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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

TWD: Snickery Squares

Another Tuesday, another recipe from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours. For this week, Erin of Dinner and Dessert chose Snickery Squares, which are roughly a homemade version of snickers.

I was once again concerned about my abilities and having the recipe come out right. For the base, it says to use a food processor for blending the ingredients together. I don't have one, but I do have a mini processor-like attachment for our blender. I had to make the base in two batches so it would fit in the mini processor. I was feelin' good with my new found skills from everyone's biscuit experience. I grated my cold butter like a pro. But I was unsure about the base as I was patting it in to the pan... pricking it with a fork didn't leave nice marks as I expected, but rather, simply dislodged the mixture at that spot. I left it in the oven a little longer than stated after realizing my oven was at about 320 instead of 350.

(History: I have a VERY off-base oven. I bought an oven thermometor on a whim to see how my oven was doing. It was way off! I bought a second oven thermometor to check the first (how do I know if it's right, anyway?) and that gave me yet a THIRD reading. My oven (when the two thermometers get close enough for a "consensus" reading) basically runs about 50 degrees hotter than the dial says. But there is a slightly exponential increase as you go higher. So for a 350 degree oven, I set the dial to a hair past 300. For 400, I set to 340. For 450? 375. Turns out I was a little shy of 300 on the dial so the oven temp wasn't quite making it to 350. But I digress...)

Caramelizing the peanuts (another first!) went surprisingly well, and Dorie's description of the process guided me right through. I have no idea, however, how she fit 1 1/2 cups of nuts in this 8x8 pan. I put a little more than half in the filling layer, then generously coated the top chocolate layer. I had at least 1/3 cup leftover! Clearly there is also some magic to cutting these. My chocolate layer was cracking all over the place.

Sadly, I did not care very much for these. I don't know if it is my "eh" feelings on chocolate, or I over roasted the peanuts, or what. They just didn't do anything for me. A few chocoholic friends thought they were great, though!

Snickery Squares

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

For the Topping:
7 ounces bittersweet, coarsely chopped (I used semisweet)
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.


Mary said...

there's no way anyone could tell you have a finicky oven or lack a processor cause those look so amazing! way to go!

April said...

They look great! Some we love, some we don't.

Marie said...

I think your squares look delicious! I forgot to buy the peanuts and so made mine with pecans instead. I have to say they were a most delicious subsitute!

noskos said...

They look great, too bad you didn't care for them.

Anonymous said...

Those look great! I'm sorry you didn't love them, but at least you provided coworkers a nice treat :)

Di said...

Your bars look great, despite the oven problems. I also had a really hard time cutting these neatly. I liked the individual components more than I liked them all put together. Not sure why.

CB said...

You've got one crazy oven there! I imagine that must be frustrating when baking. FWIW, your squares turned out fab. Great job!

Gretchen Noelle said...

You did a great job accomodating what you have to make the recipe. Too bad you didn't *love* these. I am sure your friends love you all the more now for sharing! They do look terrific!

The Frosted Bake Shop said...

i know exactly how you feel. my oven is the same exact way. but your bars still look great.

Dianne said...

These didn't really speak to me either. I liked the individual elements, but I didn't really care for it all together. I did however enjoy learning how to make the candied nuts and making the dulce de leche. It was fun.

amanda. said...

They look awesome!

I had the same issue with my peanuts. I had SO many leftover. Luckily I didn't have to look hard for someone to munch on them.

And you just reminded me that I didn't post my shortbread with a fork. Oh well, didn't hurt it much.

Erin said...

They look great! I'm sorry you didn't like them.

Carrie said...

It's unfortunate you felt "eh" about the squares, they look so nice!

Engineer Baker said...

Wow, that's one screwed up oven! I'm afraid to buy an oven thermometer just because I'm betting mine is way off too :-P I'm glad you persevered though!

Anonymous said...

i made my base the same way! and bravo on your result, esp with a cranky oven!

Jhianna said...

You're a much braver baker than I! Last time I had an oven like that, I waited to bake until we moved.

They look great!

Jaime said...

sorry you didn't like these so much; you did a great job with them though! i don't know how she crammed so many peanuts into this treat either! have you seen alton brown saw through things w/his electric saw cutter thing? i wonder if dorie had her squares cut w/those...b/c the chocolate layer was definitely prone to cracking!

Nina said...

These look fantastic! Snickers is my favorite candy. I'm definitely going to have to try this recipe.