My Recipe Box

Pine Nut and Chocolate Caramel Bars

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Yields 24 bars

  • by Samantha Seneviratne from Fine Cooking
    Issue 110

With an orange-scented shortbread crust, gooey caramel topping, and delicate chocolate drizzle, this addictive treat is a great riff on the classic chocolate turtle candy.

For the crust
  • 8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened, cut into 6 pieces
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbs. finely grated orange zest
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 11-1/4 oz. (2-1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
For the topping
  • 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1-1/2 oz. (3 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 cups pine nuts
Make the crust

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line a straight-sided 13x9-inch metal baking pan with a large piece of heavy-duty foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter, sugar, orange zest, and salt on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 3 minutes. Scrape the bowl. On low speed, mix in the flour until the dough is uniformly sandy, 1 to 2 minutes.

Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and press evenly into the bottom. Bake until lightly golden, about 20 minutes. Let the crust cool completely on a wire rack.

Melt the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl set in a skillet of barely simmering water, stirring frequently, until smooth (be careful not to get any water in the chocolate). With a small offset spatula, spread all but about 2 Tbs. of the melted chocolate evenly over the cooled crust. Return the bowl with the remaining chocolate to the skillet of warm water and set aside off the heat to keep warm.

Make the topping

Put 3 Tbs. of water in a heavy-duty 3-quart saucepan. Pour the sugar in the center of the pan and pat it down with a spatula just until evenly moistened. Cook over medium-high heat without stirring until the syrup turns amber, 6 to 8 minutes; swirl the pan as the sugar caramelizes to help it cook evenly. Slowly whisk in the cream (be careful—it will bubble vigorously and produce a lot of steam). Whisk in the butter and salt and boil until the butter is combined, 1 minute more.

Assemble the bars

Pour the caramel evenly over the crust. Sprinkle the pine nuts over the caramel. Bake until the caramel is bubbling all over and jiggles only slightly in the center when the pan is nudged, 24 to 26 minutes. If necessary, reheat the remaining chocolate until fluid. With a spoon, drizzle the chocolate over the top. Let cool completely before cutting into squares.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 310; Fat (g): 20; Fat Calories (kcal): 170; Saturated Fat (g): 9; Protein (g): 3; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 5; Carbohydrates (g): 31; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3.5; Sodium (mg): 35; Cholesterol (mg): 35; Fiber (g): 1;

Photo: Scott Phillips

These bars are delicious. I've made them several times and everyone loves them! The recipe is easy to follow. Pine nuts are expensive but worth using here.

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