The Dirty Apron is a cooking school and delicatessen in Vancouver. I’ve heard that their classes are great, but I haven’t made it out there yet. I had a great experience at a cooking class I took in Toronto. You get to learn new techniques, but I think the best aspect of those classes is how social it is. It’s fun for everyone to sit down and eat together.
The Dirty Apron now has a cookbook
with fail-proof recipes. So if you can’t make it to there, this book has a bunch of recipes from the cooking school as well as from their catering menu.
The skill level ranges from beginner (smoked salmon bagels with lemon and dill cream cheese) to advanced (crab cannelloni). There isn’t a “mains” chapter, but instead a “meat and poultry” and “seafood”. Looking through the pages, there are very few vegetarian dishes. The ones that are there are mostly salads. If you’re a vegetarian, this book may not be your thing. For me, most of these recipes aren’t simple enough for weeknight fare (especially with a baby!). These are the recipes to pull out for weekends or when company is coming over. I like the chef notes that are accompanied with the recipe like what items can be prepped in advance.
I put a lot of faith in this book and made my Thanksgiving dinner from it. I made the roasted turkey breast and boneless roasted stuffed turkey leg with cranberry compote. It was just R and I (and baby) for dinner, so I just made the turkey breast instead of doing a whole turkey. Everything came together with ease and it was a low stress affair. I brined the breast first for two hours using the Cook’s Illustrated brine that is a sugar and salt solution to keep things simple. For the stuffing, I substituted hazelnuts for the chestnuts because I couldn’t find any in the store. These were game changer recipes for me! The stuffing was better than the one that I always do and the turkey was incredibly moist.
With Halloween just around the corner, I wanted to make the dirty twixter bars. They’re described as a combination of a Twix and Skor The recipe is a bit time consuming as you need to make the shortbread base, dulce de leche and then the salted caramel ganache. I guess to simplify things you can always buy the dulce de leche. I broke it up into two days making the base on the first day and then everything else the next day. For the ganache, I simply just stirred everything together. Two reasons: my immersion blender is busted and the baby was asleep. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can do this with a food processor. Just put the chopped chocolate in the bowl and with the motor running pour the caramel mixture in.
For the dulce de leche, it tells you to boil the cans with water. I’ve heard about about cans exploding (this usually happens when there isn’t enough water covering them). Exploding cans make me nervous and I’d be likely to forget to check to see if there’s enough water covering them. Most importantly, on the can of condensed milk it has a warning to not heat the can. So I used the less nerve-wracking oven method. David Lebovitz’s dulce de leche recipe is simple. Pour the contents into a glass pan that’s nested in a deeper dish, add water and in an hour or so you get the same result.
These bars are rich and gooey. Don’t be caught without a napkin when eating these! The mix of dark chocolate with milk and the fleur de sel makes them not overly sweet. People who have eaten them have used the word “amazing” to describe them. Note: it’s best to cut these when they’re cold. My dulce de leche wasn’t that firm so it oozed when I cut them. For the cleanest cuts, use a long serrated knife and wipe clean.
The Dirty Twixter Bars
Original recipe yields 36 bars, but you can halve the recipe and make it in a 9×13 pan
Brown sugar shortbread base
1 cup brown sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon vanilla paste
2 cups unsalted butter, in small cubes
Dulce de leche filling
2 cans (each 12 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon fleur de sel
Salted caramel ganache
9 oz bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1 lb plus 2 1/2 oz milk chocolate, roughly choped
1 cup unsalted butter
2 1/4 cup whipping cream
2 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup water
2 1/2 teaspoons fleur de sel
2 teaspoons vanilla paste
Brown sugar shortbread base Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 12×16 inch half sheet pan that has a 1-inch rim with aluminum foil. Spray the pan with nonstick cooking spray and line it with parchment paper. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the brown sugar and flour until combined. Add the vanilla and beat until well mixed. Slowly add the butter, one cube at a time, and beat at medium-low until the dough is just combined. Press the shortbread dough evenly into the prepared pan, then prick it all over with a fork. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until set and lightly golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Dulce de leche filling Place the cans in a pot large enough to cover them with 4 inches of water. Add the water, bring to a boil on high heat and cook, uncovered for 4 hours, checking occasionally to be sure the water is still covering the cans. (Add more water, if necessary, to be sure the cans are constantly covered with water.) Turn off the heat and set aside, leaving the cans in the water until everything comes to room temperature.
Open the cans and spoon the sticky brown dulce de leche into a bowl. Using a spoon, stir until the mixture is smooth, then spread it over the shortbread base. Sprinkle evenly with fleur de sel. Set aside.
Salted caramel ganache Place the dark and milk chocolates in a large heatproof bowl and set aside. Combine the butter and cream in a small pot over low heat and cook until warm to the touch. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Heat the sugar and water in a large pot over high heat and boil the mixture, without stirring, until it reaches 250F (use a candy thermometer to test the temperature.) slowly pour the cream mixture into this syrup to make a caramel. Stir in the fleur de sel and vanilla, then pour the salted caramel over the combined chocolates and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Using a handheld blender, emulsify the mixture to make a ganache. Avoid making large bubbles. Pour this ganache over the dulce de leche and refrigerate the bars overnight. Cut into individual bars before serving.
Keeps refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Note: Make sure to sprinkle a thin line of fleur de sel on top to make this an extra-special indulgence
Excerpted with permission from The Dirty Apron Cookbook by David Robertson (Figure.1)
Disclosure: I received a review copy. As always, my opinions are my own and I did not receive any compensation for this post.by