Thursday, February 5, 2015

Ghostbusters - Salted Caramel Candy Bars with Ghost Pepper SpicedChocolate and a Pretzel Crust

When Drew and I first started dating, one of the first things he ever gave me was a bag of spices from a local spice shop in Charlotte.  He picked out unique spices and blends so we could get creative in the kitchen together.  Knowing I love all things spicy, he got some ghost pepper salt.  Ghost peppers are one of the hottest peppers in the world.  It's really spicy and I couldn't think of a lot to use it in.  Unique flavor combinations are all the rage nowadays.  Sweet and salty, sweet and savory, sweet and spicy.. you get it.  I had recently had chocolate covered bacon with cayenne pepper and it inspired me to use the ghost salt with chocolate in some way.  So here's what we came up with.  Homemade candy bars with salted caramel and ghost pepper spiced chocolate.  They're hot but not too hot.  It sneaks up on you and shocks you for a minute but then it fades quickly.  They're so good!  I love the rustic look of them.  We jokingly called the Ghostbusters and the name stuck.  Here's how to make them:


What you'll need:

For the crust:
3 cups pretzels (I used Snyder's snaps)
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar

For the quick caramel:

1/2 cup heavy cream
1 stick unsalted butter
1 3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 tsp Kosher salt

For the chocolate:

12 oz bag semi sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1/2 tsp vanilla
Ghost pepper salt, to taste

**if you can't find ghost pepper salt, you can mix cayenne pepper with salt**

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spray an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray and spray spray spray again.  These can stick, and if they do they're almost impossible to get out of the pan in one piece.

In a food processor or a large Ziploc bag, crush the pretzels until crushed fine but with a little texture left to them.  Pour into a bowl and mix with the melted butter and sugar.  Mix well then press into the prepared baking dish.  Bake for 15 minutes until set.  Let it cool.

Next up is the caramel.  It's not "real" caramel but it's just as good and is really easy.  In a pot, combine the cream, butter, brown sugar and salt.  Turn the heat to medium and let it melt.  Stir until everything is combined.  Keep an eye on it.  When it starts to bubble, turn the heat back a bit and let it boil for 5 minutes.  Keep in mind that boiling sugar is very very hot!  After 5 minutes, remove it from the heat, let it cool slightly and pour it over the pretzel crust.  Sit it aside for quite some time until the caramel has set and is cool to the touch.  You can put it in the refrigerator to hurry it along.

Place a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water.  Combine the chocolate, heavy cream, espresso powder and vanilla.  Stir until the chocolate is melted and everything is combined.  Pour over the caramel.  Sprinkle with ghost pepper salt to your liking.  Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 8 hours.  The chocolate needs to set.

The next day, let everything come to room temperature.  It makes it way easier to get out of the pan and to cut into bars.  Run a knife around the edges and turn the pan over onto a cutting board.  The bars should fall right out. 

Cut into pieces and wrap each candy bar in a piece of parchment paper. So delicious!

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