Tag Archives: Caramel

Peanut Butter Thumbprints with Caramel

Today I dropped by the post office and returned my parcel from ASOS. It was free to have it shipped here, but cost me $35 to return it. Lesson learnt; I’m never going online clothes shopping again. Next time I’ll just stick to books and rubber stamps. I love rubber stamps.

Today I spent a mini fortune on a package of laser sessions to remove the awful spots under my eyes. My eyes are still rather sensitive now…and there are black spots where they burned it. Oh man, I hope they clear up before I start work. Then again, the black spots could be a thing where people think I’m unattractive and boom! when they disappear, it’s like whoa! Who knew she wasn’t polkadotted.

Yeah, that might work.

If not, I’ll just blind everyone with these amazingly delish cookies and they’ll instantly fail to notice the burns under my eyes.

These cookies are AAAAAH-MAZING. Even if you’re being a bum and decide that scrubbing a caramlised pot isn’t what you signed up for, make them plain with the traditional criss-cross pattern. It’s really something I tell you. I’ve had peanut butter cookies but I’ve never had these! The caramel sets semi-solid, if you want it harder and chewy, I suggest relocating them to your fridge. Enjoy my lovelies!

Peanut Butter Thumbprints with Caramel (adapted from Sur La Table’s The Art and Soul or Baking)

Thumbprint Cookies

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup peanut butter, room temperature (I used chunky, do NOT use natural PB)
1 1/2 cup GF flour blend
1/4 cup oat flour
1 tbsp sweet rice flour
1/4 tsp baking soda

1) Preheat oven to 175°C and position two oven racks in the upper and lower thirds. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2) Place the butter, brown sugar and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and cream until lightened in colour. You can also do this by hand. Scrape down the bowl and add in the egg and vanilla and mix well. Add in the peanut butter and beat until well blended. Scrape down bowl once more.

3) In a medium bowl, whisk all the flours and baking soda together. Add to the butter mixture all at once. Turn mixer to lowest speed and blend slowly until fully incorporated. Remove from the mixer and stir gently to ensure everything is well mixed.

4) Using an ice cream scopp, portion tablespoon-sized mounds onto the prepare baking sheets, spacing them about 4 cm apart. Use the rounded handle end of a wooden spatula or another similar utensil to make a depression, about an inch in diameter in the centre of each cookie.

5) Bake for 15-17 minutes or until golden and just firm to touch and edges are darker. Transfer to cooling rack. Immediately reinforce the depression in each cookie using the same kitchen utensil but be careful not to crack the cookie. Let cool completely and fill with the caramel. Allow filling to cool and set for an hour, store in the refrigerator.

Peanut Caramel

1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp light corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup finely diced almonds, toasted

1) Microwave the cream in a microwave-safe bowl until just hot. Set aside.

2) Place the water in a medium saucepan. Add sugar, corn syrup and salt. Cook the sugar mixture over a medium heat, stirring occasionally with a heatproof spatula until sugar dissolves. Set the hot cream on the counter next to the stovetop. Turn heat to high and cook the sugar until it turns a golden brown. Immediately turn off the heat and whisk in the cream, adding it in a slow, steady stream. Whisk to blend caramel well. Pour into a heatproof bowl and allow to cool until warm and pourable before adding in nuts.

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Filed under Caramel, Cookies, Nuts, Recipes

Salted Caramel Brownies

I have a terrible sense of estimation. It’s almost as if guess work just isn’t my thing. I’m good at Guess Who; well, either my sister or I will win. But estimation requires this bit of calculated guess work and that, my friend, is the difficult part. You couldn’t even reduce it to luck, because it mostly isn’t. And quite possibly, I’d have to attribute part of this senseless estimation to my mother. Ever since I can remember, my mother has been a fan of over ordering, over estimating, over budgeting just to ensure we’d never have to go without or not have enough food to go around. And that’s the brilliance of this household, you can bet your knee-high socks we’ll never let you go hungry.

But the problem is… some days we’re left with half a jar of salted caramel sauce plus half a tub of cream cheese frosting with no cake to frost. It’s not really a bad problem to have, just one that requires a bit of baking to fix. I know right- bake more to use up the leftovers… pretty ironic. But then you take this magical salted caramel filled brownie to the office and remind them that it’s finally Wednesday and everyone will instantly cheer up. And that’s where the real magic lies!

This brownie comes from Baked NYC of which I will soon be visiting no doubt in about three weeks time. I AM SO EXCITED!

Sweet and Salty Brownies (Adapted from Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito)

Caramel Filling

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup sour cream

Brownie

1 1/4 cups GF flour blend
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
11 ounces (311g) good quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

To Prepare Filling

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and corn syrup with 1/4 cup water, stirring them together carefully so you don’t splash the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat until an instant-read thermometer reads 175 C, or until the mixture is dark amber in colour, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat, and slowly add the cream (it will bubble up and splatter) and then the salt. Whisk in the sour cream. Set aside to cool.

To Prepare the Brownie

Preheat the oven to 175°C.

Butter the sides and bottom of a glass or light coloured metal 9 x 13 inch pan. Line the bottom with a sheet of parchment paper, and butter the parchment.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and cocoa powder.

Place the chocolate and butter in the bowl of the double boiler set over a pan of simmering water, and stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and combined. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water of the double boiler, and add both sugars. Whisk until completely combined and remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be at room temperature.

Add three eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until just combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not over beat the batter at this stage, or your brownies will not be fudgey.

Tip the flour mixture over the chocolate. Using a spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until there is a just a trace amount of the flour mixture visible.

To Assemble

Pour half of the brownie mixture into the pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Drizzle about 3/4 cup of the caramel sauce over the brownie layer in a zigzag pattern,try to ensure the caramel does not come in contact with the edges of the pan or it will burn. Use your  spatula to spread the caramel evenly across the brownie layer. In spoonfuls, scoop the rest of the brownie batter over the caramel layer. Smooth the brownie batter gently to cover the caramel layer.

Bake the brownies for 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, and check to make sure the brownies are completely done by sticking a toothpick into the center of the pan. The brownies are done when the toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs (when it’s completely clean it will be dry)

Remove the brownies from the oven and sprinkle with an extra 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (or fleur de sel) and 1 teaspoon coarse sugar.

Cool the brownies completely before cutting and serving. I love mine straight from the fridge, totally fudgey and cold.

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Caramel Parfait with Candied Popcorn

Making something icy cold during a hot, sunny day sounds like a swell idea. It is a genius plan. Who wants to walk outside and get some sweat patches just for ice cream. Okay, I would but we’re being hypothetical here.

So my super idea was to serve caramel parfait bars. And I spent 3 days preparing it, from the sticky caramel popcorn to the parfait filling to finally, dunking it in chocolate. That was, up until the point when the parfait started to melt before I could get round to dunking, and then the chocolate kind of just…sliding off. Disaster. Delicous, but still disastrous.

In comes sheer improvisation spirit! I thin out the ganache even more with whipping cream and once the bars have firmed up in the freezer again, I spread the ganache over the top. Not quite what I wanted (they were meant to resemble biscotti dipped in chocolate) but hey, you’re getting dessert after all.


Caramel Parfait with Candied Popcorn (from Gourmet Traveller Australia, September 2010)

Ganache
150g dark couverture chocolate, finely chopped
45g vegetable shortening (I used butter and added 3 tbsp of warm whipping cream)

Candied Popcorn
1) Follow instructions and once popcorn has been made, divide popcorn between two lightly oiled 20 x 12 cm cake tins. Stand cool (30 minutes) then remove from tin.

Caramel Parfait
400ml pouring cream (I used whipping cream)
Scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean
180g caster sugar
6 egg yolks

1) Combine 75ml cream and vanilla seeds in a small saucepan over low heat, stir occasionally until warm. Whisk yolks in an electric mixer on medium-high speed until pale and doubled in volume.

2) Meanwhile, heat a saucepan over high heat until hot. Add sugar (it should start to melt then colour) and swirl pan occasionally until sugar is dissolved and amber in colour. Do not leave unattended as sugar burns very easily.

3) Gradually add warm cream (it may sputter), stirring to combine.*

4) Decrease mixer to medium low and slowly pour in hot caramel down the side of the bowl. Increase speed to medium-high and whisk until cool. Whisk remaining cream in a bowl until stiff peaks form then fold in caramel yolks. Pour into a 20 x 12cm cake tin lined with baking paper. Place one sheet of candied popcorn on top and freeze until firm (3-5 hours).

5) After that, turn out and press on the remaining sheet of candied popcorn. Freeze until very firm (3 hours) before cutting into sandwiches and freeze until required.

6) Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl in the microwave (30 second bursts, stirring between each). Add butter and cream, stirring until melted. At this point, you can dip each sandwich into the ganache or spread it over the top of the bars and freeze until ready to serve.

*I didn’t do a good job with the caramel and some of the sugar crystalised so I added in the cream nonetheless, mixed it until most of the kinks were out and sieved it to remove the crystalised bits. Worked fine. And I also got ALOT of caramel parfait, enough to make two trays of sandwiches I reckon. So my sandwiches were less finger like and more… BLT.

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Sticky Caramel Popcorn

The other night, I found myself at the end of my bed, stretched horizontally across, face flat on the covers. I figured that if I could contain myself from yelling, crying, sighing and whining, the day would automatically seem better. It didn’t work. 5 minutes later the laptop was by my side, churning out sad song after sad song after sad song.

Last night I found myself furiously typing away, searching for the lyrics to all my favourite songs so I could sing along. There was no way to describe the lightheaded happiness I felt, giddy from the feeling and never wanting it to stop. Funny right?

The only silver lining to knowing how it feels to be upset and completely swamped with negative thoughts is also knowing how being incredibly happy feels. So I’m just quite glad my happy day has finaallllyyy arrived. Let’s hope things look up from now on and lead to great news (shhh…like getting the visa!!!).

So in celebration of polar opposites that somehow…complement each other (like cowboy boots and pretty frocks!), here’s a salty, sticky caramel popcorn! Plus, it’s ridiculously easy too and looks like a huge ball of fluff.

Salty, Sticky Caramel Popcorn (adapted from Gourmet Traveler Australia, Sep 2010)

100g butter
120g caster sugar
60g honey
1 bag of naturally salted popcorn (ingredients should read salt, corn and oil, weighing about 90g)

1) Pop the popcorn in the microwave according to the packet instructions. It usually involves hearing a whole slew of magic popping sounds and they’re done when the popping starts getting less frequent. When done, remove the popped corn from the bag and transfer to a large bowl.

2) In a medium saucepan, place the butter, sugar and honey. Heat over a small-medium flame until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes. It looks like a mad festival of bubbling. The colour won’t be as dark as a normal caramel and it doesn’t burn quite as easily.

3) Remove caramel from heat and stir gently. Bubbles to start to settle and disappear leaving you with a pale, sticky liquid. Pour over the popcorn and mix until they are all covered. I actually left mine slightly unevenly mixed just so there are salty and sweet bites.

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Sticky Date

I have a date tomorrow. It’s mighty exciting. I’m all packed to go visit a certain boy, we’re having a reunion FINALLY after almost 6 months. Well…it’s 5 and a half but 6 sounds sooo much longer and arduous. Melbourne here I come!

Onto other deliciously food-related things, I need help. You know the delicious chocolate frosting you get with tall, handsome cakes? Well it doesn’t like me. I’m having a very difficult time making it. I tried Nancy McDermott’s version but ended up with a goopy (VERY yummy) mess. Too watery? And what is with the ‘crunchy’ icing sugar bits I can taste?

See this awesomely gorgeous frosting? That’s what I’m after. The recipe from Hershey’s is very similae to Nancy’s but I’m slightly scarred from the multiple failures I’ve encountered with this type of ‘cooked’ frosting. Any ideas? What’s your favourite frosting?


And for those of you who love cake-sticky date no less- here’s one for you. As the Australian Women’s Weekly proudly says, this recipe has been “triple tested!” I wrote it for Expat Living, a Singapore-based magazine, and it’s a very good crowd-pleaser. Then again, so are the words “chocolate fudge” and “sticky caramel”.

I am looking forward to blogging from Melbourne. We have a few foodie adventures lined up including the quest to find the yummiest cannoli and a little shimmy up Sydney Road (huge array of Middle Eastern offerings). Til then! :)

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Filed under Cakes, Caramel, Frostings, Inspired, Recipes

Bananas and Crunchy Toffee

I have a dilemma. Those of you who shudder at the thought of a potentially girly post, scroll right down to the bottom for the definitely-not-girly banana cake with crunchy toffee almond topping. The rest of you? Stay with me, I need advice. You ready?

Okay, here goes. Should I cut my hair? I completely understand that you probably can’t help much since most of you haven’t even met me, but we’ll just do this hypothetically. I’ve basically had long hair all my life before I chopped it off 7 years ago and have had it pretty short up until now. Now, I have the option to grow it out or chop it- it’s at that ghastly-odd-in-between length.

I’m starting to get irritated with it, the strands tickling my face. But at the same time, I don’t want to be the girl-with-the-short-hair. Oh blah, tell me someone out there is going through this agonizing hair phase too!

Alright, I’m all out of hair rants. In the spirit of Friday night (aren’t we lucky we get it every week?), I baked a banana cake with crunchy toffee almond topping. Some days I’m all for fluffy cake, but the way I roll with banana cake is dense, moist and substantial. The sort of cake you can sink your teeth into and know you’re going to get a mighty awesome chew outta it. The crunchy toffee almonds are great for textural contrast, and I may have slightly over browned my caramel but it turned out working well with the sweet, honey tinted cake.

And well, how detrimental can it be? It’s got overripe bananas, honey, almonds and brown sugar.


Crunchy Toffee Nut Topping

150g almond flakes
100g sugar

1) In a medium saucepan, melt the sugar over a medium heat. Do not stir at all, but if some parts brown faster than others, swirl the pan to distribute the sugar.Once it’s a caramel brown, immediately remove from heat. It will continue browning even when it’s off the heat so do take it off slightly lighter than you intend for it to be.

2) Quickly mix in the almond flakes until evenly coated and pour over semi cool cake, piling high in the middle. Allow to cool completely before cutting yourself a large slice of textural love.

Gluten Free Banana Cake (adapted from Classic Essential Cakes)
*gluten free and dairy free

1/2 cup canola oil
1/3 brown sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups mashed overripe banana (abt 4 medium)
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp bicarb soda (baking soda)
1/2 cup soy milk
1 3/4 cup GF flour blend
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup almond meal

1) Preheat oven to 180 degreesC. Grease and line a 8inch round baking pan wit parchment.

2) In a large bowl, sift the flour blend, baking powder and baking soda. Mix in the almond meal.

3) In a bowl of a KitchenAid, with a paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar for 1 min. Add in the flour and beat on high for 1 min.

4) Add in the vanilla and soy milk. Beat for 30s. Add in the mashed bananas and honey. Add in the flour mix and beat to combine.

5) Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until skewer inserted comes out alomst* clean.

6) Pour the almond topping over it and leave to cool completely. You’ll need quite a strong knife to cut through the mountain of crrrunch.

*Mine had a tiny bit of batter on it, but it’s coz of some larger banana chunks.

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Filed under Breakfast, Cakes, Caramel, Fruit, Recipes

Hey Girl, Drizzle Caramel

Drip, drip, driiippp down caramel, all over the toasty walnuts, down the sides of my banana cake.

Bliss.

Caramel has a reputation. That sweet deliciously buttery confection is known to give a sting. Especially when adding the cream to the amber sugar solution. And I got stung! Oh well, as they say, no pain no gain. Somehow the caramel tastes especially good when I have to nurse my right thumb.

Here’s the caramel sauce recipe from Dorie Greenspan. It was originally used to top her Caramel-Peanut topped Brownie Cake. I merely halved the recipe and used walnuts instead of peanuts.

I’m still waiting on the banana cake to pass the morning after test. The test is to make sure that the cake remains moist the next morning and not a crumbly, dry mess. Gluten free cakes are especially guilty of that. I’ll post the recipe if it’s worthy! J

Til then,

‘fo drizzle my nizzle caramel!

Photo from: http://www.scharlack.com/portfolio/images/caramel.jpg

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