I watch The Next Iron Chef like it’s the Olympics. Once the battle is announced, I immediately start to formulate a recipe in my head. It’s my delusional way of participating.
I immediately yelled out “Ponzu Caramel Sauce!!”
Mr. Fits gave me a strange sideways glance.
Anne Burrell, then, proceeded to MAKE a Ponzu caramel sauce. Which put a smug smile on my face. Until she lost.
In her defense, the judges loved her dish and Zakarain went on to win the tittle of Next Iron Chef. Although my personal favorite was Elizabeth Faulker, I do believe that Chef Zakarian was the perfect choice. His very first battle as an Iron Chef on Christmas Day earned him a PERFECT score.
Back to that Kikkoman battle:
The next day I couldn’t stop thinking about the idea of a dessert with Panko and Ponzu. Of course the recipes battled on Next Iron Chef aren’t written down, I have no idea how she made her gorgeous caramel, so I just had to leave it to my own devices to come up with one.
While this is rolling around in my head, I get an email from a lovely and adorable PR girl from Kikkoman whom I had met at IFBC in November. She wanted to know if she could send over a box of Kikkoman goodies for me to play with. Ummm…Yes. Yes you can.
She even included a Kikkoman rubber ducky for Tater. Although I still can’t figure out why he is wearing a sombrero.
(I talked a little a few weeks ago about the whole Blogger/PR relationship and it is pretty awesome.)
So it was fate. I would be making a dessert out of Panko and Ponzu.
Here is what I came up with:
Panko Shortbread with Salted Ponzu Caramel Bars
1 cup flour
1/2 cup Kikkoman Panko
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
12 tbs butter
Ponzu Caramel Sauce:
1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 tbs Ponzu Sauce
1 cup heavy cream
1 stick of butter
1/4 tsp course sea salt
Line the bottom of an 11 x 7 inch baking dish with parchment paper, allowing the paper to go up and over the edges of the pan.
In a food processor, combine flour, brown sugar, Panko and salt, pulse to combine. Add the butter and process until combined, about 1 minute. Press the shortbread into the bottom of the baking dish in one even layer. Chill in the refirgerator for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350. Bake for 20 minutes or until a light golden brown color. Allow to cool.
In a large pot over medium high heat, combine the sugar, corn syrup and ponzu sauce (mixture will bubble to a large volume during cooking). Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Allow to boil, without stirring, until the mixture reaches 230 degrees, about 5 minutes. While the caramel is cooking, do not stir, but swirl the pan every 30 seconds to redistribute the caramel sauce evenly. Once 230 degrees is reached, add the butter a few cubes at a time and stir, allowing the mixture to return to 230 degrees. Remove from heat and stir in the cream, adding slowly.
Pour the caramel over the shortbread and refrigerate for 4 hours, top with sea salt. Remove from pan using the parchment paper and cut into squares.