Friday, October 5, 2007

Caramel Nougat Bars – similar to Mars Bars

I often read the posts by the experts on e-gullet regarding chocolate, wishing I had the skills to make such wonderful things (and enough people to eat my experiments). Recently they’ve been discussing a book called Chocolates and Confections by Peter Greweling ... and I decided I just had to have a copy!! It arrived on Friday and I’ve been anxiously waiting my first chance to try out a recipe. I’ve been thinking about experimenting and trying to create a bar similar to an Australian Mars Bar – but with dark chocolate (70%) and a salted caramel. In Peter Greweling’s book he has a recipe for “Sleeping Beauties” that looked like a suitable soft chocolate nougat layer for my creation! The salted caramel recipe would of course be my favourite recipe of all time – from the Tartlette blog: Salted Chocolate Caramels.

Unfortunately I took the caramel layer to 2degC higher than I meant to ... so it lost its gloss and set quite a bit harder than I was aiming for (I wanted chewy but this was just a bit hard to chew!!). Oh well ... more reason to make more!

The nougat recipe required cocoa butter – and on quick investigation the only size I could find to buy was 5kg – and the recipe only called for 20g!!! So I substituted with copha (a vegetable shortening) hoping I wasn’t going to ruin the recipe. I also ran into a bit of trouble whipping the combined egg whites and sugar syrup ... I don’t have fancy kitchen equipment, and this called for a stand mixer ... something with decent power ... I only have a little hand held beater ... so I whipped as long as I could, but the poor thing started to struggle when the mix was still too warm (the directions said whip until 50degC, I stopped around 65degC) ... I really didn’t want to see smoke coming out of the little thing!! It does beat its heart out for me!!

Mixing in the chocolate to the whipped whites/sugar

The nougat layer ... it worked like a sort of plastic. Very amusing to play with! Of course the only problem with sugar cookery in my mind, is that you can’t taste as you go along – burning tongues just doesn’t give much feedback!!! The book said to lay it in 12”x12” ... my pan was only 8”x10” (I only have pans!) ... and still the nougat layer was only just enough. Could be because I didn’t whip enough air into it – or it could also be that the layer should have been thinner and I didn’t roll it out enough. I was aiming for bars not little chocolates.

Attempting to temper the chocolate (Lindt 70%) ... I still need to get this right ... some of my bars turned out in temper ... some didn’t. The ones that worked best were when I got to the end of my dipping, and I got sick of trying to balance the thermometer in the bowl and just threw it out and let it do what it wanted!! I really struggle to get it down to 32degC and keep it there without dropping too low ... so I keep upping the temperature – but I go too high. Wonder if Santa could bring me a temper machine for Christmas?!?!?! Of course – it would have to be an itty one because I really don’t do much chocolate work – though with my new Greweling book I’m inspired!!

The outcome (this one was obviously an edge one so the layers aren’t even ... all the better looking ones were kept to give away, and this one donated for chopping for photos!) ... a VERY chewy (oops) caramel layer, with a lovely textured nougat (surprisingly close to what I was aiming for!), surrounded by dark chocolate.

I was receiving emails from co-workers all day raving about these!! And everyone agreed I needed to experiment more to get the caramel right – just so they can eat more!! But ... I think I’ll try something else from the book rather than immediately repeat this recipe. All the other photos look so wonderful; I want to eat them all!!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

They look wonderful. I think the addition of some roasted cocoa nib or perhaps almonds to the nougat might give it an interesting texture.

You do need to repeat them so that you can get the caramel exactly right ...

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Ross Hill said...

Hi there,

You might be interested in meeting restauranteur Paul Mathis at The Hive next week - details at http://www.thehive.org.au.

Cheers, Ross