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Do you remember the sweets you loved to eat back when you were a kid? Do you still love them today? Does it bring back fond memories to enjoy one or two sometimes?

Carambars are some of the sweets that French kids can enjoy. They can still be bought singly in some shops or bakeries, for some euro cents, or in packages.

Carambar has never been my favorite, because it is basically (I’ll get to this in a second) a caramel and it will stick to your teeth and I’m not such a fan of stuff that stick to your teeth… (yeah, well ;-)

But what makes carambars special caramels is the way they are made. They are made with chocolate. The story goes that

In 1954, Mr. Galois, Production Manager of the DELESPAUL – HAVEZ company and Mr. Fauchille’s son, the factory’s director, wanted to use a surplus of cocoa, and had the idea of combining cocoa and caramel in a new recipe.

The legend says that one of the factory’s machines didn’t function correctly on that occasion, giving birth to a sweet which was unusually long in size. It is a caramel which has the form of a bar, hence that was called CARAMBAR

Carambars are also well known for the (easy) jokes that are included in the inside of the wrapping. Like the following one, which play on words and is hardly translatable.

Loosely translated: “Who is the biggest crawler between a cobbler and a clothes maker? The cobbler because he’s a bootlicker.”

I warned you.

So, to go back to the sweets of our childhood, I had an occasional carambar once in a while, but that’s it.

In the past few years, there has been some kind of a trend among bloggers and cooking book editors to make recipes out of those childhood sweets. They called it regressive food and sometimes analyzed it as a need for young adults to go back to their childhood happy moments. That was also the time when TV cartoons from the 80’s were released in DVDs and bought mainly by young adults who were kids during the 80’s (that includes yours truly). They created a name for those young adults who have fond memories of their childhood and feel the need to somehow re-live them: adulescent (a mix of teenager and adult in French).

Anyway, more than the idea of finding comfort in the memories of my childhood, I liked the idea of baking cakes with sweets because it was original. Actually, I was never a huge fan of sweets like carambars, fraises tagada, and other gummy bears (for those curious about the variety, check Haribo’s website). I loved – and still do love – the way they looked though: bright colors and funny forms.

My first recipe with carambars was a carambar and apples cake. It was an instant success with family, friends, colleagues. And I baked it several times since. The sugary taste of the carambars is balanced by the apples.

Since I had a full bag of carambars, I thought I would do it again but… I had rhubarb left and I was tempted to try to oppose the tart taste of the rhubarb to the sweet cocoa-caramel of the carambar. And here is our recipe :-) Both tastes were recognizable: they did not completely balance each other but they complemented each other instead. We liked it here :-)

I have no idea which kind of sweet could be used instead of the carambar in the U.S. but a quick Amazon search revealed they could be ordered :-)

So if you wish to try it, here is the recipe. You will need:
– 3 eggs
– 1/4 cup + 1-1/2 tbsp sugar
– 1 cup + 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 1/2 cup + 3 tbsp butter
– 20 carambars
– a little less than 4 fl oz milk
– 1 tsp salt
– 4-5 rhubarb stalks

1. Start by preheating your oven to 350F and taking the 20 carambars out of their wrappings (it takes some time…).

2. In a saucepan, melt the carambars with the milk and butter on medium heat, stirring regularly.

Don’t worry if the caramels initially stick to the pan, it will give you a nice sauce eventually. That’s why it’s important to stir regularly ;-)

3. In the meantime, grease a cake pan with a little butter. Cut the rhubarb stalks in 1/2-inch pieces and put them in the cake pan.

4. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar and eggs. Add the flour, baking powder and salt.

5. Once your carambar melt is ready, add it to the big bowl and mix well.

6. Pour the batter over the rhubarb pieces, in the cake pan. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.

7. Wait at least 10 minutes to take it out of the mold (don’t do as I did – waited only 5 minutes – or your cake could collapse a bit, like in the pics below). Enjoy!

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