Sunday, 7 November 2010

Chocolate Hazelnut Caramel Bars

This might be a 'We Should Cocoa' entry for this month, but it seems a bit of a cliché to cook a Caramel Bar. My excuse is that I've only made caramel this way once before and it was a disaster, as it didn't set. In preparation for November's challenge of using caramel in a chocolate goody, I thought I ought to have another attempt at a basic caramel. I was fairly sure that jars and cans of ready made caramel wouldn't work in this sort of recipe - they are all fairly runny.

I chose this recipe from Rachel Allen, as it added a couple of extras to the basic Millionaire's Shortbread recipe - a chocolate base and hazelnuts in the caramel. I couldn't tell from the recipe whether the chocolate base was going to be like a brownie or a cookie, but I could tell that it wasn't going to be the usual biscuity shortbread. In the end, it seems to be more like a cookie than a brownie - soft, chewy and slightly crumbly.

The recipe was straightforward to follow and I didn't encounter any difficulties. I guess it's always a little tricky to make caramel of the right texture without a sugar thermometer - I stopped the cooking when I could see that the caramel was thickening and it was starting to pull away from the sides of the pan as I stirred. I was anxious that it didn't become hard and brittle when it cooled. The hard part was waiting for each stage to cool before going onto the next. I started at around 1pm, and only got the bars ready to cut and eat  at 6.30pm by setting the chocolate in the fridge.

These were delicious, and considering the amount of sugar in the chocolate base and caramel, not as sweet as I expected them to be. The caramel was just right - soft and chewy but still holding it's shape. I wasn't completley happy with the way the chocolate topping had set - I think in future I might use an idea from other recipes - marble a mix of milk, plain and white chocolate together so that it doesn't matter if it isn't smooth and shiny.

One point to remember is that you need to use chocolate that you like to eat on it's own, as the flavour really comes across -  I ate a piece of the Green and Black's plain chcocolate that I often use in cooking but decided it was too bitter on it's own. I ended up using Waitrose Continental Plain Chocolate.

If I decide to use this as my We Should Cocoa entry, I will edit this post, but I have one other recipe which I want to try before making up my mind.

8 comments:

Dom at Belleau Kitchen said...

looks good to me... i just watched Nigellas salty chocolate bars which I may adapt to include caramel for this challenge... so much chocolate!!!!!!!

Chele said...

I commend your effort with this bar - they are time consuming little buggers lol. Looks fantastic though and I love the addition of hazelnuts.

C said...

Looks amazing to me - I always cheat and just use caramel out of tin or jar for the middle layer. I love the idea of using a chocolate shortbread base for it too.

Choclette said...

Suelle, these look absolutely delicious and well done on your caramel. I've never made millionaire's shortbread before, but if I do make it I shall be making your version. They look more than a perfectly acceptable entry for we should cocoa - it could have gone for last month's entry too, but I guess others may also be making this. I'm definitely worrying about making caramel - I've only done it once and managed to burn it :(

Suelle said...

Thanks everyone - I am rather pleased with the result. I will try my other idea before deciding about the 'we should cocoa' challenge.

Joanna said...

Just saw these! They look great. I am very fond of Rachel Allen's book - been ultra reliable so far, from the half dozen things I have made from it. Good point about using the chocolate you like to eat, it's funny how often one puts something in a recipe thinking the taste won't come through and of course it does! I have my suspicions about the cocoa I'm using at the moment, what one do you use? I've been using Waitrose's and I don't like it very much.

Suelle said...

Joanna - I'm using Tesco's cocoa at the moment, and it seems OK. Using cocoa is not quite like a chocolate topping where the flavour has to stand on it's own, but I'm sure it does have an impact on the flavour.

How To Be Perfect said...

Yum! These look really really good x