Thursday, March 21, 2013

Caramelized White Chocolate Almond Squares

Caramalized White Chocolate is something to obsess over.

I'm obsessed and it is worthy.

It's like that 50% reduction on balsamic vinegar that transforms it into a thick sweet syrup... that extra hour of simmer time on your bolognese sauce,

...that sear on your beef before you start braising,

...the second proofing on a fresh batch of bread dough,

...or that extra 10 seconds to cook your caramel just before it could be considered burnt.

Caramelizing white chocolate is taking something that's already naturally delicious and making it interesting and irresistible.

In this lovely recipe, white chocolate takes on these buttery, caramel, toffee and condensed milky flavours that just feel warm and luscious.

The caramelizing process begins on the stovetop as chocolate and cream are cooked together at a simmer for 5 minutes until thickened.

Then, this thick condensed ganache gets baked atop a buttery oat base until it begins to bubble and become golden around the edges.

Nutty flavours come forth in so many ways right here.

Scientifically delicious Maillard Browning reactions are happening in the white chocolate as the milk proteins and sugars make magic flavour compounds.

Sliced almonds and shredded coconut take on some golden toasty tones to enhance their nuttiness. 

It's rich and a bit sophisticated.

They even look rather posh with this white, beige and cream colour palette going on here. Maybe these are alllllmost too fancy to be a "square"?

Really... This recipe sets the bar for squares. Who said squares had to be covered in fake-flavoured butterscotch chips and pink marshmallows?

I think we should dress up in thick-framed glasses, drink Manhattans and wear diamond brassieres because that's exactly the kind of vibe they're oozing: simple, approachable, intriguing and just downright sexy at the core! 

An architecture lesson would demonstrate a sturdy yet chewy oat base supporting a thick and creamy ganache layer and a slightly crackly topping in an open network. 

This blueprint has proven to be feasible.

And the following is your homework for this weekend...

I can probably guarantee you're coming up on an A+.


Caramelized White Chocolate Squares
Makes 18-24 squares

½ cup quick oats
½ cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

½ cup 35% whipping cream
150 g (5 oz) pure white chocolate (make sure it’s a good quality)
¼ cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
¼ cup unsweetened desiccated coconut, lightly toasted

Preheat your oven to 350 F and line an 8x10-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch over hang at each end.

First get started on the caramelized white chocolate by heating the cream in a small saucepan just until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat, add white chocolate and let stand a few minutes before stirring until melted and smooth. Place pan back over the heat and bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes while stirring constantly. Set aside to cool while you make the base.

In a medium bowl, mix together oats, coconut, flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt until evenly combined. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt together butter with vanilla extract and then pour over dry ingredients. Stir it all together with a fork until evenly blended and then turn it out into prepared pan. Press the mixture firmly and evenly into the base of pan and bake at 350 degrees F until golden, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

Pour white chocolate mixture over oat base and then sprinkle the almonds and coconut evenly over the top. Bake for about 15 minutes longer, or until golden on top. The white chocolate mixture will be bubbling and caramelized around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before slicing into squares. 

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