Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Caramel Crunch Bars - Tuesdays with Dorie

pile of caramel crunch bars with extra toffee


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;)

[toffee recipe]
[twd recipe]

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.

chocolate and toffee bits


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.

Ingredients:

toffee ingredients


Cooking the toffee:

butter and sugar in panmelted in pan
boiling in panat 300 degrees
after stirring in vanilla


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;)

toffee poured onto panbreaking toffee by hand
smashing toffee


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.

dry ingredients


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.

batter


batter spread in pan


baked shortbread base


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.

spreading chocolate


toffee sprinkled on top


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.

Ingredients:
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:

Ingredients:
Base:
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

Topping:
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]


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.

bars on plate


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!

half eaten bar

24 comments:

VeggieGirl said...

I ADORE CARAMEL!!

Amanda said...

These look perfect, nice job! Mine were a bit crisp, but still tasty :)

Natalie said...

kudos to you for making homemade toffee!

farah said...

Wow, your pictures are fantastic! Well done for making your own toffee too, good on you! They look really delicious :)

vibi said...

Humpfff... it took me forever to get here and be able to leave a comment. I was here this morning and nothing was working... hum!?

All that to say... that I think you ARE CRAZY WOMAN! To make your own toffee... when you already have plenty to do!?

WOW! You are one courageous, hard headed lady! LOL

Yet, I admire that... Bravo.

Sara said...

Nicely done. I love the homemade toffee. I will have to try that one of these days.

Tammy said...

well done on making your own toffee!! Your bars look great!

Tracey said...

Love all of your photos! Nice job!

Ivette said...

Your bars look fabulous! I didn't get to make mine this week.. but I'm really thinking twice... they look sooooo good!!! Great job!

zerrin said...

This is the first time I saw a toffee recipe on the net. In fact, I didn't know that these can be made at home. And those bars are amazing! They remind me my childhood, we used to buy these from small markets of our neighborhood. Now there aren't any. But you made me so happy as I can make it myself thanks to this recipe.

Megan said...

Thanks for the recipe for homemade toffee - I'll have to give that a try!

Teanna said...

That homemade toffee is perfection!!!! And your bars are great! I'm kind of relieved that these bars aren't TOO bad for you... somehow I have stopped myself at eating only 1. But it is SO hard. I always find myself reaching back for more only to talk myself out of it!!

steph- whisk/spoon said...

so good! and with homemade toffee--you are a star!

The Food Librarian said...

Oh my goodness! homemade toffee - overachiever, you! :) Looks perfect!

Stephanie said...

Your bars look delicious! Your toffee looks ever amazing!

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

The homemade toffee would make a huge difference. Everything looks delightfully delicious, as usual!!

Isadora Herzog said...

They look fantastic!!

Engineer Baker said...

No worries, as you can tell, I'm a little behind on my reading too :) Those look wonderful, and isn't homemade toffee dangerous? Fabulous stuff.

Di said...

Your bars look terrific. And the homemade toffee is a great idea. I thought about it, but didn't want to go with an unknown recipe. I'll bookmark the one you used for my future toffee needs, since it obviously works well. =)

AmyRuth said...

I love making toffee and its so neat you made your own. They looks scrumptious.
AmyRuth

VeggieGirl said...

LOVE THE TOFFEE ADDITION!!

Arabic Bites said...

Those look wonderful! I love the last photo!

Anonymous said...

I would like to know if your toffee is crunchy or if it's chewy???

kimberly salem said...

@Anon, the toffee is crunchy.

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