I’d Give $1000 to be One of Them Millionaires

I saw these on GBBO and decided to give them a go. (Kind of English slang for “try to make them”.) Millionaires Bars are layers of shortbread, caramel and chocolate.

I used a jelly roll pan, which is about 25% bigger than the specified pan. This caused each layer to be thinner than I expected. As they were setting I considered increasing the recipe quantities by about 50%. After cutting and eating them I think I am going to leave them the way they are. They ended up being about 1/4” thick and if I cut them into 1” square pieces they will be perfect bite sized pieces.

Self induced problems: 1) Forgot to use the parchment paper making me worry about releasing the bar from the jelly roll pan. No problem. I cut around the outside and across the center. Each large piece came out easily. 2) I should have poured the chocolate on the caramel before it set. Not doing so caused the chocolate to not adhere to the caramel. Cutting the bars into 1” squares, so you can just pop them into your mouth without taking a bite and “breaking” them, converts the problem into an enhancement.

Overall, these are delicious cookies. The caramel was heated to 242 deg which made it a perfect softness and texture. The chocolate wasn’t tempered but resulted in a nice layer with a good snap. The short bread base was difficult to push to the edges of the pan, but perhaps rolling it out before placing in the pan would help. I also skipped the macadamia nuts as my pantry was bare. If you saw my pantry, you wouldn’t believe that possible.

Millionaire Shortbread Bars

Millionaire Shortbread Bars

Paul Hollywood’s Salted Caramel Bars

https://people.com/food/paul-hollywood-salted-caramel-bars-recipe/

INGREDIENTS
• ⅓ cup granulated sugar
• 1⅓ cups unsalted butter, softened and divided, plus more for greasing
• 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
• ½ tsp. table salt
• ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
• ⅓ cup sweetened condensed milk
• 3 tbsp. golden cane syrup (or honey as a substitute)
• 1 tsp. flaky sea salt
• 7 oz. dark chocolate baking bar, chopped
• ½ cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 300°. Grease a shallow 11×7-inch baking dish with butter.
  2. Line baking dish with parchment paper, allowing paper to extend by 2 inches on each side; grease parchment.
  3. Beat granulated sugar and 2/3 cup butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add flour and table salt; stir with a spoon, and then combine with your hands to form a smooth dough (try not to overwork it). I ended up adding a couple of Tbl water to the dough so it would come together,
  4. Press dough into pan in an even layer, and prick surface all over with a fork. Bake in preheated oven until pale golden and cooked through, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool completely in pan, about 45 minutes.
  5. Combine brown sugar, condensed milk, golden syrup (or honey) and remaining 2/3 cup butter in a medium-size heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until butter melts and mixture is smooth, about 3 minutes. Bring to a boil, and cook, stirring constantly, until the caramel bubbles become larger, mixture thickens and turns a rich, glossy caramel color, about 10 to 12 minutes. Pour caramel evenly over the shortbread, and sprinkle with sea salt. Cool completely until set, about 1 hour.
  6. Melt chocolate, stirring often, in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Pour melted chocolate evenly over caramel layer; spread with an offset spatula until level and smooth. Sprinkle with nuts. Let stand until chocolate is set, about 1 hour. Use a knife to release ends of bars from pan; use the parchment paper as handle to remove from pan. Cut into bars.

Temper, Temper

I tried something new today. I use my sous vide for many, many things, but never thought of using it for tempering chocolate. I researched online and the sous vide companies described several different techniques. The problem with them is they bag the chocolate, like you would a steak, and heat and cool it in the bag. I wanted to dip my chocolates, so decided to use a pan to hold the chocolate. I had to be careful as any water that splashed into the melted chocolate would seize and ruin it. (I managed to temper 3 batches with no failures.

I made sure the large pot, plus sous vide was just big enough to allow the sauce pan to sit in the water without tipping too much. It also let the water circulate from the sous vide without splashing.

By the third batch I had the timing down. Setting the sous vide temperature a few degrees higher, or lower, than the chocolate required compensated for our ambient room temperature of 64 deg. I was using dark chocolate so set the sous vide to 126 deg and let the chocolate heat to 122 deg F and hold until I was sure it was all at temperature. That’s the beauty of using the sous vide to temper. It will hold indefinitely at any temperature you select. I then removed the sauce pan containing the melted chocolate, wiped the pan dry and set it aside before replacing 5 cups of water with 5 cups of ice, dropping the temperature to 75 deg. Returning the saucepan to the water quickly cooled the chocolate to 80 deg. I then set the temperature to 95 which held the chocolate in temper at 90 deg for over an hour.

After making the centers by pouring the candy filling into a jelly roll pan, cooling and cutting into 1” x 2” pieces, I dipped to coat the Butterfingers candy bars. The resultant center was too thin for the candy bar. I then tried pouring it into a mold, but it was too thick. Nothing I have was “just right.” However, the flavor and texture was spot-on compared to the commercial candy bar.

I used a heart shaped polycarbonate mold to make the vanilla cream and Mounds Bar clone. (It is almost Valentines Day after all.) I made a half recipe although the recipe below is for a full recipe Two coats of tempered chocolate painted into the mold made a shell for the filling.

The vanilla cream readily piped into the mold, but the coconut was too dense and lumpy with the coconut so I greased my hands and rolled small balls of the mixture then pressed them into the shell. (I warmed the coconut mixture for the second batch and was able to pipe it.)

Once filled, a layer of tempered chocolate was poured over the top and the excess was scraped off. Tapping the cooled mold on the table released the finished candies.

Mounds Bars

INGREDIENTS
• 5 oz condensed milk, sweetened
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
• 14 oz coconut, shredded
• 4 cups dark (64% cacao) couverture chocolate

METHOD

  1. Mix the condensed milk and vanilla extract in a bowl.
  2. Add the confectioners’ sugar a little at a time, blending until smooth.
  3. Stir in the coconut.
  4. Temper the chocolate and paint the inside of the mold. It will probably take 2 coats to completely cover the mold. Cool the chocolate between coats.
  5. Grease you hands and roll a small quantity of the mixture into a ball and force into the chocolate coated mold.
  6. Pour chocolate over the top and scrape off the excess. Chill until the top is firm.
  7. Scrape any residual chocolate from the mold and tap on the counter to release.

Vanilla Cream with Invertase

INGREDIENTS (HALF RECIPE)
• 3 tsp Meringue Powder (1 ½)
• 2 cups Fondant Sugar (1)
• 1 to 2 tsp Vanilla Extract (1)
• 1 tsp Invertase (½)
• Food Coloring (optional)
• 3 Tbsp Butter softened (1 ½)
• 3 Tbsp Light Corn Syrup (1 ½)
• 2 Tbsp Water (1)

METHOD

  1. Add the softened butter, meringue powder, light corn syrup, and water to your mixing bowl Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer beat until mixed completely, scraping the bowl to ensure everything is incorporated well.
  2. Add fondant sugar and mix on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, then, beat on medium speed for about 1 minute until it all creams together.
  3. Add invertase, and food coloring and mix well. This was my first recipe using invertase. It is a natural enzyme used to break down the sugar and change it from grainy to smooth.
  4. Scoop the cream filling into a disposable pastry bag and twist the end tightly, securing with a clip or a rubber band.

Butterfinger Candy Bars

(Yields about 96 miniature candy bars)
https://spinningsugar.wordpress.com/2007/11/05/homemade-butterfinger-candy-bars/

INGREDIENTS
• 1/3 cup light corn syrup
• 1/3 cup water
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1 cup peanut butter
• Spray Vegetable Oil (Pam, etc.) for keeping the knife lubricated in scoring
• 1 Pound of Tempered Semi-Sweet Chocolate for dipping

METHOD

  1. First begin by greasing a 12-by-17-inch jelly roll pan (with 1-inch sides) with safflower, vegetable or canola oil. Place the pan into a slightly warm oven to warm the pan while making the candy. (Don’t allow the pan to become hot, only barely warm to give you more time to spread and score the candy later.)
  2. In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, combine the corn syrup and water, stirring well to combine. Place over medium-low heat and add the sugar. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until it is clear and then stirring often until it reaches a full boil. Clip on your calibrated candy thermometer, raise the heat to medium-high and continue to cook – without stirring – until the mixture reaches 310 degrees (F). During this cooking period, should sugar crystals form above the boiling line, carefully wipe away using a damp pastry brush, but be careful not to touch the boiling mixture. Rinse the pastry brush well – and make certain to blot-dry the brush well – between each swipe.
  3. Remove your pan from the warming oven and place on your work surface.
  4. Remove the candy from heat and add the peanut butter, stirring to blend completely using a clean wooden spoon. Working quickly, pour the mixture onto your well-greased jelly roll pan, and spread as evenly as possible. Score the mass with an oiled, heavy chef’s knife into 1-inch by 2-inch pieces, cutting at least half way through the candy. (The more quickly you do this, the easier and deeper your scoring will be.) It is helpful to spray the knife with cooking oil occasionally to aide the knife in scoring.
  5. Allow the scored mixture to cool at room temperature about 2 hours. When cool and hard, complete cutting the scored pieces using a sharp, heavy knife (I like to use my Chinese cleaver here) and break into individual pieces.
  6. Place the cut candies into the refrigerator while you temper your dipping chocolate and allow to chill for 15 to 30 minutes. Remove the candies from the fridge and dip each piece into the chocolate, then place on parchment paper to allow the chocolate to harden completely (About 3 hours).
  7. Note: You can add a certain flair to the candy by taking a clean dinner fork and touching the tops of each freshly dipped piece raising lines of “peaks” (akin to meringue peaks). Just use the back of the fork laid parallel to the chocolate cops, touch, lift and slightly pull to one side. Looks pretty snazzy….
  8. Store on waxed-paper sheets in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Killing Time Making Rolls

So, what do you do as you are waiting for your dinner rolls to proof? Well, If you have an 11 pound bag of chocolate, 60 pieces of 1”x1” caramel, making salted chocolate covered caramels is a good way to pass the time.

I cut the caramels a day ago, tempered the chocolate, dipped and drained the coated caramel and sprinkled some Maldon flaked sea salt on each.

The chocolates were setting as the first proof of the rolls completed. The proofed dough weighed 1,553 grams, so to make 24 rolls, each had to weigh about 63 g. I weighed each, formed them into a small ball and rolled them on the counter to tension the surface of the roll.

I arranged them 4×6 in a glass baking tray and baked at 375 deg until the internal temperature was 180 deg. (about 20 min.) Once out of the oven, a light brush with melted butter and boom. Excellent dinner rolls! The recipient and methods for both the dinner rolls and chocolates are found elsewhere in this blog.

Raspberry Fondant Filled Bonbons

I figured there must be something I could do while my Rye Bread Part 2a a loaves were proofing. I also figured there must be something I could do with the 4 Tbl of seedless raspberry coulis I had in the fridge. Also, if you remember I want to use more of the 11 lbs of bittersweet chocolate I have, so I decided some nice raspberry fondant filled bonbons would be a good way to kill a couple of hours this morning.

I tempered a cup of chocolate and poured it into one of my molds before draining the extra back into the bowl of liquid chocolate.

While the tempered chocolate was setting I mixed the raspberry fondant. I only made a half recipe but doubled the amount of raspberry coulis and halved the amount of sugar. I wanted the filling to be very soft. The recipe below does NOT reflect my modifications.

Once complete, I piped each chocolate coated well about 2/3rds full and let it set. Once set, I re-tempered the chocolate, poured it over the filled chocolate and let it almost set before scraping the bottom clean. It’s always a challenge to bang the finished chocolates out of the mold, but just keep banging them and eventually they will release.

Raspberry (or any) fondant center

INGREDIENTS
• 2½ tablespoons butter, softened
• 2½ tablespoons light corn syrup
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• ¼ cup seedless raspberry coulis, (but you can use your favorite.)
• 3 cups powdered sugar

METHOD

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the butter, corn syrup, jam, vanilla extract and salt until smooth.
  2. Add the powdered sugar and mix on slow until completely combined. Turn the mixer up to medium and beat the mixture until smooth.
  3. Use the filling right away, or store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a month. (I have it in a piping bag, sealed on both ends.)

I Ain’t Afraid Of No Ghosts

I was shown a picture of a Jack ‘O Lantern cake, found the tutorial and more of less followed it. It is supposed to be one of those plastic buckets used to collect your spoils during Trick or Treat. I am satisfied with my first attempt. The recipe called for chocolate cake, so I used my Extreme Chocolate Cake. I also used my recipe for buttercream frosting and marshmallow fondant.

While a little time consuming, most of the individual elements can be prepared well in advance. I made the cakes almost a week early and frozen them. When thawed they are every bit as good as fresh. Fondant needs to rest overnight and buttercream will stay in the fridge for several days before use.

Mark a 4” circle on the top and the mid-point down the cake. Try your best to carve a half a sphere, evenly around the center of the cake. I put a 4” flat plastic disk to serve as a base. The QC department suggested the top of a round plastic storage container that worked perfectly. Take a deep breath, hold the cake tight and flip it end for end. Repeat the same carving on what will now be the top of the cake, making a perfect sphere, or in my case a slightly distorted, but acceptable, ovoid.

  1. Make the cakes and cool, or if frozen, let warm to room temp.
  2. Mix the buttercream.
  3. Before coloring I set a piping bag full aside to frost some birthday party cupcakes I made.
  4. Frost between the layers, smooth any seepage and refrigerate overnight.
  5. Carve the cool cake and crumb coat, back to the fridge.
  6. Frost the cake and yup, refrigerate again.
  7. Make the marshmallow fondant, break off some of the un-colored fondant and set aside.
  8. Knead in the orange food coloring. Protect your work surface to avoid stains. I like to wear gloves for this.
  9. Knead black food coloring for the face into the white piece set aside.
  10. Find a face you like, or draw your own.
  11. Cut it out, pin it to the cake and cut out holes for the black fondant.
  12. Cut the black fondant to fit the template and fit into the holes on the cake.
  13. Cut a 4” circle on the top about 1/2” deep and line with fondant. (Which ever color you have left over.)
  14. Roll a piece of black fondant out into a long trip. Lay a piece of wire on it and wrap with the fondant, leaving a couple off inches of wire uncoated. Push the clean ends into each side of the top opening.
  15. Place a few pieces of wrapped candy in the shallow hole on the top.
Halloween/Birthday Cupcakes

Hand Pies and Pan Au Chocolat

So, I had some puff pastry left over from the torsades last week, AND I had a half pint of fresh raspberries left over from my breakfast cereal. What am I to do?

I know! I can use some of my 11#s of chocolate for Pan Au Chocolat and puff pastry and raspberries for some hand pies. I posted both recipes and methods elsewhere in this blog so won’t bore you with repetition.

Long Chocolate Buns

I saw a picture of an elongated bread roll, like a hot dog roll, but slashed with a lame and the slashes were filled with lemon curd before baking. Well, I couldn’t find the recipe so decided to create my own. This is the first time I have stepped out of my chemist-trained-recipe-following comfort zone.

I also decided, since I don’t really care for lemon curd, I would instead roll chocolate ala pain au chocolat but using an enriched bread dough instead of puff pastry. This was also an excuse to use some of the 11# of chocolate I bought a couple of weeks ago.

The QC department suggested a less bitter chocolate (64% cacao) and sparkling sugar topping (good suggestion.) QC will have to live with 64% as I do have 11 pounds. Manufacturing suggested no chop the chocolate so small. Something the size of chocolate chips should melt fine and be easier to handle.

Chocolate Filled Bread Buns

INGREDIENTS
• 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
• 1 cup barely warm milk
• 3 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 tablespoons butter, melted
• 3 tablespoons sugar
• 1 teaspoons salt
• 2 eggs, one for dough, one for egg wash
• 1 tablespoon orange zest
• 165g, about 1 cup (4-6 ounces) bittersweet chocolate chopped fine (pulse in a food processor)

METHOD

  1. In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm milk and let sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons melted butter, sugar, salt, egg, and orange zest. Stir until blended and fragrant.
  3. Add 3 cups of flour and mix until the dough comes together. It will be sticky! On a lightly floured surface knead the dough until soft and elastic (about 8 minutes), adding more flour to keep the dough from sticking if necessary. Do not add too much flour! The dough will become more workable the longer you knead. Or, if you have a standing mixer, knead the dough with the dough attachment for 5-7 minutes, or until elastic.
  4. Transfer the kneaded dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm area until it doubles in size, about 2 hours.
  5. Punch dough down, divide into 12 equal portions, and shape each portion into a round ball. Flatten into an oval then roll to ¼ “ thick rectangle.
  6. Place a stripe of chocolate ½ “ from long end of rectangle. Roll to cover chocolate and place a second stripe of chocolate. Roll up and seal edges and all seams.
  7. Place rolls a on baking sheet coated lightly with cooking spray. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise for another 20 minutes.
  8. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  9. Slash diagonally 4x with lame.
  10. Brush 1 egg wash over the rolls. Sprinkle with coarse sparkling sugar.
  11. Bake for 8-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Un-Hasty Pudding

Well, it ain’t instant pudding, but is sooooo much better!! I made this pudding a couple of times before, each time seemed better than the previous.

If you have read some earlier posts you know I have an 11 lb bag of new chocolate just waiting its turn. I decided to use some of the 70% I had opened (finished it!) to make this home made pudding. It takes a little time and most of it is hands on, but it is so worth it. If you like chocolate and if you don’t mind whisking constantly for a few minutes, try this. It’s delicious. I forgot where I found the recipe and frankly, I don’t care.

A dab of whipped cream would have helped the picture, but we couldn’t wait.

Chocolate Pudding from Scratch

Makes 4 cups; serves 8

INGREDIENTS
• 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
• 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 3 large egg yolks
• 2 1/2 cups whole or 2% milk
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Use a serrated knife to chop the chocolate into fine flakes; set aside.
  2. Whisk the cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt together in a large, heatproof bowl. Slowly whisk in the cream, a little at a time, until you have a smooth mixture.
  3. Whisk the egg yolks into the cream and cornstarch mixture.
  4. Pour the milk into a 3-quart (or larger) saucepan. Add the sugar and warm over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar is dissolved.
  5. Bring the milk to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Watch for the surface of the milk to vibrate and for bubbles to form around the edges of the pot.
  6. To temper the eggs, slowly pour most of the hot milk into the bowl of cream and egg yolks. Whisk until well-combined, then pour everything back into the pot.
  7. Bring the mixture to a full boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. (It should look like lava boiling up!) At this point, the pudding will look much thicker.
  8. Cook for 2 minutes more, whisking constantly and vigorously. Get your whisk into all corners of the pot.
  9. Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the vanilla. Add the chopped chocolate and let sit for 1 to 2 minutes or until melted. Whisk vigorously until the chocolate is fully incorporated.
  10. Transfer the pudding to a storage container and press plastic wrap or wax paper directly onto the surface of the pudding. Cover with a lid and refrigerate.

A Day In The Life – Act I

So, I started the morning with Pain Au Chocolat, (making, not eating.) I have some opened chocolate I need to use before I open the new bag. To me, baking is a hobby so I like to make everything I can from scratch. I don’t use mixes or other short cuts…. except for puff pastry. In the past I made puff pastry a few times and must admit that what I make is not nearly as good as what is available in the super market.

I buy two brands of puff pastry. Trader Joe sells a box with two 10”x10” sheets. TJ’s is good when you don’t want a huge puff when baked. If you knock it before baking it will puff less than 100%, which is what I used for todays pastry. Pepperidge Farms puff pastry also comes in two sheets per box, but each sheet is conveniently individually wrapped. This pastry puffs 200% if baked without knocking, a little less if you do. Pepperidge Farms is available year round, while TJ’s is only available from roughly Thanksgiving to New Year’s. Buy a few boxes and put them in the bottom of your freezer. I do.

Using Trader Joe’s puff pastry makes Pain Au Chocolat a snap. There is the added benefit it is also delicious.

Pain au Chocolate


INGREDIENTS
Puff pastry (Trader Joe’s)
Chocolate ( I used Guittard’s 63%)
Confectioner’s sugar

METHOD

  1. Roll out puff pastry
  2. Dust with confectioner’s sugar
  3. Cut into 2” wide (Trader Joe’s Puff Pastry – cut 5 long strips, then cut each in half)
  4. Lay chocolate at one end, roll one time, press down gently and roll again, press gently again
  5. Add second row of chocolate and roll one last time, press gently
  6. Chill overnight or at least 2 hours.
  7. Brush with egg wash
  8. Bake 360 deg 20-25 min on parchment lined baking sheet

Straight Down the Middle

As we near the end (of some peoples playing season,) one of my golf buddies invited our foursome and families over for a patio dinner before the weather starts turning cold(er). I offered to bring a cake along to the dinner. This is what I made this morning

It’s my extreme chocolate cake with buttercream frosting.

The trees are gum-paste cones made by wrapping thin gum-paste around a form, then set to dry overnight.

Of course, I rarely hit it straight down the middle!!