It’s no secret that Troy (the boyfriend) loves twix. Last time he was in town I tried making him homemade ones (like these). twice. For some reason I thought it was a good idea to surprise him while he was in my apartment. That was my first mistake. I also tried making them in my mini tart shells. Second mistake. Shortbread rises, so there wasn’t enough room in the shell to actually pour any caramel. So instead of pretty tart shells, they basically came out like thick cookies. For my second attempt, I baked the shortbread in a normal square pan. But, I got nervous that the shortbread wouldn’t get hard (because it’s soft when you take it out of the oven, but gets hard as it cools) and I put the temperature on really low and then forgot about it. Third mistake. THEN when I tried to make the caramel, I prematurely put the ingredients in the pot and left them there for too long, so the butter got room temperature. Fourth mistake. The caramel burned because the butter melted too quickly. After that I just gave up.
I waited a few weeks before I decided to try again. I think this time was finally a success because I didn’t put too much pressure on myself. After the first two or three attempts, I basically just said to myself, well, if it works this time, awesome! If it doesn’t, well, no surprise there…
The best part about failing is learning from your mistakes. It makes succeeding all the more satisfying. I realized that a lot in culinary school. Like making hollandaise. The first time I made it, it was perfect. After that I thought I was a hollandaise wiz. Turns out I was not, and I didn’t learn how to fix a broken one until much later. Like in the middle of my mock midterm, for example. Five minutes before my dish was supposed to be judged…beyond stressful, let me tell you. I had palpitations up the waz…
OH OH OH! AND! big accomplishment. super psyched. hit 1,000 followers on Pinterest. I. have. arrived.
- 3 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 t vanilla
- 3½ cups all purpose flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup white sugar
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- ½ cup light corn syrup
- ½ cup evaporated milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Chocolate Coating
- about 24 ounces of good quality semisweet chocolate
- 2 tablespoons of neutral oil (I used canola, but vegetable and shortening will work just as well)
- fleur de sel for sprinkling
- Grease a square baking pan and then lined with a piece of parchment (cut slightly smaller than the bottom so it sits flat on the bottom)
- In a large bowl or stand mixer, lightly cream the butter and sugar. Then add the vanilla.
- Mix together the flour and salt and sift directly over the butter mixture. If you are using a stand mixer, mix on low until the dough just comes together. If you are using a hand mixer, add the flour/salt in about 3 increments, with the hand mixer on low.
- Press the dough into the bottom of the pan. (feel free to omit some of the shortbread if you want your "twix" to look more like "twix". My shortbread layer was definitely a little thicker because I used all of the dough, which resulted in a taller, slightly more awkward shaped candy bar). You can use a longer pan, like a jelly roll, if you would like, but the caramel layer will be thinner and it will require a shorter baking time.
- Let the dough rest in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes. Lower the temperature to 325 F and bake for about 10 minutes more or until lightly golden. It may appear soft, but it will harden as it cools.
- With a thin knife, trace the edge of the shortbread and gently remove it from the pan.
- This next part is optional, but will ensure a more even layer of shortbread (and it will allow you to trim off excess if you think your cookie will be too thick). Using a serrated knife or bread knife, gently "saw" off the top layer of the shortbread so it is nice and even (like you would the top of a cake)
- liberally grease the sides of the square pan with butter or cooking spray and then place the shortbread back into the square, parchment bottom side down.
- In a pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Then add the sugars and corn syrup and stir well. Lastly add the evaporated milk and heavy cream.
- Stir continuously until the mixture starts to boil. Now STOP stirring and let it boil until the mixture has reached 245 degrees on your candy thermometer. It will be slow starting at first but the last minute or two is the most crucial. You must pay extremely close attention to your candy thermometer so that the caramel doesn’t burn (which is very easy to do, almost everyone burns it at least once – especially on your first try).
- When the caramel reaches the correct temperature, immediately pour on top of the shortbread. (The butter on the sides of the pan is crucial because you want to be able to remove everything from the pan when it is cool)
- Let the caramel cool for at least an hour. Then trace the edges of the caramel and shortbread with a thin sharp knife until it springs loose from the pan. Place on a large cutting board (because you will have a crumb-tastrophy)
- With a bread knife (or a long sharp knife) Cut the square into 10 strips, and then cut the strips into thirds. Make sure your knife is perfectly square/straight up, so you don't have crooked or slanted edges. (My trick is to position myself over the knife looking down. If you can see the side of the knife, it's not going to be even. You should only be able to see the top of the blade)
- Boil water in a small pot. In a heatproof metal or glass bowl (or double boiler) place the oil and ⅔ of the chocolate. Making sure that the bottom of the bowl is not touching the boiling water, gently stir the chocolate until it is almost completely melted.
- Remove the bowl from the heat and add the rest of the chocolate and stir until it has melted completely. If the chocolate is very hot to the touch or the bowl is too hot to touch without a towel or kit, it's too hot. (don't let the chocolate get above 91 degrees)
- On parchment or a greased cookie rack, dip each shortbread and cover liberally with chocolate. Lift using two forks and gently scoot onto your drying station. Sprinkle with fleur de del.
- You can let it air dry if you are in a cool environment or in the refrigerator.
If you like this recipe, here is another fun candy recipe that was a huge crowd pleaser when I made them for our annual family Christmas day party. They would also make an awesome gift, too. (If you can’t tell, I made these back when my camera was not so fabulous.)
These Turtle Thumbprint cookies also have a similar vibe and are really impressive as well. (If you can’t tell, I’m really into the whole salted caramel thing)