This weekend I went to a new pal's birthday bash and wow does she know how to entertain! The table had a nice spread of local quiches, breads, meats and more, but my favorite nibbles - the ones I literally had to tell myself "STOP. BACK AWAY. YOU LOOK LIKE A PIG!" - were the Clairesquares - a delicious three layer concoctions consisting of buttery shortbread, smooth caramel and fine Belgian chocolate. I've had combinations like this before, but these were amazing. They're made with 100% preservative free ingredients and contain no trans fatty acids. If you like chocolate, caramel, shortbread and all things delicious, then do yourself a favor and order a pack. Actually, you should order two, you'll thank me later. A pack of five squares is available for $12.
If you'd rather make your own, we've got a recipe for something similiar, to check it out, just
3/4 cup (1 1/2 stick) (170 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (210 grams) all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 - 14 ounce (396 grams) can Dulce de Leche or sweetened condensed milk
6 ounces (170 grams) semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Grease with butter (or use a cooking spray) a 9 x 9 inch (23 x 23 cm) pan.
- For shortbread: in the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour and salt and beat until the dough just comes together.
- Press onto the bottom of your greased pan and bake for about 20 minutes, or until pale golden in color.
- Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool while you make the filling.
- For caramel filling: if using Dulce de Leche then simply warm the caramel in the microwave or in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water.
- If using sweetened condensed milk, pour the milk into a heatproof bowl and place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Cover and cook, over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 45 to 60 minutes or until the milk has thickened and has turned a light caramel color. (You can also do this step in a microwave oven. Place the sweetened condensed milk in a large microwaveable bowl and cook on medium power for about 4 minutes, stirring halfway through baking time. Reduce the power to medium-low and continue to cook for another 8 to 12 minutes, or until the milk has thicken and has turned a light caramel color. Remove from microwave and beat until smooth.)
- Remove from heat and beat until smooth.
- Pour the caramel over the baked shortbread and leave to set.
- For chocolate topping: melt the chocolate and butter either in the microwave oven or in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water.
- Pour the melted chocolate evenly over the caramel and leave to set.
- Cut the shortbread into pieces using a sharp knife.
- Store the shortbread in the refrigerator to keep the chocolate nice and firm.
Makes 16 - 2 inch (5 cm) squares.