Monday, July 14

Caramel Bean Truffles with Fleur De Sel

"What's a caramel bean?" you ask.  Let me explain...

Last month I was invited by Snack Out Loud to participate in a recipe showdown with two other Colorado based food bloggers.  Snack Out Loud would provide their Crunchy Bean Snacks and I would "reinvent" a recipe using one of their five flavours.

Never one to pass up a good challenge, I said "Bring it on!"

A day later a huge box landed on my doorstep.  Inside were several boxes of Snack Out Loud's Crunchy Bean Snacks.  The kids wanted to dig right in, but I needed to do a little research.  So we lined the five different flavours up on the dining room table and I started reading down the list of virtues on each package.

Gluten Free
All Natural
Packed with fiber and protein (7g per package!)
Made using 100% wind power (cool!)
Produced in my home-state of Colorado (local!)
and (most important to me!) Nut-Free

I was getting excited already, but I still hadn't tasted them.  So we ditched our typical afternoon snack (bread and fruit) and dove into the boxes on the table.

I went for Ranch first.  The beans were light, airy and crunchy and I was pleasantly surprised to find that they were slightly spicy!  This isn't your run of the mill potato chip ranch flavour!  It had a kick to it!  I closed my eyes and recipes flooded my mind.  These would be perfect sprinkled over a salad . . . like croutons . . . but perhaps that was a little too simple.

Next I grabbed a bag of Jalapeno Cheddar.  Whoa!  My tongue was on fire!  Immediately I thought of breading a chicken cutlet with these, serving it along side a spicy mango black bean salad with a cool margarita to wash it all down.  I got out a notebook and began jotting down recipe ideas.

Eve, meanwhile, was very happily munching away on a package of Tomato Basil bean snacks.  I took a few and thought of pesto.   Could I replace the pine nuts in traditional pesto with these?  A nut-free pesto served over pasta!  I wrote it down in my notebook.

Connor grabbed a bag of Smokey Chipotle BBQ.  A few seconds later he was panting and fanning his mouth with his hand!  These were a little sweet and a lot spicy!  I finished off his bag and got him a big glass of milk.  They reminded me of a sweet, smokey chili.  Something we'd eat on the camping trips of my childhood.  The kind of chili you sop up with hearty cornbread muffins . . . I scribbled "bake into cornbread" in my notebook.

Alas, it was getting late and we were all quite full (7 g of protein, remember) but there was still one flavor that no one had tried.  Lightly Salted.  I picked up a bag and popped a few in my mouth.  Crunchy.  Salty.  Mild.  Then it hit me: This was the perfect "blank canvas" on which to create a work of art.  Something unusual, out of the box.  Something decadent and sweet and unexpected.  The recipes poured in faster than I could write them all down.  In the end, when I finished the package, one word was written on the bottom on the notebook page: "Caramel."

And so, after a few days of playing in the kitchen with melted sugar, chocolate, ice cream and even a little spiced rum, the recipe was finally born.  I was inspired by the crunchy texture to create a candy that was deep, rich and salty.  I tossed the beans in a little homemade caramel and sprinkled them with cinnamon and sea salt.  They were amazing just like this - like caramel corn (I even sprinkled a few on my ice cream that evening).  I was tempted to eat the whole batch but held out.  I had bigger plans for these crunchy little caramel beans.  I made an easy chocolate ganache which I formed into little balls around the caramel beans.  I put the remaining beans in a plastic bag, handed Connor a meat mallet and let him go to town.  When the beans were crushed,  we rolled the truffles in them, pressing all that caramel-y, salty goodness into the sides of the candy.  Et voilà!  A nut-free caramel bean truffle was born - crunchy on the outside; rich and smooth on the inside.

And now you know what a caramel bean is.

Check out the recipe on and visit their facebook page to see what my competitors came up with.  Then vote for your favourite!  You can vote once a day and be entered to win a carton of your favorite Snack Out Loud flavor.


  1. I loved reading all the ideas that ran through your mind after trying each flavor! They all sound equally delicious, but I'm glad you went with the truffles- what a decadent and innovative recipe! Let us know if you follow through with any of the other ideas, we are always looking for new ways to enjoy our Crunchy Bean Snacks! -Keely

  2. Waiting for my box of truffle samples to arrive! Love it Rebecca!