Salted Caramel-Chocolate Truffles

 

I know a lot of people do not consider themselves a baker, or they get intimidated with complicated multi step recipes. Holiday time is a time to have fun and TRY to decrease your stress by just having fun in the kitchen and making tasty treats that you enjoy but are comfortable with. If you are not one to knock out a Buche de Noel then- by all means this easy truffle recipe is something you can certainly do. I love anything caramel and especially SALTED caramel. I HATE tempering chocolate so these truffles are covered in cocoa, but you could certainly dip them in tempered chocolate if you like a more formal looking truffle.

 

salted caramel_chocolate truffles 1

salted caramel chocolate truffles

Salted Caramel-Chocolate Truffles

yield: about 72-80 truffles

2 Cups sugar

1/2 Cup water

16 oz. (1 pound) semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 2 1/2 Cups)

1 1/2 Cups heavy cream

2 tsp. kosher salt

Cocoa powder (natural-unsweetened) for coating (such as Hershey’s)

1. In a heat proof medium bowl place the chocolate chips and set aside.

2. Place a small glass of water and insert a pastry brush inside the glass (I prefer a silicon brush for this) and set next to the stove. Measure the salt and have next to the stove as well.

3.  In a 3 quart (medium) saucepan place the sugar and carefully pour the water over the sugar to combine. Heat the sugar and water over medium high heat and bring to a boil until sugar turns amber in color. DO NOT stir the caramel- but rather swirl the pan from time to time to ensure color stays even. If sugar crystals form around the edges of the pan- take the wet pastry/silicon brush and let water drip down the sides of pan to dissolve any crystals. Once sugar is almost amber microwave the heavy cream for about 30-40 seconds until warm. Once sugar is amber color, remove from heat and pour in the warm cream and kosher salt and whisk to combine. Caution- with the adding of the cream it will bubble up and spit so be careful not to get burned. Combine well and then pour the caramel over the chocolate chips until combined and the chips are melted. Pour the mixture into a shallow cake pan or heat proof container. Chill the mixture (uncovered) in the refrigerator until it becomes set; about 50-60 minutes.

4. Remove chilled and set truffle mixture and scoop out small amounts (about 1 inch) and roll in your hands until smooth. If you have a small scoop this works well. Roll the balls in cocoa powder and place in a wax paper or parchment lined container. Once the truffles are all rolled, chill again to help the cocoa meld a bit to the chocolate. Serve at room temperature.


Buttery Crescent Dinner Rolls

Okay, I have a confession. I buy crescent rolls from a can. Sometimes. I know, I know…. Probably only twice a year. My son loves them and I admit I kind of like them too. I know I preach about not buying cinnamon rolls from a can so I feel kind of weird admitting this. Wednesday I accidently forgot to buy the can of rolls; and there was no way in heck I was going to maneuver the gauntlet store on Thanksgiving day just for a can of silly rolls. I always have packages of yeast in my cupboard, so I did what I should have planned from the beginning. I made rolls from scratch, and I’m so glad I did.

 

crescent rolls

 

crescent rolls ready for the oven

proofed, pillowy soft,  and ready for the oven…

tray of crescent rolls

out of the oven and ready for melted butter to be brushed onto each one…

buttery crescent rolls

Crescent Rolls

original recipe from: thekitchenmccabe

yield: 24 rolls

3/4 Cup milk (2 % is fine)

1/2 Cup  unsalted butter, divided

1/2 Cup (scant) sugar

1/2 an egg: (whisk and egg w/ a fork in a small bowl, then use 1/2-comes out to about 2 Tbsp. if you measure it).

4 1/2-5 1/2 Cup flour, divided

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. active dry yeast

1 Cup warm tap water

1 1/2 tsp. sugar

 

1. In a small saucepan combine the milk, 1/4 Cup butter, and scant 1/2 Cup sugar until the milk is very warm (scalded) but not boiling. Pour this mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer.

2.  To the mixer: Add 1 C. of flour, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, and the 1/2 egg to the milk mixture and quickly stir together with a dough hook attachment. Attach the dough hook to the mixer and turn on to low speed to help the mixture cool down while  you quickly prepare the  yeast

3. To prepare the yeast: in a small bowl combine the 1 Tbsp. yeast, 1 Cup warm (not too hot-or you will kill the yeast) water and 1 1/2 tsp. of sugar. Stir quickly to combine then let sit for about 5 minutes or until the mixture bubbles and appears foamy. Once yeast has bubbled, add it to the mixer bowl and continue to mix on slow/stir mode while you prepare to add remaining flour.

4. Add 3 C. of flour and mix together on medium/low speed. When mixed together, slowly add in enough remaining flour a little at a time until the dough is just slightly sticky. The dough should gather around the dough hook.

5. Prepare a large bowl greased with butter. (I used the paper from the butter to do this). Scrape the dough into the prepared bowl and cover lightly with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place to proof until mixture appears to have doubled. This should take about 40 minutes.

6. Divide the dough into 2 equal parts and roll each ball into a circle on a floured surface so that the thickness is a little less thick than 1/4 inch. Rub the circle with 2 Tbsp. of softened butter. Cut the circle into 12 equal wedge portions (like you would a slice of pizza). Roll each wedge crescent style starting from the back edge and place on a greased baking sheet. You want the tip end of the rolls turned under when you place them on the sheet pan. Place rolls on sheet pan so that across you have 3, and length wise; 8 deep.  Prepare and roll out the 2nd ball of dough the same, and  place rolls until all 24 rolls are placed on sheet tray. Curve the ends of the rolls forward slightly. Cover tray lightly with plastic wrap and let rolls rise until doubled. The rolls will push each other and touch until snug. This is what you want.

7. Bake the rolls in a preheated 350° F oven for about 15-20  minutes or until rolls are just turning lightly golden. Remove from the oven and brush top of rolls with melted butter. Let cool and serve warm or at room temp.

 


Oatmeal Raisinet Cookies

What do you do when you can’t decide between raisins and chocolate chips in your oatmeal cookie? You stir in raisinets. To ensure the cookies are moist and chewy I added a lit bit of desiccated unsweetened coconut. You don’t really taste the coconut but the moisture from the coconut ensures the cookie is chewy. The cookies are crisp on the edges with a nice chewy bite. If you like walnuts in your cookies you can also stir in a bit of chopped walnuts for extra texture.

oatmeal raisinet cookies

oatmeal raisinet cookies 3

oatmeal raisinet cookies 2

Oatmeal Raisinet Cookies

yield: about 3 dozen cookies

1 Cup unsalted butter, room temp

1 Cup granulated sugar

1/2 Cup Lt. brown sugar, packed + 1/2 Cup dark brown sugar, packed (I eyeballed this and used a 1 cup measuring cup to pack it as one).

2 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 Cup all purpose flour

1/2 Cup (scant) unsweetened desiccated coconut

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. + 1/8 tsp. cinnamon

3 Cups old fashioned (rolled oats)

1 Cup raisinets (chocolate covered raisins)

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Cream the butter and sugars (I used the stand mixer) until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until combined. Add the vanilla and combine. In a medium bowl with a fork, whisk the flour and the next 4 ingredients. Add the flour mixture all at once and stir to combine. Add the oats and mix well. add the raisinets and stir gently to combine.

2. Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Scoop the cookie dough with a scoop or spoon full; I used 1 1/2 Tablespoon size scoop. Flatten the top of each scoop of dough slightly with your fingertips. Allow 2 inches space between each cookie Bake for 15-16 minutes or until edges are set but centers are still very soft. Don’t overbake as the cookies will firm up once they cool. Allow cookies to cool completely on the warm tray over a wire rack until cool.


Copycat Starbucks Gingerbread Loaf

A few years ago I used to work around the corner from a Starbucks. Yes, seriously right around the corner. It was a dangerous thing- and yes, I became a little addicted to gingerbread loaf. Okay, a lot addicted. That was in the past and I’ve moved on. Sort of. Okay-I’m still craving that darn bread, but I decided to make my own and it’s pretty smack close. Matter of fact, I don’t think they sell it anymore-but don’t quote me. The bread- I’m satisfied with it. Really satisfied-so much so that I now need to get it out of my house and give some away to friends. Tis the season to get your gingerbread on.

starbucks copycat gingerbread loaf

gingerbread loaf

Copycat Starbucks Gingerbread Loaf

1/2 Cup melted unsalted butter

1/4 Cup vegetable oil

1/2 Cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 Cup sugar

1 large egg

finely grated zest of one tangerine “cutie” (or 1 tsp. orange zest)

1 Cup vanilla Greek yogurt

1 tsp. baking soda

1  1/2 Cup all purpose flour

2 tsp. cinnamon

2  1/4 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1/4  tsp. ground mace

Cream Cheese Icing: recipe below

Candied orange peel

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare a 9×5 inch loaf pan by spraying with baking spray and lining with a parchment paper to cover bottom and long sides of loaf pan with at least a 2 inch overhang. Spray lightly one more time all sides and bottom of loaf pan.

2. In a stand mixer using the paddle attachment combine the melted butter, oil, and sugars. Add in the egg and mix for one minute at medium speed. Combine the yogurt and baking soda well in a small bowl. In a separate bowl whisk the flour and next 5 ingredients. Add the yogurt mixture to the mixer bowl and beat well for about 2 minutes; making sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl. Add the flour mixture and mix until combined. Spread the batter into prepared loaf pan and bake at 350° F for about 45-50 minutes until a wooden skewer comes out clean. Allow gingerbread to cool in pan over a wire rack. Frost with cream cheese icing and sprinkle with finely diced candied orange peel.

Cream Cheese Icing:

4 oz. cream cheese, room temp

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temp

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 Cups confectioners sugar

Combine the first three ingredients until smooth. Slowly add in the confectioners sugar and beat until smooth.


Apple Turnovers

I know you want something easy. Nothing too fussy. Nothing too hard to pull together on a weekend. Sure, I get it. A good low maintenance recipe. A good reason , err- excuse to eat pie (sort of) for breakfast. I gotcha. More grown up than a pop tart. Something to throw into the hand of a 13 year old zooming out the door who doesn’t eat breakfast but complains he’s hungry. A grumpy husband perhaps who “doesn’t do breakfast”. Uh huh- you know the type. Enter stage left…duh duh duh the turnover. Your answer to something you can hold in your hand and shove (yep, conveniently it has a starter corner) into your–dare I say it–“Pie hole”. Sorry…I had to go there. Your welcome.

apple turnover filling

turnovers assembled

apple currant turnovers 2

apple currant turnovers

apple currant turnover

Apple Turnovers

yield: 4 turnovers

1/2 package of ready made puff pastry; thawed in the refrigerator

2 Golden Delicious apples

1 tsp. lemon juice

1 1/2 Tbsp. dried currants (optional)

1/3 Cup sugar + 2 Tbsp.

1/2 tsp. apple pie spice

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1/2 tsp. vanilla

2 1/2 tsp. cornstarch

2 1/2 tsp. water

egg wash: 1 egg mixed with 1 tsp. water

coarse white sugar or sugar in the raw (Demerara sugar)

1. Peel and chop the apples into about 1/2 inch pieces. Immediately toss the apples with the lemon juice to coat evenly. Stir in the (optional) currants. Add the sugar and spice and combine well. Mix together  the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and set aside.

2. In a skillet melt the butter and add the apple mixture. Cook over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes until apples soften. Stir in the vanilla and then add the cornstarch mixture and heat until filling bubbles and thickens, cooking for about 1-2 minutes. Remove the filling to a bowl and chill to allow the mixture to cool.

3. Unfold the puff pastry and sprinkle both sides lightly with flour. Using a rolling pill smooth out the fold lines and roll the pastry lightly into about an 11 inch square. Cut the puff pastry into 4 equal squares. Looking at each individual square of pastry brush the left inside and lower edges of each of the squares lightly with egg wash; being careful not to get the edges too wet.  Place about 3-4 tablespoons of the apple filling to the middle of each square. Fold down the top left corner edge of pastry to meet the opposite lower right corner to meet the corners together to form a triangle, and press lightly with your finger to seal. Take a fork dipped in flour and press/seal the edges of the triangle together. Place the turnovers onto a parchment lined baking sheet and brush each turnover with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Pierce the top of each turnover with a fork twice. Chill the turnovers directly on the tray for 30-40 minutes.

Note: you may fill & assemble each turnover and freeze unbaked. To bake off in a 425° F oven from frozen state; just bake a bit longer.

Note: you most likely will have about 3 Tbsp. of the filling leftover; you can save it and use to stir into oatmeal or yogurt later in the week.

4. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

5. Bake turnovers for 20-25 minutes until puffed and golden brown. Cool the sheet over a wire rack until turnovers are cool enough to handle. Best served warm.


A Trip to the Apple Orchard…

Fall is for apples, pumpkins, corn mazes, spiced cider and picking. Picking (literally) up any harvest you can get your hands on. In this case- we’re talking apples. I’m a Midwest girl. A Michigander. Apple cider probably runs in my veins. I know this sounds biased, but you just can’t get good apple cider outside Michigan. #SorryNotSorry. It’s the truth. I never met an apple I didn’t like.

Seth grew up in the city of San Francisco, so it’s not like he had tripped or stumbled upon an apple orchard before. I wanted Seth to experience visiting an apple orchard- so we took a little trip to Cranes Apple Orchard which is in Fennville Michigan; not too far from where I grew up. The smell of ripe apples, the crisp Fall air, the slightly soggy ground as you trudge along row after endless row of delicious sweet (or tart) apples. Every variety of apple you can imagine. Cortland, Empire, Golden Delicious, Macintosh, Gala…as well as some names I’ve never even heard of…the list was endless.

Yes, there is the ubiquitous sweet elderly lady-(probably there volunteering and not getting paid a dime- (but she doesn’t mind) serving up fresh apple slices. She’s donned in her striped woolen hat, and appropriate cold weather jacket as she lovingly grips a dark ruby red apple in her rough -(years on the farm)- worn calloused hand. She carves off a little chunk and hands you the little morsel as she awaits your reaction as you bite into the sweet juicy nugget. You nod, you chew, you pause just long enough, and politely without food in your mouth. “It’s sooo good!” you exclaim, as you make eye contact with her, and she smiles back in approval.  You can try a slice of each variety (she seriously doesn’t mind) before you dodge deep into the orchard abyss of appleness to begin picking.  This is not the Piggly Wiggly or Safeway. This is nature. Looking around you see apple trees as far as the eye will take you- with apples of all different hues. Your nose dripping from the cool air as you search each tree for the perfect apple to place in your bag. Apples that have NOT been shined, waxed or stacked up in a perfect tower of pyramid fashion. Children need to see where their food comes from once in a while. It’s a good thing. Beautiful ripe apples with leaves still attached. To top off the day, we stumbled and sometimes even fumbled- our way through the large corn maze on the property.

I hope you enjoy the pictures~

 

Seth holding apple

orchard landscape

The picture below; these may not be apple trees, but pretty none the less…orchard apple trees

barn at orchard

apple orchard

grounded apples 2

grounded apples

Even on the ground they are still beauties

Something tells me in this picture below; a little one must have dropped a Golden Delicious amongst the Cortland apple trees…

grounded apples 3

cranes orchard

apple tree 2

apples 1

crane orchard truck

apple tree 3

golden delicious apple treegolden apple trees

 

And just when we thought we had no energy left- we hit the corn maze; just a one hour detour…no biggy.

corn maze 2

corn maze entrance

deep inside the maze

a look at the maze from above

Seth in the corn maze

For some reason, I’m thinking of popcorn…

corn cob

maybe I should have turned left

Seth is thinking, Hmmm, maybe we should have turned left back there…

but I’m happy to report we made it out safe and sound.

corn maze


Cinnamon Swirl Scones

If a cinnamon roll and a scone had a baby it would be a cinnamon swirl scone, yes?  I know-stay with me (yes-it’s absurd-but just go with it). It’s what you make when your kid, husband or clan wants a cinnamon roll but you don’t want to futz with all the work of making rolls and quite frankly you don’t have the time…and DON’T you DARE whack a can of store bought something or other on the side of the counter. No, just no.

 

Cinnamon Swirl Scones 1

Cinnamon Swirl Scones 2

 

cinnamon swirl scones 3

 

Cinnamon Swirl Scones 4

Cinnamon Swirl Scones

yield: one dozen scones

Cinnamon filling:

1/2 Cup light brown sugar

1 Tbsp. Saigon cinnamon

3/4 tsp. vanilla powder

1/8 tsp. mace

6 Tbsp. softened unsalted butter

In a small bowl with a silicone spatula mash together all the filling ingredients until well combined, set aside.

Scone dough:

2  2/3 Cup self-rising flour

3 Tbsp. granulated sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla powder

6 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes; kept cold

3/4 Cup cold buttermilk (or if you don’t have buttermilk mix together 3/4 Cup milk with 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice or 1/2 tsp. white vinegar and let sit for 10 minutes)

Egg wash:

1 large egg

2 tsp. milk

1. With a fork whisk together the egg and milk and set aside.

Make Dough:

1. In a stand mixer bowl place the dry ingredients and using a hand whisk or fork- mix well. Add the cubed cold butter and blend by hand with a pastry blender until mixture has pieces of butter the size of peas.

2. With the paddle attachment and mixer on low; pour in the buttermilk and mix until mixture just comes together. Remove dough and turn out onto floured surface, fold and knead together gently about 6 times until dough is no longer sticky. Pat and shape the dough gently into a rectangle and with a rolling pin, finish rolling dough into a 12×9 inch rectangle. If you don’t have a ruler- use a 1/4 sheet pan as a rough guide for size. Make sure you have ample flour underneath the dough so when you go to roll up the dough it does not stick to the counter. Lift up all 4 edges of dough and place any extra flour to ensure it is not sticking.

3. Smear the cinnamon filling onto the dough and leave about 1/2 inch space at both edges of long sides, and about 1/4 inch of space on borders of short sides. Take the long side of the rectangle that is furthest away from you and gently roll towards you taking about 1/2 inch at a time, rolling into a log as tight as you can. Once the log is completely rolled together- pinch the dough seam with your first two fingers to ensure it is sealed as tight as possible. With a bench scraper, cut log into 12 equal pieces. Place cut side of scones onto prepared pans- (6 scones onto each pan), reshaping into circles gently as needed and place at least 2 inches apart.

4. Preheat the oven to 450° F. Place pans in refrigerator to chill for 20 minutes. After chilling, brush top and sides of scones with egg wash; checking again to make sure the seams on each roll are sealed. Bake in preheated 450° F oven for 14-15 minutes until light golden brown. Note: some of the filling may ooze and seep out (don’t worry-it happens even if you are careful). Let scones cool on sheet pan placed over wire rack until almost completely cooled, then drizzle with icing per recipe below.

Icing:

1 Cup + 3 Tbsp. confectioners sugar

2 Tbsp. milk

In a small bowl whisk together sugar and milk until smooth. Add additional sugar if needed to adjust consistency. You want a thickness that when pulling a table knife through the mixture; the icing does not hold the line of the knife.

 

 


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