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Recipe adapted from Sorella, New York City
Yield: Thirty-six 1½-inch bars
Prep Time: 20 minutes (plus 6 hours to set up)
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes (plus 6 hours to set up)
1 large egg white
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup corn syrup
1/3 cup water
1½ cups roasted, salted peanuts
1½ cups granulated sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1½ cups heavy cream
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1. Make the nougat: Use nonstick pan spray to lightly coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch-square baking dish. Fit the baking dish with 2 long pieces of parchment paper, long enough so the edges stick up an inch or two above the rim of the dish. Lightly coat the surface of the parchment with nonstick pan spray and set the prepared baking dish aside.
2. Add the egg white to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, add the sugar, corn syrup and water and gently stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then gently cook until the mixture reaches 240° on an instant-read thermometer, about 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches 240°, begin beating the egg white on medium-high speed, until the egg whites hold medium peaks. While whipping the whites, continue cooking the syrup until it reaches 260°. Once the whites hold medium peaks, continue to whip them while slowly pour the hot sugar syrup into the mixing bowl. Continue to whip the mixture until the outside of the bowl is cool enough to touch, 1½ to 2 minutes.
3. Scrape the whipped egg and sugar mixture into the prepared baking dish (it will be very sticky). Lightly coat your hands with nonstick pan spray and press the nougat out into an even layer and into the corners of the pan. Sprinkle the peanuts evenly over the top and gently press them to get them to stick to the nougat.
4. Make the caramel: To a small saucepan add the sugar and melt it slowly over medium heat. Shake the pan often until the sugar is melted, using a pastry brush dipped in water to dab the sides of the saucepan if the sugar granules sticks to the edges of the pan. Continue to cook the sugar, swirling often, until it becomes a deep amber color, and reached 340° on an instant-read thermometer, about 15 minutes.
5. Add the butter and cream (be careful as the mixture will sizzle and spatter) and continue to cook until the caramel temperature reaches between 250° and 260° on an instant-read thermometer (this is soft ball stage; if you don't have a thermometer, you can test the caramel by dropping a very small amount into a cup of ice water. You should be able to shape the caramel into a soft ball using your fingers), about 20 minutes longer (if it looks separated, whisk it vigorously). Immediately pour the caramel over the nougat, tilting the pan to even out the topping.
6. Set the baking dish aside until the caramel sets up and can be sliced, at least 2 hours.
7. Finish the candy bars: In a medium bowl add the chocolate. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between each, until the chocolate is completely melted, 1½ to 2 minutes. Stir in the cream, then pour the chocolate over the caramel. Use the back of a spoon to spread the chocolate in an even layer. Set aside to set up, at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.
8. Pop the block out of the baking dish by using the parchment paper to lift it up. Set it on a cutting board. Use a sharp chef's knife or bench knife to divide the block into 1½-inch squares (dip the knife in boiling water to ease slicing). Serve at room temperature.