Monday, June 14, 2010

Perth County Week: Chocolate Barr's Candies

What better way to end a fabulous day in Stratford than a little sweet treat at Stratford’s own “chocolate factory”, Chocolate Barr’s Candies, located in the heart of downtown Stratford. Owned and operated by Derek Barr and his wife Jacqueline, Chocolate Barr’s has been open since 2003 and offer such delectable treats as chocolates, jellies, nutty pop, brittle, confections and more.

No matter what age you are, you are sure to become a giddy little child as you enter the Chocolate Barr’s store and find yourself surrounded by beautifully wrapped chocolates and candies, and the smell of melting chocolate wafting from the back where the magic happens.

We were quickly whisked to the back upon our arrival and were given our sexy attire of hairnets. Derek was going to teach us to make nutty pop, “caramel corn with a university degree,” as he describes it.

Two pounds of butter went into the copper cauldron along with brown and white sugar and glucose. We took turns stirring the pot, waiting for the sugar mixture to reach the perfect temperature before almonds, pecans and popcorn are added at each interval. The mixture is then poured onto the stainless steel table where it is quickly spread out to cool. Although not completely cool, the nutty pop was absolutely delicious: the perfect combo of sweet and salty, along with the crunchy of the popcorn and nuts with the chewiness of the still-warm caramel.

Derek had also made some chocolate-covered icewine jellies for us to try with three different flavours to choose from: raspberry, blueberry and jalapeno. I’m not usually a jelly fan, but these were so good. The raspberry jelly I had was the perfect amount of sweetness, and it worked so well with the chocolate as well. Definitely give them a try if you ever find yourself at Chocolate Barr’s.

Soon we were all distracted as we made our way back into the storefront to pick up some treats. I couldn’t resist picking up some more nutty pop, and Nina swore by their chocolate pretzels. I too was eyeing the chocolate pretzels when I walked in the door (hello, that salty-sweet combo again!), so I definitely picked up a bag to satisfy my sweet tooth.

If you can’t make it to Chocolate Barr’s Candies, Derek has been kind enough to share his Nutty Pop recipe that you can make at home. Give it a try. It really is worth the time and effort!

Chocolate Barr’s Nutty Pop
Courtesy of Derek Barr

230 g white usgar
140 g brown sugar
90 g glucose (or corn syrup)
230 g raw whole almonds
230 g raw pecans
60 g popped popcorn
Pinch of salt
90 g butter
90 g water

In a large heavy-bottom pot, mix the white sugar, brown sugar, glucose, salt and water. Bring to a boil and add the butter. Using a candy thermometer, cook the syrup to 260˚F.

Add the almonds and cook the syrup to 285˚F. Add the pecans and cook to 300˚F and turn off the heat. Fold in the popcorn carefully and pour onto a greased pan or parchment paper.

Remember to always wash any sugar crystals that form on the side of the pot with a heat-resistant brush and water. These can and will cause your batch to grain off (while the product will still taste good, it will not keep as well and will look dull).

Chocolate Barr’s Candies
136 Ontario Street, Suite 1
Stratford, ON
Tel: 519-272-2828


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