Caramel Nut Shortbread Bars

Caramel Nut Shortbread Bars

You guys, there’s this bright light in the sky and I don’t know what it is.

Oh, that’s the sun???!!!

You’ll have to forgive me for not recognizing it.  I can’t remember the last time the sun was out.  This winter hasn’t been that bad as far as winters go.  We recently had a ten day stretch during which even low temperatures did not dip below freezing.

Caramel Nut Shortbread Bars

But it has been so dark and grey and lifeless and downright depressing I can’t even.

Winter has me down.  This happens every year, but this year it’s stronger than ever.  Maybe it’s because I was making the same wishes last birthday as I did a little over a week ago on this one and because year after year things build and build and build until they come to a head.

I want to frolic outside in the sun and take walks and eat outside and be happy and not have to slather lotion and oil and all things moisturizing on my skin.  Please tell me I’m not alone.

Caramel Nut Shortbread Bars

Caramel Nut Shortbread Bars

I won’t be alone in loving these Caramel Nut Shortbread Bars.  I made these years ago, before the blog and loved the filling but not the crust.  Then I made them again recently with a different crust that tasted great but totally fell apart.

Enter test three.  These are the winner.  The filling is as gooey and rich as ever with tons of crunchy nuts.  The base is a vanilla bean olive oil shortbread.  I know olive oil in shortbread sounds weird, but trust me, it is heaven.  It provides a fruity, light note against the rich filling.

Winter is no match for these bars.  Well, really it is, but we can pretend it’s not while we make them.

Caramel Nut Shortbread Bars

 

Caramel Nut Shortbread Bars

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 18 bars

Ingredients

Crust
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ stick unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoons vanilla bean paste
Filling
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
1 ¼ cups packed light brown sugar
½ cup honey
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream
4 cups untoasted nuts, I used half pecans and half walnuts

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. generously butter a 9 by 13-inch pan.
  2. Make the crust. In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, salt, butter, oil, and vanilla bean paste until a thick dough forms that holds when squeezed together. If it falls apart, add a bit more oil until it holds. Press into the prepared pan, bringing some of the dough up the sides. Bake for about 15 minutes until just barely golden brown.
  3. While the crust bakes, make the filling. In a medium saucepot, stir together butter, brown sugar, honey, and salt over medium heat. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes until the mixture is slightly thickened and foamy.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream. Be careful! It will bubble up. Place pan back over the heat and cook until a candy thermometer reaches 240 degrees or about 10 more minutes. I actually did this without a candy thermometer. It’s rather forgiving and you can always test for soft ball stage in a bit of cold water.
  5. Add the nuts and cook an additional 2 minutes. Pour filling over the hot crust, spreading into an even layer. Bake for about 15 minutes, until bubbling and the crust is golden brown. Cool completely in the pan before cutting and serving. Bars may be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag. Thaw at room temperature about 1 hour.

Notes

Filling recipe adapted from Food and Wine

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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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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/

Caramel Apple Rice Krispies Treats #SundaySupper

Caramel Apple Rice Krispies Treats

I eat dinner with my parents pretty much every single night.  Okay, so sometimes dad gets home from work really late and then eats like he’s the living embodiment of a tornado, but other than that we eat dinner together.

It’s a time to talk about our days, our pasts, and our futures.  There’s also background noise from the TV so we can catch up on the latest news and keep our brains young with Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy.  I know we shouldn’t have the TV on but I have misophonia – that’s a story for another day.  Plus, the TV never distracts me; Mom is another story.

Caramel Apple Rice Krispies Treats

The bottom line is that we make an effort seven nights a week to eat a home cooked meal together.  Sure, there are exceptions when we eat out, I meet friends or an online date, or we’re rushing around trying to get to an event.  However, these dinners and all that surrounds them are something I look forward to and miss after a day or two long detour from them.

The dinners aren’t always fancy and the stories aren’t always happy.  Some days we don’t have much to say, so we just enjoy each other’s company and take comfort in the fact that no matter what other things are going on, we can count on each other.

Caramel Apple Rice Krispies Treats

January is National Sunday Supper Month, and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of kicking it off with my Sunday Supper buddies who treasure family dinners as much as me.  We all want to encourage you to have a dinner with your family once a week.  Or if you can, more often.  To set the phones aside and talk to each other.

Try a new recipe, cook together, see what you like.  Things may not always turn out, but that is half the fun.  And then you’ll have something else to talk about.  While my dinners are typically just my parents and me, your family dinners can include any family and friends who you love and care about.  There aren’t any rules.  Just have fun and enjoy the simple things in life.

Caramel Apple Rice Krispies Treats

Well, I do have one rule.  There has to be dessert.  Sometimes it’s just a couple gummy bears and other times, it’s a real treat like these Caramel Apple Rice Krispies Treats.

They start with a Caramel Apple Oreo Crust.  If you can’t find Caramel Apple Oreos, use whatever kind you love.  Then there’s the classic Rice Krispies Treat on top.  It’s hard to improve upon that, but I think I did with dried apples and modjeskas.  If you’ve never heard of modjeskas, they are vanilla marshmallows wrapped in ooey gooey caramel.  They are a treat on their own, and in these … brace yourself.

This decadent treat fun to make and the perfect way to end a family meal.  Here’s to many more Sunday Suppers!

Caramel Apple Rice Krispies Treats

Caramel Apple Rice Krispies Treats

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 2 minutes

Total Time: 12 minutes

Yield: 9-12 treats

Ingredients

15 Caramel Apple Oreos, finely crushed

1 stick unsalted butter, divided

1 10 ounce bag marshmallows

3 ¼ cups Rice Krispies

Heaping ½ dried apples, diced

6 modjeskas or soft caramels, chopped

Instructions

Line an 8 inch square pan with parchment.

Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in the microwave. Add to the crushed Oreos and stir to combine. Pour into the prepared pan and press firmly into place. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.

Once the crust is set, melt the marshmallows and remaining 4 tablespoons butter in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between. Once melted, stir to combine the marshmallows and butter. Stir in the Rice Krispies, adding a few more if necessary until the mixture is gooey but not liquidy. Fold in the dried apples and modjeskas.

Pour on top of the crust. Oil or butter your hands and press down firmly. Refrigerate for an additional 30 minutes before cutting and serving. Treats 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

Addtional chilling time is necessary

http://piesandplots.net/caramel-apple-rice-krispies-treats/

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

Appetizers and Soups

Main courses

Side dishes

Desserts

 

 

Help us celebrate National Sunday Supper Month by entering the Idaho® Potato Let’s Poutine recipe contest, sponsored by the Idaho Potato Commission, with prizes of $500, $200 and $100, plus a ticket for each winner to Food and Wine Conference 2016. All the rules and conditions for entry can be found on our Sunday Supper Movement website.

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.

Bananas Foster #SundaySupper

Bananas Foster

Warm food is eternally comforting. Even when it’s 100 degrees outside, I still find myself craving a steaming hot bowl of soup or a sizzling steak or a cookie molten from the oven. I can’t help it, that food warms my soul, even when my body is already warm.

But, I often think the combination of warm and cold is even more comforting than food on its own. Think about it. That soup often craves a dollop of sour cream or a squeeze of lemon. The steak is that much better with a crisp salad next to it. And the cookie is calling out for some ice cream to melt all over it.

Bananas Foster

Bananas Foster

When we’re talking dessert, there are few dishes that aren’t improved with a scoop of classic vanilla ice cream. Pie. Cake. Cookies. Brownies. And definitely Bananas Foster.

Bananas Foster is such a classic dish and happens to be one of Mom’s favorites. I can’t believe I haven’t posted it yet. Not only is this easy to make for when a sudden dessert craving strikes, but it’s also gluten free. Plus, it’s kind of a little healthy. I mean it has a lot of fruit in it and ice cream has calcium, right??? 😉

Bananas Foster

This dish is certainly wonderful on its own. It invites you to taste it with the smell of the caramelizing butter, sugar, and bananas. If you want to gild the lily, though, add some vanilla ice cream. Some of it melts into the sauce, some doesn’t. It’s cold and warm and pretty much everything.

When the winter blues strike, I’ll be making more Bananas Foster to brighten my day, and you should too.

Bananas Foster

Bananas Foster #SundaySupper

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Cook Time: 7 minutes

Total Time: 9 minutes

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients

2 large, ripe bananas, peeled and sliced

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup packed light or dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons rum

½ cup vanilla ice cream

Instructions

Heat a large skillet, stainless steel or nonstick, over medium heat. Once hot, add the butter and sugar and cook until melted. Add the bananas and cook, stirring frequently 3-4 minutes, until softened and fragrant.

Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the rum. I did not light it on fire to burn it off, because I was too scared and didn’t mind the additional flavor. Use your discretion with this step.

Place the pan back over the heat and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, until the sauce reduces slightly.

Serve immediately with ice cream.

http://piesandplots.net/bananas-foster-sundaysupper/

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

Beverages

Desserts

Main Dishes and Soups

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 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.

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 🙂

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