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One Bowl Brittle Bark

You know how when you think you’ve “invented” something new….

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And you even come up with a name, like One Bowl Brittle Bark, and pat yourself on the back because it’s both descriptive and catchy?  And then you google it and find out that it’s not new?  Yeah.  This is one of those times.

Another blogger once told me never to google anything, just make it and be happy. This time I made it, packaged it for teacher treats and was really excited about it…. and then I googled it. Sigh. But hey, I’m still happy because this stuff is really good.  And it’s fast and easy.

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This whole idea started last Christmas when I thought I needed just one more thing to round out my cookie trays. Trust me when I tell you I never need one more thing to round out my cookie trays.

The assortment of cookies and candy usually hits the 12-16 mark, but during the season, I always find recipes I want to try that are new.  This time I happened upon peanut brittle and it looked so easy I couldn’t resist.

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Peanut brittle. I often think of it as a treat from my mother’s  or grandmother’s generation, but I still love it and wanted to see how it would turn out.  It’s made in a microwave and I’ve only made candy stove top before, so I was intrigued.  No need for candy thermometers either.  Cah-razy!

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So I mixed up my sugar and syrup.  Nuked it for 5 minutes.  Stirred in the nuts and butter.  Back in the microwave for 4-5 more minutes or until it started getting golden and caramel colored. Out of the microwave…stirred in vanilla and baking soda and quickly spread on a sheet.  Done and done.

Oh…and it was delicious!  The baking soda makes the whole mixture bubble up which lightens up the crunch.  In other words, you can take a bite without worrying that you’re going to crack a tooth. That’s how all good brittles should be.

One Bowl Brittle Bark

So, flash forward to making some teacher treats.  I decided to make candy instead of baking something. I chose this easy brittle, but wanted to switch up the traditional peanut variation.

I thought chocolate would be good, but I didn’t want to get involved in dipping each piece. I decided I would try spreading the brittle on top of the chocolate. I’ve seen it work for other recipes, perhaps it would work here too.

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I threw some chocolate chips on a tray, made some brittle using cashews and coconut…then when it was time to spread it, I just poured it on top of the chocolate and let the heat melt the chips while I quickly spread it.  I wish I had some photos of the process, but really, it goes so quickly, there’s no time for stopping to shoot.

I did have a photo of the lonely little chocolate chips spread out on a tray waiting for the brittle to arrive, but trust me when I tell you that an aerial shot of scattered chocolate chips not only doesn’t look appealing or interesting, it doesn’t even look like food, if you catch my drift…

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As you spread the hot brittle across the sheet you’ll get streaks of chocolate running through the brittle. I hoped it would all set up properly….and it did!  It was amazing!

You end up with this crispy crunchy brittle, chock full of nuts, but as you’re taking a bite, you get delicious creamy chocolate. Sweet, salty, creamy, crunchy, caramel-y addictive yum.

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I considered calling it, “Tiger Brittle Bark”, because the gorgeous color of the brittle and the dark stripes of chocolate really warranted it, not to mention the exotic flavors of coconut and cashews…but it didn’t feel right.

I don’t know…all I could imagine was Tony the Tiger and breakfast cereal and cartoons. (And you know, this Brittle Bark is so much more sophisticated than that ;)  So I kept One Bowl Brittle Bark. (I know, I know.  It’s such a “sophisticated” name :)

Of course, this final name change happened after my teacher gifts were delivered, so their tags have different names. It’s elementary school…a perfect place for tigers and chubby hubby names :)

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My first version was Coconut Cashew Brittle Bark.  I used the big unsweetened coconut flakes and they kind of melted into the brittle.

The whole thing smelled amazing when it was cooking.  The flavor combo was spot on and is perfect for those who like a hint of coconut flavor without all the coconut texture.

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Then, I had another idea.  This one might be new ;)  I decided to put chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and pretzels on the tray for a take on the popular chubby hubby flavor combo. (I didn’t take any individual photos of that variation, because honestly, it looked just like the other bark. You can see how much they look alike in the bags with the chubby hubby tags above.)

I went back to traditional peanut brittle for this variation and poured it all on top.  The Coconut Cashew Brittle Bark was delicious, but I’m pretty sure the Peanut Butter Pretzel Brittle Bark was everyone’s favorite.

I can’t even tell you how good this was and unlike any candy I’ve had before.  I had one teacher tell me that she opened up one bag to taste it.  Then the other.  Then she went back to the first bag.  Before she knew it, half of both bags were gone.

So there you have it.  One of the easiest candies you’ll ever make. One Bowl Brittle Bark.

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No tigers necessary :)

 

One Bowl Brittle Bark

Ingredients

For Coconut Cashew:

  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips milk, semi-sweet or bittersweet
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 heaping cup roasted salted cashews
  • 1/2 heaping cup large flake unsweetened coconut
  • 1 Tablespoon salted butter
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • coarse salt optional

For Peanut Butter Pretzel:

  • about 16 mini pretzel twists
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips milk, semi-sweet or bittersweet
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter chips
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 heaping cup roasted salted peanuts
  • 1 Tablespoon salted butter
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • coarse salt optional

Instructions

  1. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Scatter chocolate chips evenly across the middle of the sheet covering an area about 9" x 7". No need to measure, you just want to spread them far enough so that you get even chocolate distribution, but not so far that the brittle won't reach it when you're pouring/spreading.
  2. Spray a wooden spoon or silicone spatula with cooking spray and set aside.
  3. Mix together the sugar and corn syrup in a medium microwave safe bowl.
  4. Microwave the sugar mixture uncovered on high for 5 minutes. You'll end up with a very hot, bubbly clear sugar syrup.
  5. Meanwhile make sure your nuts, coconut and butter are measured and ready to go.
  6. When the 5 minutes is up, quickly stir in nuts, coconut and butter. I mix it until the butter is fully melted and combined.
  7. Microwave the mixture for another 2-4 minutes or until a light caramel color is achieved. (See notes, this step may take longer depending on your microwave and bowl.)
  8. Remove the bowl from the microwave and quickly add the vanilla and baking soda. Using the spoon/spatula that you sprayed with cooking spray, stir quickly until combined. The mixture will bubble up and get creamy.
  9. Quickly pour the hot mixture onto your prepared sheet on top of the chocolate chips. Quickly spread mixture as evenly as possible making sure you've covered your chips. The chocolate will melt quickly and begin to streak through the brittle as you spread.
  10. Lightly sprinkle coarse salt over the top, if desired.
  11. Allow to cool for at least an hour or until brittle and chocolate have set up. Break into pieces.
  12. If you're making the Peanut Butter Pretzel variation, arrange the pretzels in an even layer in the middle of the baking sheet, sprinkling the chocolate and peanut butter chips in all the open spaces so that everything remains in one layer. Proceed with the recipe as above, but adding only peanuts and butter instead of the cashew, coconut and butter at that step.

Recipe Notes

*Speed is key in this recipe, so make sure you have all ingredients measured and ready to go.

*Use only roasted salted nuts.

*I used mini pretzel twists because their open structure left lots of room to tuck chips into and around.

*Remember the sugar mixture is HOT so take proper care not to burn yourself.

*After you add your nuts/coconut, your time may vary depending upon your microwave and the bowl you use. I made many batches of this and in one bowl it was done in exactly 4 minutes after I added the nuts. With other bowls that were larger, I had to cook it as long as 8 minutes. Just cook it until you begin to see caramel colors developing. It's okay to open up the oven and quickly check it. If it still looks like clear sugar syrup, it's not done yet. I found that the larger the bowl, the longer it took. If you have a high wattage microwave, it could be much shorter. I like using glass bowls so that I can easily see what's going on. Just stay close and monitor it and you'll be fine.

*Spread brittle quickly. Don't spend too much time spreading or you'll break a lot of the bubbles created by the baking soda which keep the brittle light and easy to crunch.

*I actually used two bowls when I made this because I wanted to have my nuts, coconut and butter ready to pour in all together and because I was making lots of batches that day. It's not necessary, though. As long as you have them measured out and ready to go, this really is a one bowl recipe.

*Store cool, dry and air tight. Mine held up well in a zip lock bag at an air conditioned room temperature. Do not refrigerate.

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

The Merchant Baker Copyright © 2015