Whitney of What's left on the table? chose Caramel Crunch Bars as this week's TWD recipe. I made these delicious bars a while back and sandwiched them with ice cream. They were truly decadent. Today, I made a half batch knowing how addictingly good they would be. There's no sense in setting myself up to eat a 9x13 pan of these goodies.
One thing most people don't know about me is that though I am a pastry chef, I can't find a thing at the grocery store. Honestly, I used to know my way around a grocery store till I move to St. Helena. Anyone who's ever been to the Stop and Shop (or is it a Star market?) knows what I'm talking about. The butter is in the beer isle. THE BUTTER IS IN THE BEER ISLE!!!! That makes no sense at all, and one day I spent a good 15 minutes looking for butter! Once I finally got used to grocery stores in Northern California, we moved back to Boston, so here I am lost once again. The only place where I can get in and out quickly is Trader Joe's, and that's only because it's so small. All that being said, I decided that rather than spending an hour looking for Heath Toffee bits at the grocery store, I would be better off making toffee at home. I'm not sure where I got this recipe, but it's pretty good, and really easy. The only change I would make for next time is to cook it a little longer. I cooked the candy to 294F, but I think I should have gone up to at least 300F. After reading some recipes afterwards I discovered some people cook their toffee to as high as 310F. Here's the recipe I used:
½ # Butter
1 cup Sugar
1 Tbsp Corn Syrup
1 tsp Kosher Salt
3 Tbsp water
Method: Put it all in a heavy bottomed pan. Stir frequently and bring mixture to 300 degrees (see above). Pour onto a silpat and let harden.
The recipe for the bars is super easy. Basic creaming method followed by vanilla extract then dry ingredients and chopped chocolate. I love that this recipe calls for instant espresso powder for two reasons. One is that the bitterness of the espresso powder balances the sweetness of the bar itself. Second I'm happy to be using one of the obscure items in my pantry.
These bars are very good. I think I prefer them sandwiching vanilla ice cream then on their own though. Next time I make them with the intention on serving them as bars, I will use less chocolate on top and I'll sprinkle some sea salt in addition to toffee on top of the bars.