Monday, July 5, 2010

Homemade Twix


Sam loves Twix.  So for Father's Day, the boys and I decided to make him these homemade Twix bars I'd seen recipes for.  (It was my brother Philip's birthday too, who is also a Twix-lover, so it seemed extra good to celebrate with Twix.  We're quite conscientious about celebrating other peoples' birthdays, actually.  "It's your sister's birthday today," I say.  "We really ought to have a cake or something," Sam says.  "We really ought," I agree.  And we do.  Selflessly.  I'm sure they would appreciate it, if they knew.)

So, these are really good.  Just look at them.  But they are a bit of effort, because of the layers.  They not only break my mom's "no-desserts-that-are-actually-two-desserts" rule, they flaunt it.  On the other hand, Homemade! Twix!  We considered it our duty to do a side-by-side test with actual (or should I say, commercial) Twix, and the homemade ones are so much better.  Chocolately, caramelly, cookily so.  I would save them for special occasions simply because they take more time.  But if you want to celebrate with someone you love (or eat a cake in their honor, in their absence), won't you consider Saying It With Twix?

A few notes:
I actually made two batches of these because I needed some for my lesson on Sunday (yes, those lucky young women) (and it tied in quite wonderfully, but I'm not going to elaborate at this juncture) so I had a chance to try a couple different variations.  Basically, as you can see, it's a cookie layer, and a caramel layer, and a chocolate layer.  I considered making the bottom layer more of a shortbread crust (like you'd use in lemon bars) but in the end I thought my fruit pizza crust (basically a snickerdoodle cookie) might work better.  That's what I did the first time.  Next, I did more of a basic sugar cookie.  Verdict: the fruit pizza crust won out for being softer/slightly more tangy?---for lack of a better word---anyway, the sugar cookie was a little bland.  I thought the fruit pizza crust had more character.  I think shortbread would be good, but really probably a better mix with a tart lemon bar or a cheesecake bar than with this sweet caramel.

For the caramel layer, I tried a recipe which used sweetened condensed milk.  That's supposed to speed up the process a little.  And it was good; very creamy and sweet.  But in the end I went back to my tried-and-true caramel recipe, cooked until the flavor deepens and the tender, buttery caramel gives just the right amount of resistance when bitten, and we all preferred it.  It had more complexity, and less sugary-sweetness, so it was a good contrast to the cookie underneath.

The chocolate is simply a ganache---melted chocolate mixed with cream.  You could add a tablespoon of butter to make it extra smooth and spreadable.

But maybe the most important detail is the sea-salt sprinkled on top.  I know that salted caramel flavor is all the rage these days, but it's not trendiness that makes it good----it's just that it's RIGHT.  You taste one of these bars without it, and it's fine, but honestly, do you want to go to all this trouble just for FINE?  You do not.  Trust me---the salt elevates this dessert to spectacular.  Ask my young women (even the one who just got her wisdom teeth out).

Homemade Twix

Cookie layer
:

1 c. shortening
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 1/4 c. flour
½ t. cream of tartar
½ t. soda
1/4 t salt
1 t. vanilla

Mix ingredients as usual and press into 9x13 pan.  Bake at 350.  I wish I had a time for you.  Probably about 20 minutes.  It should be pale brown on top, and slightly puffy (it will settle).

Caramel layer:

2 c. light karo syrup
2 c. sugar
½ t. salt

Stir well with wooden spoon and place on medium heat. Bring to a full rolling boil and add alternately but do not stop the boiling:

½ pt. (1 c.) whipping cream (unwhipped)
1 cube butter (cut in 5ths and dropped in separately)
½ c. + 1/3 c. evaporated milk

Add the above three things a little at a time. Put in a thermometer and cook to 233 degrees---this will take about half an hour, or more. (Provo=234 degrees). Remove from heat and add 1 t. vanilla. Mix well and pour over cookie crust.  Chill several hours or overnight, until caramel is set. 

Chocolate layer:

2 c. chopped chocolate (I used semisweet, but milk would be good too)
Evaporated milk, or cream, as needed

Pour about 1/4 c. of the milk with the chocolate into a glass bowl.  Microwave on high for 1 minute, then stir till smooth.  Add more milk as needed until consistency is smooth and spreadable.  Spread ganache over caramel layer.  Chill again until smooth.

Before serving, top Twix bars with sea salt.
The salt isn't on this one yet.  But it will be.  Oh, it will be.

4 comments:

  1. I tried to make homemade kit kat bars once and they were so not worth the effort.
    While your twix looks divine, and I'm sure the taste matches, I'll not be making them...unless, as in the past, I can't get your recipe idea out of my head for weeks and weeks and then I'll finally give in and make them. Mmmmm.
    Also, I made bread today for the first time with bread flour and wheat flour and the texture was awesome!

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  2. Beth - you should ask Guy for his recipe - his bread is incredible. And Mar - I have said it before and now I say it again - be careful. You could be arrested for this. And worse, chastised by heaven for being a seducer of fat middle-aged women - for surely, I could eat twelve of these, were they at hand, and that just ain't right. I know I'm going to make them some day. I know it. Absolutely. Right after I lose about 20 pounds. HOnest.

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  3. I think your caramel-to-cookie ratio looks much better than the commercial version. Also, I am totally driving up to your house on your mother's birthday.

    P.S. We saw your mom driving around on the 4th (and I swear it was one of your boys in the back seat). I said to Rob, "Look, that's Marilyn's mom!" "No kidding," he replied, "She looks just like her."

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  4. That looks way too good. I think I'll tell Brian to make them for me. Ya, that should work.

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