The recipe for this week’s edition of Tuesdays with Dorie was selected by Erin of Dinner & Dessert. Erin selected Snickery Squares, a confection that promised to pay gourmet homage to my favorite candy bar, the Snickers.
Juiced-up beyond the recognizable $2 convenience store snack, Dorie’s version matched a simple shortbread crust with dulce de leche, caramelized peanuts, and a whopping almost half-pound of chocolate.
Judging from the mess in my kitchen, you’d swear that it was Thanksgiving and not simply March 1st. This was, by far, one of the messiest things I’ve made in a long time. And I don’t mean just for its size as an 8×8 dessert. The mess in my kitchen rivaled a frosted and decorated tiered cake or a holiday bakeathon 🙂
My husband and our friends really dug the Snickery Squares. I’d make them again. Some of my thoughts… I made my own dulce de leche using a method that has yet to provide timely results. I haven’t found any method yet that produces the results I’m looking for. I wished I’d had enough time to let the dulce cook longer but the Pastry Queen’s estimate of having good dulce in one hour seems to be wishful thinking, even after two hours.
There was too much chocolate. Write that down because you might never hear me say this again. I’m actually a little ashamed to even admit it 🙂 I considered swapping out the bittersweet for semisweet because I knew a near half-pound of bittersweet chocolate would overpower the squares. I didn’t. And it did.
Not much of my slaving-over-the-cooktop dulce could be appreciated. To enjoy the simple shortbread crust or the candied peanut-filled dulce layer, you had to pick off the chocolate – an unusual step for me when enjoying dessert. Next time, I’ll either cut the amount of chocolate in half or go with a lower % chocolate. And it obviously wasn’t a deal breaker – there were no other complaints about the 1/4-inch slab of chocolate sitting on top.
The candied peanuts make this recipe. They also make a fantastic snack while you’re waiting on dulce to cook.
For the Dulce de Leche
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
For the Crust
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
For the Filling
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp water
1 1/2 cups salted peanuts
1 1/2 cups dulce de leche (I used two full cans of homemade dulce)
For the Topping
7 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 8 inch square pan and put it on a baking sheet.
To Make the Dulce de Leche
Remove the wrappers from the cans of condensed milk. Puncture the top of the cans with one or two small holes (or just slightly pull the top back of cans with the removable tops) and place in a large pot of water. The water should come up 2/3 the way of the can (add water to the pot as necessary to maintain the water level). Simmer the cans for about 2.5 hours, or until the milk bubbling out of the can is a rich caramel color. Remove the cans from water and pour the dulce de leche into a bowl, whisking until smooth.
To Make the Crust
Toss the flour, sugar, powdered sugar and salt into a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Toss in the pieces of cold butter and pulse about 12 times, until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Pour the yolk over the ingredients and pulse until the dough forms clumps and curds-stop before the dough comes together in a ball.
Turn the dough into the buttered pan and gently press it evenly across the bottom of the pan. Prick the dough with a fork and slide the sheet into 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.
To Make the Filling
Have a parchment or silicone mat-lined baking sheet at the ready, as well as a long-handled wooden spoon and a medium heavy bottomed saucepan. Put the sugar and water in the saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Keeping the heat fairly high, continue to cook the sugar, without stirring, until it just starts to color.
Toss the peanuts and immediately start stirring. Keep stirring, to coat the peanuts with sugar. Within a few minutes, they will be covered with sugar and turn white – keep stirring until the sugar turns back into caramel. When the peanuts are coated with a nice deep amber caramel, remove the pan from the heat and turn the nuts out onto the baking sheet, using the wooden spoon to spread them out as best you can. Cool the nuts to room temperature.
When they are cool enough to handle, separate the nuts or break them into small pieces. Divide the nuts in half. Keep half of the nuts whole or in biggish pieces for the filling, and roughly chop the other half for the topping. Spread half the dulce de leche over the shortbread base, sprinkle over the whole candied nuts, and then spread the other half of dulce evenly in the pan. (My dulce was still very hot when I assembled the squares so it flowed and spread very easily.)
To Make the Topping
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Remove chocolate from the heat and gently stir in the butter, stirring until it is fully blended into the chocolate. Pour the chocolate over the dulce de leche, smoothing it with an offset spatula, then sprinkle over the rest of the peanuts. Slide the pan into the fridge to set the topping, about 20 minutes; if you’d like to serve the squares cold, keep them refrigerated for at least 3 hours before cutting. Cut into 16 squares. Because my dulce was hot, it took quite a while for my chocolate to set in the fridge. We cut the squares with a hot, dry knife after about two hours.
Yields: 16 2-in squares
Source: Adapted from Baking, From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan (2006)
Looking good. They are a little messy from what I remember(it’s been a year). If I remember right, I think I made mine with semi-sweet.
Oh goodness, they are so unbelievably perfect!
They look pretty good to me 🙂
Your pictures look stunning. When I made them a while ago, they turned out decadent and crunchy but they definitely left their mark in my kitchen.!
at least yours cut neatly–mine look like a mess! i agree there was too much chocolate…i would have preferred a thinner glaze layer.
They look great!!!
Your squares look great! Mine didn’t cut that clean…I thought it was too much chocolate as well.
Those look fabulous! Beautiful pictures! They have something similar to these in Scotland called Millionaire’s shortbread. They use rich caramel and milk chocolate, with no nuts. You can find them everywhere and they are to die for! I could (and did) eat these by the boatload when I was there!
Great looking squares. I forgot to buy peanuts so ended up making my squares with Pecans. My goodness but they are decadently good. I used Belgian Chocolate. My only complaint is that the chocolate kept cracking when I tried to cut them. I think they would be alot better made with a milkier flavoured chocolate so will probably try them again with that, but all in all these were a winner to me!
These squares are messy, but they look great!
How can that look so good first thing in the morning? I’m not much of a sweet lover, either.
You’ve done a fabulous job with the baking and the photos – love it!
These look yummy! I’ve been having similar issues with dulce de leche. I’ve tried the Pastry Queen’s method, and it took waaaaaay longer than 1 hour. I’ve also tried baking it in a water bath….that took way longer than the 1.5 hours the recipe called for. I hope you find a method that works!
Mmm they look delicious! Thanks for the too much chocolate tip.
Can I just tell you that I am kinda happy to see your messy kitchen? Your pics are always so fab that I just assumed that you had a magical cleaning fairy too. LOL. I used 1/2 bitter and 1/2 semi sweet and really liked the way it tasted. Your squares look awesome! Great job!
Great job on how perfectly you cut them! I agree about the mess.
Looks so yummy! Must try!
gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!! how did you get such a cleanut on your squares?? mine were a splendid mess, both the squares, and my kitchen!!!
Your pictures are lovely! I agree with you on the too much chocolate (and I pretty much never say that!), which I make worse by using too much butter. I think milk chocolate would be better on these, but might be too sweet. And I’m impressed that you were able to get such neat bars–mine were a mess.
Wow…those look great! And the pictures are beautiful!
They look fabulous.
i know the squares were supposed to be the focal point of the pics, but I just love your countertops! …..and the squares look perfect, too!
I love your blog. It is one of the ones I always go to, and I don’t have time to go to any! Thanks –
They look awesome! You take great photos!
Your kitchen looks absolutely spotless for the “messiest dish” ever. Mine looks like a bomb went off when I make anything messy.
After the gateau, I will be wary of using bittersweet chocolate in anything now. Your bars look great, sorry about the mess though!
wow, you made your own dulce de leche? bravo! it looks great! I also think that the chocolate is too much for the squares, it’d be better if there is only a thin layer of it on top of the dulce de leche. 🙂
I would certainly agree that the DDL was not firm enough, there was too much chocolate. Isn’t it a bummer when you know something you are doing isn’t going to work and you do it anyway. Grr! Hope you do make them again to your satisfaction!
Yours look great! I agree that they are very messy- but delicious! I’m glad you liked them.
Those look awesome! I used a semi-sweet chocolate and my co-workers thought a bitter sweet might not be as good as the one I made.
I agree on the messy kitchen. My husband asked if we were having family over. LOL I said nope, just baking for us. haha!
your bars look great. my kitchen always looks like that regardless of what i make 🙂
you can never have too much chocolate! delicous!
Deeeelish! How neat and perfect they are! 🙂
Wow, those look perfect! I’m jealous 😛
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How on earth did you get your squares to cut with such a clean edge? I have square envy! Beautiful job.
Those. are. amazing.
Those look great! They say to me “Make me!”
back to my diet pie.
You can make ddl in the microwave. I use a big Pyrex bowl for one can of sweetened condensed milk — it takes less than 25 minutes.
They look fabulous! Last time I made them they were devoured before I could take a picture! I used bittersweet chocolate and I was not disappointed!
i thought these were great w/the semisweet but i also don’t like dark chocolate so i’m not really the person to ask! your squares turned out beautifullly!
I’m not a huge bittersweet chocolate fan, but I thought it worked really well with these. But I would swear my chocolate layer wasn’t as thick as yours. Maybe that’s the key?
You’ve won an award… because you make my day 🙂
I have got a surprise for you!
Your squares look awesome! Good job. I’m sure those lucky enough to eat them thought them well worth the kitchen mess.
Wow! You have a beautiful site. The photography is so bright and clean. very good ieye. And the squares look gooey, gooey, gooey… yum!
Aw, you guys are making me blush. Thanks for the compliments – and the awards!
CB – If you ever get the scoop on where to find a kitchen fairy (on the cheap), let me know. Please.
Chilled dessert + sharp knife held under hot water (then dried) = crisp, clean edges. It’s a “good thing” 😉
Kathleen – thanks for the microwave tip, I’ll definitely give that one a shot!
Michelle, Tartelette, and Annie – Thank you so much for making my day 🙂
Your snickery squares look delicious! Thank you for having a little view of your kitchen. Mine was a mess, too after these squares.
wow, the layers look perfect, yum yum yum
Wow! These are great. I finally made them for a work lunch and everyone loved them. My friend took one bite and said, “Oh my god! These are better than sex!”
I followed your suggestion and made a semi-sweet ganache topping instead and it was the perfect balance. I also used cashews instead of peanuts. The dulce de leche part was pretty easy because I have a method that works perfectly for me every time. Here’s what works for me:
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Pour two cans of sweetened condensed milk into a pryex 9-inch deep dish pie plate. Cover with foil; place in a larger shallow baking pan. Pour hot water into larger pan to a depth of 1 1/2-inches.
Bake 1 hour 30 minutes or until thick and caramel-colored. Beat until smooth.