Tag Archives: caramel

Octoberfest Cupcakes

It’s no secret that a lot of the recipes I post here (especially the desserts) are a direct result of something I’m craving.  You know, those cravings that just don’t go away until you make the recipe that has been floating around in your head for a few days.

These cupcakes are no different. I had been eying up the Octoberfest beer in the fridge for a few days, and I couldn’t get the idea of a cupcake out of my head.  More specifically, I wanted chocolate cupcakes with beer flavored caramel… And pretzels. Pretzels and beer just belong together, right?

Conveniently, I had offered to bring cupcakes to my parents’ house for a family dinner last weekend, so I had a pretty good excuse to satisfy my beer-flavored, caramel-drizzeled, salty and sweet cupcake craving. Continue Reading

Octoberfest Caramel Sauce

October is here!

I wait all year for October… And it’s not just because my birthday is in October (though, that helps). Maddie’s birthday is in October, too. We’re cool like that.

October means crunchy leaves, hot apple cider, and pumpkins. It also means it’s officially time for some serious fall baking. The weather is getting cooler (well, for the most part… I’m ignoring the fact that they are calling for weather in the mid-80s this week) and I am ready to heat up the oven and do some baking.

So, naturally, when my hubby brought home a six-pack of the Octoberfest lager scratch batch from Tröegs (a local craft brewery… and a mighty fine one), I couldn’t stop thinking of things to make with it. I’m not much of a beer drinker… But, I am a beer baker. Continue Reading

Vanilla Bean Caramel Ice Cream

As I watched the molten sugar bubble away in my heavy sauce pan, I was writing this post in my head. I knew exactly what I wanted to say.  After all, the wonders of caramel never cease to amaze me. A few basic ingredients (all you really need is sugar… It will be hard caramel, but it will taste good!) turn into something fabulous. It’s kitchen science at its finest, and one of my favorite things to whip up when I have a few free moments in the kitchen.

Yes, I was going to was philosophic all about the wonders of caramel. Then, as it often does, the caramel got the best of me. As much as I love it, caramel does have a way of sensing an overly confident cook in the kitchen. If you think you’ve got it all together, you’ve made gorgeous caramel dozens of times before, the caramel will put you back in your place.

I had a lovely mixture of sugar and butter bubbling away on the stove. It had just started to caramelize and turn that lovely amber color that is mentioned in almost every recipe for caramel (including this one!). All I had to do was stir in the cream and milk, temper the eggs, and I had a luscuious caramel custard base for my ice cream. Simple!

So, I started adding the cream. But, I added it too fast. The caramel seized up into a giant ball of amber rock in the middle of my sauce pan. Caramel fail. I didn’t have time for failure, though. It was already after 10:00pm (since molten sugar and babies don’t mix, I had to wait until after bedtime).

Fortunately for me, caramel is also forgiving. So, I stood there, already in my PJs, whisking away over low heat. It was at least 30 minutes of whisking that giant rock of caramel until it dissolved back into the cream and I could continue on my way. By about 11:00pm, I finally had my ice cream base in the fridge.

The ice cream turned out to be just as luscious as I had hoped, and we certainly enjoyed it.  I served it with some fudgy brownies as a birthday treat for my sister-in-law. No one even knew about the caramel mishap the night before. But, I knew. And, it was a lesson well learned.

Vanilla Bean Caramel Ice Cream
Makes about 1 1/2 quarts

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter, softened
  • 3 cups half and half
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1 vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Before you begin, have all your ingredients ready to go. It’s helpful to have the egg yolks in a small mixing bowl and the vanilla bean sliced ahead of time.

Combine the granulated sugar and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Continue to stir frequently until the butter and sugar have melted/dissolved.  Then, turn the heat up to medium-high and let the mixture bubble away until it turns a light amber color.  Remove from the heat.

Gradually (and I cannot stress this enough!), add the half and half to the caramelized sugar, whisking constantly.  If it does seize up a bit, don’t stress.  Just put the pan back over low heat and continue to whisk until the caramel dissolves. Once you have incorporated all of the half and half into the caramel, stir in the milk.

Ladle about 1 cup of the hot caramel and milk mixture into the beaten egg yolks, whisking constantly.  This will help to temper the eggs and bring them up to temperature before adding them into the sauce pan.  Add another cup of the milk mixture, continuing to whisk.

Pour the egg and milk mixture back into the saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add them to the saucepan. Return the pan to medium-low heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat.

Allow the custard to cool (you can speed this process up with an ice bath).  Then, transfer it to a clean mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap against the surface of the custard, and refrigerate overnight.

Freeze the custard in an ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer’s directions. The ice cream will be similar to a soft serve consistency. Transfer it to an airtight container and freeze for an additional 3-4 hours for scoopable hard ice cream.


Friday Favorites – Surprise Baby Shower

I’ve been taking a bit of a break from my Friday Favorites lately… My regular Friday Favorites will return later this fall (post-baby!). But, lately I just haven’t had the time and energy to get through my RSS reader each week. I suppose being close to 9 months pregnant is a good excuse, but I do really miss reading everyone’s posts each week.

This week, however, I had to put together a quick post to say thank you to all of the amazing bloggers who pulled together to throw me a surprise virtual baby shower yesterday. I am so lucky to have so many great friends out there, and I was certainly reminded of that fact as I read through everyone’s blog posts!

My day yesterday started pretty normally… Yellowdog decided to throw a tantrum about 30 minutes before the alarm was going to go off because she wanted attention… And breakfast.  Yes, having a yellow lab is good preparation for having a baby in the house.  So, when we couldn’t ignore the whining any longer, the hubby and I pulled ourselves out of bed, got the doggy her breakfast, and then took her for her morning walk. I had left my phone on the dining room table when we left for our walk, so I picked it up to double check to make sure I didn’t have any missed calls or text messages when I got home. That’s when I saw all of the tweets.

I scrolled through all of the notifications on my phone and finally realized what was going on… There was a virtual baby shower… For me! I was floored. I wasn’t expecting it at all, and I couldn’t believe how many people had taken the time to write a blog post to celebrate the little baby that will be here soon. I started to tear up a bit, and immediately ran (ok, waddled…) to turn on my computer so that I could read through everything on a regular-sized screen.

As I went through all of the posts, more and more tears came… I was blown away by all of the sweet words, well wishes, and fabulous recipes. I have always loved the way the food blogging community is so tightly knit, and, much to my surprise, I was suddenly the one on the receiving end of all of the love. I spent the morning reading everyone’s posts and trying to find the words to appropriately describe how I felt.  I never quite found the words, and I still haven’t.

The best I can do is to extend my heartfelt thanks for everyone’s love and support. I never expected that my little food blog would lead to all of this, and I am blessed to have so many great friends as a result.  So, today I wanted to pass along the links to all of the blog posts that were a part of the virtual shower. I hope that you will help me in extending my thanks… Plus, there are a lot of great recipes that you won’t want to miss!

Bluebonnets & Brownies | Raspberry Lemon Fruit Dip
Sugarcrafter | Sweet Potato Cake with Honey Buttercream
My Baking Addiction | Mini Pumpkin Pies
Simple Bites | English Eccles Cakes
Stetted | Roasted Red Pepper and Caramelized Onion Dip
Food for my Family | Homemade Pear Italian Sodas with Cardamom Cream
eat. live. travel. write. | Goat Cheese and Tomato Tartlettes
Gimme Some Oven | Creamy Caramel Apple Dippers
Dessert For Two | Caramel Apple Cookie Cups
Bake at 350 | Soft Sugar Cookies for a Baby Shower
A Thought For Food | Fingerling Potato Salad
TidyMom | Apple Pomegranate Spritzers
i am baker | Advice to a New Mommy
Healthy Green Kitchen | Guacamole with Pistachios
Tracey’s Culinary Adventures | Caramelized Onion, Gruyere and Bacon Spread
What Megan’s Making | Apple Spice Muffins
Cookin’ Canuck | Gorgonzola Cheese Cups with Pear & Hazelnut Salad
Bellalimento | Frozen Berry Shortcake
Shugary Sweets | Caramel Apple Truffles
GoodLife Eats | Coconut Lemon Banana Bread

Caramel Apple Coffee Cake

I think pumpkin is one of the first flavors that comes to mind when I think of fall… Apples are a close second, especially when they are paired with spices like cinnamon and cardamom.  Add caramel into the mix, and I am a very happy girl.  So, naturally, I had to put my spiced caramel sauce to use in a fresh new apple recipe.

One afternoon a few weeks ago, I found myself working in the kitchen while watching Ina Garten cooking and baking in the background.  I don’t find myself watching many cooking shows anymore, but there’s something about Ina that generally captures my attention.  On this particular afternoon, she made an Apple Cake Tatin, as she called it… Apples nestled into freshly made caramel (as you would have if you were making a traditional tarte tatin), topped with a pretty standard cake recipe. I remember thinking it was an interesting idea, and then I went about my business making dinner and didn’t even really pay attention to how the cake turned out on the show. I like to watch Ina cook in the background, but I try not to let it affect my ability to make dinner.  And, since we were having stir fry that particular evening, I chose to avoid burning dinner instead of giving Ina my full attention.

A few days later, though, I had the cake idea stuck in my head. We were headed to a game night with friends, and I had offered to bring a snack, so I decided to use Ina’s cake as inspiration and make a version of my own. Instead of searching for the original recipe from the show (which I finally looked up for the sole purpose of referencing it in this post), I opted to start with my grandmother’s coffee cake recipe that has always been a family favorite.  And, since I already had a lovely jar of spiced caramel sauce in the fridge, I opted to use that instead of making a fresh batch of caramel.  I layered the caramel with some nice tart apples we had received with our CSA share earlier in the week.  Then, I also opted to spread a second layer of caramel in the cake batter for good measure.

I was quite pleased with how the cake turned out…  It was dense and moist, just like the coffee cake recipe always is, laced with spiced caramel and topped with a layer of caramel and apples.  It served well as a game night snack for our friends, and I admit that I enjoyed a slice for breakfast the next morning, as well. I’ll be making it again this fall, as soon as I get around to making another batch of caramel sauce. I’ll also be keeping it in mind for any holiday brunches in the future. It’s a keeper! Continue Reading