Thursday 3 April 2014

Caramel and Chocolate Peanut Brittle Bars with Fleur de Sel

As the lack of updates may have made clear, the end of the semester has shown its ugly head. Writing, reading, presenting and lecturing has been as draining and time consuming as it has been rewarding. With PhD schools on the mind, a research trip to Europe which has yet to be planned, (but is less than three weeks away!?) time for anything else has been sparse indeed. Excuses aside though, spring appears to have finally sprung (fingers crossed!) and this needs to be celebrated! Now how do we celebrate spring? Well we do it by eating decadent delights (duh)! Why might you ask? Well first of all, for everyone weight conscious, we all know that as summer approaches we begin obsessing a bit more about our looks, the infamous concept of the "beach body" emerges on our radar and makes most people (though they may loathe to admit it) shift uncomfortably in their skins.  Early Spring is the last part of the year where the idea of even wearing a bathing suit seems like a vague and remote speck on the horizon. On a less superficial note though? This recipe is heavy on the caramel and caramel, done right, means slaving over a hot stove, not exactly ideal for summer. In a badly influenced budget apartment in winter/late spring however? Heat is ALWAYS appreciated.

Oh...reading this, were you looking for a reason to make these? Really? Seriously now? You need me to provide a reason for you to make salted caramel squares with chocolate? Are you unwell? Ill? Broken? No? Then spoon to hand folks, get that oven fired up and lets get to work!

P.s. Apologies for the lack of step by step pictures this time, this was rush job! The recipe is rather straightforward though! The caramel is the only complicated part and David Lebowitz has a wonderful illustrated recipe for caramel on his website here which inspired my caramel!
should you want to take a look at it
Preheat Oven to 350


For The crust:
3/4 cup butter (melted)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup wholewheat flour
1 cup oats
2 tsp baking soda

Pour melted butter in, bake 10 min

For the Caramel:
1/4 c. butter
1/2c. cream 15%
1 c sugar
1tsp vanilla extract

For the topping:
1/2c. semi-sweet of dark chocolate chunks (I used chips but only because I was strapped for time, chunks are mucho sexier)
 1/2c. Salted peanuts
A few generous pinches of fleur de sel

1) Melt butter, assemble dry ingredients for crust, once the butter is melted combine it all
2) Form crust in an 8x8 pan, bake at 350 for 10 minutes
3) While the crust is baking, measure out your toppings and set aside 
4) Pour the sugar and vanilla extract for the caramel into a pan or pot, make sure that your receptacle is quite large as the caramel will foam later on. Cook on medium heat, cooking constantly until fully melted.
5) While the sugar is melting down, heat the butter and cream on low heat until well-warmed and butter is melted, turn on heat, set by until ready.
6) Remove crust from oven, once the sugar on the stove has turned a nice deep brown, add the cream/butter mixture while mixing, if you have someone around, don't hesitate to have them pour the cream mixture in while you stir as you need to stir fast
7) Once the mixture has formed a smooth caramel, pour immediately onto the finished crust. 
8)While the caramel is still liquidy, pour chocolate and peanuts evenly over the surface and dust with fleur de sel, let cool until set (or eat it all gooey and liquidy, it'll be gross looking but oh so delicious!).

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