Fleur de Sel Caramels

Everyone likes to receive a gift. Sometimes the best gift is when it’s totally unexpected. Maybe you want to thank your neighbor for always bringing your mail in when you’re out-of-town. Perhaps you’ve gotten to know your UPS man so well, you know his first name (you know who you are) and want to thank him for always leaving your packages in that right discreet hidden spot instead of leaving that annoying ticket. There can be a myriad of reasons why you want to show a little sugar love. Here’s an idea-bring a batch of these to your kids next swim meet-whip them out and start making new friends. Enjoy.

Salted Caramels 2

Salted Caramel wrapped

Salted Caramels 3

Fleur de Sel Caramels

recipe: Ina Garten

(yield: 64 pieces)

1  1/2 Cups sugar

1/4 Cup water

1/4 Cup light corn syrup

5 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 Cup heavy cream

1 tsp. Fleur de sel (kosher salt would also do)+ more for sprinkling

1/2 tsp. vanilla

Prepare an 8 inch square pan by lining it with parchment paper (both sides) so that the paper hangs over the sides by two inches, and lightly brushing it with vegetable oil. In a 2 cup glass measuring cup heat the cream until hot. Stir in the butter and salt and set aside. Have a candy thermometer available.

In a heavy 2 quart saucepan place the sugar, water, and corn syrup and bring to a boil over medium high heat. DO NOT STIR, but swirl the pan occasionally as necessary to maintain even heat distribution. Boil until the syrup mixture is golden brown. Remove from the heat and carefully add the cream mixture (be careful as it will bubble up and spit) stir with a heat proof spatula or wooden spoon and return to the heat and bring back to a boil using a candy thermometer until the mixture reaches hard ball stage. When the mixture reaches hard ball (248° degrees F) add in the vanilla, stir and pour into prepared pan. Allow the pan to cool in the refrigerator until set. Cut into one inch squares and sprinkle with additional salt. Wrap in 4×4 inch squares of wax paper and twist the ends. Store in a cool place.


Carmelita Bars

I’m at it again. For some reason I have caramel obsession on the brain lately. I’ve actually been wanting to make these for some time. Last summer we went to our local San Francisco “Off The Grid” which is a local food truck gathering. There I was with The Husband, child and dog in tow and we were each perusing around the “grid” each buying various food items to share and tracking each other down after our hunt and kill was done. I had done savory. The Husband had done spicy. The child had done messy. I was after something sweet. A serious sweet tooth nagging at my noggin. I wish I could remember the name of the food truck I visited because I would love to give them their props for having the best freaking carmelita bar I’ve ever had. It had a bit of crunch to it on the bottom part of the crust. The caramel was butter rich, the oats were perfectly chewy but not too mushy. Upon my quick dissection of that caramel puppy I discovered it had a thin layer of sliced almonds. Freak yeah! I made a mental note right there. I said, self- you need to come up with a carmelita with a bit of crunch. I love gooey, but I love texture too; especially when the two are combined. You know how it is when you are enjoying some great street food and time almost seems to stand still? Everything is swirling around you, noise, people, commotion but you are able to focus on your personal food nirvana? Yeah, this was one of those moments, except I literally stood still. I mean, I seriously stopped dead in my tracks- frustrated Mothers with double wide strollers were strategically edging around me. Once I took a bite of that carmelita- I literally stopped in the middle of the grid and closed my eyes and finished off that caramel booger in about 4 bites. The Husband found me and said, ”Hey, I thought you were going to get something sweet” ? I looked at him like a naughty cat trying to hide my discovery. “Huh, me? naw, I changed my mind.” Some things you just have to keep to yourself. Meeowww!

Carmelita Bars

Filling

One 14 oz. bag Kraft caramels; unwrapped

1/2 Cup + 2 Tbsp. heavy cream

pinch salt

1 Cup rolled “old fashioned” oats (not quick oats)

1 Cup flour

1 tsp. baking soda

pinch of salt

2/3 Cup packed dark brown sugar

1  1/2 sticks (3/4 Cup) unsalted butter; melted

1/2 Cup sliced almonds

1/4 Cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9 inch square pan by lining with a parchment sling to cover each side so that a few inches hangs over on each side. Spray the lined pan with non-stick spray.

2. In a non-stick saucepan, over medium-high; heat the caramels and cream until the caramels melt and the mixture is smooth; let boil for about 30 seconds. Turn off the heat and set aside while you make the oat mixture for the crust.

3. Combine the oats, flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, and melted butter until combined.  Divide the mixture in half. If you have OCD tendencies like me that is about 9 oz. for each half. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the pan and sprinkle the almonds over the oat mixture to cover completely; being careful to press into the crust firmly. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven; (the crust will look puffy-that’s okay), let cool about 5 minutes then sprinkle the mini chocolate chips over the crust. Pour the melted caramel mixture over the crust and smooth it evenly. Take the remaining half of oat mixture and sprinkle like big crumbs over the caramel, pressing in slightly. Bake for 15 minutes. DO NOT OVER BAKE; THE FILLING WILL BE VERY, VERY LOOSE and the edges of the oat mixture will be golden brown. The filling will solidify once cool. If you over bake it will become too hard. Let the pan cool on a wire rack until cool enough to park in the fridge until completely cool.

4. Cut the bars while they are cold. (I let them sit in the frige overnight).  Let come to room temperature to enjoy. Store any leftovers at room temperature.


Caramel Macarons, Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches

I can’t stay away from caramel. Not necessarily eating it, but baking with it. Okay, yes, I eat it too. I’ve said it before but it bears repeating;one of the most fascinating things about baking is how you can literally take a few ingredients and come up with something amazing. Caramel is one of those examples. If you have never made homemade caramel you must give it a try. Try my salted caramel recipe.  Sugar, water and cream and you have caramel. You may have noticed I have  a lot of posts with caramel. I could write a cookbook just with caramel recipes alone. Hmmm, might have to think about that….Anyway, here is yet another caramelicious post. I wanted to make extra-large caramel macarons to use for ice cream sandwiches. I’m planning on filling these with heath bar ice cream. Pralines and cream ice cream would be good too. You could also make regular size macarons and fill with salted caramel, caramel buttercream or vanilla buttercream.

                                                                                              Caramel Shards waiting to be turned into powder

                                                                                                                         Caramel Powder

Caramel Macarons

(yield: ~ 24 large macarons)
200 gms almond flour, sifted

200 gms confectioners sugar, sifted

2 Tbsp. “caramel powder” see recipe below*

75 gms egg whites

200 gms granulated sugar

50 gms water

75 gms egg whites (room temp)

pinch of cream of tartar

*Caramel Powder: Line a sheet tray with either Silpat or lightly greased tin foil.  In a 2 quart saucepan place 1/4 Cup granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons water. Swirl the pan to combine while the sugar melts. Bring to a boil without stirring over high heat; swirl the pan every so often until the caramel reaches a medium-deep amber. If the caramel starts to smoke slightly it is done; pour out onto prepared sheet and let cool completely. The “caramel” will be clear. Once cool, break the caramel into shards and blend into a powder using a mortar and pestle or a food processor.

1. In a large bowl combine the almond flour, confectioners sugar and caramel powder. Add the 75 gms of egg whites and stir to combine. Set aside.

2. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment combine 75 gms of egg whites and the cream of tartar and begin whipping them on medium-high speed.

At the same time combine the 200 gms of granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan on high heat; bring to 240° without stirring while whipping the egg whites on your mixer simultaneously. You want the cooking sugar syrup to reach 240 degrees at the same time your whites reach stiff peaks. To time this; keep the stand mixer next to the stove so you can peek at the whites while still watching your cooking syrup. If you notice the whites starting to get too stiff before the sugar is done; slow down the mixer to low speed.

3. Once the syrup is at 240 degrees, stop/take off the heat and start pouring the syrup down the side of the mixer bowl slowly with the mixer running on slow-medium at the same time; careful not to let the syrup hit the whisk to prevent hard syrup forming. Once all the syrup is in, crank up the mixer and whip the whites until very glossy and stiff.

4. Take the whipped meringue and place on top of the almond mixture and start to  fold gently until all of the meringue is incorporated; careful not to deflate the mixture. You are looking for a thick consistency like lava. Fill a piping bag fitted with a 1/2 inch round tip and pipe the cookies on parchment lined sheet trays; leaving at least an inch space between cookies. Take the trays and rap them hard on the counter to release any air bubbles. Let the trays sit out anywhere from 30-60 minutes; as long as it takes until when you touch the top of the cookies they are dry and no longer tacky to the touch.

5. Bake the cookies double panned (placing one empty tray underneath the piped cookies) one tray at a time in a 325° oven for about 16-18 minutes until the cookies are no longer wet on the bottom and appear dry. Sacrifice one if you have to test. Let the cookies cool. Sandwich with the filling of your choice. If you are using a filling other than ice cream, store the cookies in the fridge covered loosely for 8 hours or overnight; this helps the cookies become even more chewy as the moisture from the filling helps the texture of the cookie.


Salted Caramel Brownies “Baked Sweet and Salty Brownie”

There is a famous bakery in New York called “Baked”. How can you not love a place called that? Direct, to the point and it tells you in one word all you need to know. Period. One of these days I have to visit that darned bakery. They are known for their “sweet and salty brownie” which is basically a fudgy brownie [yep, I love fudgy] with a middle layer of gooey salted caramel [yep, I love gooey salted caramel].

I will get in line for anything with salted caramel. I might even consider give a pint of blood for salted caramel. Okay, maybe I have to rethink that.

The boys of Baked, [Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito] have two cookbooks out and the one titled Baked Explorations includes this brownie recipe on page 93. Yes, I went ripping to page 93 for some good food porn of that brownie. I was disappointed though, no food porn. I mean, you can’t get sexier than a ooey gooey carameley brownie. What were they thinking??

That would have been a serious money shot. The food network actually featured this brownie on “The best thing I ever ate”. Ever since that show I have been meaning to try this recipe.

With an endorsement like that, how could you not be tempted.

I was tempted.

The show had a slow motion close up of the brownie as it’s being pulled apart with the gooey caramel oozing out. There is nothing like slow motion food porn. You had me at salted caramel. So I decided I would just have to create my own food porn….And here it is.

SHAZAM!

Salted Caramel Brownies

Make the salted caramel:

1 Cup sugar

2 Tbsp. light corn syrup

1/2 heavy cream

1 tsp. fleur de sel (or kosher salt would work)

1/4 Cup sour cream

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and corn syrup with 1/4 cup water, stirring them together carefully. Cook over high heat until it is dark amber color; about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and slowly add the cream (careful it will bubble and sputter), then add the salt. Whisk in the sour cream. Set aside to cool.

For the brownie:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. dark unsweetened cocoa (like Valrhona) [this is not the time to go cheap baby]

11 oz. quality dark chocolate (60-72 %), coarsely chopped

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 1/2 Cups sugar

1/2 Cup firmly packed light brown sugar

5 lg. eggs, at room temp

2 tsp. vanilla

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13 pan with a parchment sling and spray with non-stick baking spray.

2. In a medium blowl, whisk together the flour, salt and cocoa powder.

3. Place the chocolate and butter in the bowl of a double boiler set over a pan of simmering water, and stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are melted and combined. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water of the double boiler and add both sugars. Whisk until combined and remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be at room temperature.

4. Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add vanilla and stir. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage, or your brownies will be cakey.

5. Sprinkle the flour  mixture over the chocolate. Using a spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until there is just a trace amount of flour mixture visible.

Assembly in pan:

Pour half the brownie mixture into the pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Drizzle about 3/4 Cup caramel over the brownie in a zigzag pattern, taking care not so the caramel does not come in contact with the edges of the pan or it will burn. Use an offset spatula to spread the caramel evenly across the brownie layer. In heaping spoonfuls, scoop the rest of the brownie batter over the caramel layer. Smooth the brownie batter gently to cover the caramel layer.

Bake the brownies for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the fleur de sel and coarse sugar.

Cool completely before cutting.

*Directions disclaimer: Okay, I did not follow the baking directions in the cookbook. I tried making these brownies the first time and all the caramel melted into the brownie which quite frankly ticked me off and I did not like, so the second time around I chose a different method. I admit; the caramel layer was a little runny, so next time I’ll have to play around with this a bit, but here is what I did. [By the way, have you ever had one of those moments where you feel someone gives you a recipe but they are not really straight forward about the secret to the method of a recipe?]

I’m just sayin…

Anyway, here is what I did.

I poured half the brownie mix into the pan and baked at 325 degrees for 15 minutes. I then let the brownies cool for 20 minutes and I poured in cold caramel. I then ever so carefully poured the rest of the batter on top of the caramel, jacked up the temperature on the oven to 350 degrees and baked for 20 minutes. I would say the caramel was slightly runny than what I wanted, so maybe next time I would not keep the caramel cold but at room temp. Play around with it and see what works for you. I would rather have my caramel a little runny than not gooey at all. I have another theory also; I would keep the caramel cold but next time I would cut back on the cream in the caramel recipe maybe by half. Don’t let this recipe discourage you though, they are really delicious.

For the assembly:

1 1/2 tsp. fleur de sel

1 tsp. coarse sugar (like them sprinkled with just the salt as I feel they are sweet enough)

{Printable Recipe}:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1jYbSqdRc12vz5VzzM-_jR_HvvrKoze4gxNoO_o08VBI/edit

 

Please check out my friend Lisa’s blog who is hosting a cookie sharing this week at:

http://sweet-as-sugar-cookies.blogspot.com/2012/01/sweets-for-saturday-53.html

to find some other fun and inspiring recipes!

Happy Baking!

Suzie

 

 


“Payday Cookie Bars”

Is there a happier word than payday?…. Okay, maybe “weekend”.  These bar cookies are a bit like a payday candy bar. They are salty and sweet.

I love salty/sweet. Yin and Yang, Lucy and Desi, Tom and Jerry, opposites are good, no?

Have you noticed there seems to be a lot of salty/sweet recipes these days? If you like salty/sweet treats, this is your recipe. I adapted this recipe slightly from a cookie recipe found in the cookbook: The Good Cookie by Tish Boyle. I made this recipe once a couple of years ago and brought them to work. People asked, what are those things? [in a good way]. I needed a favor from a co-worker and I told her I would make her ANYTHING SHE WANTED for a favor and this is the cookie she chose, so there ‘ya go. The next time you are craving something salty/sweet

(or you need to bribe someone) give these a try. 😉

Payday Cookie Bars

recipe adapted from “crunchy peanut bars” in  The Good Cookie by Tish Boyle

Crust 

1   1/4 C all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

1/2 C firmly packed light brown sugar

Peanut topping

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter (1/2 stick)

2/3 C light corn syrup

1   2/3 Cups (10 oz.) peanut butter chips

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2   1/4 Cups (12 oz.) salted “party” peanuts

Caramel drizzle

20 Kraft caramels; unwrapped

1 Tbsp. heavy cream

fleur de sel (sea salt)

Make the crust:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9×13 inch pan by lining the pan in both directions with double thickness aluminum foil; allowing about 2 inches of overhang on each end.  Lightly spray the foil with non-stick spray.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and salt; set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment or beaters, beat the butter with the brown sugar at medium speed until combined, about 1 minute. At low-speed, add the flour mixture and mix just until crumbly, 10-15 seconds.

4. Pat the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Prick the dough well with a fork. Bake the crust for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown around the edges. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool while you prepare the topping. Leave the oven on.

Make the topping:

5. In a large saucepan,, combine the butter, corn syrup, and peanut butter chips and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the chips are melted and the mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

6. Pour the topping over the crust, using a spatula to spread it to the edges of the pan. Sprinkle the peanuts evenly over the topping, and press them lightly into the topping. Bake the bars for 18-25 minutes, until the topping is bubbly. Cool the bars completely in the pan on a wire rack.

7. Lift out the bars from the pan in one whole piece and carefully peel off the foil. *Make the caramel drizzle as below.  Drizzle the caramel over the bars in a diagonal pattern. Sprinkle with fleur de sel or sea salt. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut into bars.

*Caramel drizzle:

1. In a medium nonstick saucepan on low heat combine the caramels and the heavy cream until melted. Save the fleur de sel to sprinkle over the bars once you drizzle the caramel.

 

Happy Baking,

Suzie


S’mores with Salted Caramel and Ganache

I love not camping.

Please don’t send me hate mail. It’s just not my thing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a nature hater, I just don’t fancy sleeping in a small bag for more than 48 hours. The Husband and I have an agreement. I will camp for 3 days max and then I need a hotel. Or a motel. You see, I prefer to take a shower without bugs dangling from a shower head. Call me crazy. Maybe if I was one of those kids that camped when I was growing up it would make a difference.

Or not.

There are some things about camping that I do love. I like meeting new people and the easy conversation that you usually find in people who camp. A total stranger will loan you almost anything you forgot to bring. I love that. I wish people could be like this all the time.

I dig the whole fire thing.  It brings out my primal side.  I dig sipping a good Merlot while watching the fire. Okay, that part may not be exactly primal, but I do love grilling or cooking over the fire and of course, MAKING S’MORES.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not exactly the camping type.

The Husband is total camping type. Like hard core camping. Like camping in Death Valley in the dead of spring in 115 degree heat camping. Yeah….that’s a story for another time. The marriage survived that one some how.

The Husband caught me making home-made marshmallows in preparation for our camping trip once. He thought I was a little crazy.

Husband: “Uh, honey, what are you doing???”

Me: “Making marshmallows” “We need to have stuff for s’mores”.

Husband: “Why do we need s’mores?” (we’ll cut him some slack on this- he grew up in Taiwan, and s’mores are not exactly part of his childhood).

Me: “Because….it’s like camping law. You just don’t go camping without s’more product.  You need to have marshmallows if you go camping”.

Husband: “Yeah, that’s why they have Safeway”. “You buy them”.

Never go camping with a pastry chef.

This recipe for home-made marshmallows is from Alton Brown from “Good Eats” and it is tried and true. I have made it several times.

Enjoy!

Suzie

Home-made marshmallows (Recipe by Alton Brown)

Ingredients

  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup ice cold water, divided
  • 12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • Nonstick spray

Directions

Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.

In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.

Combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.

When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares. {Alton says to use a pizza wheel, but I actually like to use kitchen scissors and cut long strips and then cut into squares of your choice}. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

S’more assembly~

graham crackers or cookies of your choice {I found these really groovy cookies the other day that are vanilla and chocolate swirl and thought they were kinda cool.}

• marshmallows

• salted caramel

• chocolate ganache

• fire/flame/blowtorch {your choice} personally I like the blow torch- silly pastry chefs!

Toast your mallow. Set aside. Smear one cookie/cracker with about 1 tsp. of caramel. Smear one cookie/cracker with 1 tsp. of ganache. Place the toasted mallow on top of the caramel cookie {It’s easier to assemble this way} then top with the other cookie.

Enjoy!

Printable Recipe:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/15WhmresdDnJn8Re04-IadSDAnXTpyxKr117Iep5vaQI/edit?hl=en_US


Caramel Sauce

One of the things I love about baking is that you can literally take 4-5  items and make something amazing. I’m talking about making caramel.

I think I could write a book on uses for caramel sauce alone..

1. the obvious; poured over ice cream

2. caramel dip for apple slices

3. use for sandwiching cookies; such as french macaroons

4. sneak a little in your next s’more

5. poured into coffee (the non salt version)

6. drizzled over banana cream pie

7. drizzled over banana pudding

8. mixed with bananas tucked in a morning crepe

9. mix a little into cream cheese frosting, spread over apple spice cake for a little change of pace

10. waxing your legs. Okay, kidding;  just checking to see if you’re paying attention…

Onto the recipe:

Caramel Sauce

1 C sugar

1/4 C water

3/4 C heavy cream; nuke until slightly warm

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1/2 tsp. fleur de sel (optional) if you want salted caramel sauce

In a medium saucepan place the sugar and add the water and mix gently until the mixture resembles wet sand. Cook over medium high heat and let it come to a boil without stirring; until the caramel reaches a deep amber. Turn off the heat and remove the pan from the heat. Carefully pour in the cream, it will bubble and spout a bit; whisk carefully until combined. Whisk in the butter and then the salt if desired. Let cool.

Enjoy

Suzie