Chocolate Caramel & Puffed Quinoa Pecan Bars

If you follow my Instagram stories, you probably saw that I was making these bars yesterday. It’s been a while since I’ve made a new dessert bar, so it was due. These are decadent, not overly sweet and they have a hint of heat from the chipotle roasted pecans. And they are very easy to make, without any corn syrup or candy thermometer. I got some questions already of where I get chipotle powder in Amsterdam. I bought it at Tijn’s toko close to the Albert Cuyp market.

This recipe is for a 22cm baking square dish.

Ingredients:

For the roasted pecans:

180grs of pecans

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

2 tablespoon of maple syrup

3/4 teaspoon of chipotle powder (optional)

Pinch of salt

For the puffed quinoa crust:

2 cups of puffed quinoa

3 tablespoons of butter, melted

1 vanilla bean, or 1 ½ teaspoons of vanilla essence

3 tablespoons of icing sugar

1 egg white, slightly beaten with a fork

For the chocolate caramel:

1 cup of sugar

2 tablespoons of water

6 tablespoons of salted butter

1 1/2 cup of heavy cream

120gs of dark chocolate, chopped

½ teaspoon of vanilla extract

Pinch of sea salt

 

Start by roasting the pecans.  Preheat your oven to 200C/400F and line your baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix the pecans with the vegetable oil, maple syrup, chipotle powder and salt. Spread them in a single layer over your prepared baking sheet. Roast them for 15 minutes, stirring half way through.

To make the puffed quinoa crust, first melt the butter and preheat your oven to 180C/350F. If you are using a vanilla bean pod, add the vanilla beans to the melted butter and mix well so that it dissolves. Then add the vanilla butter to the puffed quinoa, icing sugar and egg white. Mix well. Line your baking mold with parchment paper, also cover the sides of the mold so that it is easier to remove the bars later on. Place the quinoa mixture into the prepared mold and use the back of a spoon to evenly distribute it and press to make it compact. Bake it for 15 minutes. Then remove it from the oven and allow it to cool down.

To make the chocolate caramel, place the cream in a bowl and microwave it for 45 seconds. Then add the chopped chocolate, vanilla essence and salt.  Microwave it for 30 second intervals till the chocolate has melted. Mix in between. Set it aside.

In a large medium saucepan, add the sugar and water. Let it melt over medium heat until it becomes amber in color. Swirl the pan around from time to time. Then lower the heat to low and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Stir with a heat-proof spatula until all the butter has melted. Then add the chocolate cream that you made before. Stir constantly over low heat for 10 minutes until it becomes a thick sauce, like fudge. Then turn off the heat and keep stirring for 2 minutes to allow it to cool down and become thicker.

Carefully pour the chocolate caramel evenly over the quinoa crust. Swirl it around so that it covers the edges. Carefully place the pecans on top in a single layer. Let it sit in the fridge to set for at least 5 hours.

Store them in an airtight container in the fridge. I’d like to take it out before eating since I prefer them when they are at room temperature and the caramel is chewier.

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Brownie with Peanut Butter Cookie Crust, Whisky Caramel Sauce and Sea Salt

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I had been craving something very rich. I ate chocolate and cookies but they didn’t cut it. I wanted to make a slightly salty dessert and this happened to satisfy my winter munchies. It’s rich, fudgy on the inside, crunchy peanut butter bottom, some caramel on top and some sea salt. It ticked all the boxes. My hubby and I shared the last piece before having breakfast.

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This recipe is for a 19cm round cake mold. I used one with a detachable bottom.

Ingredients:

For the peanut butter cookie crust:

½ cup of smooth peanut butter

56grs of softened butter

¼ cup + 2 tablespoons of white sugar

¼ cup of packed brown sugar

1 small egg

1 teaspoon of milk

½ teaspoon of vanilla essence

½ cup + 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon of baking soda

¼ teaspoon of baking powder

Pinch of salt

For the brownie:

120grs of dark chocolate, chopped

57grs of butter

½ cup of sugar

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

½ teaspoon of vanilla extract

¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon of cocoa powder

Pinch of salt

For the Whisky caramel sauce:

½ cup of sugar

2 tablespoons of water

¼ cup of heavy cream

¼ teaspoon of vanilla essence

½ tablespoon of Whiskey

½ a tablespoon of salted butter

Extra:

Sea salt

Blueberries

 

Start by making the peanut butter cookie crust. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F. Line the bottom of a 19cm round cake mold with a detachable bottom, with parchment paper.

Whisk the softened butter with the peanut butter. Add the sugars and whisk until fluffy. Then add the egg, milk and vanilla. Whisk until well combined. Finally whisk in the dry ingredients.

Place about 2/3 of the cookie dough in the prepared cake mold. You can freeze the rest of the cookie dough and make cookies later on. Press with a spoon to spread it as evenly as possible. Bake it for 8 minutes. Then set it aside and start making the brownie batter.

Melt the butter with the chocolate in the microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring in between until it is completely melted. Then allow it to cool down for a few minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar with the eggs and egg yolk. Then slowly whisk in the melted chocolate (make sure it’s not very hot, otherwise it will curdle the eggs). Then add the vanilla, flour, cocoa powder and salt. Whisk until well combined. Pour the brownie butter over the cookie crust. Tap it a bit  to get rid of air bubbles. Bake it for 25 minutes. Then set it aside to cool down in the mold.

Once the brownie has cooled down, carefully pass a knife around the edges of the mold. Carefully take the brownie cake out of the mold and plate it.

To make the whisky caramel sauce, place the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook without stirring until the sugar has turned amber in color, swirling the pan from time to time. This will take about 8 minutes. Then slowly add the cream and vanilla. Mix it well with a wooden spoon. Then add the whisky and butter. Stir until well combined and then transfer it to a bowl.

Drizzle some of the caramel on top of the brownie and sprinkle it with some sea salt and add some fresh blueberries. Enjoy!

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