For this week's TWD recipe, Whitney of What's Left on the Table chose Caramel Crunch Bars. This was sort of a dark horse recipe for me. Even though it looks pretty tasty in ice-cream sandwich form in the book, I didn't realize how deliciously addictive and candy bar-like they would be. Plus, because I couldn't find the Heath bits in the store, I learned how easy it is to make toffee... which may be bad for my health in the long run;)
There are a few different flavors in these bars that meld together deliciously, namely toffee/caramel, chocolate and a kick of espresso in the bar itself. I added a little extra salt to everything, which, for me, made everything that much more delicious.
For the toffee recipe, I searched around and found a nice-looking recipe at Cooking for Engineers. It's pretty simple, basically just combining butter, sugar, a touch of salt and a little water, cooking until it gets to 300° F and then stirring in some vanilla extract.
Cooking the toffee:
After the vanilla is stirred in, pour onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or silpat, let cool and then break apart into bits. Use any means necessary;)
The only bad part about making this the day before is that half of it will probably be eaten by the next day, so make sure to reserve enough for the recipe ;)
The bars themselves were straightforward to make. The slight twist was the instant espresso powder, which gave a subtle zing to the finished product.
As Dorie said, the batter was very thick, so it took me a while to spread evenly in the 9"x13" pan. It ended up being more crunchy than sandy for me, so I was glad for the chocolate bits that broke it up a bit.
I used a different type of chocolate on top than in the bar, and the different chocolates ended up working very well together. The one on top was slightly more bitter, which went with the espresso.
Here is the Toffee Bits recipe, with Caramel Crunch Bar info below. The toffee recipe makes more than you'll need for the bars, so you could halve it or third it.
225 g unsalted butter (2 sticks, 1 c)
200 g sugar (1 c)
2 tsp water
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
Melt the butter, sugar, water and salt together in a saucepan over low heat. Continue heating and stirring until the mixture reaches 300° F (150° C). Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract (be careful, it will bubble).
Pour hot mixture onto a sheet pan lined with parchment or a silpat. Let the toffee cool to room temperature and break apart into pieces as small and uniform as you can get them.
Caramel Crunch Bar ingredients and nutrition info:
188 g all-purpose flour (1 1/2 c)
1 t instant espresso powder, or finely ground instant coffee
1/2 t salt
1/4 t cinnamon
225 g unsalted butter (2 sticks, 1 c) at room temperature
110 g light brown sugar (1/2 c packed)
50 g sugar (1/4 c)
1 t vanilla extract
3 oz bittersweet or milk chocolate (85 g), finely chopped
6 oz bittersweet or milk chocolate (170 g), finely chopped
3/4 c Toffee Bits
[recipe instructions on Whitney's blog]
Nutrition Facts from NutritionData.com:
per 1"x2" piece (I got 48 bars, so I'm rounding up): 1/50th of recipe
[click to show or hide]
Fat: 7 g
Saturated Fat: 4 g
Cholesterol: 13 mg
Sodium: 26 mg
Carbohydrates: 10 g
Dietary Fiber: 1 g
Protein: 1 g
Nutrition info is not too scary this week, but I DARE you to try to just eat one of these... it's impossible! ;) I guess the serving size should be doubled.
Thanks to Whitney for this week's fabulous recipe! Don't forget to go check out her blog for the full recipe, and look at the TWD blogroll to see everyone else's creations.
Another apology to my fellow TWD'ers this week, I am still very behind on my reading... just have a lot going on! Hopefully I can empty out my google reader backlog this week!