Saturday, August 27, 2011

Daring Bakers: Candylicious

The August 2011 Daring Bakers' Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake!?. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for all of us Daring Bakers because the good folks at offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy.

They challenged us to make at least two different candies, including one chocolate candy, and to try our hand at tempering chocolate. They gave us an almost dizzying amount of suggestions, but they really encouraged us to try out our own flavor combinations.

My first offering is a dipped bonbon with a very long name: Pepita and Cranberry Brittle Covered in Tempered Dark Chocolate with a touch of Fleur de Sel. Feel free to shorten the name.

When you first bite, you get the crunch of the pepitas and brittle. A second bite yields a surprising texture and flavor contrast as you hit your first dried cranberry. The little bit of salt perched atop the dark chocolate finishes the chocolate off perfectly.

I'm glad I made these small because they are addictive. I found myself getting my camera out multiple times to photograph these chocolates because photographing them meant cutting into them and once they're cut into, you just have to eat them.

With the extras, I threw together some simple chocolate bark, topped with pepitas and dried cranberries. I'm doing this with all my leftover chocolate from now on.

For my second chocolate, because really, you knew it would be a chocolate, I made salted caramel crack(ers). While these may not have been daring, they certainly were delicious. Who knew that the saltine crackers you ate while sick as a kid could turn into something so addictive and tasty when covered in caramel and dark chocolate? It's hard to have just one bite.

My goal is to turn the leftovers into the Salted Crack Caramel Ice Cream sold at Ample Hills Creamery in Brooklyn. Now I just need to whip up a batch of salted caramel ice cream.

Pepita and Cranberry Brittle Covered in Tempered Dark Chocolate with a touch of Fleur de Sel
based off a Smitten Kitchen recipe, and inspired by some Jacque Torres Chocolates

Vegetable oil spray
2 cups white sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 cup raw, unroasted pepitas
1/2 cup dried cranberries
10 ounces good quality dark chocolate

Make the Brittle: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, lightly coat it with vegetable spray.

Combine sugar, butter, corn syrup and 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water in a large saucepan. Stir together until all the sugar is wet. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring ocasionally. Watch the mixture carefully as it will foam up quite a bit, and you might need to turn back the heat to medium until it thickens.

Once the mixture turns medium gold (at least 10 minutes), remove it from the heat, and carefully whisk in the baking soda, followed by the salt. Be careful because the caramel will rise quite a bit in the pan and bubble a lot more. Using a wooden spoon, quickly fold in the pepitas and cranberries.

Quickly pour the mixture onto the sheet pan, and spread it out over the pan using the back of the spoon. When it is still fairly hot and pliable, cut it into a shape of your choice. I opted for small rectangles. Let the pieces cool, separated on parchment paper.

Temper the chocolate: Place 2/3 of your total chocolate in a small bowl at the top of a double boiler over simmering water. Heat, stirring, until the mixture reaches between 113 and 120 degrees. Remove from the heat, and add the remaining 1/3 of chocolate. Stir the mixture together until it reaches 80 degrees. Return the mixture to the heat, and continue stirring until it reaches 89.6 degrees. Your chocolate is now tempered and ready to use!

Dip the Bonbons: Using a fork, dip the candies into the chocolate one at a time. With the chocolate on the fork, tap a few times to remove the excess chocolate, and then slide it across the top of the bowl to remove any remaining chocolate. Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, being careful to touch the chocolates as little as possible. Sprinkle with a bit of fleur de sel.

To clean up the chocolates, place the tray in the fridge for no longer than 15 minutes. Remove the tray, and, using a sharp knife, carefully trim the excess chocolate from the edges of the candies. Transfer to a wax paper lined container for storage.

Chocolate Caramel Crack(ers)
from a Smitten Kitchen recipe

40 Saltine crackers
1 cup (2 sticks), unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 pinch sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 11-by-17 inch baking pan with foil, and then line the base of the pan with parchment paper, cut to fit. Do both these steps. It will make cleanup MUCH easier.

Line the bottom of the baking sheet with crackers, covering all the parts.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and stir it over medium heat until it begins to boil. Once boiling, let it bubble for three more minutes, stirring well. It will thicken a bit as it cooks. Remove from the heat and add salt and vanilla. Quickly pour over the crackers. Spread it quickly, as it will begin to set as soon as it is poured.

Bake the caramel-covered crackers for up to 15 minutes, watching it carefully and reducing the heat if the corners begin to darken or burn.

Remove from the oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand five minutes, and then spread them evenly across the caramel. Once completely cool, break the crackers into pieces and store them in a container for up to a week.


  1. Wow! You have been a busy chef in the past few days! I am going to have to give up on Daring Bakers ... the challenges have been way beyond my level of cooking. I've bowed out on too many challenges of late... but boy, your chocolate treats look really good!

  2. Yes, please! Even though it's breakfast time, I could eat one of each right now. =)

  3. Pepita and cranberry brittle covered in tempered dark chocolate with a touch of fleur de Sel looks wonderful :)). Very cool treats :)

  4. O.M.G!!!! I love ALL your creations! I would have to try all of them and wouldn't mind helping you photograph halves over and over again ;)

  5. Your creations are wonderful! Loved the saltine crackers covered in chocolate. Yum!! Would love to be there when you turn them into icecream!!

  6. Wow those look delicious! I love the idea of dried cranberries in the chocolate

  7. Your candies look fabulous :) I LOVE those cracker candies and the idea putting them in ice cream almost made me actually drool!

  8. Ooohh I love all your candies because all my favorite ingredients are in them! Pepitas, cranberries, dark chocolate, flerur de sel and salted caramels all yum!!

  9. Pepita and Cranberry Brittle Covered in Tempered Dark Chocolate with a touch of Fleur de Sel. Oh no, the name doesn't need to be shortened! The brittle looks amazing!

  10. oooh, chocolate-covered brittle sounds SOOO good! And I've been dying to make that caramel cracker thing that I've seen going around the web. You did a great job :)

  11. Your brittle sounds fabulous! I even have pepitas in my pantry as we speak and more chocolate to try and temper again...

  12. I am officially in lobe with your Pepita and Cranberry Pepita Brittle enrobed in chocolate. It's brilliant and sounds delicious! Love the chocolat - caramel crackers too! I used to make something like it with graham crackers, Thank you so much for taking part in our challenge!!

  13. I am intrigued by the chocolate caramel crackers, I've never had anything like that before and it actually sounds delicious! All of your candies look incredibly beautiful and tempting.

  14. These look and sound phenomenal. I love peanut brittle and really nay sort of brittle... plus caramel is always great!

  15. Thanks for visiting my blog of disasters! Your pepita and cranberry brittle looks delicious. Such a pretty colour combination for the bark, too!

  16. I love the combination of pepita and cranberry covered in dark chocolate; looks so delicious. And salted caramel is defintely my favourite ice cream flavour; can't wait to see how your ice cream turns out!

  17. hmmm... your chocolate caramel crackers look amazing!

  18. Those look gorgeous. I have to make those salted caramel crackers.

  19. wow your chocolates look delicious and tempting, it was a good challenge isn't it? tq for popping by to mine:-)

  20. You made me laugh with the fact that once cut they have to be eaten..I do that too!
    great job on this month's challenge

  21. They all look great, especially the brittle what a great combination!

  22. looks gorgeous! great job on the challenge!

  23. All of your candies look wonderful. I can imagine how delicious the pepitas with cranberry would be with the chocolate and bit of salt. Great idea to turn the leftovers into salted caramel ice cream!

  24. Did someone mention caramel crack? Umm I'll be over to help you eat some of that ice cream.

  25. Thanks! I'm just so glad that work has started up again so that I'm not sitting home with these chocolates all day!

  26. I love the red and green of the pepitas and cranberry, looks almost Christmassy :) Well done on the challenge and I'm taking notes about the salted crack ice-cream, we're planning a holiday to NY and will hopefully be in Brooklyn very, very, very soon.

  27. Your candies came out wonderful...I've been making the cracker candy for years...It's one of the favorites in this house. A sweet and salty taste! You did a great job. Your chocolates look delicious! Sorry I missed this...I was preparing for the storm and then out of power for more than 20 hrs. Maybe I can post late!