Sometimes I just feel like writing. There's nothing in particular I would like to write about- I just want to get words out on a piece of paper, letters typed out onto a computer screen. It seems like this feeling always arises when I'm holed up at home with nobody to talk to (my parents don't count as people I would want to hold an extended conversation with; I hate to say it but it's true), went through something really stressful, am struck by a bout of inspiration, just read a good book... Today, it's a mix of reasons 1, 2 and 4- well, 1 doesn't need any explanation; I just did too much math in sweltering heat and I think the Jodi Picoult book I'm in the midst of might have a part to play.
But ultimately, I'm here to tell you about these little confections. No, there isn't a typo in the title. True, the original title is just supposed to be "Easy Candy Bar Tart", but I added "Bars" behind it for a good reason. Here's the story:
I didn't have enough oreo cookies to make even half the recipe so figured that I should just do mini tarts. I didn't want to use the molds with the fluted edges however, so I got out some of my metal rings usually reserved for making entremets. I managed to get enough crust to fill 3 square metal rings. I then chilled the crusts while I got on with the caramel. Oh wait I gotta tell you about my little caramel hoo ha. Let's pause this story so that I can start another.
I have this tendency to let my caramel cook too far, meaning that it usually gets darker than I want it to be, but it's still safe from being burnt. This time, I was determined to make a lighter caramel because I wanted it to be sweet. So there I was, watching the sugar caramelize and gradually turn into darker shades of amber when I found the perfect point to stop. I yanked the pan off the heat, but I couldn't find another place on the stovetop to put the pan down because the other two burners were occupied by various objects I can't remember. I was panicking. The caramel was turning darker by the second. In the end, I had to put the pan back down on the original burner, heat turned off of course, and scrambled to pour in the cream. I slowed down the cooking, but it wasn't enough. Finally, I ended up with a caramel that was perhaps just the perfect shade usually but darker than what I wanted it to be. Can you imagine what would have happened if I was aiming for the regular colour you should stop the caramel from cooking at?
Okay, resume original story. Caramel fiasco over, nuts stirred in and mixture poured into the metal rings, I chilled the half-finished tarts again. While I was waiting for the caramel to cool completely in the fridge, I was wondering if the tarts were too big. After all, these are pretty rich. The squares measured at about 2 x 2 inches. And then I wondered if I should cut them into half. I decided that I probably should, given the amount of calories. So when the tarts were cold and the chocolate glaze was ready, I got out the tray of tarts and proceeded to halve them, and when I did, they looked just like mini candy bars! Which is pretty funny really, because the recipe was designed to transform a regular candy bar into tart form with an added bonus of being easy to assemble while I was gradually reversing the meticulous planning that went into the recipe at every stage (with the exception of the caramel bit but I did fiddle with it too). The bars were cut; there was no turning back. So I laughed to myself and decided to dip each and every bar entirely in the glaze to imitate real candy bars, effectively rendering the recipe title a misnomer.
And now you see why I call these "Easy Candy Bar Tart Bars". I would have just done away with the word "tart" and probably "easy" but I acknowledge that the chocolate cookie crust does provide a tart element to these bars, and the crust was a breeze to make. The chocolate dipping part was a little messy though, the way I did it.
Oh these tart/bars... where do I start? They are Phenomenal with a capital P. I think the crust definitely plays the starring role in these bars. I ate them using my fingers and because the crust was not actually meant to be so sturdy, it crumbled away on the plate and in my mouth. The flavour of the chocolate cookie crumbs and chocolate glaze was so o.m.g. The crust makes these so much better than real candy bars because I never really liked the nougat layer in them. (I had a lot of trouble typing out this paragraph because the crust + chocolate was so good it is hard to put in words how delicious it is.)
For the caramel portion, I used a 50-50 mix of macadamias and walnuts because I just love caramel and macadamia nuts together. Needless to say, I adored the caramel, even though I have issues with its chewiness. And I shouldn't have used this chocolate glaze recipe if I knew that I was going to use it as a candy bar coating. It melted really fast at room temperature.
The conclusion? This recipe is awesome. Make it!
And then give some to me.
Easy Candy Bar Tart
recipe adapted from Baked Elements
makes a 9 inch tart
For the crust:
30 chocolate wafer cookies (about 6 ounces), crushed
1 tbsp sugar
6 tbsp butter, melted
For the caramel:
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
5 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups walnuts, toasted
For the chocolate glaze:
4 ounces dark chocolate
3 ounces butter
1 tsp light corn syrup
Prepare a 9 inch springform pan.
For the crust: Whisk the wafer crumbs and sugar together. Stir in the melted butter until evenly combined. Press the crust into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan. Refrigerate while you make the caramel.
For the caramel: Combine the sugar and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan with high sides. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring until the mixture dissolves. Increase the heat to high and cook until it begins to turn a rich amber color, without stirring. Remove from heat and slowly stream in the cream. After the mixture stops bubbling, return pan to very low heat and whisk in the butter. Continue whisking gently until the caramel is uniform and slightly thickened. Stir in the vanilla and salt. Remove pan from heat and stir in the toasted walnuts. Pour filling into the prepared crust and chill tart for at least 1 hour.
For the chocolate glaze: Place the chocolate, butter and corn syrup in a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir mixture until smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly before pouring over the tart. Refrigerate for another 1 hour to set the glaze before slicing and serving.