Hi. Just another Sweet Saturday post.
I have made these three times. They are amazing. However, two of the three times, I overcooked the caramel and it was too chewy. (Including last night.) It’s very easy to overcook the caramel. Be very careful at that part of the recipe. You have been warned.
Oh, also. Don’t make these if you’re looking for a fast sweet-fix. It’s kind of a time-commitment. I started making them after dinner and fed them to the family close to midnight (and I didn’t even let them chill long enough). Of course, good things come to those who wait.
Without further ado:
Vegetable cooking spray
12 whole (6 ounces) cinnamon graham crackers, crumbled or 2 cups cinnamon graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 tablespoon water
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 3/4 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon sea salt, optional
*Special equipment: a candy thermometer
For the crust:
Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan with parchment or waxed paper. [I like springform pans, they're fun. I hadn't ever used one before until I made this recipe -- it makes me feel like a real pastry chef.]
Spray the paper and the sides of the pan with cooking spray. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the graham crackers and sugar. Process until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs.
Add the melted butter and blend until the mixture forms into clumps. Spread the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan, pressing gently to form an even layer. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the crust is golden. Cool for 15 minutes. [While we're waiting for them to cool, check out my food processor! It was my Nana's from back in the day. Not sure how old it is... but at least a couple decades, if not a few.]
For the caramel: [This is the tricky part. Go steady, my friends. Don't leave that caramel unattended while changing television channels for the toddler.]
While the crust is cooling, in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of cream, butter, sugar, and water. Stir over medium heat until the mixture is smooth. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 240 degrees F, about 5 to 7 minutes. Carefully pour the caramel over the warm crust. Cool for 20 minutes. Freeze until firm, about 10 minutes.
Combine the chocolate chips and cream in a small bowl and place over a pan of simmering water. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the espresso powder. Remove the springform pan from the freezer. Pour the chocolate mixture over the caramel layer and smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle the top with sea salt, if using. [Cover the entire thing with chocolate -- I just snapped a picture of when I was half way finished so you can get an idea of layers.]
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour until firm. [Resist the urge to lick it off the top.]
Allow the layers to come to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Using a warm, slightly wet knife, carefully cut around the edges of the chocolate layer. Release the side of the pan and remove the paper from the bottom. Cut into 1 1/2 by 1/2-inch bars and store airtight in a covered plastic container.
[In full disclosure, this picture is of the FIRST time I made these babies. The second and third time I overcooked the caramel. See how this picture has nice, gewey, soft caramel? Well, last night's caramel was more of the stick-in-your-teeth variety. No matter, it was still good.]