A buttery, crunchy shortbread cookie topped with creamy dark fudge, jam-packed
with marshmallow and toasted pecans… now THAT’S our idea of what to do with a chunk
of dark chocolate!
1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups (9 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3 cups (18 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate
3/4 cup (6 ounces) heavy cream
1 cup (3 3/4 ounces) toasted diced pecans
3 cups (half a 10.5-ounce package) mini marshmallows
Heat the oven to 300 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch pan, or
line with parchment and grease the parchment.
To make the crust: In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the butter, salt,
sugar and vanilla extract, then beat in the flour. The dough will seem very dry, and
won’t seem to want to become cohesive at first. Just keep beating, and it’ll
eventually come together.
Press the dough into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with your fingers
or a mini rolling pin (pastry roller). The dough will feel stiff, but just keep
pressing on it until you’ve covered the bottom of the pan.
Prick the dough all over with a fork; this will keep it from bubbling up as it bakes.
Bake the crust for 35 to 40 minutes, until it’s golden brown around the
edges and beginning to brown on the top.
Remove it from the oven, and loosen the edges with a heat-resistant plastic
knife or a table knife.
Make the topping while the shortbread begins to cool.
To make the topping: Place the chocolate and cream in a microwave-safe bowl,
or in a saucepan.
Heat in the microwave, or over low heat on a burner, till
the cream is steaming and barely beginning to form bubbles.
Remove from the
heat, and stir. The chocolate will gradually form a lump in the center of the
bowl, then will start to expand as it absorbs the cream. Eventually the chocolate
and cream will become one; keep stirring till it’s very smooth. If all the chocolate
doesn’t seem melted, reheat very briefly, and keep stirring.
Spread the warm chocolate atop the cookie crust.
Sprinkle with the marshmallows, then the pecans.
Immediately use a knife, or a baker’s bench knife, to cut the
bars into squares. You’ll find it useful to run the knife under hot water and
wipe it off every several cuts, to keep drag to a minimum. The reason you’re
cutting these bars immediately (admittedly, a somewhat messy proposition), is
that if you wait till they’re cool the bottom crust is more difficult to cut.
Cover the pan, and place the bars in the refrigerator for about an hour,
to set the chocolate.
Remove from the fridge, and use a spatula to transfer
the bars from the pan to a serving plate.