Friday, June 7, 2013

Homemade Giggles (like Snickers, but Funnier)

Since I started baking, I’m always seeking out bigger and crazier ways to challenge myself in the kitchen. I’ve participated in both an online and in-person competitions, gone a little topping crazy and stacked cookies on frosting on cupcakes to create the ultimate snickerdoodle experience, and I’ve taken my fear of homemade candy on full force to make a batch of caramels that I’ve since remade several times. 

When the light bulb suddenly went off and I realized I could make my own favorite candy bars from scratch (hello peanut butter cups and Snickers) I jumped on it the first chance I had — right now!

These “Giggles” are modeled off Snickers bars and named in honor of my mom, Queen of the Giggles.

Whenever we get together, my sister and I spend the bulk of our time making each other crack up. We have a few favorite inside jokes that we know will always make the other laugh, and we’ll typically go back and forth until we find ourselves in a full on giggle fit. At this point, it’s game over and we’re stuck laughing hysterically until tears are running down our cheeks and we’re hunched over, holding our sides and gasping for breath.

We get this from our mom, who upon hearing the name “Tilly Lilly” during Sabbath services once, came down a particularly bad case of the giggles and nearly had to excuse herself from the synagogue.

The thing about getting the giggles is that except for those times when my sister and I provoke each other, we don’t really have much control over them. Something will just strike our funny bone and we’re done for.

On my recent trip to Africa, I was reunited with my mom and sister, as well as my dad who is more often able to keep his composure when the rest of us break down into one of our giggle fits. While hanging out with the wildlife and enjoying the beautiful African scenery, you bet we created a whole new slew of family inside jokes and future improv material.

I brought some “Giggles” for the plane and lengthy car rides that brought us from country to country!

I used the Chocolate Nougat recipe from Cupcake Project, which is more like the base in Milky Way bars, and more my cup of tea. I like the caramel/peanut blend of Snickers bars, but have never been a huge fan of the peanut nougat base. Great news: when making candy bars up from scratch, I can mix and match as I choose AND can avoid all those unnatural additives. It’s the best of all worlds!

These candy bars took about a day to come together due to the several intervals of setting and refrigerating, but were well worth it!

Giggles Bars (Young Idealistic Baker original concept)
Makes 1 9x13 pan of bars

Caramel Peanut Mixture (Recipe adapted from
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups roasted salted peanuts
  • Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray
  • Combine corn syrup, heavy cream, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat
  • Stir continuously until the sugar is melted and the mixture is smooth
  • Scrape down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming
  • Insert a candy thermometer and bring the candy to a boil
  • Stirring occasionally, cook the caramel to 240 degrees (soft-ball stage)
  • Once the candy has reached the proper temperature, remove it from the heat and immediately stir in the peanuts
  • Pour the candy into the prepared pan and smooth it into an even layer
  • Allow to set completely before moving on to next steps

Chocolate Malt Nougat (Recipe from Cupcake Project):
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/3 cup malted milk powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Combine sugar, corn syrup, and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and stir until the sugar dissolves
  • Scrape down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming
  • Cook without stirring until the temperature on a candy thermometer reaches 260 F (start next steps while you wait)
  • Chop the chocolate into small pieces and microwave until melted, stirring after every 30 seconds to prevent overheating, and set aside to cool slightly
  • When the syrup reaches 250 F, begin to beat the egg whites on medium speed in a large, clean mixing bowl
  • Once the sugar syrup reaches 260 F, remove the pan from the heat
  • Turn the mixer to high speed and slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl
  • Continue beating on high speed for about 5 minutes, until the egg whites are shiny, white, and stiff
  • Turn the mixer down and add the melted chocolate, salt, and malted milk powder
  • Mix until everything is well-incorporated and smooth
  • Turn the mixer off and scrape the nougat on top of your cooled caramel base, smoothing the top into an even layer
  • Allow to set completely before proceeding to next step

Chocolate Coating and Assembly

  • 1/2 pound chocolate of choice
  • Line a few cookie sheets with parchment paper
  • Chop the chocolate into small pieces and microwave in small batches at a time until melted, stirring after every 30 seconds to prevent overheating, and set aside to cool slightly
  • Spray a sharp knife with nonstick cooking spray before cutting candy centers into even square or rectangles
  • Using a fork or toothpicks, dip each candy piece into melted chocolate, covering completly
  • Set each chocolate-covered candy bar on a cookie sheet and refrigerate to set completely
  • Wrap pieces individually with parchment paper or aluminum foil

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