I wrote awhile ago about the things from my youth I’d like back. But lately, seeing as it’s January, the time of new beginnings, and today in particular, since it’s my 24th birthday, I also realize I am fully prepared and excited to move forward. Last year on my birthday, I had hopes for a great year full of awesome things. I’m sad to report I feel in mostly the same place as last year. No successful writing career, no best friend, no first date. Just me and my dreams.
But the truth is, maybe I wasn’t ready, really ready, for all those things last year. Not mentally, emotionally, or even physically prepared to have all my hopes and dreams suddenly turn into reality being thrust at me.
This year, though, I know I am ready. I am open to great things heading my way. I know for certain I actually do want to move away from the place that’s been my home for my entire life to a new, warmer place where the possibilities are endless. I want to meet new people, visit new places, create a new home. I just have to figure out how to do it . . . but I will.
I know the writing projects I’m working on are the best of my life. I needed to write and read and make mistakes to learn and become a better writer. It is only a matter of time now until someone in a position of far more power than me takes notice. It is going to happen. Dreams are about to come true!
If I needed proof other than my own feelings, my horoscope provided it. I pretty much never read my horoscope, always afraid it will say something bad. But in the latest issue of Elle, it was calling my name. So I read it, and I am thrilled I did. It said all kinds of love, career, and social opportunities are headed my way. Neiman Marcus shared a similar one on their blog that said I’d have a “magical year.” Oh, yeah! Bring it on, because I am ready!!!
You know what else I’m ready for more of? These Homemade Carob Snickers. I crave candy bars all the time, but since I’m allergic to chocolate, I can’t eat them. So for my birthday, I treated myself to homemade candy. I’m not gonna lie to you, these are kind of complicated and time consuming to make. But Ashley from Not Without Salt’s recipe is amazing. It’s easy to follow and the results are better than I ever imagined. This caramel is by far the best I’ve ever made. Plus, if you want to spend a few hours in the kitchen, having fun, these are a great thing to make and worth every single second they take.
If you aren’t allergic to chocolate, you can, of course, use milk or dark chocolate to coat them. I covered half in carob and half in white chocolate. I can’t pick which I like better. With the soft peanut butter nougat, gooey caramel, crunchy peanuts, and crispy coating, these are pure heaven! So here’s to hoping my 24th year is as great as these Snickers!
Peanut Butter Nougat
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup light corn syrup
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ¼ cup water
- 1 large egg white
- ½ cup creamy peanut butter (I used Skippy Natural)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup light corn syrup
- ¼ cup water
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups roasted peanuts (salted or unsalted depending on your preference – I used unsalted)
- ½ teaspoon Maldon sea salt, for sprinkling
- 2–3 cups carob chips (I used Chatfield’s)
- 2–3 cups white chocolate chips
- 3–4 tablespoons vegetable shortening divided
- Make the nougat. Butter a 9 by 13 inch pan and line it with parchment, leaving overhang for easy removal later. Lightly butter the parchment.
- In a small to medium saucepan, gently stir together sugar, corn syrup, honey, and water, being careful not to get sugar on the sides of the pan. Cover the pan with a lid and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Remove the lid, insert a candy thermometer, and continue cooking until the temperature reaches 275 degrees F.
- While the syrup cooks, whip the egg white to stiff peaks. Because it is only 1 egg white it is difficult to do in the stand mixer, but it can be done. I did it in a large bowl with the hand mixer, which worked well. Take caution when adding the syrup and then beating the finished mixture. It becomes very stiff, so it is difficult to control the mixer. My egg white never quite got to stiff peaks and the recipe still worked.
- When the egg white is whipped and the syrup has reached temperature, immediately remove the syrup from the heat and slowly pour the syrup into the egg white with the mixer running on low. Try to avoid hitting the beater. Increase the speed and beat until the nougat cools slightly and has turned stiff and glossy, about 1 minute.
- Stir in the peanut butter until fully combined. Spread the nougat into an even layer in the prepared pan. Allow to cool while you make the caramel.
- Make the caramel. In a large saucepan, gently stir together the sugar, corn syrup, and water, being careful not to get sugar on the sides of the pan. Cover the pan with a lid and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and insert a candy thermometer. Continue cooking caramel until it reaches 300 degrees F. You may gently swirl the pan if some of the caramel turns color before the rest.
- Once the caramel reaches 300 degrees F, add the cream and butter, then continue cooking until the caramel reaches 248 degrees F. Remove from the heat and stir in the peanuts and vanilla. Pour the caramel over the nougat. Smooth into an even layer and sprinkle with Maldon salt. Cool at room temperature for 40 minutes. Then cool completely in the refrigerator for at least an hour and up to overnight.
- Assemble the candy bars. Remove the pan of nougat and caramel from the refrigerator. Cut into bite sized pieces. Melt ½ the carob chips in a microwave safe bowl with about 1 tablespoon of shortening in 30 second increments, stirring in between to promote melting and prevent burning. When the carob is fully melted, using a fork, dip 1 piece of the nougat/caramel into it and cover completely. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining carob. The process is the same for the white chocolate chips as well.
- Once all the candy bars have been coated, place in the refrigerator to set completely. Bars may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks or in the freezer, individually wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature about 30 minutes.
Recipe adapted from Not Without Salt
Additional cooling time may be required.