Archives for posts with tag: caramel

Last year we thought we ruined the chocolates and they were perfect. This year we got lazy and paid the price…

We were both over whelmed, feeling the stress of the holidays and decided to try and be nice to ourselves during the chocolate making process. We sat on the couch and talked now and then, we ate three meals of real food and there may have been wine. And there may also have been chocolate that wasn’t well tempered. The problem is, you don’t know how the tempering process went until you’re 10 hours in and there’s no going back. It was time to take the chocolates out of the molds and well, they didn’t come out. There was mild panic as we tried again and then as the realization sunk in that they might not come out at all the real panic began. After some freezer sessions and some serious banging of the molds outside where we could make more noise, we finally got (almost) all of the chocolates out of the molds. They weren’t perfect, but at that point at least they existed and we new that our friends & family would appreciate the story, appreciate that we tried to enjoy the process and most of all appreciate the fact that they still tasted amazing!

The adventure begin early this year - testing various combinations for the centers. Here are two versions using Apple Cider Syrup. One was apple cider caramel and the other an apple cider, vanilla and white chocolate ganache. We went with the ganache - aka Apple Pie Alamode (although I forgot to add the cinnamon to the final batch).

The adventure begin early this year – testing various combinations for the centers. Here are two versions using Apple Cider Syrup. One was apple cider caramel and the other an apple cider, vanilla and white chocolate ganache. We went with the ganache – aka Apple Pie A la mode (although I forgot to add the cinnamon to the final batch).

Next up - my favorite chocolate combination - Passion Fruit! I tried four, passion fruit gelato jell and the most incredible passion fruit jam. Each with white and milk chocolate. The passionfruit jam with milk chocolate was the clear winner (and I think the overall chocolate winner of the year, but I'm biased)

Next up – my favorite chocolate combination – Passion Fruit! I tried four: passion fruit gelato jell and the most incredible passion fruit jam, each with white and milk chocolate. The passion fruit jam with milk chocolate was the clear winner (and I think the overall chocolate winner of the year, but I’m biased)

The four centers: Apple Pie A la Mode, Passion Fruit, Burnt (really burnt - oops) Caramel, and a Dark Milk Chocolate to pair with the Honey Roasted Peanut Butter

The four centers: Apple Pie A la Mode, Passion Fruit, Burnt (really burnt – oops) Caramel, and a Dark Milk Chocolate to pair with the Honey Roasted Peanut Butter

Five pounds of beautiful bittersweet chocolate.

Five pounds of beautiful bittersweet chocolate.

Four molds at the ready.

Four molds at the ready.

Getting there - Shells have been set, fillings are in, sealing them and then futile attempts to release them are still to come.

Getting there – Shells have been set, fillings are in, sealing them and then futile attempts to release them are still to come.

While the chocolates set, we used the extra to dip Swedish Fish (addictive!), pretzels and apricots. And to make bark: peppermint candy, dried nuts & fruit, and cashew, toffee & sea salt.

While the chocolates set, we used the extra to dip Swedish Fish (addictive!), pretzels and apricots. And to make bark: peppermint candy, dried nuts & fruit, and cashew, toffee & sea salt.

We blame the wine, for this year's not so perfectly tempered chocolates.

We blame the wine, for this year’s not so perfectly tempered chocolates.

My other favorite part - packaging them up!

My other favorite part – packaging them up!

To continue the chocolate theme, I had a Hot Chocolate Bar set-up for friends as they came to pick-up their chocolates.

To continue the chocolate theme, I had a Hot Chocolate Bar set-up for friends as they came to pick-up their chocolates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I realized I’ve had a string of sewing/crafting posts so it seemed like well past time to share some baking delights. And this morning provided a couple tasty subjects.

We had a baby shower for a good friend today and I’d been trying to think of what sweet things to make for her. She loves salted caramel, so this recipe from Smitten Kitchen was a no-brainer since I know I can trust that her recipes will turn out even on the first try.  So what to pair with it? Something non-chocolate? Then it hit me… this baby made her mama extra nauseous early in the pregnancy and one of the only things that sounded good were pop-tarts (and hot chocolate, but now that the sun is out that didn’t seem as appealing). Yup, time to try homemade pop-tarts. And this recipe for strawberry nutella pop-tarts seemed like the perfect place to start.

Happily both turned out – especially the brownies, those will be a new go-to favorite I’m sure!

Ready for a morning of baking

Ready for a morning of baking

As much as I bake, my little secret is that I pretty much avoid any dough that has to be rolled out – it scares me. But I was too excited about the pop-tart idea and besides, my friend is worth it. I also had a duh moment when I realized that just because I have a baby food processor that doesn’t mean I can’t use it. I needed two balls of dough anyway, so I just mixed it up in two batches and just like that – pastry dough! I just might be able to add a whole new category of baking into my repertoire.

I know it's not an exciting photo, but I was so proud of these two little balls of dough that I'm sharing anyway.

I know it’s not an exciting photo, but I was so proud of these two little balls of dough that I’m sharing anyway.

Then came the rolling and cutting and filling stages of the pop-tarts; not so bad. And more importantly I got a complement on the flaky pastry dough!

Pastry with nutella and strawberry jam.

Pastry with nutella and strawberry jam.

They're starting to look like pop-tarts!

They’re starting to look like pop-tarts!

Ta da! Homemade pop-tarts.

Ta da! Homemade pop-tarts.

Next up… the brownies. Which started with homemade caramel (getting over that fear really opened up a whole new world of goodness).

Caramel bits ready for the brownies.

Caramel bits ready for the brownies.

Gooey chocolate with caramel bits? yes please.

Gooey chocolate with caramel bits? yes please.

Salted caramel brownies. These were a chewy, gooey, decadent treat that I'll be making again for sure!

Salted caramel brownies. These were a chewy, gooey, decadent treat that I’ll be making again for sure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

It may be trendy, but it’s trendy for a reason and I’m a sucker for any combo of chocolate, caramel & salt. The proof is the latest string of desserts I’ve made that are all variations of the triple threat.

The funny part is that as a kid I was so against salt being in anything sweet, that I wouldn’t even put the salt into the chocolate chip cookie dough. Guess I’m making up for it now…

First, the sweet, but not too rich, perfect finger food: chocolate caramel shortbread bars.

It’s like making ganache, but with caramel instead of cream. Who knew?

Then the chocolate caramel goes on top of the brown sugar shortbread layer.

Chill, cut, a generous sprinkle of sea salt, perfect!

Add in a bit of savory and some wine and it’s the perfect spread for an afternoon of girl talk in the garden.

 

Next up, salted caramel chocolate chip bars – simple, gooey decadence.

Adding the caramel to the bottom layer of chocolate chip cookie dough.

A little more cookie dough on top.
(my pan was bigger than the recipe was meant for, but it all worked out just fine).

It was almost disaster when I dropped the pan on the way to the potluck. But the caramel kept the bars locked into the pan.
Yum!!

While I loved the first two and they’re perfect for potlucks or parties, nothing tops my new favorite (and sure fire crowd pleaser), the salted caramel chocolate tart.

This was the first dessert I’d ever dared to attempt caramel for (luckily the recipe had very specific directions) and now I’m hooked (obviously).

Every layer of this tart is amazing. The chocolate crust is my new favorite tart crust. And the caramel that fills it is definitely my favorite caramel recipe. I was afraid I’d over cooked it the second time, but it actually worked even better to counter the sweet chocolate.

Some bittersweet chocolate ganache and some sea salt to top it off.
While each layer is pretty simple, they do all need to chill for a few hours so it’s a lengthy process, but more than worth it.

It tasted even better as the final course of a beach-side feast.