12 Days of Desserts: Day 1
Homemade Twix Bars [also known as Millionaire’s Shortbread]
Shortbread, caramel, and chocolate. Is there any better combination? Ok, well peanut butter and chocolate is a very very close second, but that’s a different story [see end of post for that bit].
Shortbread is a staple for me…well pretty much all year long. But especially during the cold months – there’s something great about shortbread dipped in chocolate around the holidays. Especially with a nice cup of tea. Anyway, to sum it up, I love shortbread. Add in chocolate and caramel and I will be the happiest person ever. Millionaire’s Shortbread is almost exactly like a Twix Bar, but better because the cookie part is shortbread. This is my adaption which is a cross between Not Without Salt’s twix bar recipe and a millionaire’s shortbread recipe in one of my Mother’s Scottish cookbooks.
My chocolate/caramel to shortbread ratio is a bit skewed, I know. Hello, my name is Claire, and I have a chocolate-caramel addiction.
Homemade Twix Bars
Recipe adpated from Not Without Salt
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons butter (softened)
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-X-13-inch baking pan/dish with butter and line with parchment paper. Grease the parchment. [If you plan to eat this out of the pan and do not plan to cut it up all nice and neat, skip the parchment and just grease the dish – I skipped the parchment and the bars still came out fairly neat].
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Gradually add the flour and salt, and allow the dough to come together. The dough will be crumbly but should hold together when you squeeze it.
Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the baking pan. Place in the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Rotate the pan from front to back and bake for another 10 minutes, until the shortbread is a deep golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a rack to room temperature.
While the shortbread layer is cooling, begin preparing your…
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon salt plus more for sprinkling over the caramel layer
Combine the sugar, corn syrup, water, and lemon juice in a large [important as the caramel will nearly double in size] saucepan. Remove any sugar crystals from the sides of the pan by wiping down the sides with water. Place the pot on medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Wipe down any stray sugar crystals that appear using a very clean and wet pastry brush. Do not stir from this point on. Keep an eye on the pan. The mixture will be very bubbly.
When the sugar syrup starts to turn golden brown insert a candy thermometer [very important tool to have!] to check the temperature. When it reaches 300°F, remove the pan from the heat and let it sit for 1 minute, or until the bubbles subside. Carefully whisk in the heavy cream. Stir until smooth, then whisk in the condensed milk. Add the salt (vanilla salt is very nice here if you have it) Whisk until smooth.
Return the pan to the heat and stir constantly over medium heat until the caramel reaches 240°F. Remove from the heat and pour over the shortbread. While the caramel is warm sprinkle the surface with the best quality salt you have. Kosher is fine (though Fleur de Sel is better).
Allow to set. This will take about 2 hours. Very important to let this set otherwise your chocolate layer will sink into the chocolate giving you odd clumps (as viewed in the first picture – the bar on the left).
Once the caramel layer has set, you can prepare your…
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (Bittersweet chocolate chips also work, and actually semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips or whatever you happen to have on hand will work fine)
2 tablespoons butter
Melt the chocolate and butter over a bain marie or in the microwave. If using the microwave melt it slowly – in 30 second intervals. Stir well after each interval.
Once completely melted pour over the caramel. Using an offset spatula, smooth the chocolate in a nice even layer.
Place in the refrigerator to set. They cut best when chilled.
Cut into desired shape and size, & serve. Or you can do like me and hoard the entire pan for yourself. Haha.
PS: After this pan was devoured, I made a slight variation on the next batch, adding a layer of peanut butter goodness. Because chocolate, shortbread, caramel, AND PEANUT BUTTER? IT was tasty, though I think next time I would make the shortbread a chocolate shortbread, as in the actual PB Twix. But if you would like to try:
Peanut Butter Layer
2 cups Peanut Butter (creamy or chunky – I personally prefer chunky)
1/4 cup (4 tbsp) room temperature butter
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk
In a large bowl, mix together peanut butter, butter, and vanilla. Add the powdered sugar and beat until combined. Mix in the milk to loosen the mixture. Layer the peanut butter on top of the shortbread. Add the caramel layer on top of this, chocolate on top of that, and so forth.
Delicious, though the peanut butter layer did not seem to want to adhere to my shortbread, resulting in random chunks of peanut butter falling off when chopping up the bars to distribute. Also, the peanut butter layer became a tad bit dry when the entire thing was placed in the fridge. My family thought it was wonderful, but I have changes I will be making next time. J has requested I bring him some type of tasty treat when I visit next week, so perhaps I will make him my edited version of a PB Twix, with chocolate shortbread (or perhaps even a chocolate sable layer!). We shall see. Will post how it comes out if that’s what I decide to do.