If for some unfortunate reason I should ever be stranded on a desert island and have enough luck to be able to tote three things with me, I can almost certainly assure you at least two of those things would be candy bars.
Life vest? Too bulky. Cell phone? Too many dropped calls I bet. Emergency flares? I don’t look good in that kind of lighting. Human companion? I prize alone time. Water? I prefer tea.
It may be the only trip where I pack lightly and somewhat efficiently.
I’ve never claimed to be practical. Or gourmet for that matter.
Truth is, I’ve always been wild about sweets with a wrapper and a layer of caramel. And a chocolate coating. And catchy phrasing. And things that come two for a dollar.
These, dear friends, are Twix Bars that I can make and eat at home.
I may not have to trek to convenience stores anymore. I won’t be counting my nickels and dimes, and be perpetually seven pennies shy of a Kit Kat at gas station mini-marts.
Better yet, I won’t have to change out of my ‘please for the love of God stay home if you’re wearing this’ sweatsuit into my slightly cleaner ‘please for the love of God stay home if you’re wearing this’ sweatsuit whenever I want a Twix Bar.
These bars begin with a crust of buttery, rich shortbread, and then a thick, chewy caramel layer above that, followed by a coating of intense dark chocolate. In other words, we’re sinking our teeth into the most deliciously decadent little logs imaginable. They’re just so satisfying in texture and taste.
Bake them today.
******You can absolutely use this recipe for shortbread crust, which is easier and it’s the one called for in the recipe that inspired my baking today- it will work just fine. I, however, chose to make a shortbread recipe from one of my favorite bakers, Alice Medrich. It’s a bit fussier because you should chill the dough for two hours to let it rest before baking, and I completely understand that that kind of patience is hard to come by. Go the easier, trusted route if you’d like!
In a large bowl, stir together one and a half sticks of melted butter, a quarter teaspoon salt, and a quarter cup of sugar.
Stir in one and a half cups flour. Mix just until combined.
Spread the dough evenly in the bottom of an 8″ square baking pan lined with foil (allowing for an overhang of foil for easy removal). Refrigerate the dough for two hours. This gives it a chance to rest and become tender.
Preheat your oven to 300°F. Bake the shortbread for 45 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
Now make the caramel.
Let it cool slightly and then pour over the cooled shortbread. Let this caramel layer set for at least two hours.
Now make the chocolate topping (recipe below) and spread it evenly over the caramel layer with an offset spatula or a butter knife.
Chill the bars in the refrigerator for an hour or more before cutting. They’re much easier to slice when cold.
***See original recipe for a quicker shortbread version if you’d like!
(makes one 8″ square pan)
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and still warm
¼ cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
In a large bowl, stir together the melted butter, sugar, and salt. Stir in the flour and mix until just combined. Spread the dough evenly with your hands into an 8″ square baking pan lined with foil (leaving an overhang on two sides for easy removal). Chill the whole pan of dough for at least two hours and up to 24 hours. Bake for 45 minutes at 300°F. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
***Note: I only used about 2/3 – 3/4 of the amount of caramel yielded from this recipe because I made the Twix in an 8″ square pan rather than a 13×9″ pan, as the original recipe called for.
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon salt plus more for sprinkling over the caramel layer
In a medium sized pot set over medium high heat, combine the sugar, corn syrup, water, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Use a wet pastry brush to wipe down the sides of the pot if any sugar crystals begin to form; you don’t want them to burn. Without stirring, let the mixture bubble until it reaches 300° on a candy thermometer.
Remove the pot from heat and let it stand for one full minute to let the bubbles settle. Slowly whisk in the heavy cream followed by the sweetened condensed milk. Add the salt and stir until the mixture is completely combined.
Set the pot back on the burner on medium heat and let it warm to 240°F, stirring constantly. Turn off the burner, move the pot, and let the mixture cool for 10 minutes before pouring over the shortbread crust. Let the caramel layer set for at least two hours. Then make your chocolate topping.
6 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped (you could also use semisweet chips)
2 tablespoons butter
Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl in the microwave for about 45 seconds to 1 minute at high power, stirring after thirty seconds. Be careful not to let the chocolate burn.
Stir until smooth. Let this mixture cool for about 5 minutes and then pour over the caramel layer. Smooth the top with a butter knife or an offset spatula.
Chill in the refrigerator until set, about 1 hour. Remove the bars from the pan by lifting the foil overhang. They are much easier to cut when cold. Cut into thin strips and serve.