Microwave Caramel Sauce

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Wet-Nap but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #showusyourmess  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Microwave Caramel Sauce - Gluten Free, only 15 minutes to prepare

I’ve been keeping a secret from you.  Kind of a big secret.  But now, it’s time I share it with all of you.  Brace yourselves.  Ready?  I’m messy.  There, I said it.  I’m Laura and I’m messy.  Sometimes really messy, especially when food is involved.

When I’m baking, cooking, or eating, yeah, I’m kind of embarrassing to be around.  The thing is, it’s so hard not to make a mess.

Microwave Caramel Sauce - Gluten Free, only 15 minutes to prepare

I mean, have you ever baked with sprinkles or confectioners’ sugar?  They go everywhere.  It’s uncontrollable, totally not my fault.  And when cake batter or Italian meringue somehow ends up halfway across the room, it’s the mixer’s fault, not mine.

It’s even worse when I eat.  I tend to get food everywhere.  The counter, my hands, my clothes.  By the end of the day, my fingers are probably berry stained, there’s a drip of smoothie on my jacket, and my fingers are sticky from the caramel I ate for dessert.

Wet-Nap Canisters

Luckily, I keep Wet-Nap canisters in my kitchen at all times.  They are perfect for clean-ups on the counter, the floor, and even me.  Because they are moistened, they grab all those tiny sprinkles instead of just pushing them around.  They also happen to be antibacterial, so I don’t have to worry about that messy cake batter breeding any germs.  They are great for on the go as well.  I love to keep a canister in the car to clean up messes when I’m out and about.

I pick up my Wet-Nap products at Walmart because they have everyday low prices.  Right now Wet-Nap is also offering a coupon for $.55 off any product.  Be sure to check out their site for the offer while supplies last.

Wet-Nap to Clean

Wet-Nap to Clean

Wet-Nap to Clean

My Wet-Nap canister was called into action when I made this Microwave Caramel Sauce.  This recipe is super easy to make, but it’s sticky and messy from start to finish.  Okay, maybe that’s just because I was making it.  There was caramel on the counter, caramel on my hands, and caramel on the floor.  At least the mess was easy to clean up with my Wet-Nap canister!  I’ll be keeping plenty more canisters on hand too, because I intend on making this caramel sauce all the time.  It’s dangerously easy to make and so tasty with the perfect balance of sweetness.

Microwave Caramel Sauce - Gluten Free, only 15 minutes to prepare

 

Microwave Caramel Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

2 tablespoons water

½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice

½ cup heavy cream

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cubed

Instructions

In a medium microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup, stir together sugar, corn syrup, water, and lemon juice. Microwave on high for 5-6 minutes until the caramel turns a light golden color. Keep an eye on it, as all microwaves are different, and it could take more or less time to cook.

Carefully remove the bowl from the microwave, as it will be very hot. Allow to sit for 4-5 minutes. The caramel will turn an amber color.

While the caramel sits, heat the cream in a microwave-safe bowl for about 30 seconds, just to warm it. After the caramel has rested, add the cream slowly while whisking constantly. It may bubble. Whisk in the vanilla and butter. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Reheat in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Eat. Drink. Love

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Five Candies You Should Make, Not Buy, for Easter

Five Candies You Should Make, Not Buy, for Easter

Every year I browse the candy aisles for Easter candy. Jelly beans, Peeps, and Reese’s Pieces Eggs, oh my! But most of the candies are coated in chocolate, meaning they’re off limits to me. I also increasingly find many candies are made in Mexico or even China. Um, no thank you.

This has led me online to Jelly Belly and Williams Sonoma, who both offer high quality, made in the US candies, many of which are cocoa free! I have a serious weakness for pectin jelly beans and sour gummy bunnies.

I’ve also taken a liking to making my own candy. Homemade candy has high quality ingredients that you control. The flavors shine through, and they are super fun to make. The kids can even get involved in a lot of them!

Five Candies You Should Make, Not Buy, for Easter

Last year around this time, I bookmarked a recipe for Homemade Cadbury Crème Eggs. I’ve been counting the days until I could make this recipe. I eliminated the food coloring, as a lot of people aren’t a fan of it. This also streamlined and simplified the process without altering the flavor in any way. It doesn’t exactly look like and egg, and I honestly don’t know if it tastes like the real thing, as I’ve never had one, but I promise you these are addictive little candies that no Easter is complete without.

The sticky, sweet interior has tons of little vanilla bean specks, so you know that pure flavor packs a big punch. The assertive carob matches the sweetness perfectly, though I also liked them with white chocolate. Of course, if you’re not allergic to chocolate, feel free to use dark chocolate to coat these.  Scroll down past the recipe for more fun Easter candy ideas!

Five Candies You Should Make, Not Buy, for Easter

Homemade Cadbury Creme Eggs

Prep Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 15-20 eggs

Ingredients

½ cup light corn syrup

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 ½ cups carob chips or dark chocolate

1 ½ cups white chocolate chips

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, divided

Instructions

In a large bowl, beat corn syrup, butter, salt, and vanilla bean paste with a hand mixer on medium speed to combine into a homogeneous mixture. A stand mixer may also be used.

Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the confectioners’ sugar. You may need to stir the final cup of sugar in by hand. Mix until completely smooth.

Place bowl in freezer for about 15 minutes to harden.

In a small microwave safe bowl, melt white chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon of shortening. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between to promote melting, until fully melted.

Remove the butter mixture from the freezer. Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop the butter mixture and roll it into an egg shape using your hands. Using 2 forks or your fingers, coat the egg in the melted white chocolate. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet to set. Repeat until you have coated half the eggs.

Place the butter mixture while you melt the carob/dark chocolate. In a small microwave safe bowl, melt carob/dark chocolate with 1 tablespoon shortening. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between to promote melting, until fully melted.

Remove the butter mixture from the freezer again, scoop it, form it into egg shapes, and coat in the carob. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet to set. Once all the eggs are coated, place them in the refrigerator to set completely. Eggs may be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature about 1 hour.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Ashley Rodriguez, courtesy Food 52

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I hope you are inspired to make your own Easter candy this year.  Here are a couple more recipes to get you set for the holiday.  Plus, all of these are gluten free as long as you double check the ingredients you add.  It looks like it’s going to be one sweet Easter!

Carob Peanut Butter Eggs – This classic candy is a blast to make and tastes just like the real thing!

Five Candies You Should Make, Not Buy, for Easter

Homemade Snickers Bars – Peanut butter nougat, peanuts, and homemade caramel combine to make one delectable candy.  Cut them in egg shapes to make them more festive!

Five Candies You Should Make, Not Buy, for Easter

Homemade Marshmallows – Forget about Peeps, these fluffy, pillowy morsels of goodness pack in real vanilla flavor.

Five Candies You Should Make, Not Buy, for Easter

Peanut Butter Fudge – You won’t believe how easy it is to make this irresistible candy.  All the cooking is done in the microwave!

Five Candies You Should Make, Not Buy, for Easter

Jeni’s Ice Cream Review

First of all, I am thrilled to report I am a finalist in The Kitchn’s The Homies Awards for the best baking and sweets blog!  I can’t believe it.  It really is a dream come true.  Thank you so much for your support!  It would mean the world to me if you’d head over to The Kitchn’s site and vote for Pies and Plots again.  Please spread the word.  With your help, anything is possible :)   Now on to today’s post

Jeni's Ice Cream Review

Though I don’t eat ice cream very frequently, it’s one of my favorite treats.  It brings back memories of stopping after school for a sundae or sharing a pint with Mom and Granny.  Whether from the grocery store or ice cream parlor, whether ice cream, custard, sorbet, sherbet, or gelato, I love the chilly treat, even when the temperature outside is colder than my freezer!

I have to say of all the ice cream I’ve tried (including ice cream I’ve made), Jeni’s is my favorite.  I’ve ordered from Jeni’s several times.  They are the nicest, most helpful people, always willing to accommodate my chocolate allergy.  Plus, these people know how to ship ice cream!  It always arrives icy cold and ready to head to the freezer . . . or my mouth ;)

Jeni's Ice Cream Review

Prior to my latest order, I’d only tried the ice cream sandwiches, but this order, the Sweet Potato Torched Marshmallow Pint was calling my name.  It did not disappoint.  The ice cream is so silky smooth, not a single ice crystal in sight.  The spicy-sweet ice cream is so perfectly complemented by the marshmallows which have been roasted.  They add a slight sweetness, but also complexity from that campfire s’more like flavor of the burnt marshmallows.  I can’t wait to have more.

Jeni's Ice Cream Review

I also tried the Salty Caramel Sauce.  I love the Salty Caramel ice cream (more on that in a moment), so I couldn’t wait to try the plain sauce.  Full of vanilla bean specks, the sweet-salty balance is spot on.  The sauce is also the star of my Caramel Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars.

The ice cream sandwiches still have my heart.  They make me stop in my tracks, they are so delicious.  The Pfeffernusse were a new find.  The Oatmeal Cream are solid, but the Orchid Vanilla and Salty Caramel are in another league.  I could never choose a favorite.

Jeni's Ice Cream Review

The Orchid Vanilla begins with two huge almond macarons.  In between them is a giant scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and black currant jam.  I never knew how much I loved black currant jam until this.  It’s addicting!  And then there’s the Salty Caramel sandwich with two more macarons with Salty Caramel ice cream in the middle.  Oh, that Salty Caramel ice cream; just the thought of it makes me swoon.  It is then rolled in smoked almonds.  Neither Mom nor I were sure about the almonds, but the crunch and flavor they add is genius.  Of course everything from Jeni’s is pretty genius!

This isn’t a sponsored post, but I wish it was.  Jeni’s, if you would like to send some samples of new products my way or hold a giveaway for my readers, I promise no one would complain :)

Ina’s Salted Caramels

 Ina's Salted Caramels

First, please vote for my blog for The Kitchn’s The Homies Awards.  I need to place in the top five to make it to the next round.  This would really help my dreams come true and could change my blog and possibly my life.  It would be a dream come true, but I need your help.  Please, even if you don’t leave comments and just like to lurk, please take a moment to click the link, sign up for an account and click the +1 next to Pies and Plots.  You should see the number of nominations go up.  I cannot begin to tell you how much this would mean to me!

Second, don’t forget to enter to win the Hungarian shortbread from Frog Hollow Farm.  I know you will love that little treat!  Now onto your regularly scheduled blog post.

Ina's Salted Caramels

I’m not one to be all fanatical about spoilers.  I realize in the strange world in which we live where most of us don’t watch shows when they actually air and yet feel the need to share all about them on social media, I need to be smart if I don’t want to know who won Top Chef or what happened on Grey’s Anatomy.

When I actually care about avoiding spoilers, I try to watch the show in a timely manner and avoid social media.  I’ve also learned to enjoy shows even when I know what happens.

But the Olympics are killing me.  I can’t get interested in watching twenty bobsled runs or ten ice skating short programs, which I swear are all the same, when I know what happens.  So I’ve been spending my days avoiding spoliers like it’s my job.  Coincidentally it pays about the same as blogging ;)

My local news is great.  They announce when they are going to talk spoliers.  They appear on the screen while they Olympic music plays.  When the music’s over, so are the spoliers.  Awesome.

Ina's Salted Caramels

However, my frenemies over at NBC have a bit of a different tactic, in that they talk spoliers all the time, without warning.  The moment I turn on Today in the morning, they are talking about results.  Ted Ligity this, Bode Miller that.  I love NBC Nightly News and their Olympic stories, but I can’t watch them because I have to turn it on mute and look away before I know who fell while ice skating.  Doesn’t NBC want me to enjoy their Olympic coverage?

Well, at least I definitely enjoyed Ina’s Salted Caramels.  I have a thing for homemade caramels.  I simplified the process here by removing the step of warming the cream and butter before adding to the cooked sugar and these are the best caramels I’ve ever made.  They set perfectly, are super creamy, and have that rich, complex flavor we all want from caramels with that perfect crunch of sea salt.  I say these are gold medalists, no spoiler alert necessary!

Ina's Salted Caramels

Ina’s Salted Caramels

Yield: 64 caramels

Ingredients

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

¼ cup light corn syrup

¼ cup water

1 cup heavy cream

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Maldon Sea Salt, for sprinkling

Instructions

Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment, leaving overhang for easy removal later.

In a large saucepan, cook sugar, corn syrup, and water over medium-high heat. Without stirring, bring to a boil, and cook until the mixture is a deep amber color. If you need to swirl the pan, you may do so gently.

Remove the pan from the heat once it is the proper color, and add the cream, butter, and vanilla. Place the pan back on the heat and stir until any clumps have dissolved. Stop stirring. Place a candy thermometer in the pan and cook until the mixture reaches 248 degrees F.

Carefully pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with sea salt. Allow to cool at room temperature for about 1 hour. Then cool completely in the refrigerator, about 2 additional hours. Cut into pieces and wrap with parchment or wax paper. Caramels may be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten

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White Hot Chocolate #SundaySupper

White Hot Chocolate - Gluten free, only 10 minutes to prepare!

When I was nine or ten, I became obsessed with coffee.  Perhaps it was a symptom of my deep seeded desire to be an adult or just wanting the warm comfort so many people seemed to enjoy.  Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t chugging the Folgers from the coffee maker Dad so enjoyed, nor was I drinking the French vanilla from the grocery store that didn’t taste a bit like vanilla.

I loved the sugary, milky drinks from fancy coffee shops that for the most part didn’t taste like coffee in the slightest.  While Starbucks would do in a pinch, The Coffee Beanery was my favorite.

White Hot Chocolate - Gluten free, only 10 minutes to prepare!

White Hot Chocolate - Gluten free, only 10 minutes to prepare!

At first, I was only allowed a taste or two of white chocolate mocha or peppermint mocha, my favorites.  Soon I got to enjoy a beverage all my own, whether with a baby sitter as an after school treat or with Mom and Dad as a weekend reward.

Before long, in addition to those warm drinks, I fell in love with Frappuccinos, especially the Vanilla Bean one.  It tasted just like a milkshake!  Those drinks and the special times with friends and family they helped create remain fond memories.  However, by the time high school rolled around, my fascination had ended.  For whatever reason, my coffee days were over.

White Hot Chocolate - Gluten free, only 10 minutes to prepare!

Sometimes I still crave a warm, comforting drink, especially during this cold winter.  I couldn’t think of a better recreation than White Hot Chocolate.  The perfect recipe to serve two, Mom and I sat down to our mugs full of happiness after making this dangerously easy recipe.  The steaming hot milk is wonderfully flavored with sweet, rich white chocolate and some vanilla bean paste.  I love seeing the little vanilla bean specks!  A few pink peppermint marshmallows make this the perfect way to celebrate Valentine’s Day!

White Hot Chocolate - Gluten free, only 10 minutes to prepare!

 

White Hot Chocolate #SundaySupper

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 2 drinks

Ingredients

4 cups milk (I used almond, but any kind will work)

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Marshmallows, for serving

Instructions

In a large saucepan, combine milk and white chocolate over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the milk is hot and all of the chocolate has melted. Stir in the vanilla bean paste. Remove from the heat.

Divide between two mugs and top with marshmallows, if desired. Serve immediately.

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Don’t forget to check out the other Sunday Supper recipes!

Alluring Appetizers:

Exquisite Entrees:

 

Decadent Desserts and Drinks:

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter every Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat.

Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy! You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Microwave Caramel Popcorn #SundaySupper

Microwave Caramel Popcorn - Gluten Free, Only takes 10 minutes to make!

I’ve always wanted to go to the Super Bowl.  It’s on my bucket list, in fact.  I’m not anywhere near the biggest football fan in the world, but I enjoy watching the games on occasion, particularly the big game.  Sitting in that stadium full of cheering fans, watching the two best teams in the league duke it out seems like something we should all do once in our lives.

I’d have to TiVo the game too because the commercials are probably my favorite part.  That and halftime.  That’s the other thing about going to the Super Bowl: you get to see a concert and a football game!

Microwave Caramel Popcorn - Gluten Free, Only takes 10 minutes to make!

Microwave Caramel Popcorn - Gluten Free, Only takes 10 minutes to make!

But I have to be honest – I wouldn’t want to go to this Super Bowl, or any other outdoor sporting event that is going to expose me to winter weather.  Even Dad, who loves football and played it in college, said he wouldn’t want to go.  I mean, come on, it’s probably going to be the coldest Super Bowl ever!

Microwave Caramel Popcorn - Gluten Free, Only takes 10 minutes to make!

So instead, I’ll be watching from my warm house with some of this Microwave Caramel Popcorn.  I knew immediately I wanted to make caramel popcorn for this game day Sunday Supper, and then when I saw this recipe, I had to try it.

I wasn’t sure how it would turn out.  Was it even possible to make caramel popcorn in the microwave?  Oh, yeah, it is!  This caramel popcorn is some of the best I have ever eaten.  If I didn’t know it came out of the microwave, I wouldn’t believe it.  It’s sweet, but not too sweet, rich, buttery, and super crispy.  Plus, this gluten free snack is ready in 10-15 minutes.  Touchdown!  You definitely need to make this now for your Super Bowl viewing later.  And go Broncos!

Microwave Caramel Popcorn - Gluten Free, Only takes 10 minutes to make!

Microwave Caramel Popcorn - Gluten Free, Only takes 10 minutes to make!

 

Microwave Caramel Popcorn #SundaySupper

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

½ cup unpopped popcorn kernels

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 stick unsalted butter

¼ cup light corn syrup

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

½ teaspoon baking soda

Instructions

Pop the popcorn using your favorite method. I popped mine in a large paper lunch bag in the microwave.

Place the popped popcorn in a large paper lunch bag.

In a medium, microwave safe bowl, place brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, and salt. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Remove from microwave and stir. If the mixture is not completely melted and bubbling, microwave it for an additional minute. Mine took 3 minutes to be fully incorporated and bubbling. Immediately stir in vanilla and baking soda. Once the caramel is fully combined, pour the caramel over the popped popcorn in the paper bag. Try to pour down the center instead of on the side as it will just stick to the bag.

Fold the top of the paper bag down a few times, then shake to coat the popcorn with the caramel. Microwave on high for 1 ½ minutes. Remove the bag from the microwave and shake it again. Microwave for an additional 1 ½ minutes.

Pour caramel popcorn onto a large, parchment lined baking sheet and allow to cool completely. When the popcorn is cool it should be very crunchy. Store popcorn in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Notes

Recipe adapted from A Farmgirl's Dabbles

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Don’t forget to check out all the other Sunday Supper dishes!

Game Day Appetizers:

Game Day Entrees:

Game Day Desserts:

 

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter every Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat.

Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy! You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

 

Homemade Carob Snickers + Birthday Thoughts

Homemade Carob Snickers

I wrote awhile ago about the things from my youth I’d like back.  But lately, seeing as it’s January, the time of new beginnings, and today in particular, since it’s my 24th birthday, I also realize I am fully prepared and excited to move forward.  Last year on my birthday, I had hopes for a great year full of awesome things.  I’m sad to report I feel in mostly the same place as last year.  No successful writing career, no best friend, no first date.  Just me and my dreams.

But the truth is, maybe I wasn’t ready, really ready, for all those things last year.  Not mentally, emotionally, or even physically prepared to have all my hopes and dreams suddenly turn into reality being thrust at me.

Homemade Carob Snickers

This year, though, I know I am ready.  I am open to great things heading my way.  I know for certain I actually do want to move away from the place that’s been my home for my entire life to a new, warmer place where the possibilities are endless.  I want to meet new people, visit new places, create a new home.  I just have to figure out how to do it . . . but I will.

I know the writing projects I’m working on are the best of my life.  I needed to write and read and make mistakes to learn and become a better writer.  It is only a matter of time now until someone in a position of far more power than me takes notice.  It is going to happen.  Dreams are about to come true!

Homemade Carob Snickers

If I needed proof other than my own feelings, my horoscope provided it.  I pretty much never read my horoscope, always afraid it will say something bad.  But in the latest issue of Elle, it was calling my name.  So I read it, and I am thrilled I did.  It said all kinds of love, career, and social opportunities are headed my way.  Neiman Marcus shared a similar one on their blog that said I’d have a “magical year.”  Oh, yeah!  Bring it on, because I am ready!!!

You know what else I’m ready for more of?  These Homemade Carob Snickers.  I crave candy bars all the time, but since I’m allergic to chocolate, I can’t eat them.  So for my birthday, I treated myself to homemade candy.  I’m not gonna lie to you, these are kind of complicated and time consuming to make.  But Ashley from Not Without Salt’s recipe is amazing.  It’s easy to follow and the results are better than I ever imagined.  This caramel is by far the best I’ve ever made.  Plus, if you want to spend a few hours in the kitchen, having fun, these are a great thing to make and worth every single second they take. 

Homemade Carob Snickers

If you aren’t allergic to chocolate, you can, of course, use milk or dark chocolate to coat them.  I covered half in carob and half in white chocolate.  I can’t pick which I like better.  With the soft peanut butter nougat, gooey caramel, crunchy peanuts, and crispy coating, these are pure heaven!  So here’s to hoping my 24th year is as great as these Snickers!

Homemade Carob Snickers

 

Homemade Carob Snickers + Birthday Thoughts

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: About 40 candy bars

Ingredients

Peanut Butter Nougat

¾ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup light corn syrup

2 tablespoons honey

¼ cup water

1 large egg white

½ cup creamy peanut butter (I used Skippy Natural)

Caramel

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup light corn syrup

¼ cup water

¾ cup heavy cream

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 cups roasted peanuts (salted or unsalted depending on your preference – I used unsalted)

½ teaspoon Maldon sea salt, for sprinkling

For assembly

2-3 cups carob chips (I used Chatfield’s)

2-3 cups white chocolate chips

3-4 tablespoons vegetable shortening divided

Instructions

Make the nougat. Butter a 9 by 13 inch pan and line it with parchment, leaving overhang for easy removal later. Lightly butter the parchment.

In a small to medium saucepan, gently stir together sugar, corn syrup, honey, and water, being careful not to get sugar on the sides of the pan. Cover the pan with a lid and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Remove the lid, insert a candy thermometer, and continue cooking until the temperature reaches 275 degrees F.

While the syrup cooks, whip the egg white to stiff peaks. Because it is only 1 egg white it is difficult to do in the stand mixer, but it can be done. I did it in a large bowl with the hand mixer, which worked well. Take caution when adding the syrup and then beating the finished mixture. It becomes very stiff, so it is difficult to control the mixer. My egg white never quite got to stiff peaks and the recipe still worked.

When the egg white is whipped and the syrup has reached temperature, immediately remove the syrup from the heat and slowly pour the syrup into the egg white with the mixer running on low. Try to avoid hitting the beater. Increase the speed and beat until the nougat cools slightly and has turned stiff and glossy, about 1 minute.

Stir in the peanut butter until fully combined. Spread the nougat into an even layer in the prepared pan. Allow to cool while you make the caramel.

Make the caramel. In a large saucepan, gently stir together the sugar, corn syrup, and water, being careful not to get sugar on the sides of the pan. Cover the pan with a lid and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and insert a candy thermometer. Continue cooking caramel until it reaches 300 degrees F. You may gently swirl the pan if some of the caramel turns color before the rest.

Once the caramel reaches 300 degrees F, add the cream and butter, then continue cooking until the caramel reaches 248 degrees F. Remove from the heat and stir in the peanuts and vanilla. Pour the caramel over the nougat. Smooth into an even layer and sprinkle with Maldon salt. Cool at room temperature for 40 minutes. Then cool completely in the refrigerator for at least an hour and up to overnight.

Assemble the candy bars. Remove the pan of nougat and caramel from the refrigerator. Cut into bite sized pieces. Melt ½ the carob chips in a microwave safe bowl with about 1 tablespoon of shortening in 30 second increments, stirring in between to promote melting and prevent burning. When the carob is fully melted, using a fork, dip 1 piece of the nougat/caramel into it and cover completely. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining carob. The process is the same for the white chocolate chips as well.

Once all the candy bars have been coated, place in the refrigerator to set completely. Bars may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks or in the freezer, individually wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature about 30 minutes.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Not Without Salt

Additional cooling time may be required.

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Caramel Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars #SundaySupper

Caramel Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars - Gluten Free

Today is a big day!  I’m celebrating two birthdays: Dad’s and Sunday Supper’s.  I’m so excited!  Some celebrations are just what this dreary January needs.  Clearly, Dad’s birthday is a big deal; it’s even a milestone birthday . . . I won’t say which one.  His present is waiting to be opened and he’s already devoured his birthday treat (ah, the life of a blogger), but I’ll make sure he has plenty of tasty food today.

He is such an important part of my life.  I don’t know what I’d do without him.  I cherish our conversations and one on one time together.  I love when he, Mom, and I do something fun together.  He never stops fighting for me and my dreams, even when we all grow a little frustrated and discouraged.  He is my faithful taste tester, errand runner, and flower planter, and is an invaluable part of my everyday life.  The three of us go together like peanut butter, jelly, and caramel :)   Happy Birthday, Dad!  Here’s to an amazing year, and many more to follow.

Caramel Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars - Gluten Free

Caramel Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars - Gluten Free

It’s also Sunday Supper’s birthday!  Sunday Supper is one of the most important parts of my blog life.  It’s no secret I often struggle with my blog and its failure to live up to my lofty expectations.  Sunday Supper has helped my blog grow leaps and bounds, which I really appreciate, but more than that, it’s introduced me to so many other bloggers.  I am part of a community with Sunday Supper.

I look forward to seeing the themes each week.  And then I bound to my computer on Sunday to interact with my blog friends and see what they created.  It has opened up a new world for me and made me feel like I’m a part of something for the first time EVER!  So thank you Isabel and the Sunday Supper team for creating this movement and allowing me to be a part of it.

Caramel Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars - Gluten Free

To celebrate these birthdays, I needed a seriously awesome treat, and these Caramel Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars did not disappoint.  I knew Dad would love these and I was right.  He still can’t stop talking about them.  I love them too with the peanut butter-oat crust and topping that is a little soft, a little chewy, and sturdy enough to support the fabulous filling of cherry preserves (though you can use whatever flavor you like) and caramel sauce.  I happened to have a jar of Jeni’s Salty Caramel Sauce that was calling my name and it was perfect in these bars.  Plus, they are gluten free and you would NEVER know it!  Though I have a giant sweet tooth, I did find these to be a little too sweet.  I cut down the amount of sugar in the recipe below to combat that.  In addition, a thin layer of peanut butter under the jelly and/or a few peanuts in the topping would be a great twist to add a little more complexity.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love these bars and know you will too.  I think Dad will be requesting them every year for his birthday!

Caramel Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars - Gluten Free

 

Caramel Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars #SundaySupper

Prep Time:

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 9 bars

Ingredients

½ stick unsalted butter

¾ cup creamy peanut butter (I used Skippy Natural)

1 cup packed light brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free)

½ cup jam/jelly/preserves, whatever flavor you like (I used American Spoon Cherry Spoon Fruit)

¼ cup salted caramel sauce (I used Jeni’s)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 inch square pan and line it with parchment. Lightly butter the parchment.

In a large microwave safe bowl, microwave butter until melted, 60-75 seconds. Add the peanut butter and microwave for an additional 45 seconds. Stir the butter and peanut butter together before adding sugars, cinnamon, and vanilla. Stir until fully combined. Add the oats and stir until a thick dough is formed.

Press about ¾ of the peanut butter-oat mixture into the prepared pan very firmly. Spread the preserves in an even layer over the crust. Spread the caramel in an even layer over the preserves. Crumble the remaining dough over the top of the caramel.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with no crumbs (it will have preserves and caramel on it), the top is golden brown, and the caramel is bubbling. Cool completely in pan.

Bars may be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to three months. Thaw at room temperature about an hour or in the microwave for about 30 seconds.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Averie Cooks

To add more peanut flavor to the bars, spread ¼ cup peanut butter on the crust before the preserves and caramel and/or add ¼ cup peanuts to the dough reserved for the topping.

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Don’t forget to check out all the other celebration Sunday Supper dishes!

Brilliant Breads and Breakfast Fare:

 

Amazing Appetizers and Cocktails:

 

Spectacular Soups and Salads:

 

Enticing Entrees:

 

Decadent Desserts:

 

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

 

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy! You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

SundaySupper

 

Penuche Fudge #SundaySupper

Penuche Fudge

Candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup.  Those are Buddy the Elf’s favorite food groups.  I have to admit, they sound pretty good to me.  Who needs a balanced diet?  I often joke sugar is at the bottom of my food pyramid, but in all seriousness I love both healthy foods and sweet treats.  It’s all about balance and moderation.

With all the sugary goodness, it’s no wonder Elf is one of my favorite holiday movies.  It’s just not Christmas without Elf, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and Love Actually.  What makes Elf so great is that it’s funny . . . no . . . hilarious, while still being moving and heartfelt.  So many Christmas movies are rather depressing, but not Elf.  Maybe one day there’ll be an Elf 2!

Penuche Fudge

Penuche Fudge

Just a few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to see Elf the Musical.  It wasn’t quite as good as the movie, but it was still a fun night out and a good show.  Like the movie, it was funny and uplifting.  The original songs were all quite catchy, and they actors were so talented!  I don’t know how they perform eight shows a week.  One would be tough for me.  My arms got tired mixing blondie dough the other day!

While my four main food groups may not be the same as Buddy’s, we both share a deep love of sweets.  I know Buddy would devour this Penuche Fudge.  It’s a rich, brown sugar candy that’s perfect for the holidays.  There’s enough to share and give as gifts.  Plus, it’s gluten free!  It has a slightly grainy texture when you first bite into it that quickly dissolves in your mouth into sweet goodness.  There is some complexity from the brown sugar, but this is a very sweet, rich dessert.  Just what I’m craving this time of year as I sit down for another viewing of Elf!

Penuche Fudge

Penuche Fudge

Penuche Fudge #SundaySupper

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 64 pieces

Ingredients

2 ½ cups packed light brown sugar

2 ½ cups granulated sugar

1 ¼ cups milk (I used almond milk, but any will work)

1 stick unsalted butter

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Line an 8 inch square pan with parchment paper, leaving overhang for easy removal later.

In a large saucepan, combine sugars, milk, butter, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches 236 degrees F on a candy thermometer. This will take awhile and the mixture will bubble a lot during cooking. Be careful!

Once the mixture has reached 236, remove it from the heat and either pour it into the bowl of a stand mixer or a heatproof bowl and beat it with a hand mixer. Either way, increase the speed slowly until it is on medium-high. Beat until the mixture has thickened and lightened in color, 5-10 minutes. Add vanilla extract and beat for 1 additional minute.

Spread mixture into prepared pan and smooth the top. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before cutting into squares. Fudge may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Notes

Fudge needs an additional two hours to set in the refrigerator!

Recipe adapted from Food Babbles

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Don’t forget to check out the other Sunday Supper dishes!

Party Appetizers & Snacks:

Oven-Roasted Applesauce Scented with Rosemary & Vanilla-Inspired by the song
“Christmas in the Trenches”- Shockingly Delicious
Roasted Chestnuts Inspired by the movie “The Christmas Song”Food Lust People Love
A Popcorn Trio
Inspired by the song “Let it Snow” - Hot Momma’s Kitchen Chaos
Chai Tea Abominable Snow Buddies Inspired by the movie “Rudolph”Cupcakes & Kale Chips
Raisin Bran Muffins for a Crowd Inspired by the movie
“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” - In The Kitchen With Audrey and Maurene
Icicle Candy and Reindeer Snacks Inspired by the movie “Snow”Treats & Trinkets
A Christmas Carol Plum Pudding Inspired by the movie “A Christmas Carol”No One Likes Crumbley Cookies
Yukon Mashed Potato Cakes Inspired by the movie “Rudolph” - Cookin’ Mimi
Christmas Pudding Inspired by the song “Over the River and Through the Woods” - A Kitchen Hoor
Pumpkin Pudding Inspired by the movie “Nightmare Before Christmas” - Basic N Delicious
Elf-Inspired Christmas “Grams”
Inspired by the movie “Elf” - MarocMama
Sugarplums
Inspired by the movie “The Nutcracker”Happy Baking Days
Chai Spiced Roasted Nuts
Inspired by the song “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” - Take A Bite Out of Boca

Festive Main Dishes

Maple Syrup Spaghetti- Inspired by the movie “Elf”- Momma’s Meals
Who Hash Inspired by the movie “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” -girlichef
Ginger Orange Glazed Cornish Hens Inspired by the song “The 12 Days of Christmas” -Sue’s Nutrition Buzz
NY Hot Dog with Sabrett-style Onion Sauce Inspired by the movie “Die Hard” - Small Wallet, Big Appetite
Classic Caesar Salad Inspired by the movie “The Santa Clause”The Little Ferraro Kitchen
Individuals Meatloaves & Horseradish Mashed Potatoes for Mommy’s Little Piggies - Inspired by the movie
“A Christmas Story”The Not So Cheesy Kitchen
Christmas Waffles Inspired by the TV special “A Claymation Christmas Celebration”Curious Cuisiniere
Filthy Animal Pizza
Inspired by the movie “Home Alone”Foxes Love Lemons
Chicken Orzo Soup
Inspired by the song “12 Days of Christmas” - Family Foodie
Brandied Candied Sweet Potatoes
Inspired by the song “Christmas Is The Time To Say ‘I Love You’ ” -
Cindy’s Recipes and Writings

Sweet Holiday Treats:

Gin and Tonic Cupcakes Inspired by Adam Sandler’s ” The Chanukah Song” - The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen
Chocolate Chip Shortbread Bars Inspired by the movie “Love Actually”Magnolia Days
Gingerbread Marshmallows Inspired by the song “Marshmallow World”Jane’s Adventures in Dinner
Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies Inspired by the movie “The Gremlins”Killer Bunnies, Inc
White Chocolate Peppermint Fudge Inspired by the song “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”Alida’s Kitchen
Snowball Cookies - Inspired by the movie “White Christmas” -The Foodie Army Wife
Penuche Fudge
Inspired by the movie “Elf” Pies and Plots
Hot Chocolate Cookies
Inspired by the movie “Santa Clause” - Mess Makes Food
South Pacific Coconut Tres Leche Cake
Inspired by the movie “South Pacific” -The Ninja Baker
Cookies & Cream Fudge
Inspired by the movie “Elf”The Messy Baker

Cozy Drinks:

Toasted Coconut Hot Cocoa- Inspired by the song “Let It Snow”- Chocolate Moosey
The Christmas Gram Inspired by the movie “Elf”An Appealing Plan
Eggnog Hot Chocolate Inspired by the movie “National Lampoons Christmas Vacation” - Peanut Butter and Peppers
Vermont Hot Cocoa
Inspired by the movie “White Christmas”Kudos Kitchen By Renee
Spiked Hot Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Floats
Inspired by the song “Holly Jolly Christmas “ -NeighborFood

This is Christmas; Wine Pairings for Holiday Themed#SundaySupper RecipesENOFYLZ Wine Blog

Sunday Supper Movement
Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy! You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Peppermint Sprinkle Popcorn + Sprinkles Cookbook Review

Peppermint Sprinkle Popcorn

Not too long ago, I told you about my obsession with glitter.  My friend Jennie from The Messy Baker left a comment saying glitter is like sprinkles for the face.  While few things trump my love of glitter, I have been a fan of sprinkles since I was a little girl.

Mom never quite understood my love of sprinkles, saying she’s not a sprinkle fan.  Shocking, I know!  But I more than made up for her sprinkle-less life.  I requested sprinkles on every scoop of ice cream and loved decorating cookies with them.  My love continues today with two different Funfetti cookie recipes here on my blog.  I know Funfetti cake is destined to be in my future too.

Peppermint Sprinkle Popcorn

Peppermint Sprinkle Popcorn

When I was offered the opportunity to review Sprinkles! by Jackie Alpers, I jumped at the chance.  A whole cookbook full of colorful sprinkle covered recipes?  Yes, please!

The book did not disappoint.  Although my copy did get a little chewed up in the mail :(   The Confetti Layer Cake is calling my name. I also love how Jackie worked sprinkles into breakfast, from waffles and pancakes to the syrup that covers them.  The Orange Dreamsicle Cookies are beautiful, and there’s even a recipe for homemade sprinkles.  Many different kinds of sprinkles are utilized too, which is awesome.

Sprinkles The Cookbook

The Sweetheart Party Popcorn really stood out to me, so I remixed it just in time for the holidays.  Peppermint Sprinkle Popcorn is the perfect hostess gift or party snack.  It’s easy to make, full of flavor and texture, and gluten free!  The peppermint is so refreshing and the sprinkles add not only a pop of color, but also some needed crispy-crunchy texture.  If you need more sprinkles in your life (and who doesn’t?!?) check out this book and recipe!

Peppermint Sprinkle Popcorn

Peppermint Sprinkle Popcorn

Peppermint Sprinkle Popcorn + Sprinkles Cookbook Review

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

5 cups popped corn (about 1/3 cup of kernels)

½ cup white chocolate peppermint candy melts

1 tablespoon pure vegetable shortening

½ cup Andes Peppermint Crunch candies, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup jimmies-type sprinkles

Instructions

In a large bowl, place the popcorn, Andes candies, and sprinkles.

In a small, microwave safe bowl, heat candy melt in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until fully melted. Stir in shortening until dissolved. Pour over popcorn and stir to coat.

Popcorn may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Sprinkles! by Jackie Alpers

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Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of Sprinkles for review, but all opinions, as always, are mine!