Monday, June 20
Happy belated Father's day to all the dad's out there. If you have hung around with me since last year, first of all, thanks! And also, you may remember that every Father's day, as a tribute to my dad, I make something with one of his favourite ingredients, peanut butter. This year I wanted to do a little something different, because all dad's are worth at least a million bucks (which, I think, is about what they end up spending on their daughters.)
I always wished that I'd inherited my dad's jet black hair and piercing blue eyes. He was incredibly handsome, and of course, there was the quintessential French accent...which, as a child, I didn't fully appreciate. A lot of people had a difficult time understanding him, so when I was little, I would try to explain that he sounded like the only famous person I knew with an accent, Arnold Schwarzenegger. That didn't really help. Now I wish that along with the hair and eyes, I had my own charming accent. Thankfully, I did inherit my dad's love of food and spending time in the kitchen.
I know that I've made these before, but they deserve a standing ovation...several, in fact. Despite the lack of peanut butter, I know my dad would have loved them. He may have been french, but he had a massive sweet tooth. And even though my desserts usually consisted of fruits, yogurts and cheese, they didn't always hit the mark. And yes, unfortunately I still look like a boy. :P
The bars are so rich, that they will make you feel like a millionaire. The base is a buttery shortbread, the filling is an equally buttery, creamy dulce de leche which is then covered with melted dark chocolate and salt. If candy bars are reincarnated, this is what they wish to return as.
Joyeuse (un petit peu tard) fête des pères.
Salted Millionaires Shortbread
1/2 cup (that's 1 stick) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
2 Tablespoons of sugar
Dulce de leche ingredients
1 (14 oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup (that's 1 stick) of Salted butter cut into cubes (this will help it melt faster)
3 Tablespoons of dark brown sugar
dash of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of pure almond extract
Chocolate topping ingredients
6 ounces of chopped dark or bittersweet chocolate
1 Tablespoon of butter
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line an 8x8 inch square baking pan with foil and butter or spray the entire pan (bottom and sides.) Set aside.
Crust: In a medium bowl, beat the butter on high speed until it becomes light and fluffy (about 3 minutes or so.) On low speed, add the flour, salt and sugar and mix just until a crumbly dough forms. Try not to over mix. Press the dough into the prepared pan, going up the sides a bit. Prick the dough a few times with a fork. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the crust is just starting to turn a light gold. Remove from the oven and cool completely. You may turn off the oven at this point since you won't need it again.
Dulce de leche: Empty the can of sweet milk into a heavy, medium sized pot. Add the cubed butter, brown sugar, and salt. Place the pot over medium-low heat and stir until the butter has melted. Turn the heat up a bit to a medium heat. Stir constantly until the mixture resembles a thick light golden caramel. Depending on how high the heat is, it may take up to 15-30 minutes [the first time I made these, it took about 20 minutes. This time it took almost 30. Be patient and it will thicken.] Be sure to keep stirring to prevent the bottom from burning. The longer you heat the mixture, the deeper the flavour till be. Once the mixture is thick and gold, remove from heat and quickly stir in the almond extract (be careful not to burn yourself as the caramel may sputter.)
Immediately pour the mixture over the cooled crust and spread it evenly before it hardens. It should be easy to spread as long as you don't hesitate too long. Set the bars aside to cool for about 20 minutes.
Chocolate topping: Place a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Make sure no steam is escaping from the pot. Place the chopped chocolate and butter into the bowl and stir until you have a smooth, shiny mixture. Carefully remove from heat and drizzle the chocolate over the cooled dulce de leche layer. Sprinkle some sea salt over the chocolate before it cools. Chill the bars completely before serving.
To cut the bars, run a sharp knife under hot water. Run the hot knife through the bars. Repeat as necessary.