After feverishly putting in my bid I got down to the business of actually reading the recipe, here is the list of ingredients:
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon five spice powder
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
ummm.... yea.... So being that I don't keep a gluten free kitchen some of the shortbread ingredients were a whole new world to me. Thank goodness for Whole Foods bulk bins! I was able to get just the amounts I needed of the brown rice & coconut flours. I had never even heard of coconut flour before! (although now that I have... watch out I will definitely be experimenting with that baby!) I actually had ground almond flour in my pantry from something else and the rest of the ingredients (with the exception of two) were easily found between Whole Foods and Trader Joe's (you could probably get them all at WF but I got a few things a little cheaper at TJ's). The two items that I could not find were the Tapioca Starch and the 5 Spice powder. I was actually pretty surprised that they didn't have either of these available particularly the spice. For a bit I considered buying all 5 elements to create my own but that would have inevitably racked up about $20 in spices for a recipe that called for 1 Tablespoon.... no thank you. Luckily a friend suggested I check out the Asian market down the street which was genius. Although I am often intimidated in ethnic markets I am also pleasantly surprised every time by how many cool (and cheap!) products they have. I easily found the spice and starch (both only 79 cents) plus a few other treats for my trouble (hellllooooo strawberry Yan Yans!)
3 grocery stores later I was ready to bake, below is the recipe created by the Food52 user Anitalectric for a friend who was looking to recreate a delicacy her friend had enjoyed abroad on a trip. My notes are interspresed throughout.
Use this time to make the shortbread (see recipe below).
Remove caramel from heat and pour over shortbread. Spread into an even layer. Chill to set.
If using bergamot, remove peel and cut into 1cm thick strips. Add, along with juice, to small pan with 1 cup sugar. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until peels are candied and syrup is thickened. Remove peels and place, submerged, in another cup of sugar. Reserve syrup in a heatproof bowl.
Place syrup over double boiler and melt chocolate and coconut oil into it. (If you are not using bergamot, omit syrup from this step). Stir until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and a pinch of salt.
Pour chocolate mixture over caramel in pan and spread into even layer. While it is cooling, remove some bergamot peels from sugar and chop fine. Sprinkle over top of chocolate.
Chill completely and cut into 16 bars. Store them chilled in a tightly sealed container.
For the Shortbread:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 1/4 size sheet pan and parchment paper liner with shortening or oil.
(as an FYI- a 1/4 sheet pan is 9in X 13in.... measure first, or you end up with very thin bars and the caramel & chocolate won't spread across the whole thing.... I went against my better instincts here and paid for it later)
Sift together the dry ingredients except for sugar.
Beat the coconut oil, sugar and vanilla. Fold in dry ingredients until incorporated and mixture is crumbly.
Transfer to pan and press into an even layer. Chill in freezer for at least 5 minutes before baking.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until edges are golden but middle is still slightly soft. Remove to a rack to cool.
Although it suggests baking the shortbread while the caramel is working I would actually start it ahead of the caramel so it has plenty of time to cool. I had a little trouble getting the chocolate to set up I might use a little less coconut oil next time.
There were so many things I liked about this recipe and learned. #1 - the caramel technique could not have been easier, even though it required me to buy a candy thermometer (which now that I have it it will no doubt get lots of use), #2 I had no idea what a great replacement for butter coconut oil could be in baked goods. I haven't studied up yet on the health benefits of one over the other but in terms of vegan cooking, it was a knock out you sincerely couldn't tell the difference in my opinion. #3 as I mentioned, coconut flour exists how cool is that! In general I shy away from gluten free recipes but I think I need to start giving them more of a chance, these alternate flours have really unique characteristics that I'm excited to play with in the future. While I'm sad I couldn't find the bergamot (apparently it has a very short season along with the fact that after 3 grocery stores I was spent and did not want to search out another specialty shop) I don't think the recipe lost too much without it. Maybe next time I'll sub in another citrus fruit in its place to test it out. I hope you check out food52 sometime soon, if you come across this recipe you can see my write up! Or you can just read below :)