Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Slumdog Millionaire Bars

My kids are both about to head into finals week.
Lots of tests.
In a show of solidarity, I decided to take a test myself.

Sample question on my test:

These shortbread bars contain which of the following ingredients?
A:  Coconut and dried apricots
B:  Curry Powder
C:  Three kinds of chocolate
D:  All of the above

The correct answer is D. All of the above.

Surprisingly, the combination, from an original recipe by Emily of  fiveandspice, is sensational. Not to mention that the name alone makes you want to crank the music and start Bollywood dancing with your true love in a train station.

Frankly, I have no idea what the kids are so stressed out about.
My test went great.  In fact, I gave myself an A+.
Jai ho!

Slumdog Millionaire Shortbread Bars

by Sharon Graves
Prep Time: several hours, if you count cooling time
Cook Time: 30 minutes total
Barely adapted from the original recipe on Food52.
For the coconut cream:
  • 1 1/2 oz. unsweetened, shredded dried coconut
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 8 oz. high quality white chocolate, finely chopped
  • pinch of salt
For the shortbread base:
  • 2 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 c. good salted butter, at room temp.
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped dried apricots
For the chocolate curry ganache:
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 2 1/2 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 1/4 oz. good milk chocolate, finely chopped

SG TIPS: This recipe is a lot of work, but worth it.  Allow at least half a day, because there is a lot of cooling and setting aside time involved.  Even better, start the day before. It is also helpful to have a ktichen scale handy to measure the coconut and the chocolate. If you don't have one, you can usually estimate amounts for the chocolate by breaking a bar up into portions to approximate the amounts the recipe calls for.  My coconut came in a 3 oz. bag, so it was easy to just use half for the recipe.  Trader Joe's has good milk and dark chocolate, but I had to go to a higher end grocery store to get good white chocolate.  You can find unsweetened coconut sometimes in the kosher section of the store, or at natural food markets.

To make the coconut cream layer:

Preheat oven to 325F. Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and toast until it is just light golden, 6-8 min. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.

Just before the coconut is done toasting, bring 1/2 cup heavy cream just to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove it from the heat and stir in the white chocolate. Let that sit for a minute, then gently stir until the chocolate and cream are completely blended and you have a smooth mixture. Stir in the coconut and the salt.

Transfer the coconut cream to a bowl and cover the surface directly with clear plastic wrap.  Cool in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight.

To make the shortbread:

Heat the oven to 325F. Lightly butter a 9X13 in. baking pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a larger bowl, with an electric mixer, or with a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the dry ingredients, and stir them in at low speed. Just before the flour is fully incorporated, add in the apricots.  My dough was still pretty crumbly at this point, which is fine.

Use your fingers to press the shortbread into an even layer in the prepared baking pan. Bake for 15-16 minutes, until light golden brown. Remove and allow to cool completely.

Final assembly and chocolate curry topping:

After the coconut cream has cooled for three hours, remove the plastic and, using an electric mixer, beat the cream on medium speed until lightened in color and the consistency of frosting, about 2 minutes.

SG NOTE: The original recipe just said, "Spread this in an even layer over the shortbread base". I found this nearly impossible to do with a knife or spatula, so I dropped portions of the cream on top of the cooled shortbread, then placed a sheet of wax paper on top. I then used my fingers and hands to gently smooth the cream out into an even layer. The heat from your hands will soften the cream, so return the whole pan to the fridge, wax paper and all, to cool off while you make the chocolate ganache.

In a small saucepan, combine the last 1/2 cup cream and the curry powder. Bring just to a boil, then remove from the heat and add the chopped milk and dark chocolate. Allow this to sit for a minute, then gently stir it until the cream and chocolates are fully combined in a smooth mixture. Let this ganache cool until it is lukewarm but still pourable.

Remove the pan of shortbread from the fridge, carefully peel back the wax paper, then pour the dark chocolate mixture over the coconut cream layer. Gently spread it into an even topping.  This one you can do with a spatula!

Let the bars set in the fridge for at least an hour before cutting. To cut them, first cut through the top chocolate layers with a sharp knife where you're planning to cut the bars, then cut through the shortbread base.

The bars keep for a week in an airtight container in the fridge, and tend to get even tastier with a little time.  

Assuming you have any that make it past the first day, that is.

* Jai ho apparently means, "be victorious".  I looked that up for extra credit.

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