Thursday, March 20, 2008

Playing With Marbles


When I was a wee tike my mother, in an effort to encourage my growth and development, and possibly to get me out of her hair, enrolled me in summer classes at the YWCA. I took creative movement which I loved. We got to swish like a washing machine, swim through honey, and flop like limp noodles. And I looked at it as my first step toward becoming a ballerina.

Another year I got to take an art class which was awesome. All of the projects were designed so that with limited art abilities a student could produce something to feel proud of. We pressed thin copper sheets into molds to make raised pictures which we mounted onto boards and shellacked. Mine, of course, was a ballerina. We did string art. And we made ceramics. I loved transforming liquidy gloop into a shape that was then painted, glazed, and fired. I still have the little fox I made with hand-painted accents.

I get a thrill when something I create is lovely. And my family knows I get very grumpy when a kitchen creation turns out.....on the homely side. Even if it's delicious, I pout if it's not a feast for the eyes as well, which happens rather more than I'd care to admit.



These bars were such fun to make. The shortbread base and oozy caramel layer were easy to put together, and I felt like I was back in art class swirling the melted chocolate around on the top. What a bonus that they're delicious, too!

Marbled Bars - adapted from The Cookie Book by Catherine Atkinson, Joanna Farrow and Valerie Barrett

For the base:

2-1/4 cups (9 oz) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (3 oz) superfine sugar*
3/4 cup (6 oz) butter, softened


For the filling:
7 Tbsp (3-1/2 oz) butter, diced
1/2 cup (3-1/2 oz) light brown sugar
2 x 14 oz cans sweetened condensed milk


For the topping:
3-1/2 oz semisweet chocolate
2-1/2 oz milk chocolate
2 oz white chocolate


1- Preheat the oven to 350 deg. F. Line a 13 x 9-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper and lightly grease it. (I don't own a jelly roll pan this size, so just used a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.)

*If you don't have superfine sugar on hand, just put granulated sugar in your food processor and whir it around until it's fine.

2- Put the flour and superfine sugar into a food processor and blend. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Continue pulsing until the mixture comes together and forms a dough. This step can also be done with your hands.

3- Put the dough into the prepared pan and press it out with your hand to cover the base. Then use the back of a tablespoon to smooth it and press it evenly into the pan. Prick all over with a fork and bake for about 20 minutes, or until firm to the touch and very light brown. Set aside and leave it in the pan to cool.

4 - To make the filling, put the butter, brown sugar and condensed milk into a pan and heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Stirring constantly, bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the mixture very gently, stirring constantly, for about 5 - 10 minutes, or until it has thickened and has turned a caramel color. Take care that the mixture does not burn on the base of the pan, as this will spoil the flavor. Remove from the heat.

5 - Pour the filling mixture over the cookie base, spread evenly, then leave until cold.

6 - To make the topping, melt each type of chocolate separately in a microwave or in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of hot water. Spoon stripes about 2 inches wide of semisweet and milk chocolate down the length of the pan, alternating semisweet and milk chocolate.

7- Place spoonfuls of the white chocolate randomly over the top. Using a skewer (I couldn't find one, so I used a pointed chopstick), drag the tip through the chocolates, swirling to form the marbled effect.

Allow the top to cool thoroughly before slicing. Cut into 24, this makes generous sized bars. If you cut each bar into thirds, they make dainty nibbles.

Note: When I made them, the few bars that remained and sat overnight had the chocolate bloom (greyish color rises to the surface). I'm pretty sure tempering the chocolate would have prevented that, but I'm no expert at all in tempering chocolate, so....if you know how to, you might try it here. Or just make sure all the bars are eaten the first day!

~~~~~~~

The winner in the Spot Marilyn Contest is Melinda! She was the first to get the correct number of Marilyn references in my post Gentlement Prefer Blondies. Way to go, Melinda! Your lame prize is on it's way to you right now!

35 comments:

Melanie said...

Wow, those look gorgeous. Consider it bookmarked!

Chelsea said...

Those are definitely pretty!

LyB said...

Chocolate swirly works of art! They look delicious and they are lovely!

CookiePie said...

Wow - these are so beautiful!! Almost too pretty to eat... but I would eat them anyway :)

Marcia said...

Lynn, you are an artist! These bars are incredibly beautiful, and I bet they're delicious too... Happy Easter!

Deborah said...

When you mentioned that you had this book and that you were getting ready to make something from it, I had a feeling it was going to be these bars!! I am actually making them tonight! You beat me to it!

Culinary Cowgirl said...

Gorgeous marbling...a great take on Millionaire Shortbread.

A. Grace said...

i always knew that marbling was gorgeous on meat, but this is even more beautiful! i prefer my fat in the form of butter anyway. :)

Melinda said...

Ooh, very pretty! I like the look of those!
I can't wait to see my prize, even if you say it is lame! Many thanks, Lynn!

Jessy and her dog Winnie said...

Oh my gosh! Those are so pretty!

Contented Me (Kristin) said...

please let me wipe up the drool on my desk now... those look fantastic!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Well those are sure not homely but they would make things feel very homely in my house;)
I'd say 90% of my stuff is homely.

Gretchen Noelle said...

Beautiful marbled bars! What a fun art project!!!

Kevin said...

Those bars look great! Nice marbling! I like the sound of the shortbread bottom gooey middle and triple chocolate top.

RecipeGirl said...

They ARE quite gorgeous!

Brilynn said...

Those are just gorgeous!

Gigi said...

You should frame and shellack those bars, they are just stunning! Only after I sample one though. :) Well done Lynn!

Baking Soda said...

Oh I love this! Wish I could make them as pretty as yours, think I should try?

kickpleat said...

these look so beautiful (and i'm sure tasty, to boot!)

Gabi said...

Absosmasholutey Bee-utiful!

Peabody said...

What swirly goodness-fun!

Aimée said...

Your photos are just getting better and better, Lynn! Love the abstract art effect of these squares.

Amy said...

Wow, now that's art! The kind of art I like, the edible kind. :) They look as delicious as they sound!

katskitchen said...

Your marbeling looks awesome!

Kelly-Jane said...

I make a cookie like this, and yours look great, your marbling is so pretty too.

Aamena said...

this surely is a feast for the eyes!

Rachel@fairycakeheaven said...

These look absolutely beautiful!!! Really elegant and bet they taste divine too!!!

eatme_delicious said...

Those look great! I just saw Deborah's (Taste and Tell) and had to come check yours out too. Definitely want to make this recipe!

Angela said...

MmMm delicious. I have been a lurker for a long time, but these beautiful bars have made me surface. We love millionaires shortbread/caramel slice here in Scotland, but the marbling takes it to another level. Well done, they look fantastic.

Susan said...

Kick-rump gorgeous! I have a major crush on that marbling, and with a shortbread base, I must commit to baking them. Thanks for the inspiration!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Lynn, I'm hypnotized by the swirls, what a beautiful dessert, my friend!

Big Boys Oven said...

so incredible lovely! so unique too!

Tartelette said...

Great take on the millionaire bars! The swirls are so gorgeous!

Glenna said...

GORGEOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

CIA-Cooking In An Apron said...

That art work alone has convinced me to make them! Thanks for sharing and go YMCA summer classes!!!!