my hand, and each time, I would fail. I’d usually nibble the candy flowers from the top and maybe a slice or two of the fudge. That was the easiest way to eat it – to slice it like a loaf of bread, since it was about the same size. Eventually, I would donate my fudge egg to the family for consumption – that egg was no match for my four older siblings, but even still, it took a day or two to devour it completely.
I’ve never been a big fan of fudge – a little too rich, too thick, too cloying and too chocolaty – and also a bit temperamental to cook. I discovered this quick, no-cook fudge recipe recently and, cut into small, manageable 1-inch squares, quite conquerable, too. It was love at first bite.
5-minute Walnut Fudge
Sweetened condensed milk (14 oz.)
Semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
Chopped walnut, toasted
Flaky sea salt (like Maldon) – optional
Line an 8×8” pan with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray. In a microwave, heat sweetened condensed milk and chocolate on high for 1 minute. Stir to combine. Heat an additional 30 seconds if needed until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Stir in vanilla and walnuts. Pour fudge into pan and smooth. Sprinkle with sea salt (optional). Cool in refrigerator for 1 hour. Use aluminum foil to remove fudge from pan, cut into 1” squares. Store in an airtight container. Fudge does not need to be refrigerated – or donated to hungry siblings.