Malted Caramel Chocolate Bar: Malted Caramel Ganache, Vanilla Shortbread, Milk Chocolate.
Shape matters. Sometimes I think that molds are the secret weapons of the pastry world. They can make the difference between a mundane dessert and an exciting one… and the difference between a rustic candy bar and a sleek one. A sleek candy bar, btw, has been my goal for many months. I was elated to find a candy bar mold at JB Prince in New York, and I’ve been dying to use it.
Although my mold lends itself to a Caramello-type bar, I was fixated on the idea of making a candy bar with a Twix-like structure — a cookie topped with gooey sweetness and coated in chocolate — but with some twists of my own. So, I fancied it up a bit by incorporating a ganache into the caramel, and adding malt powder. If I could have found the Twix cookie recipe, I would have used it because I find it delicious… but I couldn’t. A common shortbread seemed too buttery, but I couldn’t come up with another cookie that even came close to the right texture; an animal cracker recipe by Nancy Silverton was a tempting runner up, though. I wanted to coat it in milk chocolate, and malt and caramel are great accompaniments. More complex flavors, like fruits, herbs and spices, seem to go better with dark chocolate.
I like the way it turned out a lot… especially since I was concerned about how it would be constructed. Here’s what I did:
- Temper chocolate w/ seeding method. Used a small brush to spread some chocolate in the molds (polished w/ cheesecloth) to prevent air bubbles. Quickly — pour choc into mold, tap mold on counter to get out air bubbles, pour choc out of mold, scrape excess off, invert to set.
- Make ganache by making caramel w/ malted cream, mixing into chocolate. Let cool to 80F. Pipe into mold, estimating how much would be right proportionally, and smoothing out.
- Make shortbread dough. Chill (it should have been for 3 hrs in fridge; I did much, much less in the freeze, b/c I didn’t want the ganache to firm up even more than it already did). Bake a slab of it, estimating its height so that it would fit into the candy bar mold (btw the ganache and the layer of chocolate that would seal it). Meanwhile, measure width and length of space in bar for cookie. When dough golden on the edges, remove and cut into strips with my multi-cutter dough divider and into proper length with a paring knife. Let cool almost completely. Press on top of ganache in mold. Let cool completely.
- Temper chocolate again. This time to cover the bottom of the candy bars, pouring chocolate on and scraping off excess and letting set.
- Unmold by tapping on counter, twisting mold, and letting them fall out as their wonderful pristine selves.
In the future, for efficiency’s sake, I could make and bake the shortbread, melt chocolate for tempering, make the ganache, temper the chocolate while the ganache is cooling, line the molds with chocolate and let set, pipe in the ganache, lay shortbread on top, and cover w/ still-tempered chocolate. Let set over night and unmold.
I probably should have waited to sample them b/c the ganache won’t be fully set up until tomorrow morning… but it was too tempting… and worth it. The ganache is still a little soft and the chocolate seems a little snappy from being molded, but I like that contrast of textures. The malt flavor comes through nicely, and I like the crunch of the shortbread. It’s a fun grown-up candy bar.
Malted Caramel Ganache: I based it on Sherry Yard’s Caramel Ganache recipe. She uses bittersweet choc, milk choc, sugar, corn syrup, and cream. First off, I was happy that it didn’t have butter b/c I dislike butter-laden ganaches, and there would be plenty of butter in the shortbread anyway. Also, I liked the combination of chocolates b/c it would add some complexity. She uses 4 oz of each, but I used 4 of milk and 3 of bittersweet b/c I wanted it to be a little softer than the “medium” consistency she says it would have; my way, the increased ratio of cream to chocolate would make it softer. It came out darker than I would have liked, though, so next time I would use 5 of milk and 2 of bittersweet. Also, she calls for the cream to be boiled before being added to the caramel… and that seemed like the perfect opportunity to incorporate malt powder into it. The instructions on the malt powder said to use 3 tbs in 1 cup of milk, so I used 3 tbs in the cup of cream that I used.
Btw, a ganache is usually an emulsion of cream and chocolate (and often invert sugar and butter), and I love how caramel can be used as an augmentation of cream.
She recommends letting the ganache cool to 70F before piping it, but I knew that I didn’t want air bubbles between the ganache and the cookie so I piped it at 80F. This was probably still too cool, because it was almost fudgy in consistency at that point. To compensate, I pressed the strips of shortbread on top while they were still warm to make sure that the ganache would form fit to the cookie. The ganache couldn’t have been too hot when piped into the mold, or else the choclate would have melted around it.
Vanilla Shortbread: Based on Claudia Fleming’s. I used 1/2 tsp of vanilla instead 1 tsp of vanilla b/c vanilla’s expensive and I’m running low and I didn’t want vanilla to dominate anyway… But the salt seemed to really assert itself more in the finished cookie. Thanks to the magic of candy bar engineering, it didn’t taste salty at all in the candy bar b/c of all the chocolate around it. If anything, it probably kicked up the flavor of the caramel and chocolate a bit.
Milk Chocolate: I used El Rey, sold in chopped blocks at a local supermarket, Vallergas.
I also used my chocolate bonbon mold to use up excess tempered chocolate and ganache…