This week's Tuesdays with Dorie pick was Caramel Crunch Bars, selected just for us by Whitney of What's Left on the Table? These delightful treats have a base that's shortbread amped up with the addition of espresso powder and chopped chocolate.
Dorie warned that it would be a little sticky and hard to ease into an even layer for the crust. I found it easiest to use a knife to do this step.
The base is baked for 20-22 minutes (mine went the full 22, and I think it could have benefitted from another minute or two).
You pull it out of the oven, turn off the oven and scatter 6 ounces 7 1/2 ounces (hey, I chopped too much!) of chopped bittersweet chocolate on the top and put it back in the oven for a couple of minutes to let the residual heat melt the chocolate.
The chocolate is then spread evenly (in a perfect world, which isn't where I live) over the base. Heath bits are then scattered over the top and lightly pressed into the chocolate so they don't fall off when picked up. Foolproof, right?
Umm, not for me. I went to a couple of stores to find Heath bits, and I must have gotten a package that travelled to California on horseback, because it was basically a bag of dust with some pieces of toffee. Caitlin of Engineer Baker suggested making Paula Deen's English Toffee recipe in the P&Q, and I wished I had done that. Unfortunately, I was finishing this up at 9:30 on a Sunday night, and that's not my golden hour so I was rushing to get the #%@#* thing done so I could GO TO BED. So instead of dumping out the whole bag of Heath bits on a plate and picking through to get the usable pieces, handfuls of the contents of the bag, dust and all, were thrown on the melted chocolate. I then resolved to make the recipe again and use the toffee recipe and produce a beautiful result I could be proud of.
Was I dreaming?!? In what parallel universe would I have time to redo this dessert this week, nay, on Monday? I do work and Monday night I had my P.E.O. meeting, from which I would likely get home at 10:00, the hour at which I turn into a pumpkin. So, inspired by Carol Blymire (who is cooking through the Alinea cookbook and blogging about it; Alinea's chef, Grant Achatz creates odd sounding but tasty combinations that sometimes use powders of foods in combination with other ingredients), I decided I would embrace my powder-topped creation.
In that spirit, I present to you...
Caramel Crunch Bars, Powdered
They were pretty yummy, aesthetics aside. I didn't want to risk having even a pint of ice cream around to test drive Dorie's playing around suggestion of ice cream sandwiches, so I'll leave that one for my TWD buddies.
If you're not aching to create something suitable for people to travel from long distances to taste and pay hundreds of dollars for (and I certainly wasn't, because I have nowhere for them to sit), I suggest you either a) pick through your bag of toffee bits, or b) follow Caitlin's suggestion and make your own toffee. It would take these bars to the next level. That's what I call raising the bar, ha ha! If you'd like the recipe, you can find it here.