12/3/11

crunchy caramel bark

crunchy caramel bark

It's that time of year again where we all start making those delish homemade goodies to give away to friends, coworkers and family for the upcoming holiday.

crunchy caramel bark

Every year I get the same requests from the same people wanting my sweet & salty Cheez It bark. I beg them to let me give them something new and different and they always say NO. They explain to me that they patiently wait the entire year for that salty-sweet cheez it bark. OK, who can argue with that?
But this year, like every year I do like to try new things. With this turtle like bark, I've always wanted to take the famous "ghetto toffee" bark and put REAL CARAMEL inside of it. And boy sure glad I did. It gave it a rich, creamy inside--almost like a turtle candy. I did add a touch of salt to my homemade caramel so all the better.
Please don't get put off by the caramel making step, it's really not that hard and does not require a ton of time. You can easily make the caramel sauce a day ahead.
Trust me you will love this--it's really decadent and will be a present people will definitely remember you by. <----that's the best part isn't it? Yeah.

crunchy caramel bark

It's so easy to make, you'll see. First off make the caramel sauce, pour over a nice, even, all gaps covered, layer of Ritz crackers.

crunchy caramel bark

Put in fridge to set up/harden. Then put down a smooth layer of melted milk chocolate.

crunchy caramel bark

Let set up at room temp, then into to fridge to finish hardening.
Next we flip it over to give the other side a nice happy chocolate layer too.
(Once it's all harden it's very easy to flip over).

crunchy caramel bark

Don't forget to add the roasted pecans while the milk chocolate is still melted, this way the nuts will stick and stay.

crunchy caramel bark

Let harden in the fridge or room temp before cutting into squares. Use a sharp knife as it makes it a lot easier to slice right through the bark without all the caramel oozing out.

If you are curious about the infamous Cheez It Bark, click here
cheez it bark

crunchy caramel bark
print recipe

caramel filling:
1/2 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1 & ½ TB light corn syrup
Giant pinch of sea salt, optional
1 cup heavy cream

In a sturdy/heavy medium size saucepan, over medium-high heat, heat up the water, corn syrup, sugar and salt. Stir a bit to make sure it’s combined-that's it no more stirring. You will cook this for at least 10 minutes (maybe longer) until it turns a nice golden brown. Once it starts to turn brown, do not leave the stove because it turns dark brown very fast. Swirl the pan, once or twice to confirm color is a nice golden brown, once it is, take off heat and add in the heavy cream. Let it bubble up and do its thing, then stir sauce with a heat proof spatula or whisk, and keep stirring till you get it combined and thickens a bit.
Put off to the side or in a heat-proof glass measuring cup (easy for pouring later) to let cool.
If all went well you should have a fairly thick, pourable caramel. Let this cool at least an hour before using.

bark:
2 sleeves of Ritz crackers (50 crackers? More or less)
1 cup of roasted pecans (I used roasted and salted pecans)
16 ounces of milk chocolate: melted in 2 batches; 8 ounces each (use a good quality chocolate, they melt better)

Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Lay down an even layer of Ritz crackers; add more crackers to cover up any gaps. All gaps need to be covered as the caramel will ooze out.
Take the cooled caramel and pour over the crackers. You probably won’t use all the caramel; I didn’t, so save the remainder for another use.
Place pan in fridge to chill and set up for at least 2 hours.
When set up melt about 8 ounces of chocolate in a double boiler, spread the chocolate over the cracker and caramel. Let cool and harden at room temp for about 20 minutes then into fridge for an hour.
Take out of fridge, and being careful, flip the mixture over exposing the other side. This side will now get covered in chocolate.
Melt the remaining milk chocolate, spread over the bark and then sprinkle on the roasted pecans. Push the pecans down into the chocolate a bit to make sure they stay.
Let this harden for at least a couple hours before slicing. Use a sharp knife to cut this so the caramel doesn’t ooze out.

34 comments:

  1. Thank goodness I don't have the ingredients to make this on hand right now, or I'd be making it and eating the whole pan! That looks so amazing! ; )

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  2. Oh this looks absolutely delicious!! I love caramel and chocolate and pecans!

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  3. Hey Vanilla Blog Spot!

    My name is Sam and I actually posted the Ina post on your question regarding vanilla extract a few weeks ago. I had a questions regarding your chocolate and how you're getting it to harden up at room temperature. Tons of the other food blogs I read also say that they just magically harden up at room temperature but in my experience and internet searching, simply melting chocolate leaves it super sad and incapable of re-hardened up at room temperature and thus has to be tempered (unless I used almond bark or candy coats).

    I posted about it my new blog which should be linked. What kind of chocolate are you using to make this happen or are you tempering? I'd love to know if there was an easier way without buying almond bark (because its sooooo bad for your heart - I'm a med student). Thank you so much and any mentorship is incredibly welcome! I am a HUGE FAN!

    Worlds of admiration
    - Sam

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  4. i still wanna make your cheez-it bark!!!

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  5. Amazeballs!! I would be super excited to get this as a gift!

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  6. hey Sam
    i never have a problem getting the chocolate to harden up at room temp. Well if it's summertime and hot out ok that is hard. But I use ghiradelli chocolates: milk and dark. And I always temper chocolate over a double boiler. Slow and low is the way to go. If you go too hot or too fast it hardens/seizes right up. One of the reasons I do let chocolate harden up at room temp then into fridge is because someone once told me that if you put it straight into fridge the chocolate losses some of its gloss. So this is why I do half & half.
    I don't like candy melts either--never been a fan really. Or I guess they call it almond bark? Does this help you? What kind of chocolate are you using and do you live in a hot climate?

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  7. These sound so addictive!!!!!

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  8. this looks...insanely!! good.

    There is a recipe a friend of mine makes (and my mother too) called Christmas Crack. It starts out with saltines and brown sugar and karo syrup and goes from there with chocolate. Sort of like yours and oh, how I want this, now!

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  9. This is fan freakin tastic.

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  10. Great post! Loks yummy!

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  11. I think my coworkers will kill me (with love...and bills for the new wardrobes they are going to need) when I make this for them. I've yet to let such threats stop me, though! I love that salted caramel of yours.

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  12. this is a whole new level of bark, it is really interesting and looks so good

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  13. I've never made bark with Ritz crackers or Cheez-Its. However it's sounds great. I can just taste the saltiness against the chocolate. I will have to earmark this as a treat to make this holiday. Thank you for sharing.

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  14. You are always so surprising with your concoctions, Dawn! :) So inventive and I love the salt and sweet combination!

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  15. Looks amazing!
    I'm a huge fan of "ghetto caramel" bark, haha so I'm sure I'd love this even more!!

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  16. I can't wait for bark season every year, I love all kinds...but I've never made any with crackers. This looks really good, I'll give it a try.

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  17. Fun. Make this and the cheez it thing and send it to me asap. I leave town soon!

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  18. Hmmm. This is a good one. Nice and easy and filled with yumminess. Or should I say topped with yumminess.

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  19. Oh my gosh this is FREAKIN Phenomenal! Making around a bunch of boys so they eat all but the one piece I need and that way I can still fit in my wedding dress!

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  20. Umm, yes please, looks like the best treat ever. I'm intrigued about the cheez-it version too though!

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  21. Voilà qui est très gourmand
    Je te souhaite une excellente journée
    Valérie

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  22. This is so easy and looks so yummy! Ill definitely try this very soon:)

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  23. Oh my! that is the best bark ever!

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  24. Woman! You never cease to amazing me with your creativity and your skill of making me literally drool.

    This one looks easy and mouth watering good!

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  25. Can't wait to try this! Please consider adding a picture to your recipe for print.

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  26. Ohhh lord have mercy!!! Thats all I have to say about these!!

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  27. holy crap, i want some of that bark!!

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  28. i do this with saltines, but now i'm rethinking that since i prefer a sleeve of ritz to a sleeve of saltines any day. addictive stuff, dawn!

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  29. Goodness gracious lady! You really know the way into my heart! Wow, I love this one and so will my little dudes.

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  30. If you were going to make your Cheez-It Bark again would you follow the method you devised for the Crunchy Caramel Bark, or leave well enough alone? I'm asking because I am TOTALLY making the Cheez-It Bark to blow my friends' minds!

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  31. Amazing & yes, perfect for those holiday indulgences :)

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  32. Please tell me how to get the chocolate layer to stick to the caramel layer. When I try to break it up in pieces the chocolate and caramel layers split apart.

    Thank you.

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  33. Susie-
    put it in the fridge to harden up. mine was a little loose too but firmed right up in the fridge

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  34. I love this! I love fun Holiday barks and candies.

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