Rumor has it that when my mother was pregnant with me, she asked my father to bring her a Snickers bar every afternoon on his lunch break. It was all she craved. I grew up watching my mom eat an occasional Snickers bar. It never interested me much. I preferred peanut butter cups and Twix bars. Oh, Twix bars! I love the creamy goodness those bring rather than the bite and crunch of large nuts. I do have an affinity for chocolate and peanut flavors together, but I admit I had a bit of trouble with these bars.
Mind you, I should have known. I made Britsh Caramel Shortbread back in October. I made a version of the recipe as is and a version with Manjar Blanco, the Peruvian version of Dulce de Leche. The original recipe won out by far, not just for taste but also for durability and texture. You see the manjar never “set” so when cut through the chocolate topping, it was as if the pressure caused a cave in and a ooze out. Why didn’t I remember this episode before I made these Snickery Squares? Call it selective memory. Call it hope. But, these in actuality came out just the same. Don’t get me wrong, I like ooey, gooey sweets. But I was hoping for something more durable.
Am I the only one who ran across this problem? I have used the Peruvian Manjar Blanco as well as the Argentinean Dulce de Leche. Both had similar results. Does the DDL you find outside of South America harden and set when chilled?
I will make these again. But, I will try another method. I think I must cook the Manjar down, maybe with a little butter. Here in Peru, many things are cooked and stirred “until you can see the bottom of the pot.” This is what I need to do: cook and stir until I can see the bottom of the pot. I think that will help the Manjar or DDL to set in a way that prevents the cave in and ooze out. I think I will also chop up all the peanuts, not just those on top; I imagine I will like it that way a bit more!
I will let you know the new outcome when I do. Deal?
100 grams of butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1/2 cup of sugar
3 tablespoons of water
200 grams of salted peanuts
200 grams of Manjar Blanco (Dulce de Leche)
200 grams of dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
100 grams of butter, cut into small pieces at room temperature
CRUST: Preheat oven to 350F. Combine the flour, sugar, powdered sugar and salt in a medium sized bowl. Cut in the pieces of cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the egg yolk and stir until clumps form. Add dough to a square baking dish, coated with cooking spray. Gently press the dough across the bottom of the pan and prick with a fork. Place the square baking dish on a baking sheet and place in 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.
PEANUTS: Place a sheet of wax paper, lightly coated with cooking spray, onto a baking sheet. Combine the sugar and water in the saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the sugar dissolves. Continue to cook the sugar at medium-high heat, without stirring, until it just starts to darken in color. Add the peanuts and stir immediately to coat the peanuts with sugar. Continue to stir as the peanut turn white in color from the sugar, then turn caramel in color. Spread the peanuts out over the wax paper spreading them out. Cool the nuts to room temperature. Once the peanuts are cooled, separate them or break them into small pieces. Leave them whole or chop them coarsely or finely, depending on your preference.
Spread the Manjar Blanco over the shortbread base and sprinkle half the peanuts over the top.
TOPPING: In a small saucepan, combine the chocolate and butter. Over medium heat, melt the ingredients, stirring constantly. Pour the chocolate over the manjar blanco.
Sprinkle the remaining peanuts on top. Slide the pan into the fridge to set the topping, about 20 minutes. Cut into 16 bars. Serve or chill longer.
My love of food was cultivated early on by my family but has come alive while living in Peru. During the 12 years of living in Lima, Peru, I have also enjoyed numerous trips to other areas of the country.
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