Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: Caramel Crunch Bars

Overheard in the stairwell, as our upstairs neighbors went out on Saturday night:

Him: They're baking again!
Her: It smells sweet.
Him: mmm
Her: I love it when it's bread...

I loved them so much that when they came home they found a tin of these ridiculously sweet little bars at their front door.
This week's Tuesdays with Dorie challenge was caramel crunch bars--a buttery shortbread-like base with chopped chocolate in it, topped with melted chocolate and toffee bits. This is the somewhat upscale variation on two specialties that friends of mine have perfected, the saltine toffee crunch and Miriam's bake sale tested toffee bars. People don't seem to be able to resist toffee, and, as Andy on The Office said, 'I am a person.' I love anything with burnt sugar and butter, caramels of all kinds.

The only changes that I made in this recipe were to reduce the total amount of chocolate (out of necessity) and to use plain old coffee grounds instead of instant espresso powder. In a pudding or a more delicate cake, that might have been a problem, but here they just blended in and added their crunch. I made the toffee myself, over almonds, using the recipe from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop (much like this one).

The end product? Fun, but kind of overwhelming. For my taste, I should have just made a double batch of toffee. Still, they had that sweet intensity that sometimes everyone just needs, an ice cream sundae in bar form, buttery and tooth-aching and addictive. I bet they'd be fantastic picnic food, after something very savory.

And yes, I did put vanilla ice cream on them--or toffee vanilla ice cream, because I made it in the same pot that the toffee had been made in, and it melted and absorbed the drips. I churned the vanilla ice cream that didn't go into the sandwiches with the remaining crumbs from last week's chocolate cakes. I am a TWD recycling superstar.And the neighbors--liked them very much, though they may also have found them overwhelming. He just came down to return the tin, used a lot of words like 'intense,' and brought me a sample of his new sourdough starter. I gave him half of mine in return, to see if they were different at all. Supposedly, after a few weeks in a new place, a starter takes on the character and local yeasts of its current location, no matter where it came from, so maybe they'll be just the same, but it will be interesting to try.


chocolatechic said...

You are such a doll to give the neighbors a treat.

Anonymous said...

cool neighbors! The toffee ice cream sounds delicious.

TeaLady said...

Yummy looking bars. And to share -- very sweet.

Teanna DiMicco said...

Awww I love that story about your neighbors! And it's so sweet of you to give them those bars! I should move in next door to you...