Salted Caramel Nut Bark

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I seriously cannot believe that Christmas is THIS week! That’s insane to me. Every year it comes quicker and quicker… which means I’m getting older? No. Never. Anyway, more important than my age is this Salted Caramel Nut Bark. It is unbelievably good. I didn’t even think I was a nut bark kind of person – but, turns out, I am. I feel like I was literally addicted to this stuff. I had a lot of “crumbs” leftover after cutting it into pieces and let’s just say they didn’t last very long.

The idea for this Salted Caramel Nut Bark started when Bob brought home some “gourmet” chocolate dipped peanut clusters from the market. They were good – but not that good. I kept eating them, nonetheless, hoping with each bite that they would get better – but they never did. Then I saw Ina’s Salted Caramel Nuts pop up on my Facebook Feed and they looked SO GOOD. So, I thought about combining the two. Her Salted Caramel Nuts don’t use peanuts which I like because the nuts she does use are just mild and buttery: cashews, pecans, walnuts and almonds.
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So I attempt to make the first batch of my Salted Caramel Nut Bark. Total fail. Turns out, it doesn’t look as easy as Ina makes it to make caramel. I stirred it because it was getting too dry and that in turn made it crystallize which just make me want to stir and smash it some more. Big mistake. Of course, I impulsively poured in the nuts anyway because I had a baking sheet of semi-hard melted chocolate waiting for me. The result was not perfect looking but it did taste delicious. I had to make it again.

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This time around, I did what any failed home cook does – I went to Google and typed in, “Why did my caramel crystallize?” I then watched a few You Tube videos, adjusted the recipe and voila! Perfect Salted Caramel Nut Bark. I thought I had made enough to last until Christmas but it’s already gone. If I have time later this week another batch is in my future – it may or may not make it to the cookie platter.

Of the 3 new Christmas treats I made this year, this Salted Caramel Nut Bark is by FAR my favorite – although, not the most kid friendly. I’m pretty sure I won’t be waiting until Christmas to make it again. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and hope that Santa is good to everyone! Merry Merry! ūüôā

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Salted Caramel Nut Bark

Yield: 1 Standard Baking Tray

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup salted whole cashews
  • 1 cup unsalted whole almonds
  • 1 cup unsalted whole pecan halves
  • 1 cup unsalted whole walnut halves
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp fleur de sel
  • 2 - 10 oz. bags Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Melting Wafers

Directions:

  1. Prepare a baking sheet completely lined with parchment paper.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F and place all of the nuts on another baking sheet - bake for 7 minutes, until fragrant.  Remove the nuts from the oven, sprinkle the 2 tsp of kosher salt over the nuts and allow them to cool.  Once they have cooled transfer them into a large bowl.
  3. You need to work quickly with this bark because the caramel will harden fast - make sure the nuts accessible and you must melt the chocolate wafers in 30 second increments as you are making the caramel.
  4. Place the sugar and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat.  Make sure all of the sugar is moistened and then do not touch the sugar water mixture.  You can swirl the pan around, but that's it - if you stir the sugar you will cause it to crystallize.  As you wait for the sugar to caramelize start to melt the chocolate wafers.  About 5 minutes into the caramel cooking your chocolate should be melted and you should spread it into an even layer on your prepped parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  5. The sugar and water mixture will begin to bubble and when it starts to turn golden brown turn off the heat and add in the vanilla - it will sputter a bit so be careful because it's hot.
  6. Now you really need to work quickly.  Pour the caramel over the bowl of salted nuts and toss to coat the nuts evenly.  Then transfer the nuts onto the chocolate layer - spreading them out evenly and pressing them in a bit if the chocolate has started to set.  Once all of the nuts are placed on the chocolate, sprinkle with the fleur de sel.
  7. Allow the bark to cool completely and totally harden before transferring it from the baking sheet to a cutting board to cut it into squares.

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten.