This lovely, magical candy bar is named for our lovely, magical friend and mentor, Dorie Greenspan. We could think of no better tribute to Dorie, a renowned cookbook author herself, than to include the bar that she inspired. It's a combination of all our favorite flavors and textures: the crispness and deep, dark flavor of the chocolate cookie (adapted from one of Thomas Keller's recipes, no less; the lush, melt-in-your-mouth salted caramel ganache; the chewy dried apricots and tart lemon; and the surprising zip of black pepper. "More than the sum of its parts" doesn't even begin to describe it.
Give it a go -- it's almost as nice as hanging out with the lady herself! (Almost.)
Before you begin, note that you're making a dry caramel for the ganache recipe -- it wouldn't do you any harm to read up on the dry caramel technique. Both the ganache and the cookie can be made ahead of time. The ganache, minus the apricots, can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Before using it, allow it to come to room temperature and then warm it in 5-second intervals on half power in the microwave, or over a pot of simmering water, until it is soft and spreadable like peanut butter. Mix in the apricots before spreading. The cookie dough, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 2 months. The cookie can also be baked up to 2 days ahead of time, as long as it is kept, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, at cool room temperature. So in other words: There may be lotsa steps here, but you can tackle 'em in stages if you like.
For the cookie base:
For the lemon apricots:
For enrobing the bars:
Make the cookie base:
1. Put the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and fleur de sel in the mixer bowl and stir together with a rubber spatula. Start the mixer on low speed and begin to add the butter, a couple tablespoons at a time, waiting for each addition to incorporate before adding the next one.
2. Once all the butter is added, mix on medium-low speed until the mixture looks very coarse and dry, like pebbles, about 4 minutes. Stop the mixer and transfer the dough to a cutting board or silicone mat.
3. Gently knead the dough with your hands until it comes together, 2 to 3 minutes. Pat it into a small rectangle, about 1 inch thick, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
4. Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.
5. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of your baking sheet. Using this as a guide, dust the rolling pin with flour and roll out the dough on top of the paper to fit it. (You can trim the edges and reattach the scraps to fill any holes.) Gently slide the dough, on the parchment, onto the baking sheet.
6. Bake the cookie until the edges are dry but the center still looks underbaked, 10 to 12 minutes. (You don't want to overbake the cookie or the cutting process will be very difficult—less is more.) Allow the cookie to cool completely in the baking sheet, about 30 minutes.
Make the salted caramel ganache:
7. Put the white chocolate in a medium-size heatproof bowl and set it aside.
8. Place a small (2-quart) saucepan (make sure it is absolutely bone-dry!) over medium heat and pour in the sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, allowing the sugar to melt between each addition and gently and occasionally stirring it with the heatproof spatula to prevent any spots from burning (don't stir too much or you'll get lumps!). Cook over low heat until the sugar turns a dark maple-syrup color and smells like the dreams of a thousand rainbow candy unicorns (that is, like rich and toasty caramel).
9. Add the light corn syrup and stir to combine. Then set your spatula aside and pick up a whisk. Add the cream in a slow stream, whisking as you go (the caramel might bubble and steam here, so no French-kissing the hot sugar syrup).
10. Once the cream is incorporated, remove the caramel from the heat and pour it over the white chocolate in the bowl. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes, then start stirring with the whisk in the middle of the bowl, using a gentle circular motion. Continue stirring gently in the center of the bowl until the ganache is emulsified, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the butter and salt until completely combined, and allow to cool to room temperature.
Make the lemon apricots:
11. Place the apricots, olive oil, and lemon zest and juice in a small frying pan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until all the liquid has evaporated, about 7 minutes.
12. Remove the apricots from the heat, stir in the black pepper, and let them cool. Add the apricots to the salted caramel ganache, and stir well.
Assemble and enrobe the bars:
13. Scrape the ganache directly onto the cooled cookie, and use the offset spatula to spread it in an even layer. Place the baking sheet in the fridge until the ganache firms up, about 15 minutes. (You can let it cool at room temperature, too; it'll just take longer -- 1 to 2 hours.)
14. Run a sharp chef's knife around the edges of the baking sheet to loosen the slab of candy.
15. Temper the 13 cups chopped dark chocolate, or use the 13 cups chopped dark chocolate and 2 cups oil to make the Cheater's Chocolate Coating.
16. Enrobe and cut the bars. Store the bars, layered between parchment or wax paper, in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks -- if you don't eat them all before then. (You probably will.)
Tell an Italian that you are going to create hams in Iowa equal to the famous prosciutto di Parma and they might fall to the floor laughing. But after moving to Iowa from Italy, that's what Herb Eckhouse and his wife, Kathy, did with their La Quercia hams. And they did it very well, defying skeptics.