This weeks TWD recipe (chosen by Erin of Dinner and Dessert) was Snickery Squares. I was really glad that Erin branched out to the cookie section of Dorie's book. I love all of the recipes that we've done for TWD, but these seemed to be a little more my speed, comfort wise.
Even so, Dorie taught me a thing or two and I'm sure I'll pick up a few more tips from the rest of the TWDers when I go post diving through their experiences with the squares! See Erin's post for the full recipe, and don't forget to go check out the other TWDers for more pictures and experiences!
I gotta admit. I was a little nervous about the candied peanuts part of the recipe. I toyed for a few days with the idea of just using plain peanuts (I blame the Cold That Wouldn't Die, CTWD for that). But on Sunday, I woke up with snow on the ground and nothing to do except bake and relax. So I decided to give it a shot. I figured that I had enough peanuts to go the way of the plain ones if the candied version went belly up (always a possibility in my kitchen).
I should have just trusted the Dorie. I gotta say that this is the first cookbook out of my skill comfort zone where I can just trust the recipe to guide me through the process. I've tried other recipes from various sources where I have to do a large chunk of outside research on techniques, etc before making my attempt. The only caveat is that Dorie doesn't include high altitude modifications. Of course, nobody does, so I can't fault her for that! (Well, and it's my own choice to live above sea level in a desert. But, oh those mountains!)
The candied peanuts were almost a breeze. I think I cooked mine a little too long or had too high a heat, because there were a few with a burned flavor. Not bad for the first time though! And they were easy to pick out (and pretty tasty if the way Bill kept sneaking in to grab one is any indication).
I forgot to get a picture of the shortbread crust, but that's the other area where I had to improvise. The crust as written just wouldn't come together. I went ahead and put it in the pan thinking that it might be fine all powdery, but had second thoughts when I attempted to fork the crust before baking. I decided to wing it and put it back in the bowl to add another egg yolk. Total success! It looked more like Dorie's description and patted down into a decent crust. There were a few spots that were too dry for the fork technique to work, but I soldiered on and it came out of the oven looking like a crust.
You'll notice a lighter square in the picture above. That's the PBDDL from Blake Makes. I decided to use that to see if the peanut flavor of his dulce du leche would be a good fit in the recipe. I'll have to get back to you on the results though. When she says to cut these into 16 squares, she means 16 squares. Oooh boy is this stuff rich! I'm usually skeptical when they say to serve a minuscule portion of a dessert, because seriously? Who can only eat that tiny piece? More! But this stuff was perfect in a small square. I didn't pick the corner with the PBDDL to cut the first night, and I haven't had a chance to cut the rest up to bring into work yet.
Lessons Learned: Making candied peanuts isn't really that difficult. And even shortbread crusts need a little TLC at altitude.
Conclusion: Fantastic dessert/cookie to add to your rotation. You could easily spread making the candied peanuts and shortbread crust out over a couple of days, and these seemed easier to cut when they'd been in the fridge for a day.