Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Daydreams Of Mexico

The other day I was reading a post by David Lebovitz about a recent trip he took to Mexico, and the yummy Arnold Palmer's he was having (in Mexico?) and it got me thinking, well obsessing, about how much I love Mexican food......and unfortunately how crappy the dreary view from my front window is. 

But while hallucinating about a skinny version of myself frolicking on white sand beaches in a bikini that I only could have worn when I was eight, I started to day dream about the flavors that I have experienced eating some of the more memorable Mexican meals in my day.  All I could think about was the heat, smokiness, and the freshness of Mexican cuisine. 

Then for some unexplained reason I looked down at my cup of tea and out of the blue shifted gears and thought, "a good piece of shortbread would be nice."  Sometimes I wonder how my brain even functions.  But this randomly placed thought, smack dab in the middle of my Mexican daydream, gave me the grand idea of how to fuse British and Mexican, killing two birds with one stone, satisfying my lust for shortbread with my longing for the flavors of Mexico.  Long story short (or short story short in this case), I ended up with chocolate, dulce de leche, cinnamon, vanilla, shortbread and chiles.  The perfect accompaniment to my tea as I watch the rain and think of Mexico.

Mexican Inspired Millionaire's Shortbread

Cooking Time: 45 minutes

2/3 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 oz dulce de leche
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
6oz chile infused dark chocolate

Note: I like to make dulce de leche at home, and David Lebovitz has some excellent instructions here to do it, but you can buy it commercially as well.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter an 8x8 inch pan and set aside.  In a small bowl combine the flour, salt and cinnamon and set aside.  Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment blend the butter and sugar together until well combined.  Add the vanilla and mix again. 

Add the dry ingredients and blend until the dough comes together.  Press the dough into the prepared pan and bake until pale in color and the edges are slightly golden, about 20-25 minutes.  When the shortbread is done remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Once the shortbread is completely cool in a small bowl heat the dulce de leche in a microwave just until soft enough to spread, about 2 minutes.  Add the vanilla bean paste and then spread the caramel over the shortbread.  Allow the caramel to set at room temperature before you start on the chocolate.

When the caramel has hardened, melt the chocolate and the butter in a double boiler or in a bowl over simmering water.  Pour the chocolate over the caramel, spreading it evenly, and allow to set at room temperature.  When the chocolate has started to harden but is still a little soft, cut the shortbread into serving sized squares, then allow to completely set.

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