Saturday, February 27, 2010

Chocolate Dulce de Leche Squares

Oh. My. Goodness. I saw these on Epicurious a couple of weeks before Valentine's Day and just knew I had to make them. I mean, chocolate, carmel, and shortbread? Can you think of anything more divine? Plus it had 4 forks, and you know it's gotta be good if it has 4 forks on Epicurious. As it turned out, I couldn't even wait until Valentine's Day and I made them almost immediately. And they were gone just as fast. I brought them to a party and they were devoured. In fact, there is a distinct possibility that the plate may have been licked clean. =) Smooth as silk and so good.

They were gone so fast, in fact, that I have no pictures of them. ("Aha!", you are thinking, "I knew that top picture was much prettier than her normal ones!" Yes, you are correct, that is not mine. =)I do have pictures of my pretty chopped chocolate and my creamy dulce de leche while cooking, but nothing else. So, I've taken a picture from the website. I made mine into small bite-sized squares because I thought they were pretty rich, that's really the only difference.I do think that if I make them again I will use a 50% or even 40% Cacao chocolate. I mean, I love my bittersweet chocolate, but in this particular dish I thought the bitter overpowered the caramel flavor of the dulce de leche flavor a little bit.I also finally broke down and bought a candy thermometer. They are really very inexpensive and easy to use. Just make sure you have which side is Fahrenheit and which side is Celsius straight before you start or it might cause a moment of panic while you are cooking (not that I'm speaking from experience or anything... ;)

I made my Dulce de Leche the cheater way. Have you ever heard of this? I mean, you can slave away at making everything perfectly, or you can just stick a can of sweetened condensed milk in a boiling pot of water for about 3 hours and then take it out with tongs and let it cool for awhile and then when you open your can it will have magically changed to the perfect thickness of dulce de leche! Of course, you need to watch the pot to ensure that the can of milk is always completely submerged: or it may explode. Other than that, just let it boil away and work its magic and you will get a no-fail, delicious, perfect textured dulce de leche. And you might as well boil 2 or 3 cans while you're at it and use it to dip apples in when you have company unexpectedly! Here's a tutorial if you want more information. I don't ever poke holes in my cans like they say to, but it might be a good idea.

So, with that in mind, here is the recipe. So, so very good.
Oh, and do let them sit at room temperature for a bit before you serve them, maybe 20 minutes, I found the texture and flavors were just perfection at that point.
They also say they can be stored for up to one day, but I found them still delicious 2 days later.

Recipe here and below.

Chocolate Dulce de Leche Squares

Yield: Makes 24 bars

Active Time: 30 min

Total Time: 3 1/4 hr


For shortbread crust:
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
For chocolate dulce de leche:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup dulce de leche
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 5 ounces 60%-cacao bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (preferably in a food processor) (I did 6 oz. and, again, would probably do 40-50% cacao)
Make shortbread crust:

Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle. Butter a shallow 9- to 9 1/2-inch square baking pan (1 to 1 1/2 inches deep). Line bottom and 2 sides with parchment paper, leaving an overhang. Butter parchment.

Blend together butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a bowl with a fork. Sift in flour and blend with fork until a soft dough forms.

Spread dough evenly in baking pan using an offset spatula or back of a spoon, then prick all over with fork.

Bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes, then cool completely in pan on a rack, about 30 minutes.

Make chocolate dulce de leche:

Bring cream and dulce de leche to a simmer in a small heavy saucepan, stirring with a wooden spoon until dulce de leche has dissolved.

Whisk together yolks in a bowl, then slowly whisk in hot cream mixture. Return to pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until pan is visible in tracks of spoon and mixture registers 170°F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate until melted.

Make bars:
Pour chocolate mixture over cooled shortbread and chill, uncovered, until cold and set, about 2 hours.

Run a small knife around edges to loosen, then transfer to a cutting board using parchment. Cut with a hot clean knife (dip in hot water and wipe clean between cuts) into 24 bars. Chill until ready to serve.

Cooks' note: Chocolate dulce de leche bars can be chilled in an airtight container up to 1 day.

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