This recipe for s'more nut bars is definitely a keeper. It comes from the book Baked: New Frontiers in Baking, which I have been reading about all over the food blogosphere ever since it came out. The book includes recipes from the New York bakery that is the namesake of the book. I'm sure I'll be making more recipes from this book (already the brownies and chocolate stout shake-- alas, I didn't take photos), and maybe then I'll spend a little more time discussing the authors' genius. For now though, I want to tell you about one of my favorite (dare I say my MOST favorite?) source for recipes and other food related info, Cook's Illustrated [www.cooksillustrated.com]. Cook's is a subscription based cooking magazine that comes in both print and online format. They have a test kitchen in which they make recipes over and over, systematically varying ingredients and using scientific know-how to create impeccable recipes. They also conduct reviews of kitchen equipment and taste tests. All of their reviews, taste tests, and recipes come with articles explaining the details of the process. I always check to see if Cook’s has a review if I’m buying a new kitchen tool, and I pore over the taste tests before I go to the grocery store.
Cook’s Illustrated has several useful reviews of chocolate bars and chips with information about the differences between different brands and types. They write that chocolate chips and chocolate bars are not truly interchangeable. Chips usually contain far less cocoa butter than do bars. While bars of dark chocolate typically have cacao amounts starting at 60%, dark chocolate chips usually contain just 42% to 47%. The favorite dark chocolate chip brand of Cook’s is Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips. This brand contains 60% cacao, approximating the level found in dark chocolate bars. Ghirardelli consistently performs well in Cook’s taste tests, so it is my go-to brand for baking chocolates. It is also widely available and not unreasonably expensive.
This s’more nut bars recipe calls for using chopped chocolate, not chips. However, I successfully substituted chips for both the milk and dark chocolate. I think the high content of cacao in Ghirardelli makes the substitution work. I would be careful about using chocolate chips that differ greatly in content from bars. Also, keep in mind that chocolate easily absorbs odors, so make sure you store it tightly wrapped so your chocolate doesn’t end up tasting like leftover pizza.
These bars came out rich, just barely salty, and not overly sweet. They are quite decadent, probably one of the best bar-type desserts I’ve ever made. I think I liked them even better than brownies, which is saying a lot, because I adore brownies more than almost any other sweet treat. The s’more nut bars are soft and supple, but hold up amazingly well out of the fridge. The graham cracker crust is buttery and crumbly, and both the texture and flavor perfectly complement the chocolate. It’s a good thing I brought them to a potluck and saved only four.
S’more Nut Bars
From Baked, by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
To make the graham cracker crumbs, put the crackers in a large plastic bag and seal tightly. Roll over the crackers with a rolling pin until they are all fine crumbs. I used 20 Honey Maid graham crackers. For the peanuts, I used the fully salted kind, not low sodium, and didn’t find the bars too salty at all. In fact, I would have enjoyed a little more.
2 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon firmly packed dark brown sugar
2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
7 ½ ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
7 ½ ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used chocolate chips.)
1 ½ teaspoons light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
10 marshmallows, cut into quarters (Scissors work well for this.)
½ cup salted whole peanuts
½ cup chopped salted peanuts
1. Preheat oven to 300 F. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
2. In a large bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Combine the mixture with your hands, then turn it out into the prepared pan. Using your hands, press the crust into an even layer along the bottom and sides of the pan. Only go about 1-inch up the sides so your crust doesn’t stick out above the filling. Use the smooth bottom of a measuring cup to press the crust into even thickness.
3. Bake the crust 15-20 minutes, until slightly browned. Place on a cooling rack.
4. In a large heatproof bowl, toss together the chocolates. Drizzle the corn syrup over the chocolates and set aside.
5. In a medium saucepan, bring the cream just to a boil. Remove from heat and pour over chocolates. Let stand for 2-3 minutes. Starting at the center of the bowl and working your way out to the edges, whisk the chocolate mix in a circle until completely smooth. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula, spreading to as even a thickness as possible. Sprinkle the top with chopped peanuts.
6. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or until set. Cut into squares and serve. The bars will keep in the refrigerator, rightly covered, for up to 3 days.
Yield: 24 bars
My name is Hillary. This blog is about the everyday food I prepare in my kitchen, with tips and recipes for easy, wholesome, and diet friendly meals. I have been chanting "cheese please!" since I was a toddler, although lately I've cut back on dairy.