I like the concept. The execution tends to be disappointing, though. Cheap, shelf stable ingredients and stale nuts don't make a great candy bar. When I came upon the Snickers makeover on chow.com while searching for nut butter nougat recipes, I was intrigued.
One of our twins has a peanut allergy, so I don't keep any peanut butter in the house. I decided to use almond butter instead. I doubled the recipe for their nougat and added a bit more salt. I also used a different recipe for the caramel. I love maple and figured it would go well with the almond. I didn't want really crunchy nuts to detract from the chewy nougat, so I used sliced almonds instead of chopped. I used a combination of dark and milk chocolate to coat them, so it wouldn't be too overly sweet.
Here's what you need for these bars. I'll separate the ingredients in the next steps.
20-24 ounces chocolate*
2 egg whites
1 1/2 t salt
1 1/2 C sugar
1 C corn syrup
1 C smooth almond butter
1/2 C cream
1/2 C salted butter**
1 C maple syrup
1 1/2 C sliced almonds
stand mixer with a balloon whisk
decent instant read digital thermometer
pot that the metal bowl fits over
larger bowl with ice water
*I used 11.5 ounces each of milk and dark. I know couverture chocolate would be much better for coating, but I didn't have any. If you temper properly, decent quality chocolate chips work just fine. Do NOT use those "chocolate flavored candy coating" abomination chips they sell at the store. They're made of hydrogenated oil and dead baby seals.
**I never keep unsalted butter around. It tends to pick up off flavors, and it's not as good on toast. If you want to use unsalted butter for this, add a bit more salt to the caramel.
Oh, and by the way... sometimes you feel like a pig. Sometimes you don't.
Step 1: Make the Nougat
1 t salt
1 1/2 C granulated sugar
1 C corn syrup
1/2 C water
1 C smooth almond butter
Line your pan with parchment and spray it with the cooking spray.
Separate the eggs and save the egg yolks for something like lemon curd. Lemon curd is awesome. Place the egg whites in the mixer bowl and add the salt, but don't beat them yet.
Heat the corn syrup, sugar, and water in a pot. When they start to boil, cover the pot and boil for a few minutes. This will wash down the sugar crystals that might accumulate on the sides of the pot. There's no need to mess with a pastry brush.
Remove the lid and cook the sugar mixture without stirring until the instant read digital thermometer reads 270 degrees F. Turn the mixer on high and beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Don't over beat them or you'll have to throw them away. I know other instructions say beat until stiff peaks... but you really don't need to. The sugar should now be around 275 degrees... if it's not, it's okay. pour it anyway.
Turn the mixer down to low, but keep it running and pour the hot syrup down the side of the bowl. After all the syrup is added and mixed, turn the mixer up to a higher speed. Some of the syrup might've stiffened and gotten lumpy. The bowl should be pretty hot and steamy now; just keep mixing and it should all come together into a fluffy, gooey mass.
The instructions on chow.com said to carefully fold in the nut butter. Meh. I dumped it in and turned on the mixer again. It worked fine for me. Spread the nougat into the pan. Mine was cooling fast and I had to butter my hands in order to finish spreading it properly. I got butter on my phone just so I could take that picture.
Step 2: Make the Caramel
1/2 C cream
1/2 C salted butter
1/2 t salt
1 vanilla bean
1 1/2 C sliced almonds
Dump the maple syrup, cream, butter, and salt into a pot on medium heat. Split and scrape the vanilla bean into the pot, throwing the bean itself in, as well.
Stir occasionally as it boils. When the temperature reaches 230 degrees F, remove the caramel from the stove. Stir in the sliced almonds, then pour and spread this mixture on top of the nougat.
Step 3: Chill and Slice
Spray a good, sharp knife with cooking spray. Slice off the edges and taste the scraps. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.
I sliced the remaining slab lengthwise, then into little bars from the two slabs. You might have to periodically wash the nougat from the knife, dry it thoroughly, and spray the cooking spray again.
Once bars are cut to the size you want, turn them caramel side up and spread them out on parchment and put them back in the fridge to chill while you temper the chocolate. Yes, I said temper. Relax. It's not that difficult... just a pain in the butt.
Don't you dare add shortening to your chocolate or use fake chocolate for these bars just to make things easy. Ick.
Step 4: Temper the Chocolate
thermometer, bowl with ice water, pot with warm water, flexible scraper
There are some really good articles online about why you need to temper chocolate. I don't see a need to reinvent the wheel here, so I'll be brief.
If you don't temper, your chocolate will look powdery and the texture won't be great. It'll melt too easily and make a mess on your hands.
Put a couple inches of water in your pot and heat it to a simmer, then remove it from the heat. Put ice water in your big bowl. I didn't have ice cubes, so I used ice packs instead.
Chop your chocolate. It melts faster if it's chopped.
Put about 75% of your chopped chocolate in the metal bowl and put the metal bowl over the warm water in the pot. Do not let a single drop of water get into your chocolate or it'll stiffen and you won't be able to fix it. Stir your chocolate frequently with a flexible scraper. You'll want the temperature as even as possible, so keep scraping the sides and stirring. Because I mixed milk and dark chocolate, my window for temperatures was pretty small. Bring the chocolate up above 115 degrees F, but NOT over 120. Remove the bowl from the pot. Add the remaining chopped chocolate and stir very thoroughly until it's melted. Set the bowl over the ice water and keep stirring and scraping the sides until the temperature is 80 degrees F.
You're almost done.
Place the bowl over the pot once again. Because you removed the pot from the heat, it shouldn't be very warm. Be aware that the chocolate should NOT get too warm after this or it'll lose its temper. Body temperature is too warm.
Keep stirring, and bring the chocolate up to between 87 and 89 degrees F. Keep the chocolate at this temperature as you coat all the bars. If you want to make sure it's properly tempered, smear a thin bit of chocolate on the parchment in the fridge that the bars are on. It should set up rather quickly and you should be able to peel a stiff piece of chocolate from the parchment. It should look glossy, not at all waxy.
Step 5: Coat the Bars
Remove the bars from the fridge.
Hold two forks so they form a V with the tines out. Balance a bar on the tines and coat it with chocolate. Place the dipped bar on the parchment and let it harden; it shouldn't take long. Keep dipping the remaining bars, checking the temperature of the chocolate periodically.
I had to trim a couple of the bars with a sharp knife where some of the chocolate had dripped down.
I got impatient and coated the remaining bars with my hands. I worked fast because I didn't want to destroy the temper of the chocolate. They were mostly okay, but a couple of the bars I did last had a tiny bit of cocoa butter bloom on the bottoms of them. The tops were still fine.
If your chocolate stayed in temper, the bars should be fine to stay out at room temperature.
Step 6: Serve
I swear these things don't have crack in them... but dang it's hard to not want one. Thanks for reading! If you're reading this and thinking, "okay, fine, but how can I get bacon into some candy bars?" never fear.