With all the different textures and layers, this seemed like a challenge for Miss Mochi! I have never made caramel before, and I wanted this to be easy enough that I could whip this up on a whim, as well as give friends outside Southern California an opportunity to try this.
Firstly, this undertaking required some Food Lab-like thinkage. I broke down the bar into sections: Crunch base, sriracha ganache, caramel with peanuts, chocolate covering. The peanuts and chocolate covering were no-brainers...
So how hard could caramel and the rest be?
Oh my god, it burns! Word to the wise: do not treat caramel lightly. I tried to catch a drip with my finger when I was pouring the caramel onto the base, and wound up howling around the kitchen even after shoving my finger into a bag of frozen peas. Water boils at 212°F, and you heat the caramel to 350 before adding in the cream and butter. That shit is hot. Plus peas and caramel are not one of my favorite flavor combinations, and I ended up having a throbbing finger covered in peas and caramel. Not to mention a nice blister the next day.
My first caramel recipe used condensed milk, and was very tasty, but it was a recipe for a hard caramel candy instead of a caramel sauce, so the caramel layer ended up being hard as a rock. It tasted more like peanut brittle than what I wanted: a thick creamy caramel layer. Back to the drawing board.
Armed with a more suitable caramel recipe, I thought I could cheat and do a crispy ganache with siracha, and not have to do so many separate layers. After all, what was the point of having a second chocolate layer? It didn't work, as my rice crispies got soft in the ganache. This attempt was therefore tasty, but not crunchy. The caramel sauce was perfect, no longer brittle, but the ganache tasted like soggy cereal mixed with sirarcha and chocolate. The flavors were right, the textures were off. Attempt number two was meh at best.
So I made it again, this time knowing full well I would have to do the three layers. I don't know why the rice crispies got soft in ganache but not in melted chocolate, but with three layers my treats turned out amazing. I am happy with my ode to Kogi's Sriracha Bar.
However, I also tried to improve it without sacrificing any flavor. I found that dipping the whole thing in chocolate was totally unnecessary. If you want it to look like a Baby Ruth, by all means dip it in chocolate. But I find it to be prettier and with more balanced flavor without it, especially when cut into small squares like a hapa petit four. With the chocolate coating, the fruitiness of the sriracha is diluted and the layers are masked until you bite into it.
Miss Mochi's Sriracha Bar Clone
10 ounces of bittersweet chocolate (One bag)
2 cups rice crisp cereal
|At first the sugar mixture is colorless|
1 cup sugar
1 tbs light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup water
2 tbs unsalted butter
Roasted and salted peanuts, approx 1/2 cup
|When caramelized, it will be this color|
Sriracha Ganache Layer:
5 ounces of bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbs sriracha*
*Adjust spice to your liking by adding more or less
Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan until it boils. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and sriracha in a heatproof bowl, and stir until combined and the chocolate is completely melted. Check the level of spiciness, add more sriracha if needed, and try not to eat it all. Pour over the caramel layer, and smooth the top. Place in the fridge overnight.
P.S. I can now make caramel with my eyes closed, by smell alone... that's how many times I made this damn recipe before I was satisfied!
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