I’m headed to I just got back from Eat Write Retreat this past weekend, and I meant to get this posted before I left. Life happened. For those who don’t know, it is kind of a networking workshop–I describe it this way, rather than a conference (despite having never been to one of any kind haha), because it is smaller and is comprised of hands-on workshops and tasting tours of Washington, D.C. No matter what you call it, I am was excited and nervous both, and it turned out absolutely fabulously. Reviews to come later.
Best of all I finally met (and roomed with) Amanda, my partner in crime over at World Kitchen. And speaking of World Kitchen, I hope you are planning to join us and make Coloradito Mole on June 5. You can turn it into a basic sauce, enchiladas, stew, you name it…. We’ll be tweeting under the hashtag #worldkitchen.
This next recipe is from another Harvard Common Press book (I told you it was like Christmas around here!), Dede Wilson’s A Baker’s Field Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies (Baker’s FG)(which they will be re-releasing with a new cover this fall). For someone who loves chocolate chip cookies and all of the variations and deviations from traditional chocolate chip cookies, this book is a find. There is a picture with each cookie–I would not call it food porn exactly, but it is wonderful to a have a visual reference for each recipe in the book. Each recipe comes with a Description, Field Notes and Lifespan–and because I love context, I liked these features. The range of recipes is satisfying-there are classics and predictable deviations from the classics, but there are also unexpected gems, like the recipe I chose to make. My book naturally opened to the page with Peanut Brittle Chip Bars–surely it was a sign.
A while back, when I finally conquered caramel in the form of Salted Vanilla Bean Caramels Chews, I ruminated on my frustration with caramel recipes that do not provide temperatures, instead relying on minutes or colors. I said I was not attempting another one until I was more comfortable and confident about caramel.
Well I guess that day has come. This recipe used minutes, which I actually ended up disregarding and instead I stuck a thermometer in the pot and had an idea of what I should be aiming for. This was brilliant because it means it turn I can tell you what to aim for! They turned out fantastically. Kind of like a Snickers bar meets a Twix bar, with the additional bonus of being fantastically fresh and homemade.
- 2½ cups (315 g) AP flour
- ¼ t salt
- 2 cups (1 lb, 4 sticks) unsalted butter. divided
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 t vanilla, divided
- 2 cups (1 bag) miniature chocolate chips, divided
- 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 cup golden syrup
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- 3 cups roasted salted peanuts, chopped
- Line a 9X13 baking pan with parchment paper. Lightly spray with oil. Set aside.
- Whisk flour and salt together. Set aside.
- Beat 1 cup of butter until creamy, and then add the granulated sugar gradually, beating until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes total). Beat in ½ teaspoon of vanilla. Add the flour in 3 additions, slowly mixing it in. Mix in ½ cup of miniature chocolate chips with the last bit of flour. Press into the prepared pan evenly and cover with plastic wrap.
- Chill for 30 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, preheat the oven at 350 F.
- Bake the crust until it is just barely turning light golden brown at the edges and top, but is not fully cooked, about 25 minutes.
- About 10 minutes into the baking, prepare the filling. Combine 1 cup of butter with the brown sugar and golden syrup in a heavy, medium-large sauce pan. Heat on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it comes to a boil, at which point stop stirring. Reduce heat to medium low to low, and cook until a thermometer reaches 300 F (adjust temperature as needed to ensure that the filling is ready when the crust is ready). After it reaches 300 F, remove the sauce pan from the heat and stir in the cream, peanuts, ½ teaspoon of vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Pour the filling over the partially baked crust and return it to the oven.
- Bake until the filling has darkened slightly, is bubbling all over and the edges have set, about 15 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining miniature chocolate chips all over the top of the crust.
- Place on a cooling rack to cool completely. Slice when cool--these bars were fine at room temperature for me, but Wilson preferred them chilled.
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