Cocoa Nib Caramel & Almond Butter Nougat Bars
These candies are what Snickers bars ought to be – soft, salty caramel with the luscious crunch of cocoa nibs, topped with almond butter nougat, and coated with dark, high-quality chocolate.
If I’m feeling very nice indeed, I will make boxes of these to give away for the holidays.
Buying candy at the store is always such a disappointment. Why not make your own? All you need is a candy thermometer and a dream.
Seriously, the only tricky aspect of this recipe is tempering the chocolate. And I won’t lie, that can be tough to get the hang of. But you can do it, and you can make candy bars so good you would never have appreciated them enough as a child (and yet so good that your children will enjoy them almost as much as you do).
Note: This is the candy I will be giving away to those people who promised to stop by my apartment tonight and take it. I made too much, it’s not time for holiday gifting yet, and if I don’t get rid of it I will just keep eating it. Really, I need to befriend more good eaters in my neighborhood, who I can rely on to rescue me at times like this.
Cocoa Nib Caramel & Almond Butter Nougat Bars
Line a baking pan with greased parchment paper. A pair of loaf pans works just fine, actually.
Roast about 1/2 C cocoa nibs, unless you have purchased the pre-roasted kind. Make the caramel (recipe below). Mix the cocoa nibs into the caramel, and pour it into a pan lined with greased parchment paper.
Sprinkle a bit of fleur de sel on top of the caramel.
Make the nougat (recipe below). Pour it on top of the caramel.
Let this rest overnight, and chill it in the fridge a bit until it is solid enough to retain its shape when cut into bars. Cut it into bars.
Prepare parchment paper or Silpat sheets to place the bars on once they are ready.
Temper some bittersweet chocolate. I won’t go into how to do that in any great detail right now, because to this day I do not have a perfect, foolproof method to offer you. Everyone has their preferred technique, be it tabling, seeding, or just keeping a sharp eye on your candy thermometer.
I prefer seeding, personally – melt a batch of chocolate to about 100º, remove from heat, add in a whole lot of grated already-tempered chocolate, and stir stir stir until the lumps are gone and the chocolate is down to 80º-85º. Then warm the chocolate back up to around 90º, and have at. Test by dipping in a spoon and making sure it sets quickly to a hard, glossy finish.
Anyways, temper the chocolate, and coat the bars with tempered chocolate. Place them on the parchment paper or Silpat until they set.
375 g granulated sugar
300 g light corn syrup
75 g water
50 g honey
50 g salted butter
500 g heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 C cocoa nibs
This is the recipe explained on eGullet: Confectionary 101. If you follow the link, you will find wonderful illustrated instructions. But because websites go down and even the Wayback Machine sometimes fails, I will give the instructions here as well. My only change is adding the cocoa nibs.
I often make caramel simply by cooking sugar and water until it reaches a color I like, then adding enough butter and cream for it to get to a consistency that works for me. That method is fine for caramel sauces or decorations, but for a soft caramel that won’t get stuck in your teeth, it’s best to follow a more precise recipe.
Place the sugar, corn syrup, and water into a large, heavy saucepan.
Heat the cream until it starts to steam and not-quite simmer, and keep it warm.
Boil the sugar syrup, placing lid on pot if required to steam any sugar crystals off the sides, until it reaches 293º.
Add the butter and honey, then add the warm cream a little at a time (it will bubble a lot with each addition).
Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it reaches 250º.
Mix in the 1/2 C cocoa nibs, and pour into the pan lined with greased parchment paper that you have prepared.
Almond Butter Nougat
400 g granulated sugar
150 g light corn syrup
125 g water
60 g egg whites
A pinch of salt
125 g almond butter
Again, this is basically the recipe from eGullet that I used here. The only difference is that I use almond butter instead of peanut butter.
Place the sugar, corn syrup, and water in small, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Place a lid on pot to steam off any sugar crystals on the sides, if any accumulate. Cook until it reaches 270º.
Meanwhile, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they reach stiff peaks. You want the egg white to be ready when the sugar syrup is ready.
Pour hot syrup down side of the egg white bowl while beating on the fastest speed.
Beat until the mixture cools slightly. The eGullet recipe says that it should get slightly doughy at this point, but I prefer it a bit softer than that, and waiting until the doughy point can lead to overbeating. Stir in the almond butter, and try hard not to overmix.
Pour into the pan on top of the caramel.