Shannon’s Chocolate Peanut Bar

I like a good challenge. I’m more likely to challenge myself to reach a new goal, learn something new or to step a little out of my comfort zone but I can say that if someone else told me I can’t achieve something or I won’t be able to learn this or that, just watch me smash that assumption out of the park.

I dare you.

I’ve always been good at following a recipe. I grew up browsing my Mum’s display folder of recipe cut outs she’d taken from various magazines. When I left home Mum bought me the ‘Day to Day Cookery Book’ that’s a staple in many households. I lived cooking out of that book for years.

Now, I read cookbooks like you’d read a good Dan Brown. I will happily sit and read recipes, down to every detail, then whenever I can find the spare hours, I cook.

Last year I re-created Anna Polyviou’s Carrot Cake from a MasterChef Pressure Test. While it took me two weeks (I don’t have a blast chiller and live in the middle of nowhere so I had to create even some of the ingredients for the recipe – Hazelnut Praline Paste anyone?) the end result tasted amazing and was so satisfying I vowed to do it again with another fantastic looking recipe this year.

Bring on Shannon Bennett’s Chocolate Peanut Bar Dessert.

The first pressure test for this year’s MasterChef and as they were showing it to the competing contestants I was sitting on my couch mentally adding up how many days it’d take me to make it. {Two.} They displayed the different elements to the competitors and I was ticking off if I could access all the ingredients before Hubby’s birthday the next week. As soon as the recipe was available on the Ten website, I downloaded it and read.

Again, I don’t have a blast chiller, so leading up to Hubby’s birthday I made the Chocolate Parfait and the Peanut Ice-cream two days before. The next day, I had a spare hour and thought I’d just get a few elements done. I nearly completed it. Each element is so particularly detailed by Bennett that I felt it was easy to re-crate. It was wonderful to go through and tick them off once they were completed.

The last two things to do were the Honey Caramel Sauce and the tempered chocolate layer that sit’s on the top of the nougat. The sauce was simple and happily sat aside waiting for dessert time to re-heat it up. The tempered chocolate was the only thing that I had to do twice. Firstly I followed Bennett’s instructions but I don’t think I had good enough chocolate, so I sent Hubby out with strict instructions on what to buy and when he’d brought it home, I tempered chocolate the way I already knew how, and it worked. Thankfully.

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Our dinner that night was light and eaten with much anticipation in what’s to come (as I had shared what I was making with my friends on Facebook.) Assembling the dessert, I felt as though I was jumping out of my skin with excitement!

The Peanut Ice-Cream alone is sensational. I could sit and eat a bowl of it all on it’s own.  If you don’t watch MasterChef or missed that episode, the Chocolate Peanut Bar Consists of:

A Brown Sugar Crumble that holds the Peanut Ice-Cream in place. A Candied Peanut Crumb that sits beside the Peanut Caramel. On top of that rests the Chocolate Parfait that is dotted with Honey Nougat then topped by the Tempered Chocolate. Then there’s theatre. Once on the table you pour over the hot Honey Caramel Sauce, and that melts the tempered chocolate and blankets the dessert. So lush and rich.

Bonus – there’s enough of each element leftover for Mothers Day Dessert tonight!

A few points – I definitely couldn’t have made it without my Thermomix. It’s even specified a few times in the recipe. It make a huge difference when aiming for the correct textures of different elements. I also used my KitchenAid for part of it as well.

As I don’t have a sugar thermometer the caramels were made by experience on how much I’d pushed the sugar to the right temperature. Thankfully they worked out well, but if you’re not confident with that just pick up a sugar thermometer, they’re readily available.

As with all new recipes, read through it first and see what you can make now and which elements you can make later (account for freezing/resting/cooling times) so that everything is all ready at the same time.

It was such a great challenge I’m hoping theres a few more pressure tests to re-create this year! Or I might just go ahead and apply myself one of these days…

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