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Friday, February 7, 2014

Sweet Indulgence: Liddabit Sweets Hip-to-be Squares

Cornflakes for breakfast?   Not exactly: the other morning I could be found at my kitchen island crushing (not eating) cupfuls of cornflakes and combining them with Guittard milk chocolate and, yes, half a jar of Nutella. After spreading this delectable mixture in an 8 x 8 inch pan and popping it in the fridge for an hour, and coating the resulting bars top and botton with Ghirardelli dark chocolate:  Voila -  Hip-to-be-Squares a la the Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook.

Written with wry good humor by Brooklynites Liz Gutman and Jen King,  the Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook is the ultimate confection cookbook for someone like me who loves the thrill of making something sweet, delicious and at times, kind of challenging.

The recipe for Hip-to-be Squares appears simple, and if you decide not to temper the chocolate, it really would be.  But I have made chocolate candies before without tempering and the resulting chocolates inevitably are not the lovely, glossy showpieces I was hoping for, but chocolates that were dull and definitely not professional looking.  Liz and Jen and the Liddabit Sweets Cookbook to the rescue!

Not wanting to go the easy route, I skipped over the instructions for "Cheater's Chocolate Coating " and went directly to the "The Best-Tempered Chocolate You Ever Met" instructions.  Last Christmas I had asked for this cookbook and a chocolate thermometer to go with it so that I could do justice to these recipes.   It's over a year later and I finally got around to making one of the recipes, but for the life of me I could not find that thermometer.

No matter, there were instructions in the book for judging the temperature of the chocolate by putting a drop on your lip and deciding whether it was distinctly warm or distinctly cool.  So I went ahead without the doggone thermometer.

That worked just fine, the filling itself was easy first of all, and the tempering was fun, albeit a little time consuming.  I confess I did have to improvise a little because I cooled the chocolate down too far and needed to slightly re-heat it to make it spreadable.

Sidebar:  tempering chocolate is taking bars or discs of chocolate (which already are in temper and shiny) and heating the chocolate to a specific temperature (dark chocolate to 108 degrees) and then cooling it down to another specific temperature (90 degrees) all the while beating it like crazy to aerate and cool it before using it in your recipe.  The resulting chocolate should have snap and shine without any whitish "bloom" or chalkiness.

Forthwith, a photo of the completed chocolates, not absolutely perfect, but pretty good looking, and certainly mighty tasty.

I halved the recipe because the cost of good chocolate can be prohibitive, and I want to try some of the other chocolate recipes from this cookbook too!  Also, this recipe as originally written makes a giant batch: 117 one inch chocolates from a 13 x 9 pan.  I think it's entirely enough to make 64 one-inch chocolates in an 8 x 8 pan.

I've included tips along with the adapted recipe to make it easier for y'all.

Hip-to-be Squares, halved and adapted from the Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook

Yield:  64 one-inch square chocolates

For the bars:
generous 3/4 cup of chopped milk or dark chocolate, or chocolate chips (I used Guittard milk chocolate - 5 ounces)
1 1/2 generous cups of Nutella (14.5 ounces)
3/4 teaspoon of kosher salt or fine sea salt (if only regular table salt is available, use 1/4 teaspoon) - you can double this to get that salty/sweet flavor so popular now - I did!
1/4 cup mild vegetable oil such as sunflower or safflower
1 cup crushed cornflakes (I crushed about 2 cups of flakes in my Vitamix to yield 1 cup crushed - a food processor works well too)

For the coating:
1 1/2 cups or 9.5 ounces chopped dark chocolate ( I used half  Ghirardelli 60% chocolate and half 72% chocolate)
(For Cheater's Chocolate add:  1/4 cup vegetable oil)

Line the bottom and 2 sides of an 8 x 8 inch baking pan with parchment paper.  Line with a second piece of parchment over the bottom and remaining 2 sides.

Melt the 3/4 cup of chopped chocolate in a large bowl in the microwave (zap in 20 second increments, stirring in between).

[Alternate method: add water to about an inch depth to a medium saucepan, and bring to a simmer.  Place a large metal bowl over a medium saucepan filled to a depth of about an inch with simmering water.  Stir frequently until all the chocolate has melted. Remove from heat.]

Add the Nutella to the melted chocolate and stir until blended.  Add the salt, oil, and crushed cornflakes, stirring again until well blended.  Turn into the parchment paper lined pan, smoothing the top.  Refrigerate for 60 to 90 minutes, until firm.

Melt and temper your dark chocolate.  For full directions for tempering chocolate with a thermometer:  click here (if you don't have a thermometer, just use the "lip test" described above).

[Alternate: for cheater's chocolate:  melt the chocolate over simmering water or in the microwave.  Off heat, gradually beat in the oil.  Let cool for 15 to 20 minutes until about the thickness of warm hot fudge.

Turn out the the candy onto a parchment lined cutting board and remove the parchment.  Coat the bottom of the bars with about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the melted chocolate, spreading with an offset spatula if you have one (or just use a knife).  Let set up - anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes. Turn right side up.  Coat the other side with the rest of the chocolate.  Let set only about 1 minute, and quickly, using the tines of a fork, make wavy lines in the chocolate before it sets completely.

Let set again about 2 minutes.  Then score just the top layer of chocolate into 1 inch squares.  Let set another 5 minutes, and then cut through the candy completely into 1 inch squares.  Be sure to cut through completely to the bottom layer of chocolate in order to get neat squares.

Store in an airtight container at cool room temperature for up to 3 weeks (doubt they will last that long!).

Good luck, be sure to share, and get cooking with some great cookbooks from our Library!

Diane Whitman
Reference Librarian

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