Saturday, March 27, 2010
Chocolate Praline Bark
And the Passover baking marathon begins. I will be in New York for the first night of sedar, then heading back to D.C. for the second night to host my own sedar with friends. Our menu is quite extensive and I should first thank everyone for what they will be bringing. That being said, my plan is to make the following: chocolate praline bark, macaroon brownies, meringue layer cake, flourless chocolate cake, strawberry jam, and BM dinner rolls. I attempted macaroons twice today and failed miserably, so I think we will just have to make do with what we have!
This chocolate praline bark recipe is very simple and versatile. For Passover I use matzah, but any other time of the year I use saltine crackers. Yes, I said saltine crackers...the kind you eat when your not feeling well. I promise you will not even taste the bottom layer because the crackers (or matzah) will be masked by the chocolatey caramel and nuts. You can also use any and all kinds of nuts for this recipe, although when making the praline mixture I would stick to pecans.
Chocolate Praline Bark
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
40 saltine crackers or 2-3 pieces of matzah
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup almond slices, toasted
1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted *optional
2/3 cup pecans, toasted
2/3 cup powdered sugar
To make the pecan praline you first toast the pecans for about 5 minutes. Pour the powdered sugar into the pan and mix well.
Continue stirring, making sure the sugar melts thoroughly but does not burn. The mixture will turn brown and look like caramel.
Spread this onto a sheet of parchment paper and refrigerate until you're ready for it later on.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line an 11 X 17 inch baking sheet first with foil and then with parchment paper (you may need to cut the paper to fit to size). Line the bottom of the baking sheet with crackers or matzah, covering all parts.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together and stir it over medium heat until it begins to boil. Let the mixture boil for 3 more minutes while stirring continuously. Remove from the heat and add the salt and vanilla/almond extract. Quickly pour the mixture over the crackers or matzah and then spread, covering all parts.
Bake the caramel-covered sheet for 14-15 minutes, watching carefully because it may bubble or the corners may darken or burn quickly. You should reduce the heat if you see this happening. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and immediately cover with the chocolate chips.
Let stand 5 minutes. Take the praline out of the fridge and break into small pieces. After 5 minutes the chocolate chips will have begun to melt, so now you can spread them evenly across the caramel.
Next, sprinkle the praline pieces and the toasted almonds on top of the chocolate. If you'd like to add toasted coconut, now is the time to do so.
Place the baking sheet in the fridge for about 20 minutes to harden and then break into pieces.
Store the pieces in a container in the fridge until you are ready to serve.
They also serve as great gifts...or as the prize for finding the Afikomen. Congrats Matt!