I want candy bars. Lots and lots of candy bars. I want to hide in a corner and eat a bag full. By myself. And I WILL go feral if anyone approaches me. That’s the kind of day I’m facing. Feral Candy Bar Day.
I dig the sound of that.
Flow with me… I made you a candy bar.
OK – There are a trillion recipes on the interwebs for homemade Twix bars. Seriously – Like a trillion. And though I dig Twix every once in a while – And I know I’m going to catch flack for this – But I’ve always felt the Twix bar was always missing something…
I caught a bit of heat from loyal Twix eaters for even suggesting this. Friendships ended. I stood my ground, though.
These bars benefited from the candied nut situation. Candied nuts elevated this bar to new heights. And you know this is what I’m about y’all! Be down with it. Let’s make some nutty bars, yo.
This bar starts with a crumbly shortbread layer. It is EVER so crumbly. While the shortbread layer bakes we candy the crappies out of some peanuts. Any other time I’d make caramel from scratch; however, I had a can of dulce de leche lying around and decided it was high time I used that jammy. And of course, melted chocolate.
This situation gets some layer action. First the shortbread, followed by the candied peanuts, a spread of dulce de leche, and a pour of melted chocolate. In the fridge it goes to solidify – ‘Cause I’m an impatient sista’.
Once the chocolate is solid, these bars are ready to cut into smaller pieces. You know… For sharing and whatnot. So let’s break this candy bar situation down:
- Crumbly, crumbly shortbread with just a hint of vanilla.
- Candied peanuts – Crazy crunch, nuttiness, and mega sweets
- Dulce de leche – Really? Do I need to explain caramelized milk and sugar? It’s the bomb.
- Melted chocolate – You can’t call it a candy bar unless that situation is either enrobed or topped with it.
This is the new candy bar. Dig it.
- For the shortbread
- All purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup then leveled - 1 1/2 cups
- Vanilla extract - 1 teaspoon
- Unsalted butter, room temperature - 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks)
- Granulated white sugar - 1/4 cup
- Salt - 1/8 teaspoon
- For the candied peanuts
- Unsalted peanuts - 1 heaping cup
- Granulated sugar - 1/4 cup
- Unsalted butter - 1 tablespoon
- Splash of vanilla extract
- For the dulce de leche filling
- 1 - 14 ounce can Dulce de Leche
- For the chocolate topping
- Semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate - 6 ounces (About 1 1/2 cups)
- Unsalted butter - 2 teaspoons
Make the candied peanuts:
Place a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and lightly spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
In a medium non-stick skillet over low heat, melt the butter. Add the granulated sugar followed by the peanuts and splash of vanilla extract. Stir to coat the peanuts. Increase the heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes stirring THE ENTIRE TIME until all the sugar is melted, caramelized, and the peanuts are well coated with sugar.
Transfer the candied peanuts immediately to the sheet of parchment paper. With a spatula and moving quickly (quickly is key, otherwise the peanuts will cool into a big clump) separate the peanuts as best you can. Allow them to cool completely, and then chop them coarsely. Set aside in a bowl until ready to use.
Make the shortbread layer:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). Line an 8x8 inch square pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang. Set aside. In a medium bowl combine flour and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer (hand mixer works too) fitted with a paddle attachment over medium/high speed, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour/salt mixture and mix until just combined, about 8-10 seconds or so. Spoon the dough in your prepared pan and press it evenly with your hands or using an offset spatula. The point is to cover the pan as evenly as possible. Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until pale golden in color. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
Make the chocolate topping:
Place chocolate and butter in a stainless steel bowl set over a sauce pan half filled with simmering water over low heat. Melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. When chocolate is fully melted, turn off the heat but leave the bowl over the sauce pan while you assemble this situation.
Sprinkle the chopped candied peanuts over the cooled shortbread layer. Over the peanuts spoon the dulce de leche and even it out with a small offset spatula or butter knife. Make sure to cover the peanuts as best you can. Pour the melted chocolate evenly over the dulce de leche and either leave out at room temperature to set or place in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes. Once set, lift the parchment overhang and place the square on a cutting board or a flat surface. Cut into squares using a sharp knife.
Store the shortbread squares in the refrigerator to keep the chocolate nice and firm. Make about 16 squares.