Sunday, June 24, 2018

Raspberry Coffee Caramel Shortbread Bars

Do I ever have a treat for you today!

This is eeeeeverything.

Millionaire's shortbread, step aside.

This is buttery shortbread + coffee + caramel + dark chocolate + raspberry.

Just saying all of those delicious flavours makes me tingle.

And the textures! We're talking tender, gooey, crackly, silky and creamy, and even a bit crunchy from the cacao nibs on top.

Basically, I made a candy bar that couldn't sell for $0.99 because it's so much better than that.

The shortbread base happens like any great shortbread: creaming butter with sugar until pale and then stirring in flour and salt. I use some freeze dried raspberry powder to lend a tangy tartness to the buttery shortbread and give it the slightest tinge of pink.

This coffee caramel gets me every time. It is DOPE. As in, it is incredibly addictive!

It's buttery, rich, robust, sweet and almost savoury. Every caramel should be coffeed.

The top layer is a blend of dark chocolate and olive oil. The oil interferes with the melting profile of the cocoa butter so that the chocolate sets firm but with a slight softness. It won't crack and shatter when sliced (like pure chocolate), but it will have this type of firmness that gives immediately once it reaches your lips.

A ganache would be soft and fudgy but this sort of silky firm texture provides contrast to the gooey caramel.

As rich as they sound, these are very easy to eat. Will power: required.
Have a sweet, sweet day :)

Raspberry Coffee Caramel Shortbread Bars
makes 12-18 bars

6 tbsp (84g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup (40g) icing sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp freeze dried raspberry powder
¾ cup (105g) all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt

For caramel layer:
¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp water
3 tbsp (42g) salted butter
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp (100ml) 35% cream 
2 tsp espresso powder
1/8 tsp salt

4 oz (113g) dark chocolate
1 tbsp (15ml) vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides. 

In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, icing sugar and vanilla until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape the bowl. Add the raspberry powder and salt and beat to combine. Sift in flour and stir by hand until just combined and a soft dough forms. Press the shortbread into an even layer in the prepared pan. This can be done with floured fingertips or a small rolling pin. I think the easiest way is to press it down with your fingers, place another piece of parchment over it and use a small rolling pin or your palm to make it extra smooth. Pierce the crust with a fork all over. 

Bake the crust 15-20 minutes until lightly golden at the surface and just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. 

Once the crust is baked, make the caramel. First combine cream with instant coffee and set aside. Place the sugar in an even layer in a small saucepan. Drizzle honey and water over top and place over medium heat. Cook until sugar dissolves, swirling the pan gently so that there are no lumps, but do not stir. Increase the heat to bring the mixture to a boil and cook, without stirring, until it turns the colour of a copper penny. Remove from heat, add butter and stir until combined. Continue to stir off the heat until the mixture stops foaming. Then stir in cream. The mixture will bubble up. Place the saucepan back over the heat and let simmer for 2 minutes to thicken. Pour over warm crust and let cool completely to set. You can put it in the fridge to speed up the process.

Once the caramel is firm, place the chocolate and vegetable oil in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth. Pour it over the caramel and use a spatula or knife to smooth it out. Sprinkle with more raspberry powder and cacao nibs then let chill until the chocolate is firm. 
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