|Chocolate Macadamia Caramel Bars
My dad's family is originally from Hawaii, so I grew up eating and loving macadamia nuts. Since New Mexico is so far away and macadamia nuts weren't as available as they are now (not to mention expensive!), whenever we got our hands on some, they were a special treat.
I love that you can purchase macadamia nuts a lot easier now and that you can find a huge can of Mauna Loa at Cost Co. You can also find a good sized bag at Trader Joe's, though they're Australian macadamias and not Hawaiian.I know, I like to support the local stuff!
I originally found this recipe in Relish magazine several years ago(you know the ones that come in Sunday paper?), and it quickly became one of my favorites. Over the years I've changed much of the recipe it to fit my tastes and every time I make it, I think of how I could make it even better. I originally changed the crust to a shortbread crust from a brown sugar crust. I felt it was a little too sweet and kind of took away some of the flavor from the caramel and the macadamia nuts. I also increased the amount of the macadamia nuts. Hey they're the star, right?
Next time, maybe double the caramel sauce? (I know it would be like 3 sticks of butter, but this recipe is a splurge anyway!) And maybe making the chocolate layer into some sort of ganache so it's not so hard (but maybe not, I haven't decided).
So if you find a good bag of macadamia nuts, keep this recipe in mind! It is sweet, buttery, a little salty, and chocolatey all at the same time.
Macadamia lovers will absolutely love this recipe!
Chocolate Macadamia Caramel Bars
Inspired by Aloha Angel Cafe (Relish Magazine, September 2006)
2 c. flour
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. butter (chilled and cubed)
1/2 c. margarine (chilled and cubed)
1 1/2 c. chopped salted macadamia nuts
Caramel and Chocolate:
3/4 c. butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1/2 c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 pan.
For the crust:
Combine flour and powdered sugar in a large bowl. Knead in the butter and margarine into the flour mixture until a ball forms. Then pat the dough onto the bottom of the pan.
Sprinkle the macadamia nuts onto the dough and press so that it sticks to the dough. Bake for 20 minutes.
After the crust bakes for 20 minutes, take pan out of the oven while you make the caramel layer.
For the caramel:
Melt the butter in a heavy-medium sized saucepan over low heat. Add the brown sugar and stir until smooth and combined with the melted butter. (They shouldn't be separate at all, this may take a several minutes so keep stirring!) Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly, until the entire surface of the caramel is bubbling. Immediately pour the hot caramel over the crust and spread evenly with a spatula or back of a metal spoon. Bake 18-20 minutes. (The caramel should be bubbly.) Take pan out of oven and allow to cool completely.
When bars are completely cooled, melt the chocolate chips in a saucepan on the lowest setting, stirring constantly. When the chocolate is completely melted and smooth, pour out evenly onto the top of the crust. Again, use a spatula or metal spoon to spread the chocolate evenly.
Cool completely and then cut into squares. Makes about 24 squares.