This analogy briefly ran through my mind when I bit into the Turtle Bar at the Two Little Red Hens bakery in New York City, proceeding, of course, the absolute bliss the bar brought. The most perfect mix of salty and sweet, caramel and chocolate, a crunchy yet moist graham crackerish crust and topping, and the nuts. Oh the nuts. They were macadamia and pecans, toasted and salted to perfect, encased in the middle layer of caramel and chocolate. The macadamia nut, that buttery crunch, is most surely at the top of the luxury scale. And the pecan, more commonplace but so, so, delicious. If an almond is a Caddie, then these are so much more.
Now across the country, back in California, with no little red hen in sight, I’ve attempted to recreate those incredible Turtle Bars, complete with all the nutty luxuries. And even though they are based of one delicious memory, these bars are more than good. They themselves deserve at least an Alfa. Or a Range Rover. Mmmm.
Do you know the infamous bars I’ve attempted to recreate? Are you in New York City? Please, please, try these bars and tell me if I’m close. Do the originals have more caramel, a different topping, coconut? Or better yet, what would you do? (Not compare your food to machines? 🙂 )
Brown Butter Turtle Bars with Macadamia Nuts
Inspired by the Two Little Red Hens
Caramel Nut Filling
1 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
¼ cup water
4 oz. toasted and roughly chopped macadamia nuts (salted is okay)
5 oz. (1 cup) toasted and roughly chopped pecans
½ cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. To toast nuts preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spread nuts out, toasting for 6-8 minutes or until nuts begin to turn golden and smell toasty. Some nuts are already toasted in the package. (Most macadamia nuts are.)
2. Combine sugar, corn syrup, and water in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring mixture to a boil, never stirring, but swirling the mixture around to clear the sides of the pan. Boil until amber in color. Remove from heat. Immediately whisk in heavy whipping cream and butter but be careful! Mixture will bubble and steam furiously. I suggest wearing oven mitts, and not only because it’s amusing. Stir in the vanilla and the nuts. Pour mixture into a separate bowl and let cool at room temperature while prepping the rest of the bars.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, browned
1 ½ cups dark brown sugar, packed
½ cup white sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
14 oz. (1 box or 27 regulation sized graham crackers)
4 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter and line with parchment paper then butter the paper in a 9 by 13 baking dish. Set aside. (It’s awful when bars stick, even if all that seems a bit excessive.) To brown butter, place both sticks in a saucepan over medium-low heat and melt then boil until butter becomes golden. Pour brown butter into the bowl of a standing mixture fitted with a paddle attachment and let cool while preparing the rest of the bars.
2. Put graham crackers in a food processor and process until very fine. Add flour, baking soda, and salt and then process until thoroughly combined. Add the sugars to the browned butter and mix until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix for about four minutes or until the mixture is thick and shiny. Fold in the graham cracker mixture until just combined. Press 2/3 of the dough into the prepared pan.
3. Melt chocolate and remaining tablespoon butter in the microwave or on top of a double boiler. Spread chocolate mixture on top of the first layer of cookie. Spread the caramel and nut mixture on top of the chocolate. Crumble and evenly spread the remaining 1/3 of the dough on top of the caramel mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and filling is bubbly. Let cool completely in the pan before cutting.