Salted Caramel Macarons

Salted caramel oh how I love thee. You seductive diet breaker, you call me out of the depths of keto and beckon me in the middle of the night just longing for me to plunge my spoon into your jar. You are the like the forbidden apple of my Kitchen Garden of Good and Evil, but even a good girl has to have a forbidden fruit once in a while. These are a variation of other caramel macarons I’ve made in the past. This time I just flavored them with the wonderful salted caramel filling on their own. I sprinkled some sugar in the raw on top for visual appearance, but it’s totally optional.

Salted Caramel Filling

280 g granulated sugar

120 g heavy cream

200 g unsalted butter

1 tsp. Maldon sea salt

 

  1. Start by making a dry caramel by melting and caramelizing the sugar gradually. At the same time, heat the whole liquid cream.
  2. When the sugar is completely melted and it has a nice caramel color, gently pour the hot cream over the caramel while mixing with a whisk and paying attention to the mixture rising; be careful as it will foam up. 
  3.  Continue to cook for another few minutes, until the caramel is 245° F, then remove from the heat and add the unsalted butter and whisk thoroughly to combine, then add in the salt. Pour into a heatproof bowl and cover with plastic wrap the chill until thickened.

 

Macarons

124 g confectioners sugar

140 g almond flour

108 g fresh egg whites (I don’t age mine)

110 g granulated sugar

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

gel food colors in Espresso (dark brown)  and gold

optional sugar in the raw to sprinkle on top of unbaked macs

  1. In a food processor place the almond flour and confectioners sugar and run for 30 seconds. Stop and scrape down the sides so the mixture settles into the processor bowl. Repeat this 2 more times, then sift mixture through a strainer (it doesn’t have to be fine) over a large bowl (I use a 5 quart size stainless steel bowl). Preheat the oven to 300° F convection, 325° F for non convection setting. Prepare two baking sheets with Silpat mats. I use these mats by Velesco (you can get 2 for 13 dollars on Amazon).
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer place the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar and whisk by hand to combine. Place over a ban marie and stir gently for about 5 minutes until the mixture reaches about 130° F or when you touch the mixture with your index and thumb fingers you don’t feel any sugar crystals. Remove from the heat and place on the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and start the meringue by running mixer on  power level 4 (Kitchen Aide) and run for about 3 minutes.  Stop once to scrape the sides of the bowl to push down the mixture that appears on the sides.
  3. Increase mixer then to power level 6 and run for 3 minutes.
  4. Increase mixer to power level 8 and run for 3 minutes.
  5. Stop mixer and with a bamboo skewer or toothpick add in a bit of gel food color (I use Americolor).
  6. Increase mixer to power level high (10) and run for 1-3 minutes or until the meringue is stiff peaks and it has started leaving tracks in the meringue and a good portion has collected inside the whisk . A sign that meringue is ready is there will be a good amount collected within the whisk and if you turn the bowl upside down the meringue will not slip or move. If you stop the mixer and tap the whisk gently on the side of the mixer bowl it will look like a bird beak; the meringue is stiff but it has a slight hooked curve when holding the whisk horizontally. If the color does not appear to be mixer to your liking at this point I add in any color and mix gently by; being careful not to overmix.
  7. Add one half of almond flour/sugar mix and start folding with a rubber spatula until mixture starts to look cohesive. Add in the remaining half and continue to gently fold, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. The batter is perfect when you lift up the spatula and tip the pointed end of the spatula down and ribbons of batter fall smoothly back into the bowl. I like to gauge its ready when I can count 6-7 continuous ribbons falling without breaking and I can “draw” a figure 8 with the batter when lifting the spatula and letting it fall into the bowl. Fill your pastry bag by using a heavy tall cup or mason jar to hold your pastry bag with the top folded over the glass. When preparing your bag after you drop in your round tip (I use Ateco 804), twist the bag right above the larger end of the tip and push it down into tip. Fold the top 4 inches of the bag over the jar or glass.
  8. Let the batter fall right into the bottom of the bag and continue filling to ensure you don’t get air bubbles. When ready to pipe and all of the batter is in the bag, twist the top of the bag and when ready to pipe, push down with your dominant hand to force the bottom of the tip to open.
  9. Pipe the batter onto prepared baking sheet with 30 macarons per sheet. Six across the long side, and five rows perpendicular. Take the sheet pan and let it drop onto the counter about 5-7 times, then look for any visible air bubbles and pop with a toothpick or bamboo skewer. Bake the first tray right away (no resting), in a preheated (convection oven if you have at 300° F , 325° F for NON convection oven*) for about 16-18 minutes or until the cookie does not wiggle when attempting to check by carefully grabbing both sides of a cookie and gently testing. Let the tray rest on a wire rack and then bake the second tray.  After the cookies have cooled about 8-10 minutes turn them upside down and let the cool on the tray until completely cooled. (I find this helps prevent hollow shells). Cool the cookies completely and pipe the salted caramel filling between two cookies and sandwich together.
  10. Chill the macarons in an airtight container for 24-48 hours to impart flavor and help soften the macarons to desired chewiness. Bring to room temp to enjoy.

 


Fudgy Brownies with Rolo’s

 

If I crave something sweet it usually involves caramel, or chocolate and caramel. Admittedly I use have a jar of homemade caramel in my fridge. I know….It can be a problem, but there is nothing better than stirring it into hot coffee. I have tried brownie recipes before that involve a layer of caramel but it always seems to disappear and I had an idea of folding these delicious little nuggets into the batter; more of an experiment than anything to see if they would totally melt or not. These are the things that keep me up at night; recipe ideas that swirl in my head; will a Rolo candy melt into brownies or not. Weirdness factor 10 out of 10 I’m aware. But this is when I usually get my best ideas; laying in bed at night pondering life’s mysteries.

So you know I HAD to try it out. Oh my….they retain their shape and that little bit of chewy goodness is divine when married with a fudgy brownie. This recipe is great if you like fudgy brownies; feel free to experiment and fold in other things like toasted walnuts or dried cherries if you want to play around and eliminate the Rolo candies. It’s a great base recipe if you need brownies for a crowd. If you want an 8×8 pan instead; just cut the recipe in half.

Rolo Fudgy Brownies

1 Cup all purpose- flour

1/2 Cup Dutch process cocoa powder [I used Hershey’s extra dark]

1 3/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 3/4 Cup granulated sugar

1/2 Cup dark brown sugar, packed

6 large eggs, room temperature

2 1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 1/4 Cup unsalted butter

8 oz. 60 %  bittersweet chocolate

2 oz. milk chocolate

2 Tbsp. sunflower, grapeseed, or vegetable  oil

10 oz. unwrapped Rolo candies, divided

 

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F degrees.
  2. Save the butter wrappers and use to grease all sides and bottom of 9×13 inch pan. Line the pan with parchment paper across the width of the pan leaving at least 2 inches of overhang.
  3. In a bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa, and salt, set aside.
  4. In a heat proof bowl place the chocolate(s), butter and oil and place over a pot of simmering water and stir until melted, then remove from the heat while you proceed  with the next steps.
  5. In a stand mixer bowl place the eggs and the sugars; being careful to hand sift through the brown sugar to catch and smash any lumps of brown sugar. Using the paddle attachment, on high mix the eggs and sugars until the mixture has become creamy looking; about 3-5 minutes.  Add in the vanilla. Stop the mixer and pour in the melted chocolate/butter-oil mixture.
  6. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the flour mixture until just combined. Fold in 5 oz. (half of your Rolo candies).
  7.  Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan and smooth out so batter is level. Set the timer for 13 minutes and bake the brownies. While the brownies are baking take the other half of the reserved Rolo candies and cut half of them in half; (cutting from the top down); keeping the other 2.5 oz. whole.
  8.  After 13 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle over the reserved 5 oz. of  Rolo candies; randomly scattering over the top so you have both the full and half cut candies on top of the partially baked brownies. Immediately return the brownies to the oven and continue to bake about 25 minutes more; but checking them after 20 minutes to ensure they don’t overbake. Test with a wooden skewer and remove when you have moist crumbs.
  9.  Allow the pan of brownies to cool completely over a wire rack. Once cooled; cut into squares.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Caramel Swirl Marshmallows

 

You know all those packets of hot cocoa mix you got in your Christmas stocking? Yeah, I’m here to tell you that if you plop one of these melt in your mouth, gooey, sticky, caramelly marshmallow nuggets in your mug of cocoa, you will be extra happy. I promise.

People often get very intimidated about making homemade marshmallows, but it’s really not difficult; you just have to be organized from the get go and assemble all your ingredients and tools and read through the recipe to get a sense of the flow before you start.

I’m here to tell you, people LOVE getting homemade mallows as gifts. This time of year, everyone is making cookies (myself included), but tucking into a hot cup of cocoa with a large homemade mallow is so comforting and they make a really thoughtful gift. You’ll be an instant rock star. This is the gift you give when you may not know the person too well and you don’t know what they like or dislike. EVERYONE loves a good mallow!

Yes, I’m probably a little late on the draw posting this I know, but like everyone else, I’ve been uber busy and you can always give these as hostess gift for a New Years Party as well.

 

Caramel Swirl Marshmallows

yield: one 9×9 inch pan or 24 large size mallows

 

Bloom

1/2 Cup cold water

4 1/2 tsp. unflavored gelatin

Misc

1/4 Cup light corn syrup

2 tsp. butter vanilla flavoring or 2 tsp. vanilla

1 Cup + 2 Tbsp.  room temp store bought caramel sauce (I used Coronado Cajeta-it has the perfect consistency) which you can find in Mexican Grocery Stores or Target for that matter…

Syrup

3/4 Cup granulated sugar

1/4 Cup water

1/4 Cup light corn syrup

2 pinches of salt

Prep

Candy thermometer at the ready

3/4 Cup confectioners sugar placed in a ziplock bag with 1/2 Cup cornstarch, seal bag and shake to mix

9×9 or 8×8 inch pan lightly sprayed with non stick baking spray, then line both sides with parchment paper sling and brush lightly with soft butter again on all sides (clean hands work best)

medium bowl brushed lightly with soft butter

1 Cup + 2 Tbsp. caramel sauce (misc. list)

rubber spatula

wooden skewer sprayed with non stick spray

small offset spatula sprayed with non stick spray or lightly buttered

mesh sifter

 

  • Assemble prep list as above and keep on a cookie sheet for ease of use
  • In a small bowl prepare the “bloom” by placing the cold water and sprinkle over the gelatin. Let sit at room temperature. After two minutes stir gently then set aside
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer place 1/4 cup light corn syrup (from the misc. list)
  • Microwave the bloomed gelatin for 30 seconds
  • Start heating the syrup contents in a medium non stick pan over medium high heat. Stir the contents 1-2 times, to mix, then don’t stir after that. Clip the candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and heat until soft ball stage (240° F) Meanwhile…
  • Place the heated/bloomed gelatin in the mixer bowl along with the corn syrup fitted with the whisk and turn mixer on low speed (have the butter vanilla flavoring next to the mixer)
  • When the syrup reaches 240 degrees, turn off the heat and pour the syrup down along the side of the mixer bowl and try to avoid the syrup hitting the whisk. Turn speed up to medium and whip for 5 minutes. Then increase speed to medium high for 5 minutes, then add the butter vanilla (or just vanilla) and whip on high for 2 more minutes.
  • Stop the mixer, working quickly and remove about 1/4 of the marshmallow and place in the buttered bowl and mix with the caramel sauce. Return the caramel mallow mixture to the remaining mallow in the mixer bowl and mix gently in a figure eight pattern.
  • Tip out the combined mixture into the prepared pan and smooth with the small offset spatula. At this point I like to dot the top with the (2 Tbsp. caramel) and use the long wooden skewer to mix the caramel into the top.
  • Dust the top of the marshmallow with the confectioners sugar/cornstarch coating
  • Allow the marshmallow to sit at room temperature uncovered in a cool dry place overnight to “cure”
  • The following day or 8 hours later, dust a cutting board heavily with some of the coating and flip out the entire pan of marshmallows onto the board and dust the top with more coating. Cut into squares, and dip the sticky sides of the marshmallows into more of the coating, tapping off the excess. Store mallows in an airtight container.
  • After a few days, mallows will most likely need to be dusted again.

 

 


Salted Caramel Toffee Crunch Cake

 

Do you know how hard it is to decorate a cake with caramel and not lick your fingers? The bad thing about caramel is it’s sticky and gets all over everything. The good thing about caramel is it’s sticky and gets all over everything.

Okay, I might have had a lick or two…

This past weekend I was invited to a Friendsgiving party so I wanted to bring something different besides the typical pie.  I was planning on making my Pumpkin Orange Spice Cake, but the host said to please bring something without cinnamon or pumpkin, so that kind of killed that notion right there. Once I switched gears, it got me thinking of something everyone loves- salted caramel. If you decide to make the caramel you’ll most likely have some leftover, but that’s never a bad thing. You may also use purchased caramel sauce such one found by the ice cream isle, such as Smuckers brand.

Salted Caramel Toffee Crunch Cake 

Make the Caramel Filling  (salted version)  used to flavor the buttercream) before starting the cake and allow to set at room temperature, or alternatively make the day before and store in the refridgerator. Bring to room temperature when ready to make the buttercream.

 

Brown Sugar Cake

3/4 C + 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

2 Tbsp. sunflower or vegetable oil

1/4 Cup packed dark brown sugar

1 1/4 Cup granulated sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 1/4 Cup whole milk, room temp

1/4 Cup sour cream, room temp

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste

3 1/2 Cups cake flour, sifted

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

3/4 tsp. kosher salt

 

In a medium skillet melt the butter and stir continuously with a heat proof spatula over medium heat until the butter smells nutty and the butter turns foamy and brown bits form on the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl. Place the bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes to solidify while you prepare the pans and assemble your other ingredients.

Spray the cake pans with baking spray and place a parchment round in the bottom of each pan.

Preheat the oven to 325° F.

In a bowl sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.

Once the browned butter has solidified, remove it from the freezer and place it in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whip the butter until the browned bits in the butter are no longer visible and appear to have combined well. Add in the oil and stir. Turn off the mixer and place a sieve over the bowl and press the brown sugar through the sieve to remove and hard lumps. Mix the brown sugar and butter on medium speed until combined. Add in the granulated sugar slowly with the mixer running, stopping the mixer a few times to scrape down the sides and bowl of the mixer.

Add in the eggs one at a time until combined.

In a glass measuring cup whisk the milk, sour cream and vanilla bean paste.

With the mixer on low speed, add in a third of the flour mixture, alternating with the milk mixture in 2 increments, and ending with the flour mixture.

Pour the batter evenly between the four cake pans. Note: you may also divide the pans between two 9 inch pans instead.

Bake in a preheated oven for approx. 28 minutes or until the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and when touched the cake springs back. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Fill with the toffee crunch buttercream, and frost with the salted caramel buttercream (recipes below).

Swiss Meringue Buttercream (to be divided for both flavors)

6 egg whites from large eggs

5 sticks unsalted butter

1 1/2 Cup granulated sugar

Kosher salt to taste

1 tsp. vanilla

a recipe of my salted caramel filling or purchased caramel sauce such as Smuckers

1 1/4 Cups Finely chopped chocolate toffee such as Heath brand (hint: if you can find “bits of brickle” by Heath its easier)

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the eggs whites and sugar and place over a pot with simmering water. Whisk the egg whites and sugar and heat until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is about 160 degrees F on an instant read thermometer* (*alternatively- you can feel the mixture with your first two fingers and if you don’t feel any sugar granules then it is ok). Turn off the heat. Attach the mixer bowl onto the mixer with the whisk attachment and whisk the mixture on medium until the bottom of the bowl is almost cool to the touch and the mixture has turned into a nice stiff meringue.  This will take several minutes. With the mixer on medium high, add the softened butter one tablespoon at a time and continue to mix until all the butter is incorporated and the mixture is smooth. It will go through a curdled looking stage as it mixes; but don’t worry keep adding the butter and it will come together. Add in the vanilla and mix to combine.

Divide half of the buttercream evenly into a large bowl. Mix with the chopped toffee bits. This will be the filling.

Using the mixer, combine the remaining bowl of buttercream with salted caramel, stirring in 2 Tablespoons at a time and stopping and tasting until desired flavor is reached; adding in pinches of salt as necessary.

Assemble the cake with the toffee crunch buttercream as the filling and frost the outside of the cake with the salted caramel buttercream. Decorate as desired. Store the cake in the fridge until 1-2 hours prior to serving, remove the cake to come to room temperature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Vanilla Pudding Parfaits with Salted Caramel, Cookie Crumbles & Peanuts

 

We are still in triple digits here in Arizona. I can feel the weather changing though as the days get shorter and the nights cooler.  l’m starting to welcome the idea of Fall and everything that comes with it. Fall is akin to comfort food. As Summer slips away, we start day dreaming of stews, hot dishes and firing up the oven again to bake. These parfaits are Snickers inspired in terms of flavor.

Pudding is the ultimate comfort food that you can still make when the weather is hot.  I have such a fond memory of my childhood and making homemade pudding. My Mother taught me how to stir the pudding gently in a figure 8 motion, being careful to get into the corners of the pot. When making pudding, I always succumb to a hypnotic dreamy state while I stir. I don’t know why, but it just happens organicly EVERY TIME. Pudding can be a great problem solving task for things that you have been pondering about or troubled over.  Stirring and zoning out, I can finally meditate over where the Husband left his keys that he’s lost for 3 days now. Oh yeah…stirring, meditating, day dreaming of Fall evenings sitting on the porch with creamy pudding parfaits.

These little jars have everything you need, creamy pudding with bits of crunchy chocolate cookie crumbles and smooth salted caramel topped with peanuts. Comfort food in any season. You’ll most likely have some salted caramel sauce leftover- store it in a glass jar in the fridge. Slip it into your morning coffee or sneak a spoonful now and then straight from the jar!

 

Salted 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 or kosher salt

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. Let cool, then refrigerate.

Vanilla Bean Pudding 

yield: 4 servings

2  1/2 Cups whole milk, divided

1/2 Cup sugar

pinch of salt

3 Tbsp. cornstarch

2 egg yolks

1 Vanilla Bean, scraped for seeds

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

For Parfait Assembly:

Purchased Famous brand chocolate cookies

Salted roasted peanuts 

1. In a small to medium bowl whisk the cornstarch along with 1/2 Cup of the milk. Add the yolks and whisk to combine; set aside.

2. Place the remaining 2 cups milk in a saucepan along with the sugar, salt, and vanilla bean seeds. Bring to a boil; then slowly pour about 1/3 of the hot milk into the bowl with the cornstarch mixture to temper the mixture. Pour that back into the saucepan and bring the pudding to a gentle boil over medium heat while stirring with a rubber spatula. Let the mixture boil for about 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the butter. Pour the pudding into a container and place a piece of parchment circle directly onto the surface of the pudding. Let the pudding cool on counter for 30 minutes, then place in fridge.

Once the pudding is poured into the bowl, DO NOT STIR OR PUDDING CAN TURN WATERY!

Parfait assembly:

Layer a few tablespoons of vanilla pudding in the bottom of a 4 oz. glass container, then pour in a couple tablespoons of salted caramel, followed by sprinkling of coarse cookie crumbles and salted peanuts. Repeat with one more layer. Serve chilled.