Posts Tagged ‘Caramel’

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Winter Doldrums

February 5, 2014

 caramel iii

Winter is really getting me down this year.  I’m not one to complain about the weather.  I mean what’s the point?  I can’t control it, so I usually roll with it.  But not this year.  This year the snow, and boy have we had it in spades, and the cold have gotten to me.  I know this isn’t my favorite season, but still, I’m so over the polar vortex and all it entails.

To help me with deal with winter, I bought a cookbook.  I don’t usually buy cookbooks, I find that there is only one or two recipes I use out each one.  Then they just take up space in my cupboard.  That’s not to say that I don’t have any cookbooks, just that I’ve scaled back quite a bit on them.  But, I bought The New Midwestern Table by Amy Thielen.  She’s awesome.  There are quite a few gems in this book and I hope to work my way through a few during these cold months.

I made her caramel recipe, which is very similar to a recipe that I’ve made for years.  I think the only difference is my original recipe had a time measurement for cooking the candy, which got me in trouble the first time I made it.  I didn’t have a candy thermometer, so I made a lot of caramel sauce.  Her recipe also helped me figure out how to cut the candy.  I stopped making caramel for that reason alone.

So, obviously, you’ll need a candy thermometer to make these awesome treats.  And you can add nuts.  I sprinkled some crushed cashews to the top half of my last batch.  I also added an additional sprinkle of salt to the top before it set.  Yum!

 

caramel iiCaramel

  • 2 C Heavy Cream
  • 2 C Sugar
  • 1 C Butter
  • 2 C Light Corn Syrup
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • 2 t Vanilla

Line a quarter sheet baking pan with parchment paper.

In a heavy wide-bottomed stock pot combine 1 C cream, sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt.  Bring to a simmer, then a boil.  Once the mixture has boiled for a few minutes, add the remaining cream.  Cook steadily over medium heat, to a steady low boil, stirring intermittently with a wooden spoon.  Cook the caramel until 238 degrees , soft candy stage.  You will know you are close when the mixture thickens and turns an amber color .  Once it is 238 degrees, add the vanilla, stirring to combine and pour in prepared pan.  Let the caramel cool at room temperature overnight.

Cut a large stack of waxed paper into 2 or 3 inch squares, and set aside.

When ready to slice, remove from pan and place face down on a cutting board to remove the paper.  Use a serrated knife and cut the caramel into 1/2 or 1 inch pieces, place on the waxed paper pieces, roll and twist the ends.

These can last for months at room temperature.

Makes 100-150 pieces of candy.

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Dessert Pizza

March 12, 2012

Yesterday was unseasonably warm.  This great weather is going to stick around all week.  If March comes in like a lion, this one must be really under the weather.  I’m not complaining.  This great weather allowed my to run five outside.  It was my first outside run since last year.  It was glorious!  I was also able to start some spring clean up in the yard.  I know I’ll be sorry when we get more snow, but yesterday was too nice a day to not take advantage.

My husband even removed the grill from the garage and placed it on the patio.  He then made the best ribs ever, or they sure seemed that way because it’s been so long since we’ve had them.

I made a quick and easy dessert.  I saw the inspiration for it on Chicago’s Best.  I’ve been looking for an easy recipe to show case Nutella and this one could not be more perfect.  Oh, and it involves bacon.  I love bacon with chocolate, it’s that salty and sweet again.  We found a candy shop near us that sells bacon dipped in chocolate on a stick.  Heaven.  The use of the flatbread makes the crust super crisp, and I actually used whole wheat flatbread because that’s what we prefer.

Could you use white chocolate too?  Sure.  But I would stay away from nuts, unless they are salted and chopped super fine.

Nutella Pizza

  • 1 Flatbread
  • 1/4 C Nutella
  • 6 pieces Bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 2 T Milk Chocolate Chips
  • Caramel

Spread the Nutella on the flatbread.  Sprinkle with the bacon and drizzle on the chocolate.  Bake in a 450 degree oven for 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and drizzle with caramel.

Serves 4-6.

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Happy Holidays!

December 29, 2011

First, I would like to apologize.  I’ve not been able to post as often as I would like to lately.  I’ve been off of work all week and I think I may be looking forward to returning next week.  That’s how much activity I’ve been cramming into each day.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying all the activity.  Who doesn’t enjoy spending time with family and friends, especially this time of year?  We’ve entertained people three nights this week,and they’re some of the best people I know.  Yesterday, we spent part of the morning scooping up some wonderful sales.  I love kitchen gadgets and a great sale.  Two of my favorite stores have the best after Christmas sales: Crate and Barrel and Sur La Table.  During the month of December, I’ve gotten into the habit of writing down little things that I need to replace or find for my kitchen.  A new shaker for my powdered sugar?  Check.  Some new cutting boards?  Check.  Cute holiday cocktail napkins for my bar? Check.

We also hit Trader Joe’s for some yummy Cookie Butter.  Thanks Denise for steering me in that direction!  The possibilities with this product… The cashier told me that this may become a permanent item in the store!

After all this activity, I’m glad that we keep our New Year’s quiet.  It’s all about the fondue in our house.  We’ve never made it to midnight, but that’s okay.  New Year’s morning is all about the panettone french toast.

Okay, let’s talk about some cookies.  I found this recipe in the December issue of Better Homes and Gardens.  They looked too simple not to try.  The spice from the cookie and the creaminess from the melted white chocolate really compliment each other.

My only complaint was they looked too bland.  They didn’t have that wow factor on the plate.  Do you know what I mean?  When I get my cookie plate together, I want people to struggle with the decision of which cookies to try.  I want them to take more than one.  I don’t want them to pass up a cookie because it doesn’t look amazing.  Maybe it’s because I was always picked near the end in gym class… Anyhow, I added a little drizzle of caramel to the top of the cookie to seal the deal.

Vanilla Allspice Thumbprints

  • 1 1/4 C Flour
  • 1/2 t Allspice
  • 1/4 t Baking Powder
  • 1/4 t Salt
  • 1/2 C Butter, softened
  • 1/4 C Sugar
  • 1 Egg Yolk, room temperature
  • 3/4 t Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 C White Chocolate Chips
  • Caramel for garnish (I used the jar kind used on sundaes)

In a small bowl, whisk the flour, allspice, baking powder and salt.  Set aside,  In a large bowl, beat the butter.  Add the sugar and continue to beat for 2 minutes.  Add the egg yolk and beat for another minute.  Add the vanilla extract and beat until mixed.  Slowly add the flour mixture, scraping the sides of the bowl and making sure the dry ingredients are well incorporated.  Shape the dough into balls and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.  Make an indentation in the center of each ball with your thumb or a handle end of a wooden spoon.

Bake for 9 to 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven until the cookies are dry and firm to touch.  Rotate the cookies if necessary. Let the cookies cool on wire racks.  While the cookies cool, place the chocolate pieces in a small microwave safe bowl and cook the pieces until melted, 30 to 60 seconds.  Us a small spoon to fill each cookie and let the chocolate set.  Drizzle with caramel.

Makes 2 1/2 – 3 dozen cookies.

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Twisted Strata

May 1, 2011

I made a new version of french toast strata last week for brunch.  I’ve been wanting to kick up my strata recipe for a while and thought using banana bread was a perfect way to do that.

I love a good strata.  I love that you can make it the night before and then just stick it in the oven in the morning.  Strata is perfect for brunch, or a Sunday morning after church.  I made a strata the night before my wedding to serve to the girls as they got ready for church.

This version came to me after I had a wonderful banana bread pudding a few weeks ago.  I’ve also been reading about how soaking nuts is a great way to have a healthy snack.  So pairing them together seemed like a no brainer.  I was right.  Of course, if you have a nut allergy, I don’t think that omitting the pecans will alter the recipe that much.

I used my banana nut recipe as the base of the strata and just omitted the pecans.  I’ve actually been making the bread that way that last few times lately.  It’s the number of bananas that really makes this recipe so moist and yummy.  You could use whatever banana bread you like, though.  I won’t judge.  Just make sure that whatever bread you use, it’s cool.  Making the bread a few days ahead would be best.

Banana Bread Strata

  • For the Bread:
  • 2 1/2 C flour
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 3/4 C butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 C light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 7 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 t vanilla

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Grease 2 loaf pans.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, soda and salt with a wire whisk; set aside.  In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs, bananas and vanilla.  Beat at medium speed until thick.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the flour mixture and blend at low speed just until combined.  Do not overmix.  Pour the batter into the prepared pans.  Bake for 60-70 minutes.  A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean and the bread should pull away from the sides.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Turn the pans on the side; cool to room temperature before removing and slicing.

I usually make this bread once I have 7 ripe bananas.  I just accumulate them and stick them in a bag in the freezer until I have the right amount.  The riper the banana, the better the bread!  (You can also add a cup of pecans to the bread, but then I wouldn’t add them to the strata.)

  • For the Strata:
  • 1/2-3/4 of a loaf of banana bread
  • 3 Eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 C Half and Half (or whole milk)
  • 1/2 C Caramel (use your favorite jar caramel)
  • 1 T Vanilla
  • 1/2 C Pecans, chopped (optional)

Cut the bread up into 3/4 inch cubes.  Place the cubes in an even layer inside a 11×7 prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle the chopped pecans on top of the bread.  Beat the eggs, half and half, caramel and vanilla in a separate bowl until combined.  Pour the egg mixture over the bread.  Cover, refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.  Cook in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes.  Garnish with leftover caramel, syrup or powdered sugar.

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Cinnamon Cider

September 24, 2010

Meeshie and my husband just left for a nature walk with the Girl Scouts.

The walk will be from 8-9 pm and there will be ‘smores.  I sent them off with this awesome cinnamon cider to keep them warm. 

This is one of my favorite drinks this time of year.  It’s great for a crowd plus it’s really simple to make.

Oh-yeah and you can spike it with Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum or Cinnamon Schnapps.  But it’s so good that you don’t have to if you don’t want to.

Cinnamon Cider

  • 1 gallon Apple Juice
  • 1 container of Caramel-the size really doesn’t matter just use the caramel you put on ice cream
  • 4-6 Cinnamon Sticks

Combine all three ingredients into a large pot.  Heat on low until warmed through making sure that you don’t bring the mixture to a boil.  Before serving you can remove the cinnamon sticks, but I usually keep them in.  You can then ladle it into cups or transport it into a pump thermos. 

Enjoy.

This is a wonderful companion to the pumpkin donut muffins!

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