Candy bar brownies
A delicious treat for Halloween care packages.
When you think of Halloween, many people think about the costumes and dressing up, spooky decorations, orange, black, and scary movies. For me, it's always been about the candy. I hated dressing up in costumes, even when I was a kid. It was just so unnatural to put on some get up and pretend to be someone else or something that you're not. What was the point?? It wasn't my thing. I think I was just born old.Skip to next paragraph
The Pastry Chef’s Baking
Carol Ramos trained to be a pastry chef at the Culinary Institute of America and has her certification in baking and pastry arts, but she has never baked professionally. Baking is just something she loves to do. Her blog chronicles her baking odyssey as she tests out different recipes. Her goals are to share her love of baking and convert people into becoming bakers, one dessert at a time.
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However, in that wonderful American tradition of trick or treating every Oct. 31, I would shamelessly set aside those scruples and head out into the neighborhood with my friends in the name of candy gathering. I'd have my plastic pumpkin pail and chant out "trick or treat!" with the best of them. The "good houses" were the ones who gave out snack-size Snickers, Twix, Almond Joys and Kit Kats. The BEST house in the neighborhood was the one who gave out the full-size bars. Serious joy. You have to understand, my parents never bought candy. It was bad for our teeth, bad for our health, a waste of money, blah, blah. So Halloween to a kid with my sweet tooth was probably better than Christmas.
Now, as an adult, I don't really buy the Halloween candy except to give out and/or to use in baking. My sweet tooth has evolved to a higher level of snobbishness than "grocery story chocolate." But I still have fond memories of the candy I used to enjoy during Halloween time. Twix was one of them, mostly because of the shortbread. And the caramel. Plus the chocolate. OK, I liked all of it. So naturally, I also liked the concept of the homemade Twix bar that's made with a shortbread base, a brownie layer, topped with a caramel layer and enrobed in chocolate. Now this is right up my alley.
I adapted this recipe from a Delicious Discoveries blog and made a couple of modifications, mostly cutting out the initial chilling steps. You don't want the shortbread to get too brown in the first baking, just a pale golden, since it'll keep on baking when you bake the brownie layer on top of it. But don't underbake it either because you want it to bake enough to provide a crisp texture. Follow the proportions of the caramel layer I listed below as that set up perfectly when chilled. If you add too much heavy cream, your caramel won't set up and will be too liquid which will make it difficult to enrobe in chocolate. Too little cream and your caramel will be too hard and chewy.
The last step calls for enrobing in chocolate. Normally, chocolate should be tempered first if you're going to use it as a coating. By that, I mean it needs to be melted and raised to a certain temperature, depending on the type of chocolate you use but typically it should be to 100-105 degrees F (dark chocolate on the higher end, white chocolate on the lower end, milk chocolate in the middle). Raising them to the higher temperature destabilizes the crystals.
Then you add a "seed" chocolate which is a piece of solid chocolate in the same flavor you're using, i.e. add a milk chocolate seed to melted milk chocolate, dark to dark, etc. Once you add the seed chocolate, stir the melted chocolate around it until it's in the proper working temperature. For milk chocolate, that's 86-88 degrees, for dark chocolate 88-90, for white chocolate 80-82. The seed chocolate allows the melted chocolate a template to reform their crystals around. Once your melted chocolate is at the working temperature, you can now use it for enrobing.