Salted Caramels

Salted Caramels

If you have ever been scared to make caramels, please don’t be. As long as you have the right equipment (candy thermometer) than you can make perfect caramel candies. My son has been asking me to make these for some time now. He really enjoyed watching the process and especially loved seeing how the heavy cream reacts when you add it to the sugar mixture. We couldn’t wait for them to set up so we could test them out. These are amazing! The hit of sea salt, really makes the caramels sing in your mouth. The recipe says to keep chilled and serve chilled. I think it’s more of a personal preference for this. I liked the caramels at room temperature.

I’ll be making another batch of these babies this weekend. They tend to not last long once they are done.

Salted Caramels:

  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon fine fleur de sel, plus extra for sprinkling (fine sea salt will also work)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Line an 8-inch-square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing it to drape over 2 sides, then brush the paper lightly with oil.
  2. In a deep saucepan (6 inches wide and 4 1/2 inches deep), combine 1/4 cup water, the sugar and corn syrup and bring them to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil until the mixture is a warm golden brown. Don’t stir — just swirl the pan.
  3. In the meantime, in a small pot, bring the cream, butter and 1 teaspoon of fleur de sel to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat and set aside.
  4. When the sugar mixture is done, turn off the heat and slowly add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture. Be careful — it will bubble up violently. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon and cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until the mixture reaches 248 degrees F (firm ball) on a candy thermometer.
  5. Very carefully (it’s hot!) pour the caramel into the prepared pan and refrigerate for a few hours, until firm. When the caramel is cold, pry the sheet from the pan onto a cutting board. Cut the square in half. (If the caramel is too hard, let it sit for about 15 minutes to get to room temp)
  6. Starting with a long side, roll the caramel up tightly into an 8-inch-long log. Sprinkle the log with fleur de sel, trim the ends and cut into 8 pieces. (Start by cutting the log in half, then continue cutting each piece in half until you have 8 equal pieces.)
  7. Cut parchment paper into 4-by-5-inch pieces and wrap each caramel individually, twisting the ends. Store in the refrigerator and serve the caramels chilled or at room temperature.

Source: slightly adapted from Barefoot Contessa How Easy is that

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Cherry Cheesecake Cookies

Cherry Cheesecake Cookies

I really wanted to get these recipes posted sooner, but we had some personal issues come up and I’ve been very preoccupied with that. But I haven’t forgotten about you! So today, I will be posting two recipes in hopes that gives you enough time to gather the ingredients and make these wonderful treats this weekend. My plan for the weekend is to get together with family and make some more goodies for Christmas Day. I hope you get to do the same.

These cookies taste exactly like the name says, cherry cheesecake! They take some time to make but they are well worth all the work. I did find draining the cherries was a bit of a hassle. Use a good mesh strainer set over a large bowl, the filling slowly does separate from cherries. Just be patient and take out one cherry at a time and you’ll have yourself perfect cherry toppings!

Check back in a few hours for my next treat: Salted Caramels, Yummm!

Cherry Cheesecake Cookies:

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 (8oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 20 tbs (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 (20oz) cans cherry pie filling, drained
  1. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat cream cheese, butter, and sugar until smooth and creamy, 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, and mix until incorporated. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture, and mix until the just combined. Divide dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, 2 hours. 
  2. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place graham cracker crumbs in shallow dish. Working with one dough half, roll into 1 1/2 inch balls, then roll in graham cracker crumbs. Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Using rounded tablespoon measure, make indention in center of each ball. Place 3 cherries (don’t be afraid of how large they are compared to cookie, it’ll puff up) in each dimple. Bake until cookies have cracked and are set, 12 to 14 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Cool 10 minutes, then transfer to wire to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.  The cookies will last in the refrigerate for a few days.

Source: Americas Test Kitchen Holiday Cookies 2010

 

Chocolate Mint Cookies

Chocolate Mint Cookies

I’ve been having a lot of fun the past week with baking up a whole bunch of goodies for you. First up are these amazing Chocolate Mint Cookies. These cookies are very easy to put together. But you will need to plan to make these ahead of time since the dough will need to be refrigerated before you bake them. What I ended up doing was making the dough the night before I wanted to bake them and it worked out great. How these cookies get their mint flavor, is by placing an Andes chocolate mint on top of the cookie as soon as they come out of the oven. The heat coming from the cookie will soften the mint and will easily spread over the top. Let me just say, these will knock your socks off! They are sooo good. Happy Holiday Baking!

Chocolate Mint Cookies:

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 tbs (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 36 pieces Andes chocolate mints, unwrapped

To Make Dough Ahead of time:

  1. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Melt butter and brown sugar in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add bittersweet chocolate, cover pan with lid, and let stand off heat until chocolate melts, about 4 minutes. Stir until smooth, transfer chocolate to bowl of electric mixer, and let cool, about 10 minutes.
  2. With electric mixer on medium speed, beat the egg into cooled chocolate mixture until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low and mix in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour or overnight.

Baking cookies:

  1. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Roll 2 tsp dough into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake until cookies are just set, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating and switching baking sheets halfway through baking time. Remove from oven, top each hot cookie with 1 mint, and allow chocolate to soften, about 1 minute. Using knife, spread softened mint over top of cookies and transfer to rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes. Store cookies in airtight container at room temp for up to 1 week.

Source: Americas Test Kitchen Holiday Cookies 2010

Tea Cake Cookies

Cookies

The great thing about living close to my parents again is that I can drop by their house and then leave with some goodies. My dad made these amazing tea cake cookies and I stole a whole bunch so I could take their photo and of course eat them. These cookies taste a little like a snickerdoodle cookie but have a cake like quality to them. They are soft and chewy, which is my favorite kind of cookie. This recipe makes 6 dozen cookies, which makes it a perfect cookie for the Holiday’s.

On a side note: I am in the process of baking up a whole bunch of goodies for the blog. Be ready in the coming weeks for some great Holiday recipes. Happy Baking!

Tea Cake Cookies:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup cane syrup
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookies sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk flour and cinnamon together in a medium size bowl, set aside. Beat butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add cane syrup and next 2 ingredients  beating just until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
  3. Gradually add flour, beating at low speed just until blended after each addition. Drop dough by rounded spoonfuls 2 inches on prepared baking sheets. (you can use a cookie scoop)
  4. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or just until edges begin to turn golden brown. Cool on baking sheet for 1 minute then transfer to wire rack to completely cool. Cookies can be stored in airtight container for up to a week.

Source: Slightly adapted by Southern Living Magazine Nov 2012

Pumpkin Dump Cake

Tomorrow is the start of fall, and that my friends, is my favorite season. I’m going to kick off fall by giving you this great pumpkin recipe. Most of you might already know that pumpkin is something I’m very fond of. I have some great pumpkin recipes planned for the next couple weeks.

I will start you out on this dump cake. This recipe couldn’t be any easier, take a boxed cake mix and pour it over a delicious pumpkin concoction and top with crushed graham crackers, toffee bits, and butter. YUM! There is a tiny story behind me making this cake. The night before I began to heat up the broiler and heard a pop. My oven has decided to stop heating up. This is very sad news for any baker. Thankfully my parents now live very close to me and I was able to go over to their house and bake this cake for our Sunday dinner. Now I sit and hope that the oven won’t cost a fortune to fix. I can’t wait to get it back!

Other pumpkin recipes for you to enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Cookies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Cheesecake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Scones

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Bread

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Bars

 

Pumpkin Dump Cake:

  • 1 15 oz can Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 10 oz can Evaporated Milk
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter melted
  • 1 cup coarsely crushed graham crackers or pecans
  • 1/2 cup toffee bits (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and spray a 9×13 baking pan lightly with cooking/baking spray
  2. In a large bowl combine the pumpkin, evaporated milk, sugar, eggs and pumpkin pie spice. Stir to combine and pour into the prepared pan.
  3. Sprinkle entire box of cake mix on top, followed by the graham crackers or nuts and toffee chips.
  4. Pour the melted butter evenly on top.
  5. Bake for 45-50 minutes until center is set and edges are lightly browned.

Source: Slightly adapted from Cookies and Cups

 

Snickerdoodle Muffins

Oh, how I’ve missed all of you. We just recently got back from a much needed vacation. It was great seeing family and old friends. We went to Florida and met our new nephew, and I can’t even begin to explain how lucky all of us are to have this precious boy in our lives. I am missing him like crazy!

Look at this face and try to tell me you wouldn’t miss it.

Along with spending time with family we were able to go to Disney World, Legoland, and best of all, a Tampa Bay Rays game. Here are a few pictures of our trip.

Of course you know these famous faces. Mickey was so much fun and gave us lots of kisses.

My kids at Legoland. We had such a great time here. Of course my son loved it most of all. He’s a big Lego fan and has tubs of them in his room. I think he might end up working here one day.

Here is my grandmother and myself getting ready to go into the Rays game. We had the best time here, even with the game going into 14 innings. Thankfully, my Rays won so it was worth staying till Midnight.

How cool is this Mickey?

No trip to Florida would be complete without seeing the beaches. We went to Siesta Key in my hometown, which by the way, was awarded the best beach in the United States.

Now we are back to the normal grind of everyday. So I should probably let you know all about these awesome muffins. If you like snickerdoodle cookies, you are going to LOVE these muffins. They taste exactly like the cookies, they are moist and you won’t be able to stop at one.

Snickerdoodle Muffins:

  • 1 cup Butter, Softened
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla
  • 2-1/4 cups Flour
  • 3/4 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 3/4 teaspoons Cream Of Tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoons Salt
  • 1 cup Sour Cream
  • 1/4 cups Buttermilk

For the Topping:

  • 2/3 cups Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Cinnamon
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Prepare a muffin tin with 12 liners. (I was able to squeeze out about 14 muffins)
  2. In a mixer, combine the butter and sugar and cream until fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add half of the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add the sour cream and buttermilk and mix to combine. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix until you have a smooth batter.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon for the topping.
  5. Use an ice cream scooper and put a scoop of batter into the bowl with the sugar and cinnamon. Gently roll the batter in the sugar and cinnamon. Place the ball into the muffin liner.
  6. When you have completed all of the muffins, sprinkle the leftover cinnamon sugar onto the tops of all of the muffins.
  7. Bake the muffins for about 15-18 minutes or until they are golden on top and just baked through.

Source: Slightly adapted by Heather Christo via Tasty Kitchen

Red White and Blue Whoopie Pies

Happy Independence Day! Today is the day we celebrate our nations independence. I’m sure many of you will be out with family and friends celebrating. We are planning to go to my sister-in-laws house for swimming and of course food and fireworks. Earlier in the week I brainstormed on what I could bring that would showcase our nations colors. I started thinking about whoopie pies. I live in Pennsylvania and whoopie pies are a staple here. I decided that I could make a vanilla whoopie pie and dye the batter to make the blue and the red and have the frosting as the white. I was so happy that they turned out exactly like I had imagined.

Here are a few tips to create perfect looking whoopie pies

Start out drawing 2 1/4 inch circles on the parchment paper. I used a glass to trace the circles. Turn the paper over when you put it on your baking sheet. That way you don’t have traces of pencil getting on your batter.

Next you will pipe out the batter within the circles. I used a Wilton 2A tip.

They are now ready to go into the oven and get baked.

Red White and Blue Whoopie Pies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 1/2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • Red and Blue gel food coloring. (I use Ameri-color and Wilton gel)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a pencil, outline 2 1/4 – 2 1/2 inch circles spacing them a few inches apart.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder and set aside.
  3. In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or hand mixer), cream together the butter and sugar, till light and fluffy. Once combined; add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix till just combined.
  4. Add the flour to the wet ingredients alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Be gentle and do not overmix. Divide the batter into two bowls. In one bowl add the blue coloring, till desired color is reached, and mix till combined. Repeat with the red coloring in the other bowl.
  5. Place batter into a large piping bag (I used 16 inches) fitted with a large round tip. (I used Wilton 2A). Pipe the batter within the circles on the parchment paper.
  6. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until the center is just firm. Remove from oven and transfer to cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.
  7. Once the pies are cooled and ready; match up the pies and spread or pipe the icing on one side then sandwich with the matching piece.
Frosting:
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 TBS vanilla
  • 4 cups Confectioners sugar
  1. In a bowl fitted with paddle attachment (or hand mixer), cream together the butter, milk, flour and vanilla. Add the confectioner sugar and beat together till light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes.

Source: slightly adapted by King Arthur Flour frosting from the Pumpkin Whoopie Pies