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Hazelnut Crunch Bars

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Holiday cookies

Hazelnut Crunch Bars

Yield: 24 bars

For caramel (see note)

1 cup water

1¼ cups granulated sugar

½ cup corn syrup

4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter

1 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the hazelnut crunch

½ cup hazelnuts, toasted (60 grams, 2 ounces)

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons Rice Krispies cereal

9 ounces milk chocolate

For the marshmallow

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin

¼ cup cold water

3 large egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup granulated sugar, divided

½ cup water

2 tablespoons corn syrup

For the dark satin ganache

½ cup heavy cream

¼ cup light corn syrup

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

10 ounces semisweet chocolate broken into small pieces

Note: The caramel must be made at least one day and up to a week before making the bars.

1. Make the caramel: Place the water, sugar and corn syrup in a 2-quart saucepan. Stir over medium-high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Bring to a boil, and wash down the sides of the pan with a natural bristle pastry brush dipped in water. Boil without stirring until the mixture becomes a medium golden color.

2. Take it off the heat and immediately add the butter; stir until it is melted. Pour in the cream all at once and stir. Don’t worry if some of the cream forms lumps. If possible, clip a candy or frying thermometer onto the side of the pan.

3. Return the heat to medium-high and bring to a hard boil. Cook to 242 degrees. Pour into a container. Do not stir at this point. Allow to cool to room temperature. Set aside for at least one day.

4. Make the hazelnut crunch: Line a 9-by-13-inch pan with parchment paper. Spray the paper and sides of the pan with a nonstick spray. Set aside.

5. Add the cooled, toasted hazelnuts to the bowl of a processor and process until fairly finely ground. Do not overprocess or you will make a paste. Remove to a large bowl and add the Rice Krispies cereal. Mix well and set aside.

6. Spray the back of a large spoon with nonstick spray, and set aside.

7. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave at half power. Pour it over the hazelnut/cereal mix and quickly mix all of it together with a large spoon or a gloved hand. Pour into the prepared pan and immediately smooth it with the back of the sprayed spoon or a gloved hand. If it sets up too quickly, place it in the oven on the lowest setting for a few minutes to loosen.

8. Add the caramel: Microwave the caramel or heat over a double boiler until spreadable. Do not stir any more than necessary. Pour it over the hazelnut crunch layer and spread evenly. Set aside.

9. Make the marshmallow: Sprinkle the gelatin over the ¼ cup cold water. Stir to moisten all of it; set aside.

10. Place the egg whites and vanilla in the bowl of a mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat to soft peaks on medium speed. Slowly add ¼ cup of the sugar and beat to stiff peaks.

11. As soon as you begin beating the egg whites, combine the ½ cup of water, the remaining ¾ cup of sugar and the corn syrup in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, washing down the sides of the pan with a brush dipped in cold water. Boil to a temperature of 240 degrees.

12. If the egg whites are stiff before the sugar syrup comes to temperature, lower the speed of the mixer as low as possible and keep mixing the whites. Do not turn off the mixer.

13. As soon as the sugar syrup comes to temperature, slowly pour it into the mixer bowl. Try to pour the syrup between the bowl and the whisk so it goes directly into the whisk or bowl. Liquefy the gelatin in the microwave for a few seconds and pour it over the egg white mixture. Beat until cool and stiff.

14. If the caramel has hardened, heat the top of the caramel layer with a blow dryer so the marshmallow can adhere to it. Immediately pour the marshmallow over the caramel and smooth it out. Cool completely.

15. Make the ganache: Heat the cream, corn syrup and butter in a small saucepan until steaming hot but not boiling. Submerge the chocolate in the hot cream and let sit for a few minutes. Gently whisk until smooth; do not whisk too enthusiastically or you will have air bubbles in the ganache. Pour the ganache over the marshmallow and smooth it out. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight

16. To serve: Loosen the edges with a small flexible spatula and turn out onto a cake board. Turn right side up and cut 6 rows across and 4 rows down with a hot knife. The knife must be dipped into very hot water and quickly dried with a paper towel between each cut. Let the knife melt through the ganache, which will be cold and firm, and then cut straight down.

17. To store, keep in a closed container at a cool room temperature for a day or two. For longer storage, refrigerate.

Per serving: 314 calories; 15g fat; 9g saturated fat; 22mg cholesterol; 3g protein; 44g carbohydrate; 41g sugar; 1g fiber; 36mg sodium; 32mg calcium

Recipe from “Craving Cookies” by Helen S. Fletcher

Satisfy your cravings

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