Hazelnut caramel bars with candied orange and chocolate

I’ve had a series of baking mishaps. I don’t really want to talk about it. Except to say that my labmates have been going without recently. Until I happened upon a recipe for hazelnut caramel bars with candied orange and chocolate.

I don’t have an elaborate story to accompany these bars. Sometimes food is food, and baking is fun. They are tasty. The candied orange is unexpected and delightful. In one of my aforementioned baking mishaps I made candied orange peel for the first time and fell in love. So easy! How had I not made it, or utilized in my baking before? A problem easily remedied with these bars.

And so ends my baking slump…

Hazelnut caramel bars with candied orange and chocolate
from Bon Appetit, December 2010
makes ~30 bars
**********
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup + plus 6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2/3 cup sugar
6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel
5 ounces hazelnuts, roasted, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped candied orange peel (recipe below)
4 ounces 60% chocolate, chopped
**********

Preheat oven to 350°. Line 13 x 9 x 2-inch metal baking pan with foil. Mix flour, brown sugar, and salt in processor 5 seconds. Add 3/4 cup butter; using on/off turns, process until coarse meal forms. Transfer to pan; press firmly and evenly onto bottom of pan. Bake crust until golden, about 20 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.

Bring 6 tablespoons butter, 2/3 cup sugar, cream, honey, and finely grated orange peel to boil in heavy small saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves and butter melts. Boil until candy thermometer registers 230°F, about 6 minutes. Stir in nuts and candied orange peel.

Spoon hot nut mixture evenly over crust in pan. Return to oven and bake until entire surface is bubbling, about 10 minutes. Cool 20 minutes. Using foil as aid, lift cookie from pan. Carefully peel foil from edges. Cut warm cookie into 1 1/2-inch squares. Cool cookies completely.

Melt chocolate in small metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water until warm to touch. Remove bowl from over water. Using a spoon, drizzle melted chocolate over bars. Chill until chocolate is set, about 1 hour.

Candied Orange Peel
from Bon Appetit, December 2008
makes ~2 cups
**********
2 large oranges, 1/4 inch of top and bottom cut off
4 cups sugar, divided
3 cups water
**********

Cut peel on each orange into 4 vertical segments. Remove each segment (including white pith) in 1 piece. Cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips. Cook in large pot of boiling water 15 minutes; drain, rinse, and drain again.

Bring 3 cups sugar and 3 cups water to boil in medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add peel. Return to boil. Reduce heat; simmer until peel is very soft, about 45 minutes. Drain.

Toss peel and 1 cup sugar on rimmed baking sheet, separating strips. Lift peel from sugar; transfer to sheet of foil. Let stand until coating is dry.

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