(Go on ... click the picture. Come a little closer.)
I can't believe I made more of this -- it's good, but so dangerous to have around! Luckily I have very kind friends who are helping me eat it. This time I did things a little differently: I skipped the butterscotch chips, added more peanuts, and I made the caramel from scratch. It is, if I do say so myself, pretty damn good.
Here's the recipe as I made it:
1 c semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 c smooth peanut butter (don't bother to measure ... a big scoop is fine)
4 T butter
1 c sugar
1/4 c evaporated milk
7 oz marshmallow fluff (one jar)
1/3 c peanut butter (another scoop)
1 tsp vanilla
2 c peanuts (no need to chop)
*approx 3/4 of a recipe of caramel (recipe below, make a few hours ahead if possible)
1 c semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 c peanut butter
Prepare a 9x13-inch baking pan by lining it with aluminum foil and lightly coating it with an unflavored vegetable oil.
For the first layer, melt the chocolate chips and peanut butter on very low heat til smooth. Pour into the pan, spread evenly and refrigerate while you prepare the next layer.
For the second layer, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sugar and evaporated milk, let it come to a boil, and then cook for about 5 min., stirring constantly. Add the marshmallow fluff, the peanut butter, and the vanilla. Then add the peanuts and mix well. Quickly spread onto the now-chilled first layer and refrigerate again.
For the third layer, take the cooled but still pourable caramel and spread evenly onto the marshmallowy layer. Use as much or as little as you want, but make sure it covers the second layer completely. Refrigerate for at least 30 min. so it sets up a bit.
For the final layer, melt the chocolate chips and peanut butter on very low heat til smooth. Pour on top of the chilled caramel and spread evenly.
Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours, til the candy has completely set up. When you're ready to slice, lift the candy out of the pan by the foil edges and lay it flat on the counter. Slice off uneven edges if you're a perfectionist. Using a sharp knife, cut into small squares (it's rich!) and put into a container for refrigeration. Enjoy!
Classic Cream Caramels
(based on the recipe from Truffles, Candies and Confections)
This recipe is intended to make caramel candies. For the purposes of the recipe above, I want the caramel liquid, but you can spread this out on a foil-lined, lightly oiled cookie sheet, let it cool, and slice into pieces for traditional buttery, chewy caramels, too. Make sure to use a large enough saucepan when making this (at least 4 qts)--or else you'll find yourself scrambling to find something larger halfway through the cooking process, and possibly ending up with almost-caramel bubbling up and over the top of the pan. Ahem. Making caramel is not hard, but you do have to be careful when you're making this, or anything with hot sugar, not to get it on your skin, as it's one of the worst kinds of burns you'll find. I sometimes wear oven mitts while stirring just in case the caramel starts to bubble a bit too energetically.
2 c sugar
1 c light corn syrup
2 Tbs unsalted butter, in pieces
2 c heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
In a large saucepan over medium heat, mix the sugar and corn syrup, stirring constantly until the mixture comes to a boil, about 5 min. Use a pastry brush dipped in water to keep sugar crystals from forming on the sides of the pan.
Increase the heat to medium-high, attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, and cook the mixture without stirring (yes, it's hard to do) until the temperature reaches 305 degrees F.
Remove the pan from the burner, and stir in 1 Tbs of butter. Return the pan back to the heat and add the last tablespoon of butter in pieces, letting the mixture continue to boil.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream to a boil and then slowly add it to the caramel mixture. Be careful, as the mixture will bubble even more ferociously at this point, but keep stirring to mix it all together. Continue cooking and stirring til the thermometer reads 250 degrees F, maybe 10 min.
Remove the pan from the heat, place the pan on a folded towel (to protect the countertop), and let sit about 5 min. Add the salt and vanilla, and mix well. Pour the caramel into a metal bowl (or onto a cookie sheet, as described above) and allow to cool. Do not touch the bowl -- it will be very hot! When the caramel has cooled but is still pourable, use in the snickerfudge recipe above.
Many thanks again to Joe at Culinary in the Desert.