Every year, to celebrate my husband’s birthday we have a party in our back yard. It is our summer thing. Every year, I sort of work to make this party my gift to him. I cook, bake, chop, chill, marinate, clean, decorate and generally go a little overboard on everything.
But he’s my man and he deserves to be spoiled. He certainly spoils me the rest of the year. Every night, every single night, he scratches my back and plays with my hair. He tolerates my unwillingness to watch his beloved foreign language action films and let’s me instead toss on Modern Family. He inevitably lets me choose our vacation spots… honeymoon in Colombia likely wasn’t his first pick but we found ourselves drinking the night away in Bogota anyway. He picks me up off the kitchen floor when a baking day has gone terribly wrong and makes midnight runs to Safeway for the lemons that will save the day. He calls me beautiful even when some horrible rash threatens to swallow my eye. He lets me keep my childhood teddy, aptly named Bear, in our bedroom… although he does at times threaten to feed him to the dog. He embraces a house in which only one room is not painted a shade from my palette of white even though he loves color. He eats carb-less dinners when I am on a get-skinny kick… and then sneaks crackers only after I have left the kitchen. He makes, what he considers to be an epic journey (30 minutes), to my hometown every Sunday to visit my family. And perhaps, as the cherry on top of this spoiled-wife sundae, he has moved to a non-west end neighbour hood… just for me. Gasp, where we live is considered ‘central’ and thus outside the zone of ‘west end’ which he and all his friends adore with a cult-like fervor.
So yes, for the rooms painted white, for the furry creatures named Bear, for he nightly back scratches, and for the abandonment of the west, he deserves an excellent party for his 32nd birthday. This year, I wanted to make all of his favorite desserts, which is tough since he basically always asks for apple crisp. So, to mix that up a bit, I made apple pie lollipops. He occasionally asks for cookies with pb, so those were there too. And two weeks ago, he tried a bar from a local bakery that he declared “unbelievable” so I set out to make that too and ended up with a twist on a twix.
Later this week, I will blog the peanut butter cookies that are both divine and low-fat in the same bite. I won’t blog the apple pie lollipops yet though, they are win for the fun factor, but they only taste good not great… just a little too high on the crust to filling ratio. Today I am going to provide the twix bar recipe which I have adapted from the one found on the lovely Not Without Salt. These are, if I may steal the word from Ben’s mouth: “unbelievable.”
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/8 cup sugar
1 cup cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tbsp ground rice (rice buzzed in a food processor until it is able to pass through a fine sieve to remove chunks)*
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 8-X-8-inch baking pan with pan spray and line with parchment paper. Spray the parchment.
In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Gradually add the flour, ground rice and salt and allow the dough to come together. The dough will be crumbly but should hold together when you press it between your fingers.
Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the baking pan. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan and bake for another 10 minutes, until a deep golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a rack to room temperature.
*Not Without Salt explains the addition of rice: It’s not the same as rice flour because you want to have a little bit of texture. The purpose of the rice is to give the base of this cookie a unique crunch that remarkably resembles the store-bought Twix. This can be omitted without drastically changing the finished product but I really love the texture it gives.
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 teaspoon sea salt plus more for sprinkling over the caramel layer
Combine the sugar, golden syrup, water, and lemon juice in a large saucepan. Remove any sugar crystals from the sides of the pan by wiping down the sides with water. You can use your hand or a pastry brush. Place the pot on medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Do not stir from this point on.
When the sugar syrup starts to turn golden brown at approximately 300F, remove the pan from the heat and let it sit for 1 minute, or until the bubbles subside. Carefully whisk in the heavy cream. Stir until smooth (I had to place mine over the heat to smooth out a few chunks), then whisk in the condensed milk and vanilla. Add the salt. Whisk until smooth.
Return the pan to the heat and stir constantly over medium heat until the caramel reaches 240°F. Remove from the heat and pour over the shortbread. While the caramel is warm sprinkle the surface with the best quality salt you have. I used Maldon sea salt.
Allow to set. This will take about 2 hours.
4 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 Tbsp butter
Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave. Melt it slowly – in 30 second intervals. Stir well after each interval.
Once completely melted pour over the caramel. Using an offset spatula, smooth the chocolate in a nice even layer.
Place in the refrigerator to set. They cut best with a knife run under hot water when chilled.