Am I the only one who finds the “wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle” part of that song oddly (and probably inappropriately) hilarious? Yes? Okay then.
I had some hazelnuts that needed to be used. AND I figured that I’ve branched out enough lately that it just might be okay to return to my baked good of choice: bars.
And these? Are like an afternoon in Sienna in late spring; simultaneously sunny, decadent and more than a little sexy.
Brown sugar shortbread forms a lovely base. What’s that I hear? The theme music for a Misanthropic digression? So, see those shoes I’m wearing in the photo below? They were prototypes for what became You by Crocs. Just one of the perks of having a husband who scores strange and wonderful swag on a regular basis (as a note, he usually gives me the women’s shoes. Most of the time).
Anywho. Let’s boil some honey shall we? Don’t scrimp on this part, use the orange blossom honey the recipe calls for. The result is a beautiful floral note that plays ridiculously well with the hazelnuts and chocolate.
Hazelnuts go into the caramel. So does the candied orange peel. Of which, I had none. Even without it, the orange flavor comes through the with honey and fresh orange peel. These will be made again during the holidays with candied orange peel. Oh yes, they will.
Everything goes back into the oven until bubbly.
And here is where I diverged from the original recipe. As you’ll see below, the original instructs you to cut the squares then dip the edges in melted chocolate.
I thought it would be prettier to drizzle drizzle drizzle drizzle. Drizzle, drizzle, drizzle, drizzle.
Wrapped in a cellophane bag and orange ribbon, these would make a lovely gift to anyone needing a little love.
No soundtrack this week. In its place, I offer an alternate ending below.
Chocolate Dipped (or drizzled) Hazelnut Caramel Squares
Bon Appetit, December 2010
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) plus 6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup orange blossom honey
- 2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel
- 5 ounces hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped candied orange peel
- 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), chopped
- Special equipment: candy thermometer
Preheat oven to 350°. Line 13 x 9 x 2-inch metal baking pan with foil (or parchment). Mix flour, brown sugar, and salt in processor 5 seconds. Add 3/4 cup butter; using on/off turns, process until coarse meal forms. Transfer to pan; press firmly and evenly onto bottom of pan. Bake crust until golden, about 20 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.
Bring 6 tablespoons butter, 2/3 cup sugar, cream, honey, and finely grated orange peel to boil in heavy small saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves and butter melts. Boil until candy thermometer registers 230°F, about 6 minutes. Stir in nuts and candied orange peel.
Spoon hot nut mixture evenly over crust in pan. Return to oven and bake until entire surface is bubbling, about 10 minutes. Cool 20 minutes. Using foil as aid, lift cookie from pan. Carefully peel foil from edges. Cut warm cookie into 1 1/2-inch squares. Cool cookies completely.
Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or waxed paper. Melt chocolate in small metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water until warm to touch. Remove bowl from over water. Dip corner or edge of each cookie in melted chocolate and place on prepared baking sheet. Chill until chocolate is set, about 1 hour. DO AHEAD: cookies can be made up to 3 weeks ahead. Store in airtight container in freezer. Bring cookies to room temperature before serving.
Back it up to the part where the pan comes out of the oven. Let the entire pan cool to room temp. Melt chocolate over a double boiler or very slowly in the microwave on 50% power, whisking in between turns in the oven. Once chocolate is completely melted, drizzle over the entire lot in the pan (be generous). Let chocolate set until completely hardened. Remove entire block from pan (it will easily pop-out). Cut. Enjoy.