Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Chocolate & Cream Butter Bars

If I were a food, I'd be butter.

I'd be butter more than I'd want to be chocolate.

Butter simply makes life taste better, and would probably never have issues fitting into leather pants if it wanted to. Fans of Friends would know that 'paste pants' are not a good scene.

In little bits or large pads, it's just good. A couple teaspoons mixed in with your olive oil to start the sofrito base of bolognese sauce or any risotto will take it to that next level. Or, how about a bowl full of beurre blanc with that seafood dinner?

A little goes a long way and a lot goes even longer...

A tablespoon or two stirred into fresh lemon curd adds body, sheen and richness. Then a generous cup marks the beginning of irresistible shortbread.

That's where we are heading today - straight into shortbread city with a few dark alleyways and a cheeky detour.

This isn't your usual chocolate shortbread made with cocoa. This is shortbread touching on brownie. Then again, who wouldn't wanna touch on brownie?

It all starts with a dreamy two-thirds of a cup of unsalted butter...

First step is creaming of this butter with sugar. Light and fluffy - you know the drill.

A healthy dose of melted and cooled chocolate joins the party. Make sure it is cool because hot chocolate will just melt the butter that holds the air that we just whipped into it.

Flour goes in - let's make sure we sift it.

The cream part is sour cream. I love sour cream and chocolate. Sour Cream Swirl Fudge Brownies are kryptonite.

An egg helps to set the cream and gives it a smooth gel-like texture that sits nicely within the chocolate sandwich.

Keep an eye on the bake time because we want a nice smooth cream, not a rubber gum.

Oh, and don't use light sour cream. We need the fat to keep it silky and smooth, not curdly and uninteresting.

Save the light stuff for your baked potato... or your dog. Whichever...

This is a good enough reason to want to be butter.

Chocolate & Cream Butter Bars
Makes 16 bars

For the chocolate shortbread:
2/3 cup (150g) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp (75g) sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
125g (4.5 oz) dark chocolate (min 60% cocoa), melted and cooled
1 ½ cups (215g) all-purpose flour

For the filling:
1 cup (227ml) full fat sour cream
¼ cup (50g) sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper.

Cream butter, sugar, salt and vanilla on medium speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. You can also use a hand mixer or do it by hand with a spatula and some elbow grease.

Add the melted and cooled chocolate and mix to combine.

Sift the flour over the bowl and stir it in gently until just incorporated. Do not over mix.

Take one-third of the dough and shape it into a 9-inch log over a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper, using the plastic or paper to help roll it and smooth it out. Wrap well and place in the freezer until firm.

Spread the rest of the dough evenly into prepared baking pan and chill until required.

Meanwhile, combine all of the filling ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Pour the filling over the chilled base. Take the reserved dough from the freezer and slice into very thin discs, about 2-mm thick. Arrange the discs like overlapping tiles over the sour cream filling and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until it puffs slightly and the filling starts to turn a bit golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool before slicing.

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