Curtis Stone’s Magic Caramel Bars

by Hilary Gauntt on October 23, 2015

Celebrity Chef Stone has a new cookbook out entitled “Good Food, Good Life” which is full of family friendly recipes like this one. His career began in his hometown of Melbourne Australia at age 18 at the Savoy Hotel. After traveling through Europe at 21 with his best friend, he ended up in London, with no job and dead broke. Determined to apprentice with Marco Pierre White (the youngest man ever to be awarded 3 Michelin stars) he volunteered to work for free! Eventually he was hired and worked his way up to head chef at White’s flagship restaurant, Quo Vadis.

Curtis is now quite the world wide celebrity, with numerous T.V. shows and cookbooks to his credit. People magazine included him on their 2006 list of Sexiest Men Alive! (A good looking man in a chefs apron is definitely sexy….)

What sets these apart from other Magic bars you may have sampled is the coconut milk (which you don’t really taste – coconut haters will still like these!) and espresso powder which balances out the sweetness of the chocolate. I found the bars delicious, but SO hard to get out of the pan! The solution is to line your baking pan with two sheets of tin foil (overlapping top to bottom and side to side); and when they have baked and cooled, use the foil like a sling to lift out the whole pan full. Peel off the foil, place on a cutting board and cut into squares. I didn’t invent this method for bar cookies, but kudos to whoever did!

Vegetable oil cooking spray

1 3/4 cups flour

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp. salt

10 Tbs. (1 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup honey

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (12 ounces)

1 1/2 tsp. espresso powder

1 cup chopped, toasted macadamia nuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9″-square baking pan with cooking spray and set aside. (Or do yourself a favor and use foil as I described above). In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine flour, powdered sugar, and salt and pulse until blended. Add butter and pulse 5 or 6 times, until mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Add 3 Tbs. ice water and process until moist clumps form, adding more ice water by the teaspoonful if dough seems dry.

Transfer crust mixture to prepared pan and press it evenly over bottom of pan. Bake until crust is light golden and edges are beginning to pull away from sides of pan, about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes. (Leave oven on.)

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine coconut milk, brown sugar, and honey and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Continue to boil until mixture darkens and has reduced by half, about 7 minutes. Set aside.

To assemble, sprinkle chocolate chips over baked crust, then sprinkle espresso powder over chocolate. Top with macadamia nuts. Drizzle prepared caramel evenly over top.

Return pan to the oven and bake until topping is golden brown and bubbling thickly, about 15 minutes. Using a small, sharp knife, loosen bars from the side of the pan while still warm. let pan cool completely on a wire rack; then refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.

Use knife to loosen edges again. Using 2 metal spatulas, carefully transfer to a cutting board. Trim off sticky edges (about 1/4″). Cut into 18 (2 1/2 ” by 1 1/2″) rectangles. The bars will keep up to 2 days stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Makes 18 bars.
Note: Next time I will chop the nuts more finely.

magic caramel bars

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