Thank you so much for your kind words from the last post. Sharing all of that left me with a bit of a vulnerability hangover but I was so lifted by your comments and reminded of how fortunate I am for this community and that I get the pleasure of sharing my life with you all. I appreciate each and everyone of you who responded with such grace and vulnerability. Now let’s go talk about candy!
About three years ago I started teaching a homemade candy bar class at The Pantry. It’s the sort of class that makes me giddy to get to do the work I do because basically in that moment I’m Willy Wonka. Perhaps a slightly less eccentric version than the characters in both versions of the movie, but maybe not.
My students have to work very hard in the three hours we have together. They whip up batches of peanut butter laced nougat, turn ordinary sugar into copper colored caramel dotted with vanilla bean flecks and beat powdered sugar into peppermint scented dough. All of that work culminates in a chocolate dipping party that spans the length of the 20-foot table. Six bowls line the middle, each filled with either melted milk chocolate or bittersweet. At the end of it all we have dozens of homemade Snickers, Peppermint Patties, Butterfingers, Peanut Butter Cups, Twix Bars and fifteen very happy people. Each one of them walk into that room skeptical of their abilities to turn simple ingredients into childhood favorites and by the end of the night they walk away with a box filled with candies better than the originals.
There are a few candy recipes on this site and one of them is for homemade Twix but in the process of teaching this class I have perfected my recipe and have only recently realized that I’ve not been back to share the new and improved version. Even better still, I went and turned the recipe into a tart so you can just go ahead and skip all the time and mess of dipping the individual bars in chocolate.
If you do want the candy bars it’s a bit of a process but not a hard one. The buttery cookie base includes a touch of finely ground rice. A strange ingredient indeed but it’s a trick I learned from my former Pastry Chef, Sherry Yard, while working at Spago, and I trust that lady with all things butter and sugar. Plain white rice is blitzed in a spice grinder (or blender) – which, by the way, is a perfect way to clean your spice grinder, and then a couple of tablespoons is added to the dough. It adds a pleasant crunch that I just love. The bases are cut and baked then pressed gently into the still warm caramel. Once set you cut along the edge of the cookie so that you have a perfectly formed cookie and caramel layer ready to dip into chocolate. Or, like I said, skip all of that and just make the tart.
Our October newsletter is going to hit your inbox next week and it’s all about candy including a bonus recipe that is always a huge hit in class. Sign up (or leave your email in a comment and I’ll be sure you’re on the list).
Homemade Twix: Bar + Tart
The addition of ground rice to the cookie base adds a great crunch to the sweet candy bar.
6 oz/ 1 1/2 sticks butter, soft
3 oz/ 3/4 cups powdered sugar
8 1/2 oz/ 2 cups flour
2 tablespoons ground rice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
8 oz/ 1 cup sugar
6 oz/ 1/2 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup (you can substitute corn syrup here if you’d like)
1/4 cup water
6 oz/ 3/4 cup heavy cream
2 oz/ 4 tablespoons butter, soft
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds removed
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds milk chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon oil
For the cookie:
Combine the butter and sugar in a bowl and mix until creamy. Add the egg and beat until the color lightens, about 1 minute.
Add the flour, ground rice, vanilla extract and salt and mix until combined.
Form into a flat, rectangular disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Heat oven to 375°F. Place dough on a large piece of parchment paper, lightly flour and roll the dough to about 1/8 inch thick. (Work quickly, because the dough will become difficult to roll as it warms up.) Transfer parchment paper with dough to a baking sheet then refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
Cut the dough into 3-1/2-by-3/4-inch cookies. You should get at least 24 cookies. Pierce each cookie several times with a fork.
Place on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and let cool. Meanwhile, make the caramel.
For the caramel:
Grease a 9×13 pan with soft butter and line it with parchment paper, leaving a few inches of overhang on each side. Set aside.
Combine the sugar, golden syrup and water in a large saucepan. Stir gently to combine then wash off the sides of the pan using water and your clean hands to feel if any sugar remains on the side. If stray bits of sugar fall into the caramel it can cause the caramel to crystallize so it’s important to make sure all the sugar is in the bottom of the pan mixed with the water.
Place the lid on the pan and put over high heat. Having the lid on during the first few minutes of boiling creates condensation that further helps to wash away any sugar that may be left on the sides of the pan. After 5 minutes remove the lid and let the caramel continue to boil until it reaches 300 degrees F. If some of the caramel starts to color you can gently swirl the pot to combine.
Add the cream, butter and vanilla seeds once it has reached 300 degrees F and then continue to cook until the caramel reaches 248 degrees F. At that point remove the pan from the heat and pour into the prepared 9×13 pan.
Let the caramel cool for 10 minutes before gently laying the cookie bases down in four rows of six. Continue to let the caramel cool for 40 minutes before thoroughly chilling in the fridge for an additional 40 minutes or until the caramel is firm enough to cut.
Once completely chilled, carefully remove the caramel and cookie bases from the pan and cut along the cookies to create 24 caramel topped bars.
Prepare the chocolate coating by melting the milk chocolate in the microwave or in a bain marie on the stove then stir in the oil.
Dip the bars into the chocolate with the help of a fork and move to a parchment lined sheet tray.
Place the sheet tray in the fridge once all the bars have been dipped. Keep the bars in a well-sealed container in the refrigerator for three weeks or in the freezer for two months.
Let the bars sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.
Serves 8 to 10
1/2 recipe Twix base
1 recipe Twix caramel
4 ounces / 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
4 ounces / 1/2 cup heavy cream
Flake salt (or vanilla salt!)
Preheat your oven to 350°F
Roll the dough out to 1/4 – inch thick. Carefully roll up the dough around the rolling pin then unfurl it over the tart pan. Press the dough into the pan and bake until the edges are golden, about 20 minutes.
Let the tart shell cool while you prepare the caramel.
Cool the caramel for about 10 minutes until slightly thickened before pouring into the tart shell.
Refrigerate until firm, about 10 minutes.
Prepare the chocolate glaze. Warm the cream on the stove or in the microwave. Add the chocolate, let it sit for one minute then whisk to combine.
Pour the glaze over the firm caramel then use an offset spatula to spread the chocolate evenly. Top with flake salt.
Refrigerate until firm.