Homemade Twix: Bars + Tart

Homemade Twix // Not Without Salt

Thank you so much for your kind words from the last post. Sharing all of that left me with a bit of a vulnerability hangover but I was so lifted by your comments and reminded of how fortunate I am for this community and that I get the pleasure of sharing my life with you all. I appreciate each and everyone of you who responded with such grace and vulnerability. Now let’s go talk about candy!

About three years ago I started teaching a homemade candy bar class at The Pantry. It’s the sort of class that makes me giddy to get to do the work I do because basically in that moment I’m Willy Wonka. Perhaps a slightly less eccentric version than the characters in both versions of the movie, but maybe not.

Homemade Twix // Not Without Salt

My students have to work very hard in the three hours we have together. They whip up batches of peanut butter laced nougat, turn ordinary sugar into copper colored caramel dotted with vanilla bean flecks and beat powdered sugar into peppermint scented dough. All of that work culminates in a chocolate dipping party that spans the length of the 20-foot table. Six bowls line the middle, each filled with either melted milk chocolate or bittersweet. At the end of it all we have dozens of homemade Snickers, Peppermint Patties, Butterfingers, Peanut Butter Cups, Twix Bars and fifteen very happy people. Each one of them walk into that room skeptical of their abilities to turn simple ingredients into childhood favorites and by the end of the night they walk away with a box filled with candies better than the originals.

Homemade Twix // Not Without Salt Homemade Twix // Not Without Salt

There are a few candy recipes on this site and one of them is for homemade Twix but in the process of teaching this class I have perfected my recipe and have only recently realized that I’ve not been back to share the new and improved version. Even better still, I went and turned the recipe into a tart so you can just go ahead and skip all the time and mess of dipping the individual bars in chocolate.

If you do want the candy bars it’s a bit of a process but not a hard one. The buttery cookie base includes a touch of finely ground rice. A strange ingredient indeed but it’s a trick I learned from my former Pastry Chef, Sherry Yard, while working at Spago, and I trust that lady with all things butter and sugar. Plain white rice is blitzed in a spice grinder (or blender) – which, by the way, is a perfect way to clean your spice grinder, and then a couple of tablespoons is added to the dough. It adds a pleasant crunch that I just love. The bases are cut and baked then pressed gently into the still warm caramel. Once set you cut along the edge of the cookie so that you have a perfectly formed cookie and caramel layer ready to dip into chocolate. Or, like I said, skip all of that and just make the tart.

Our October newsletter is going to hit your inbox next week and it’s all about candy including a bonus recipe that is always a huge hit in class. Sign up (or leave your email in a comment and I’ll be sure you’re on the list).
Homemade Twix // Not Without Salt

Homemade Twix: Bar + Tart

The addition of ground rice to the cookie base adds a great crunch to the sweet candy bar.


Cookie Base


6 oz/ 1 1/2 sticks butter, soft

3 oz/ 3/4 cups powdered sugar

1 egg

8 1/2 oz/ 2 cups flour

2 tablespoons ground rice

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt



8 oz/ 1 cup sugar

6 oz/ 1/2 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup (you can substitute corn syrup here if you’d like)

1/4 cup water

6 oz/ 3/4 cup heavy cream

2 oz/ 4 tablespoons butter, soft

1/2 vanilla bean, seeds removed

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


1 1/2 pounds milk chocolate, finely chopped

1 tablespoon oil

For the cookie:


Combine the butter and sugar in a bowl and mix until creamy. Add the egg and beat until the color lightens, about 1 minute.


Add the flour, ground rice, vanilla extract and salt and mix until combined.

Form into a flat, rectangular disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour.


Heat oven to 375°F. Place dough on a large piece of parchment paper, lightly flour and roll the dough to about 1/8 inch thick. (Work quickly, because the dough will become difficult to roll as it warms up.) Transfer parchment paper with dough to a baking sheet then refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

Cut the dough into 3-1/2-by-3/4-inch cookies. You should get at least 24 cookies. Pierce each cookie several times with a fork.

Place on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and let cool. Meanwhile, make the caramel.


For the caramel:


Grease a 9×13 pan with soft butter and line it with parchment paper, leaving a few inches of overhang on each side. Set aside.


Combine the sugar, golden syrup and water in a large saucepan. Stir gently to combine then wash off the sides of the pan using water and your clean hands to feel if any sugar remains on the side. If stray bits of sugar fall into the caramel it can cause the caramel to crystallize so it’s important to make sure all the sugar is in the bottom of the pan mixed with the water.


Place the lid on the pan and put over high heat. Having the lid on during the first few minutes of boiling creates condensation that further helps to wash away any sugar that may be left on the sides of the pan. After 5 minutes remove the lid and let the caramel continue to boil until it reaches 300 degrees F. If some of the caramel starts to color you can gently swirl the pot to combine.


Add the cream, butter and vanilla seeds once it has reached 300 degrees F and then continue to cook until the caramel reaches 248 degrees F. At that point remove the pan from the heat and pour into the prepared 9×13 pan.


Let the caramel cool for 10 minutes before gently laying the cookie bases down in four rows of six. Continue to let the caramel cool for 40 minutes before thoroughly chilling in the fridge for an additional 40 minutes or until the caramel is firm enough to cut.


Once completely chilled, carefully remove the caramel and cookie bases from the pan and cut along the cookies to create 24 caramel topped bars.


Prepare the chocolate coating by melting the milk chocolate in the microwave or in a bain marie on the stove then stir in the oil.


Dip the bars into the chocolate with the help of a fork and move to a parchment lined sheet tray.


Place the sheet tray in the fridge once all the bars have been dipped. Keep the bars in a well-sealed container in the refrigerator for three weeks or in the freezer for two months.


Let the bars sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.


Twix Tart

Serves 8 to 10


1/2 recipe Twix base

1 recipe Twix caramel

4 ounces / 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

4 ounces / 1/2 cup heavy cream

Flake salt (or vanilla salt!)


Preheat your oven to 350°F

Roll the dough out to 1/4 – inch thick. Carefully roll up the dough around the rolling pin then unfurl it over the tart pan. Press the dough into the pan and bake until the edges are golden, about 20 minutes.

Let the tart shell cool while you prepare the caramel.

Cool the caramel for about 10 minutes until slightly thickened before pouring into the tart shell.

Refrigerate until firm, about 10 minutes.

Prepare the chocolate glaze. Warm the cream on the stove or in the microwave. Add the chocolate, let it sit for one minute then whisk to combine.

Pour the glaze over the firm caramel then use an offset spatula to spread the chocolate evenly. Top with flake salt.

Refrigerate until firm.

  • Permalink

Seared Steaks with Caper Relish

Seared Steak with Caper Relish

About a month ago I received a very powerful and vulnerable email from a reader. She had just finished reading Date Night In for the second time and this time she was particularly struck by the chapter where I gush about burgers. In that chapter I talk about two periods in in my life where burgers were more than just dinner – they saved me. If you’ve seen Date Night In you know that the subject matter is very tender but this chapter was probably the hardest to share. I briefly discuss a season in my life where I had a very unhealthy relationship with food. The reader who emailed me picked up on that, related to it then saw that I was very much healed of that and can now express great freedom and joy around food. She asked me to share more about that experience and how I found freedom.

I share this, with shaking fingers and short breaths, in the hope that it will help others on their path to health. This is my own journey  – no two are the same and yet there are universal truths that I think we all can and should learn from one another. I would love to make myself available to those who want to continue the conversation off of this public space and invite you to message me through the contact page on this site.

This was my reply:

Thank you for your kind words and your incredible vulnerability.

I am absolutely happy to discuss this subject especially if whatever I have to say (which I’m not quite sure what that will be yet) may be of some help to you. That chapter very tenderly touches on something that I silently struggled with for nearly two years. To this day I still have a hard time saying I had a problem as that would mean that I was out of control. I see now that all I was doing was trying to be in control and show how very in control I was. Obviously, I was not.

Coming back from studying in Italy during college I had put on some weight. At first I was clueless to this – I just knew that I had really enjoyed the creamy gelato, Carbonara and perfectly frothed cappuccinos several times a day. It was in Italy that I fell in love with food and I enjoyed it without abandon and free of guilt. Back home I was faced with the reality that 1. I had put on weight 2. I was getting married 3. Finishing college 4. Starting a career which I didn’t really feel excited about … anyway, a lot of changes and a lot of unknown. Unknown is scary to me. Unknown makes me curl up in a ball and rock back and forth.

So I used my impending wedding as my excuse for wanting to get in shape and eat right. Well, it turns out I’m extremely competitive with myself, and everyday became a competition of how much I could exercise and how little I could eat. To the point where on my wedding day my dress drooped off my body. After awhile my body stopped functioning properly and I spiraled into a pit of depression. I hated what I was doing to my body. I flung shame onto myself like a heaping pile of dirt and I buried myself in it. Guilt and shame never solve anything in fact they perpetuate the cycle and drag us down deeper and deeper into the pit.

People tiptoed around the problem. My then new husband didn’t really know what to do – I don’t blame him, I didn’t know either, plus we were just trying to figure out how to be married– that was enough to occupy our thoughts and conversations. I wish I could say I had some sort of revelation that got me out of my overthinking and obsessiveness about eating. There wasn’t.

We moved to LA about a year after our wedding. I had decided I wanted a career in food and long story short – I had an amazing opportunity to work at Spago in Beverly Hills. It was my first restaurant job. Before that job I didn’t know the incessant shrill of the ticket machine and how to prepare a soufflé, créme bruleé, a fruit tart and a cookie plate all at the same time. I’d work a full night then grab a gallon of ice cream on the way home from work to practice my quenelles. For months I was completely stressed and fraught with anxiety.  I fully put it on myself, but I’m a perfectionist, and I was determined to not let this job defeat me. I poured all of myself into that job. Eventually I loved it and succeeded in that position but it took a long time. That stress and my devotion to the job was all I had time for. I needed to be kind to myself in other areas of my life so I could really put all of me into that position. So I allowed myself to eat. And oh did I eat – burgers, late night fried rice, all the glorious fruit that comes from that California sun, the perfect-textured ice cream from dessert station, and soft-serve cones from whatever was open when the craving hit. It was sweet grace in a really hard but rewarding time in my life. Overtime I put on weight, got healthy again and without even really realizing it I developed a healthy relationship with food.

Seared Steak with Caper Relish Seared Steak with Caper Relish

Looking back I can see some things that were happening that I’m hoping will help you. I have the sort of personality where I quickly become obsessive. So when I tell myself that I can’t have something it’s all I want and all I can think about. I became so preoccupied with what I couldn’t have I hardly thought of anything else. Then if I succumbed to the insanity and actually ate what I said I couldn’t, I was wracked with guilt. It was a horrible cycle. All of that disappeared when I told myself that I had the freedom to have whatever it is I wanted or needed. If a sudden insatiable craving for chocolate ice cream hits – I lean into that craving. The thing is though, if I’m truly listening to my body and trusting its cravings it’s vegetables, fruit, leafy greens, creamy things – real food that it craves. I listen to what my body wants and believe it when it tells me I’m done. I rarely overindulge because I don’t have to. I’m very fortunate – and I don’t take this lightly – to know that every day there will be food. And not just sustenance, like really delicious food. I’m constantly testing recipes and I (mostly) love spending time in the kitchen so there is always food around. I know that I can indulge on a daily basis if I want to.

The trust and assurance I have in my body is beautiful. My body cares for me, has served me so well and in return I try and feed it what it needs to do its job. I’m not an overly healthy eater in the way our society now views healthy eating (paleo, vegetarian, all whole grains, etc.) and yet vegetables are probably my favorite thing ever (especially when there is cream and cheese involved).  I eat white sugar and white flour and currently there’s a bag of cool ranch doritos (almost empty) and mint oreo cookies in my cupboard. Everything and I mean EVERYTHING in moderation. Honestly, to me, this is healthy eating. The sort that believes nothing is off limits, no food is evil and any food can be used to bring joy and health to my body. That looks different every day but each day, each meal, each bite is a gift.

Food is a gift. It’s what connects me to my Creator. I want to see it as such, help others see it as such and use it to bless myself and others. There is no room for guilt and shame in that. When I see it as the gift it is and enjoy it with the grace we were all given it is beautiful and life giving – just as I believe we were meant to enjoy it. Eating for me now is a constant reminder that I am loved.

Today I eat for community, for pleasure, for grace, for sustenance, for fuel – there’s always many reasons. I exercise, not for my body to look a certain way, but so that I can feel strong because I am strong. Here’s the other secret, even when I was at my thinnest I still saw so much wrong with my body. I know that being beautiful has nothing to do with actual physical attributes but it has everything to do with how I feel inside. No amount of dieting or exercising will ever make me feel healthy and beautiful if I’m not mentally and spiritually strong.

I hope and I pray that in telling my story that there is some sort of truth that you can cling to that may help you. You are absolutely on the right path. Someday you will look back on that season as I do and be able to say, I am so thankful that I am freed from that way of thinking. It will not always haunt you and you will be able to enjoy food with great abandon. Writing this email was a gift to me – a reminder that I’ve come a long way in my relationship with food but more importantly with myself. Each imperfection of my body is a reminder of my own imperfection. And that is freeing to me now not suffocating as it once felt. I’m reminded that perfection is not needed for me to be fully loved. I also look at the bumps, bruises, dimples, stretch marks, wrinkles, rolls, etc. and see them as a reminder of my strength – of a life fully lived. My body tells a story and right now I’m damn proud of that story. My body and I are most effective in this world when we trust each other and work together.

Seared Steak with Caper Relish

Seared Steak with Caper Relish

In this moment in my life this steak is health food and I enjoyed every single bite of it.


Caper Relish:

2 cups (packed) assorted herbs (such as Parsley, basil, mint, cilantro, chives)

1 clove garlic, smashed

3 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced

zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons fish sauce

1/3 cup capers, drained

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive oil

Salt and pepper

1/3 cup finely grated parmesan



2 New York Strip steaks (or whichever cut you’d prefer)

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 garlic clove, smashed


For the relish:

In the bowl of a food processor combine the herbs, garlic and scallions. Pulse until finely chopped. Add the lemon zest and juice, fish sauce, capers, olive oil, pinch of salt and pepper, and Parmesan then pulse to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then pulse a few more times for good measure. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. It should taste quite strong and pungent to stand up next to the steak.


For the steak:

Season the steak with salt and pepper, generously.

In a large cast iron skillet add the olive oil and butter. Once the pan is smoking carefully add the steak and garlic clove. Leave it be, undisturbed for five minutes to build up a good crust. Flip the steak then begin basting it with the garlic-tinged butter and oil using a spoon and tilting the pan if needed.

Continue to cook until desired doneness, about 4 minutes more on the other side for medium rare (135°F).


  • Permalink