The passing of Independence Day here marks the beginning of festival season. When I was in school, I used to love this time, we had a lot of holidays, leading up to almost a whole month of vacations for Diwali. It's a time where family keeps meeting up. One of those festivals just passed a few days ago, called Raksha Bandhan, where a Hindu girl ties a rakhi [piece of string] to her brother and gives him sweets, in exchange for a lifelong promise of protection, and a gift [raksha means protection, bandhan means bond]. It started off as a North Indian tradition, but is practiced almost throughout
Even though nowdays it's turned into more of a fun occassion, an excuse to get gifts, somewhere in the bottom of my heart, it holds a lot of meaning. We usually just buy sweets from the local sweet shop and give to our brothers, but I wanted to make something myself this time, especially since they all have seen the blog, but haven't yet tasted much of what I make.
It is also the month of Shravan [a holy Hindu month], where people refrain from eating non-vegetarian food, even eggs. Even though I don't personally follow it, I know that family does, so I had to look for something that was eggless, delicious, and easy to mulitply and bake in large amounts. I settled on these delicious bars that I've seen around a lot, but avoided making because of the high amounts of fat it.
Adapted from SGCC and Nestlé
Makes about 24 3"x1" bars
For the crust -
2 cups [240 g] flour
1/2 cup [75 g] cornstarch
1/2 cup [120 g] sugar - Use about 3/4 if using salted butter
1 cup [226 g/2 sticks] unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
For the caramel layer -
You can either use straight up dulce de leche, or use the following recipe. I found that the caramel below isn't sickly sweet, and more of a goeey yet firm mixture.
1 14 oz [400 g] can sweetened condensed mik
1 1/3 stick [150 g] butter
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp [150 g] sugar
4 tbsp corn syrup - I used honey
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla
For the chocolate layer -
200 g [7 oz] semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup [1/2 stick / 57 g] butter
1 tbsp corn syrup - I used honey
Tools used -
For the shortbread crust -
- Preheat oven to 375 F [190 C]. Line a quarter sheet pan, or a 9"x12" cake pan, with foil or parchment, leaving a little overhang on both sides for easy removal.
- Sift or whisk together the flour, cornstarch and sugar. Add the pieces of butter, and work them in with your fingers, a pastry blender [my favorite way], or a food processor.
- Work it all together until it is sand-like in texture. Don't be too afraid, this dough will take a little handling.
- Dump the dough into the prepared pan, and pack it in together. Prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork, you don't it puffing up!
- Bake for about 30-40 minutes [I took 35], until light golden brown all over, and not doughy to the touch.
- Set aside to cool to room temperature while you begin preparing the caramel.
- In a medium saucepan, mix together all the ingredients except vanilla. Constantly stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, and the mixture darkens and begins to bubble, about 237 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
- Remove from the heat, whisk in the vanilla, and pour over the cooled shortbread crust. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- In a double boiler, or a saucepan over low heat, melt together the chocolate and the butter. Stir in the corn syrup, and pour over the caramel, spreading to the edges.
- Chill in a refrigerator for about half an hour to achieve cleaner cuts. Using the overhang, take the bars out of the pan. Cut into bars using a knife or my all-time favorite way for bars/brownies, a pastry scraper.