We’ve had kids in soccer for years. My oldest started playing thirteen years ago when she was four, and just hung up the cleats a couple of years ago. And my youngest has been playing for ten years. With all those collective soccer teams, all the hours spent on the playing field (them) and the sidelines (us), our family had never brought home a trophy.
The soccer teams are named by country, and this year my youngest daughter was playing for Team Spain. Following a rocky start in the early season, the team slowly strengthened with great coaching and hard play. Two weeks ago, they took on the challenging Brazil team and won with a goal in the last ten minutes for a nailbiting 1 – 0 win. Last week they bested the dynamic Italy team, making an early goal count as they played through a rainstorm that would have made Noah seek cover. The result was a nailbiting 1 – 0 win.
Note the trend.
Yesterday’s game was played on a sunny, warm day against Team America. Athletic and obviously well-drilled, USA took control of the ball early. They were a force to be reckoned with, having one of the best goalies in the division as well as a forward whose prowess made us gasp. (Fortunately, our defense, including my daughter, shut her down brilliantly.)
But Team Spain hung in bravely until halftime. I don’t know if our coaches brought Knute Rockne in for an inspiring halftime speech, but the tides turned in the second half and suddenly we were in control of the play. But one potential goal after another was turned away by their goalie, and we watched the clock tick down, knowing that we were within minutes of having the final go to a shootout.
With thirty seconds to go, a sudden flurry around their net brought all the parents to our feet. And remarkably, this time the ball went in. Joy on the field, joy on the sidelines! And the Pollock family brought home their first soccer trophy.
Whether or not you’ve had a recent win in your family, if you make Dorie Greenspan’s Snickery Squares everyone will feel like a champion. They’re a little bit of work, from caramelizing the nuts to making the dulce de leche (if you choose to use homemade rather than store bought). But they are fabulously decadent and well worth the extra time. Just cut them into small squares, and promise yourself you won’t eat the whole pan.
(adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From my home to yours)
For the Crust
1 stick (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar)
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
For the Filling
1/3 cup sugar
3 Tbsp water
1 1/4 cup peanuts
1 cup dulce de leche (either store-bought or using the directions posted here)
For the topping
3 ounces semi sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate coarsely chopped
1/2 stick (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square pan or line with parchment paper, and put it on a baking sheet.
To make the crust, beat the butter until smooth. Add the flour, sugar, confectioners’ sugar and salt, and beat or stir just until smooth. Add the yolk and beat just until mixed. Turn the dough into prepared pan and press it evenly across the bottom. Prick the dough about a dozen times with a fork. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature before filling.
To make the filling, have a parchment-lined baking sheet beside the stove. Put the sugar and water into a medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the sugar dissolves. Keeping the heat fairly high, continue to cook the sugar, without stirring, until it just starts to deepen in colour. Throw in the peanuts and immediately start stirring. Keep stirring, to coat the peanuts with the sugar. Within a few minutes, they will be covered with sugar and turn white. Keep stirring until the sugar turns back into a caramel colour. Remove the pan from the heat and turn the nuts out onto the baking sheet, using the wooden spoon to spread them out as best you can. Cool to room temperature. When they are cool enough to handle, separate into small pieces. Pour the dulce de leche over the baked crust, then sprinkle about 2/3 of the nuts over the dulce de leche.
To make the topping, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Remove the chocolate from the heat and gently stir in the butter. Pour the chocolate over the dulce de leche. Finely chop the remaining nuts then sprinkle them over the chocolate. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.