Honey Bundt Cake with Honey Pecan Caramel

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HoneyForHolidays #DonVictorHoney #CollectiveBias

Honey Bundt Cake with Honey Pecan Caramel

Bundt cakes don’t get enough credit.  They might lack the heaps of frosting in a towering layer cake.  They might not have the immediacy of cookies.  And they don’t have the fudginess of a brownie.

But in reality they have oh so much more.  They are easy to make, mixing up quickly and then baking in the oven without too much checking or turning.  Endless flavor combinations are possible in a bundt cake.  And they are really quite beautiful.

When I unmolded this beauty from the pan (always the scariest part of bundt cake making) and topped it with the nutty caramel, it almost took my breath away.  This cake belongs as the centerpiece of a holiday table or can be given as a gift to some very happy recipients.

Honey Bundt Cake with Honey Pecan Caramel

Don Victor® Orange Blossom Comb Honey Globe Jar is the star of this bundt cake.  Honey is sometimes a flavor that can fall to the background of baked goods, but that is so not the case with this cake.

What is so unique about Don Victor® Honey is that it has honeycomb right in it that is fully edible.  I didn’t know that before working with this honey, but now I am so excited to experiment with it in different ways like mixing it into salad dressing or serving is as part of a cheese plate.  It can also be spread on toast or an English muffin with a bit of butter if you like.  Like all honey, it should be stored at room temperature to prevent crystallization.  Unlike a lot of honey, Don Victor® Honey is raw, filtered honey, not heated or processed in any other way.

Honey Bundt Cake with Honey Pecan Caramel

I am also excited to give it as a gift this holiday season because I love introducing my friends and family to new products that I have fallen in love with.  It is an easy to give, inexpensive gift that is perfect for coworkers, bosses, teachers, and more.  Be sure to stock up at Walmart, like I did.  Unlike other honey, Don Victor® Honey is available in the Hispanic aisle.

Shopping at Walmart

Back to the Honey Bundt Cake with Honey Pecan Caramel.  The cake itself is unbelievably moist with the flavors of the honey, orange, and olive oil coming through.  It also has a swirl of plump dried cherries and cranberry jam, because all bundt cakes need a swirl 😉

Honey Bundt Cake with Honey Pecan Caramel

Then there is maybe my favorite part of the cake: the honey pecan caramel.  I will make this sauce again and again for topping on ice cream or waffles or just eating with a spoon – it is that good.

Be sure to check out Don Victor® Honey and make this bundt cake for the holidays!

Honey Bundt Cake with Honey Pecan Caramel

Honey Bundt Cake with Honey Pecan Caramel

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Yield: 10-12 servings

Ingredients

Cake
1 cup dried sweet cherries
Juice of 1 orange
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
¾ cup Don Victor® Orange Blossom Comb Honey Globe Jar
¾ cup olive oil
4 large eggs
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup cranberry jam (another flavored jam will do, but try to pick a bright color)
Caramel
½ cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup Don Victor® Orange Blossom Comb Honey Globe Jar
½ stick unsalted butter
½ teaspoon flaky sea salt
1 cup pecans, toasted

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil and flour a large bundt pan.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the cherries and orange juice. Allow to soak while you prepare the batter.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together sugars, honey including the comb, oil, eggs, yogurt, and vanilla until fully combined. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix until just combined. Add the orange juice only from the cherries and mix to combine.
  4. Spread half of the batter into the bottom of the prepared bundt pan. Top with cherries and jam, trying to keep them away from the sides of the pan. Cover with the other half of the batter and bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
  5. Allow cake to cool for about 15 minutes while you make the caramel. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, honey including the comb, and butter. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Stir in toasted pecans and flaky sea salt.
  6. Loosen the cake from the pan by sticking a thin knife around the edges. Carefully invert the cake onto a serving plate. Drizzle the caramel slowly over the top. Allow cake to cool completely before cutting and serving. Cake may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen in pieces wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw in the microwave about 1 minute.
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Homemade Twix Bars #SundaySupper

Homemade Twix Bars

Lots of people have Thanksgiving traditions and many of them are the same.  Travel.  Family.  Cooking.  Baking.  Turkey.  Pie.  Football.  Leftovers.  Shopping.  More leftovers.  More shopping.  More travel.  Lots of crowds.

And I think all those traditions and whatever others you may have are great.

Homemade Twix Bars

But I bet you aren’t surprised to know those aren’t my traditions for the most part.  My Thanksgivings are quiet days, just Mom and Dad and me.  We actually have started this new tradition where we go shopping the day before Thanksgiving.  It’s my favorite!

There aren’t any crowds and a lot of the sales have already begun.  This year I picked up an awesome dress at Saks I can’t wait to show all of you!!  It’s fun, low key, and this year was a great way to get out on a rainy, yucky day.

Homemade Twix Bars

On Thanksgiving, the only traditional food we have is cranberry sauce (not out of the can).  Otherwise we have steaks or tacos and it’s just the three of us.  No pressure.  Not too much work.  No drama.  There aren’t many leftovers and save for a little shopping by Dad on Black Friday, we leave the crowds to everyone else.

That’s my Thanksgiving and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  For me it is perfect.  For you something else may be and I hope that is exactly what you had over the holidays 🙂

Homemade Twix Bars

For dessert, we skipped pies and pumpkin and all that and had homemade Twix Bars.  These are everything I remember a Twix to before my allergy and oh so much more.

The shortbread base is the star here.  It is thick and crumbly and practically melts in your mouth.  Then there is the gooey caramel that stretches when you bite into the bar.  It all finishes with the slightly bitter carob (in my case) or chocolate coating, snapping as you take a bite.  Make sure these are a part of your holiday season!

Homemade Twix Bars

Homemade Twix Bars #SundaySupper

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: About 24 bars

Ingredients

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons finely ground cornmeal
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 batch homemade caramel or store bought
18 ounces carob or dark or milk chocolate chips
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

Instructions

  1. Make the shortbread. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper, leaving overhang for easy removal later.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla bean paste until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Add the flour, cornmeal, and salt and mix until a stiff dough is formed. Spread into the bottom of the prepared pan in an even layer.
  3. Bake shortbread 20-25 minutes, until golden brown around the edges and mostly set.
  4. While the shortbread bakes, make the caramel or warm the store-bought caramel. Pour the hot caramel over the slightly cooled shortbread. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight until completely chilled.
  5. Once the caramel and shortbread are chilled, cut into long, thin bars. Melt the carob or chocolate with the shortening in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until fully melted. I recommend doing this in two batches.
  6. Carefully dip each of the bars in the chocolate and use a spoon or your fingers to coat completely. Set on a parchment lined baking sheet to set. Once all bars are set, serve or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

Shortbread base adapted from Ashley Rodriguez via Craftsy

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http://piesandplots.net/homemade-twix-bars-sundaysupper/

Don’t forget to check out the other Sunday Supper dishes!  Thanks to Christie from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures for hosting!

Baked Goods

Candy

Chocolate

Jams, Syrups, Drinks

Mixes and Spices

Sunday Supper MovementJoin 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. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Caramel Sauce

Pumpkin Spice Latte Caramel Sauce

In grade school I had a serious coffee addiction.  I’d stop at Starbucks or the Coffee Beanery after school or on the weekends.  I’d indulge in one of my favorite drinks whether morning, afternoon, or evening.  I’d drink it while shopping or just grab one for the road.

None of the drinks I ordered really tasted much like coffee.  White chocolate mocha.  Peppermint mocha.  Frappuccinos.  It was dessert … or more realistically sometimes a meal … all in a cup.  And I loved it.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Caramel Sauce

 

Pumpkin Spice Latte Caramel Sauce

And then like most phases it passed.  I’d have a coffee occasionally.  Or I’d order it at a restaurant when the smell of it was too intoxicating to pass up and surpassed the taste by a mile.

Recently I got hooked on the ice coffee beverages in the grocery store.  I picked one up for a job and kind of fell in love with it.  They are definitely less caloric than their coffee store counterparts and are just right for a treat every now and then.

My latest purchase was the Pumpkin Spice Latte iced coffee by Starbucks.  I’ve never had an actual pumpkin spice latte so I was super curious to check it out.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Caramel Sauce

There’s not much pumpkin-y or spicy about the beverage, but I still love it and all its coffee glory.

You know what’s better than the latte by itself?  Making caramel sauce with it.  Enter Pumpkin Spice Latte Caramel Sauce.

It’s ooey, gooey, perfect on ice cream or baked into a recipe (coming soon), easy to make, gluten free, and pretty much irresistible.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Caramel Sauce

Pumpkin Spice Latte Caramel Sauce

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: Varies

Ingredients

2 cups granulated sugar

½ cup water

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces

½ cup Pumpkin Spice Latte Iced Coffee

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

Place sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir frequently until the sugar melts. Once the sugar is melted, stop stirring and cook until the mixture is a golden amber color. Keep an eye on it because it can go from clear to burnt in no time. This process may take around 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and add the butter. Place back over the heat and stir until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat again and add the coffee, cinnamon, and salt. Place back over the heat and stir until the caramel is thick and glossy without any clumps.

Pour into a bowl. Serve immediately over ice cream or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Reheat in the microwave in 30 second increments as necessary.

http://piesandplots.net/pumpkin-spice-latte-caramel-sauce/

Cinnamon Roll Popcorn

Cinnamon Roll Popcorn

It’s official. I am now 25. Yesterday was my birthday. Another year has come and gone so quickly. I often cannot believe I am 25; in fact sometimes I forget. On some occasions I feel older, others younger. Age doesn’t really mean much these days. It’s all about how you feel.

I celebrated more than I usually do. Typically I keep birthdays low key, but I’ve realized time is fleeting and life is short, so I should have fun while I can. So I went to see Kathy Griffin with my friends Katie and Kaitlyn at the Soundboard at Motor City Casino.

My friends and me

Kaitlyn, Me, and Katie

I’m a huge Kathy Griffin fan and have been for years. I never missed an episode of My Life on the D-List and saw her perform a few years back with Dad. He must be more of a fan than I realized as he offered to go with me again 😉 When she was coming to town the night before my birthday, I felt like it was fate, and I had to go.

It was great to get all dressed up and go out and party with my friends in our front row seats. Kathy was hilarious! I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time, and it was great to let go of all my stress and just have a good time. I can always count on Kathy for that. By the way have you seen her on Fashion Police yet? So funny, though no one can ever really replace Joan Rivers.

Cinnamon Roll Popcorn

There was definitely an abundance of over served people at the show, if you know what I mean. This included one lady who fell onto the floor and had to be escorted out of the theatre by about five security people.

Clearly it was my most exciting birthday for many reasons. Then on my actual birthday, I chilled and watched movies, took a day off baking and blogging and writing, and got the best birthday present ever: an Alexander McQueen clutch. It’s insanely gorgeous – I’ve always wanted one.

Cinnamon Roll Popcorn

So it was my best birthday ever . . . maybe that means it will be my best year ever. Fingers crossed!

You’ll want to celebrate all occasions with this Cinnamon Roll Popcorn. It is super easy to make since the caramel is made in the microwave. The house smells amazing while it’s cooking – just like cinnamon rolls are baking. And then there’s the taste. It is super crunchy with tons of cinnamon flavor. I love the addition of pecans too since they get so toasty in the oven. This gluten free snack is definitely a birthday worthy treat!

Cinnamon Roll Popcorn

Cinnamon Roll Popcorn

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: Varies

Ingredients

8-10 cups popcorn (from about ½ cup of kernels)

1 cup pecans

½ cup packed light brown sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 stick butter

¼ cup dark corn syrup

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ teaspoon baking soda

Instructions

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment.

Spread the popcorn onto the baking sheet in a relatively even, single layer. Sprinkle with pecans.

In a large, microwave-safe bowl, stir together brown sugar and cinnamon. Add butter and corn syrup and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir to combine. Microwave an additional 2 minutes. Stir the mixture well, then microwave for an additional 1 minute 30 seconds. Be careful as the mixture will be very hot and bubbly.

Stir in the vanilla and baking soda. Pour as evenly as possible over the popcorn on the tray. Stir well to coat the popcorn.

Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring every ten. Allow to cool completely on tray and break into pieces. May be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Remodelaholic

http://piesandplots.net/cinnamon-roll-popcorn/

Peach Blueberry Layered Coffee Cake

Peach Blueberry Layered Coffee Cake

What’s your favorite unusual combination? We all have awesome classic staples in all parts of our lives. In fashion, I love pairing black with a bright pop of color. When I’m doing makeup, I often pair a deep smoky eye shadow with a nude lipstick. I often switch between comedy and drama shows to keep the mood in the house from getting too heavy. And in the culinary world, there are so many favorites to choose from: peanut butter and jelly, maple syrup and apples, cherries and almonds.

I also love fancy restaurant desserts with many different components that all magically go together. Different textures and flavors that all go together seamlessly to make the perfect combination. This is even rare at restaurants (at least in metro Detroit), though I have had a few. My favorite had sautéed apples and candied nuts with some light sponge cake and salted caramel ice cream along with caramel sauce. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I ate my plate and some of Mom’s. I still think about that dessert!

Peach Blueberry Layered Coffee Cake

Peach Blueberry Layered Coffee Cake

I’d love to create masterpieces like that in my own kitchen, but I don’t very frequently. I’ve had my eye on Hungry Rabbit’s Nectarine-Blueberry Cake with Caramel Frosting forever and I finally made it. It’s one of those masterpieces with the perfect combination of all the tastes and textures complementing each other. Mom at first thought it might be too much, but after one bite, we decided it was perfection. Though there are a lot of steps, none were overly time consuming and making some ahead definitely helps!

Mine might not be as pretty as Ken’s, but it sure tasted good. I swapped nectarines for peaches in the recipe because they were ripest in my kitchen, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand. The cake, loaded with peaches and blueberries, is insanely moist and topped with a delightful crumb topping. The filling manages to add a maple syrup/vanilla flavor, even though it has neither. It’s probably the bourbon working its magic. Oh and the caramel frosting! Silky smooth, not too sweet and almost custard like in its texture, it’s the first cooked frosting I’ve made like this, but it certainly won’t be the last. This cake? It might just be my new favorite combination.

Peach Blueberry Layered Coffee Cake
Peach Blueberry Layered Coffee Cake

Peach Blueberry Layered Coffee Cake

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: 8 generous slices

Ingredients

Streusel

¼ cup all-purpose flour

¼ packed dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons canola oil

Cake

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

2/3 cup granulated sugar

Zest of 1 lemon

1 ¼ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs

3 cups peaches, pitted, peeled, and diced

1 cup fresh blueberries, picked over

Filling

1 ½ cups peaches, pitted, peeled, and diced

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons reserved streusel

2 tablespoons bourbon

Frosting

¾ cup packed dark brown sugar

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons cornstarch

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¾ cup milk (I used almond, use what you love)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

Instructions

Make the streusel. In a small bowl, stir together flour, sugars, and cinnamon. Add oil and stir until clumps of various sizes form. Set aside or make ahead and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container up to 1 day.

Make the cake. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 or 9 inch round cake pan, line the bottom with parchment and butter and flour the entire pan.

In a small bowl, stir together flour and baking powder. In a large bowl, cream sugar, lemon zest, butter, and salt until light and fluffy. I did this by hand, but a hand or stand mixer would work as well. Mix in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, fully incorporating each. Beat until once again light and fluffy. Gradually add flour mixture and mix until just combined. Fold in blueberries and peaches.

Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Reserve 2 tablespoons of streusel for the filling, and sprinkle the rest evenly on top of the cake. Bake 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Cool cake completely in pan.

Make the filling. Cook peaches and butter in a medium skillet over medium heat until peaches are softened and juicy, about 3 minutes. Add reserved streusel and cook 1 minute more. Add bourbon (carefully) and cook about 1 additional minute. Pour mixture into a heat proof bowl and cool completely. Filling may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1 day.

Make the frosting. In a medium saucepan, stir together sugar, baking soda, flour, cornstarch, and salt. Slowly whisk in milk. Once the milk is whisked in, place the pan over medium heat, and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture boils and thickens, 5 to 7 minutes. Pour mixture into a bowl and cool completely. Mixture may be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, beat cooled milk mixture and vanilla to combine. Add butter 1 piece at a time while beating. Continue beating until frosting is light and fluffy 2-3 minutes. Refrigerate at least 45 minutes and up to 2 hours.

Assemble the cake. Carefully remove the cake from the pan, peel off the parchment round and place on a cake stand. Using a serrated knife, cut the cake in half horizontally, keeping the layers as even as possible. Remove the top half. Spread the filling evenly over the bottom half. Place the top half on the cake on top. Frost the top of the cake only with the frosting. Cake may be stored in the refrigerator for up 3 days.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Hungry Rabbit

Additional cooling time is necessary

http://piesandplots.net/peach-blueberry-layered-coffee-cake/

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.

Wet-Nap is also running a Most Original Mess contest.  All you have to do to enter is upload a picture of your messy kid on the Wet-Nap website and promote it across social media for the chance to win a $1,000 Walmart gift card and a year’s supply of Wet-Nap products!  Head to the Wet-Nap website for more details and to enter!  Good luck!

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

http://piesandplots.net/microwave-caramel-sauce/

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

http://piesandplots.net/inas-salted-caramels/

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

http://piesandplots.net/microwave-caramel-popcorn-sundaysupper/

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.

http://piesandplots.net/homemade-carob-snickers-birthday-thoughts/

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