Hedgehogs

Over-the-top deliciousness from Down Under.

By The Editors

Fearless Baker by Emily Luchetti and Lisa Weiss

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Don't be fooled by the long directions — these Australian chocolate treats are as easy to prepare as they are truly delicious. The recipe comes from The Fearless Baker (Little, Brown and Company), by Lisa Weiss and Emily Luchetti, who suggest using Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies for the shortbread base, since other brands were "so thick there was barely enough chocolate to hold them together."

Note: The pictured hedgehogs use a delightful Australian cookie called the Tim Tam. That version of the recipe can be found here, at the equally delightful cooking blog Stone Soup.

What You'll Need:
9-inch square cake pan
Saucepan and metal bowl, or double boiler if you have one
Rubber spatula

Ingredients:
36 shortbread cookies of about 1/4-inch thickness (suggested: 1 1/2 packages Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies)
2/3 cup good-quality store-bought caramel sauce
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
7 ounces dark chocolate (58 to 62 percent cacao), chopped or broken into 1-inch pieces
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup sliced almonds, chopped

Directions:
1. Grease the bottoms and sides of the cake pan with nonstick cooking spray or butter. This is just so that the plastic wrap will adhere to the pan, so don't obsess about coating it well. Line the pan with a piece of plastic wrap, making sure it evenly runs up the sides of the pan and pressing it neatly into the corners so that the plastic doesn't get folded up into the cookie mixture.

2. Arrange an even layer of cookies in the pan (about 20 cookies), cutting them as necessary so they fit to the edges of the pan. Spread the caramel sauce over the cookies, completely covering them. Chop the remaining 16 cookies into about 1/4-inch crumbles and set aside.

3. Over a bowl or onto a piece of parchment, sift the confectioners' sugar in a fine strainer by gently tapping your hand against the edge.

4. Melt the chocolate and butter by putting them in the metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bowl does not touch the water. (You can use a double boiler if you have one.) Stir and scrape the side of the bowl occasionally with the rubber spatula until the chocolate is smooth and evenly melted.

5. Remove bowl from the saucepan and add the sifted sugar to the chocolate. Stir until everything is well blended. Add the almonds and cookie crumbles and stir with the rubber spatula so they're well coated with the chocolate.

6. Spread the chocolate mixture evenly over the caramel sauce in the pan. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

7. To serve, using the sides of the plastic wrap as handles, lift the whole square out of the pan. Peel off the plastic and put the square on a cutting surface. With a super-sharp, thin-bladed knife, cut the chocolate into even 1-inch squares. If you want a really professional look, use a ruler so your squares are perfect. Keep refrigerated until serving time.

Makes 81 (1-inch) squares

Excerpted from The Fearless Baker © 2011, by Emily Luchetti and Lisa Weiss. Reprinted with permission of Little, Brown and Company.

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