Just when I thought I'd filled my arsenal with enough delicious homemade holiday treats, along came heavenly hash to sweep them all under the carpet. (Well, for today at least.) The combination of bittersweet chocolate, roasted almonds, and marshmallows is truly a gift from above!
Heavenly Hash may be better known as an ice cream flavor, but it actually started out as a candy. The homemade treat was originally created by a New Orleans department store to pass out to shoppers, up until the recipe was acquired by Elmer's Candy Corp and promptly launched into large scale production. That was 1923, and the egg-shaped chocolate and marshmallow confection still remains a Louisiana Easter tradition.
I made these bars with the intention of serving them at a friend's holiday party, but unfortunately half didn't make it to their final destination — they were just too addictive not to keep gobbling up after every pass through the kitchen. So Instead of sharing them all, I (greedily) tucked the remaining bars into a cookie tin and offered them up as a hostess gift. And then I told the recipients to hide them deep in the abyss of their refrigerator in order to keep me out. Am I being dramatic here? Sadly only a little bit.
New Orleans folks know a thing or two about the good life (and great food) and these "heavenly" treats are definitely no exception. There are quite a few homemade versions floating around, but this one is my favorite; I promise it is so much more than the sum of its parts. You can form the candy into little clusters if you'd like, but I prefer to cut them into mile-high bars. Not only to they look totally awesome, but you get more marshmallows and almonds to chocolate in each and every bite. Hallelujah!
Heavenly Hash Bars
Makes approximately 12 squares or 16 clusters; can be doubled
light corn syrup
bittersweet chocolate, chopped
vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
roasted, salted almonds, kept whole
Line an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper with enough excess hanging over the sides of the pan to use as "handles"; spray paper with cooking spray.
Combine the sugar, evaporated milk, and corn syrup in a medium-sized, heavy saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking often, and continue boiling the mixture until it reaches 218°F to 220°F on an instant read thermometer, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let cool for 2 minutes. Fold in chocolate and vanilla and stir until melted. Let cool for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, then fold in the nuts and marshmallows.
Transfer the chocolate mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread evenly with a silicone spatula. Refrigerate the candy until firm, at least two hours. Using the parchment paper handles, remove the candy from the baking dish and cut into squares. (It helps to use a knife dipped in hot water.)
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Pull 5 to 10 minutes prior to serving.
To make clusters instead of bars: using a spring-form ice cream scoop, drop round clusters onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a Silpat. Refrigerate until hardened, at least 1 hour. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator; pull out 30 minutes before serving.