Posts Tagged 'caramel'

Turtle Brownies

Brownies + Pecans + Caramel = One pretty amazing dessert. And I usually HATE it when nuts come anywhere near my brownies, but if caramel is involved, it changes everything!

I really hope the pregnancy talk isn’t getting old…skip ahead if it is. But we went to the doctor yesterday and heard the heartbeat and it was such an amazing sound! I haven’t really started showing yet and I also haven’t had too many symptoms (at least compared to what other people seem to talk about), so it wasn’t feeling real (even though we got a pictures at 8 weeks). Now it definitely does! April 21st we find out if it’s a boy or a girl (I’m convinced it’s a boy…)

After the appointment Mike and I went on a fabulous 6 mile run to the beach. We haven’t run together in months because his IT band was having major issues, so yesterday was fantastic. We followed it up with a trip to the grocery store. I think we have set a new record for pounds of fruit in the house. I feel like the picture doesn’t accurately represent the amount taking over our kitchen.

There are also some strawberries in the fridge. There are worse things to fill your shelves with than fruit, though, right? I just hope we can eat it all before it goes bad. Pears, pineapples, grapefruits, 3 kinds of oranges, and bananas…

I guess it’s good to have stuff like that around to balance things like this, which are SO sweet and rich! They’re worth making though. Multiple people at both my work and Mike’s said they were the best brownies they’d ever had, which is a pretty serious declaration!

(adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook)

1 cup + 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1.5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 eggs

3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
3 tbsp water
pinch salt
1/3 cup heavy cream
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups roughly chopped pecans
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

To make the brownies:
Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease and flour a 13 x 9 pan.

Stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together with a fork.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat, and stir in the brown sugar.

Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir the flour mixture in, mixing just until combined.

Spread evenly in the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

To make the topping:
Put the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil without stirring, and continue cooking (undisturbed) until golden.

While the sugar is boiling, bring the cream to a simmer in a separate, small saucepan.

Once the sugar mixture is golden, remove from the heat and stir in the cream, salt and vanilla. Stir until smooth, heating over low if it’s not coming together, stirring constantly.

Stir in the pecans then immediately spread over the brownies.

Let cool completely.

Melt the semisweet chocolate in a double boiler over medium-low heat. Drizzle over the caramel-pecan layer. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, then cut into small squares (it’s easiest to do this if you warm the knife up by running it under hot water then drying it and slicing immediately).

Homemade Samoas

We’re right in the middle of Girl Scout cookie time, which is normally one of my favorite times of year becuase honestly, even though they’re horrible for you, those cookies are pretty addictive. But now that I know how disastrous palm oil (which is used heavily in Girl Scout cookies) is for orangutans (more information about that here, and a quick google search yields MANY more links), I think I’ll stick with making my own from scratch and just donate directly to local troops.

Fortunately, there are a lot of fantastic recipes floating around, and I could not pass up the chance to make Samoas (my absolute favorite Girl Scout cookie variety). With real butter shortbread, toasted coconut tossed with caramel, and a drizzle of chocolate, these might be even better than the real thing. I sent most of them to work with Mike and they disappeared before the afternoon.

The one drawback to these is that they are pretty time consuming. It was kind of frustrating trying to spread the caramel coconut mixture onto the shortbread, and I ended up dipping my fingers in cold water and pressing it on rather than using a knife. It worked really well. On a normal weekday I would never go to such laborous lengths to make cookies, but I had all last week off, so when I wasn’t lazing on the couch (which admittedly wasn’t that often), I was in the kitchen. It was a nice, relaxing week but I realized by about Tuesday afternoon that being a stay at home wife would make me go INSANE. I am so ready to be back at work!

The weekend was a LOT more active than the week. We tried a new macaroni and cheese restaurant in Oakland called Homeroom (400 40th Ave, Oakland). I started reading Local Lemons while we were in Korea, because it made me feel connected to California (which I missed like crazy). When Allison started writing about opening a mac and cheese restaurant I knew I wanted to try it as soon as it was up and running.

Homeroom has now been open for about 2 weeks. I absolutely loved the feel of the place, with paper menus that have directions for folding them into paper airplanes, a vintage lunchbox holding the menus, and a huge chalkboard showing where in California a lot of their ingredients come from. Another awesome touch? The menu recommends beers to go with each variety of mac and cheese!

I got the Classic, with buttery baked breadcrumbs on top. It was creamy and PERFECT in every way, especially after I drenched it with hot sauce. I also got a side salad, and the citrus dressing was the perfect balance of sweet and tangy. Normally I am not a fan of lettuce-only salads but the dressing completely made up for the lack of other vegetables or add-ins. Because my portion size ended up being a little on the small side, they brought me a free brownie, which was perfectly fudgy without being overly heavy. Magical.

Mike got the Mexican Mac with jack cheese, chorizo, chipotle, cilantro, and lime. He loved it. Our only complaint was that the service was REALLY slow and they forgot Mike’s beer…but I’m sure they’re still just working out the kinks because they haven’t been open for long. I want to go back soon and try a couple other varieties (and probably some other desserts…)

Sooo there’s your unhealthy dose of goodness for this beautiful Monday. All things are fine in moderation, right?

(from Baking Bites)

makes about 30 cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 to 2 tbsp milk

3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
12-oz good-quality chewy caramels
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp whole milk milk
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

To make the cookies: Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and mix well.

Whisk the flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl, then add to the butter mixture and mix on medium just until combined. Add 1 to 2 tbsp milk – as much as you need to get the dough to hold together without being sticky.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Roll the dough out between two sheets of parchment paper to about 1/4″ thick.

Cut into 1-1/2″ to 2″ circles and transfer to an ungreased cookie sheet. Using a straw, remove the center of the dough and move the straw around a little bit to widen the circle slightly.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until no longer doughy. Cool on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

To make the topping:

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment and sprinkle the coconut evenly in the pan. Toast in a 350 F oven stirring every two minutes, until golden brown brown. Remove from the oven to cool.

Combine the salt, milk and caramels in a medium saucepan. Cook over low, stirring frequently until smooth. Stir in the coconut.

Spread a tsp or two of coconut mixture on each cookie and set aside.

Melt the chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler. Cool slightly, then scoop into a ziploc bag and cut off a tiny bit of the corner. Drizzle the chocolate over the cookies and let it set. Store in an airtight container.

Banana-Caramel Whoopie Pies

Ever since I discovered that frozen banana makes awesome soft serve (just puree frozen banana slices in the food processor. Amazing.) we’ve been going through a LOT of bananas. I’m slightly conflicted about this because I know it takes a lot of fuel to get them here, and there are some human rights concerns with banana workers, but for now, I’m still eating them (just with more guilt than I used to).

It’s rare that bananas go unfrozen in our house, but a few days ago I found a few just on the edge of too ripe sitting in the bottom of our fruit bowl, and I stumbled upon this recipe to use them up. If you have 2 or 3 lying around getting brown spots, and you want to make something other than banana bread, I HIGHLY recommend these. The caramel frosting didn’t taste as caramelly as I wanted it too, because I was impatient, but it’s definitely worth it to let it get a deep brown (just be careful not to burn it!) Mine aren’t especially beautiful because I just spooned the dough onto the cookie sheet rather than piping it, but the flavor was still outstanding with a nice balance between the sweetness of the frosting and the banana in the cookie.

(adapted from Good Things Catered)

2 cups flour (all purpose or whole wheat pastry)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup mashed ripe banana (2 medium bananas)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp water
2 tsp corn syrup
2 tbsp heavy cream
2 tbsp cup sour cream
3 tbsp softened butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

To make the cookies:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.

Sift the flour, baking powder, soda and salt into bowl. Mix the banana and yogurt together in a separate bowl.
Beat butter, white sugar, and brown sugar with the paddle attachment until light and creamy. Beat in the vanilla and egg.

Add half the banana mixture, and mix on low until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the flour mixture. Mix on low until traces of flour disappear, then add the remaining banana mixture.

Use a spoon to drop about a tablespoon of dough at a time onto the parchment-lined cooking sheets.

Bake just until set, about 10 minutes, then cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting:
Put the granulated sugar, water and corn syrup into a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir to combine, then cook until the mixture is a nice, deep golden brown.

While the sugar is cooking, heat the cream in a small bowl in the microwave, or bring to a simmer in a (very) small saucepan.

Once the caramel is a nice deep golden brown, remove the pan from heat. Wait one minute, then stir in the heavy cream. Let cool a few minutes, then stir in the sour cream. Allow to cool completely

When the caramel is cool, beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth. Add the caramel and powdered sugar, and beat until it has a spreadable consistency.

Assemble the whoopie pies by spreading a little frosting between two cookies that are the same size.

Spicy-Salty-Sweet Caramel Corn

I’m not very good at keeping my sweet tooth under control. Pretty much the only way I can avoid inhaling far too much junk is to just keep it out of the house, which is why I try to give away everything I bake as soon as possible. Running marathons helps counteract some of the junk I eat, but I know it would be far healthier to eat way less of it in the first place. I’ll just add that to my lengthening list of goals for the near future…

I’m not sure what possessed me to make caramel corn the other day. It’s definitely one of those foods that is really hard to walk away from once you start in on it, but I was so intrigued by a recipe for Spicy Caramel Popcorn on The Runner’s Kitchen I had to give it a try.

I made some changes to the recipe, most notably using half the caramel the recipe called for. 3 cups of sugar just seemed like a LOT, and I’m glad I cut it in half because the popcorn was nicely coated and probably would have been just too much if I’d made the full amount. I was a little disappointed in the lack of spiciness, so I think next time I’ll add a few pinches of cayenne along with the chili powder. It was still a really great treat and of course Mike and I devoured all of it within a few hours (I should probably stop admitting things like this!)

(adapted from The Craft Of Baking via The Runner’s Kitchen

2 Tbs canola oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbs unsalted butter
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup water
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp chili powder
a few pinches cayenne (optional)

Preheat the oven to 250 F.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the popcorn kernels and cover the pot. Cook, shaking the pot every few seconds until all the kernels are popped (or you can skip the oil and pop the popcorn in an air popper).
Transfer to a large bowl.

Combine the sugar, salt, butter and water in a medium saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Do not stir, but swirl the pan occasionally until the mixture is golden brown. While it’s boiling, spray two spatulas or wooden spoons and a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray.

When the caramel is golden brown, remove the pan from the heat, stir in the chili powder, baking soda, and cayenne (if using), and toss it with the popped popcorn so the kernels are evenly coated, then spread evenly on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove and let cool.

Chocolate and Salted Caramel Cake

I love baking for people when I know what they like. For my dad and grandmother, it’s easy – just include chocolate and coffee. For my mom, I know she’ll go for just about anything but chocolate never hurts. For my five year old niece, whose birthday is still 3 months away, it’s a chocolate cake with pink frosting and dolphins on it. Got it.

My friend Melanie recently had a birthday and I knew she loves the salty-sweet combination. I immediately thought of salted caramel and chocolate, so I did some googling and found this amazing recipe. I made half the recipe posted on Martha Stewart’s Website, and it made two 6″ layers, plus 2 ramekins (so Mike and I could each have our own mini cake!). I’m posting the halved recipe here because it’s what I did, and because I have a new obsession with 6″ cakes. They’re such a cute size, and not so overwhelming to eat.

(adapted from Baked in New York City, via Martha Stewart)

3/8 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp hot water
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp softened butter
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tbsp vanilla
1 1/2 eggs (for half an egg, I crack an egg into a small bowl, whisk it a little with a fork, then eyeball half)

Preheat the oven to 325. Place parchment circles in the bottoms of two 6″ cake pans, and 2 ramekins, and spray with nonstick spray.
In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, hot water, and sour cream. Set aside.
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together onto a sheet of wax paper.
Beat the butter and shortening together in the bowl of a stand mixer until very creamy. Add the sugars and continue beating until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and egg.
Add half the flour mixture, mix gently until incorporated, then scrape down the bowl. Add the cocoa mixture and mix well. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix until there are no more traces of flour.
Pour into the prepared pans and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge, turn out onto a wire rack, and remove the parchment to cool completely.
Once cool, use a serrated knife to level the cake.

1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp corn syrup
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp fleur de sel
1/4 cup sour cream

Put the sugar, water and corn syrup into a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir to combine, then cook until the mixture is a nice, deep golden brown.
While the sugar is cooking, bring the salt and cream to a simmer in another saucepan.
Once the caramel is the right color, remove the pan from heat. Wait one minute, then stir in the heavy cream. Let cool for a few minutes, then whisk in the sour cream. Set aside.

Caramel-Chocolate Frosting:
8 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp corn syrup
2 tbsp water
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup softened butter (2 sticks)

Put the chopped chocolate in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan and cook over medium high until the mixture is golden brown. While the sugar mixture is cooking, bring the heavy cream to a simmer in a small saucepan.
Once the caramel reaches the right color, remove the pan from the heat, wait one minute, then whisk in the cream. Let cool for about 5 minutes, then pour over the chocolate.
Mix on low until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth and the bowl feels cool, then gradually increase the speed and add the butter. Beat until the frosting is smooth and easily spreadable.

To assemble the cake, spread a thin layer of caramel over the bottom layer, then spread frosting over it. Place the second layer on top, spread with caramel, and ice the sides with frosting.

Caramel Apple Galettes


Our neighborhood is constantly inundated with little old men driving pickup trucks full of produce, blasting tapes that repeat the names of whatever it is they’re selling at full volume, in Korean. They start at about 7 AM, which is a fabulous wake-up call to get me out the door on my run, but not so fabulous for my husband, who would rather sleep in past the crack of dawn.

Lately the watermelons in these trucks have been replaced by apples, and although I love eating apples just how they are, I definitely love baking with them more.

My husband left for the gym the other day with the suggestion that I “make something good,” if I got bored while he was gone. Um, is anything I make not good? I started off with Caramel Sauce, and then decided to use a little of that to make these tasty galettes.

These definitely fit the “something good” requirement, and I was glad I had them sitting around because a little boy knocked on my door a few hours after these came out of the oven with a full plate of Korean barbecue that his family had cooked up downstairs. I gave him one of these in return, and I think it was a pretty good trade!

3/4 cups flour
6 tbsp butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 tsp salt
ice water

3 tbsp Caramel Sauce
2 small apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp flour

To make the crust:
Toss the flour and salt together.
Rub the butter into the flour so that you end up with a bunch of small butter-flour pepples (they should be about Rice Krispie sized or smaller). You can also use a pastry blender for this, but the goal is to work quickly so that the butter stays cold and to be thorough, so you don’t have a bunch pockets of plain flour.

Add ice water 1 tsp at a time, stirring with a fork. You want the dough to stick together when pinched between your fingers. Try not to overmix. When the dough holds together when pinched, divide it in thirds, and press each into a round disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Toss the apples with the cinnamon, sugar, and flour. The caramel sauce will work better if it’s cool, because it will be less runny.

To prepare:
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Take one disk of dough out of the fridge and roll out to a 6-8″ circle, about 1/8″ thick. I don’t have a rolling pin, so I just pressed the dough betwen two sheets of plastic wrap.


Put the dough circle on a baking sheet (if you have a Silpat, this would be a great time to use it.) Put about 1 tbsp of caramel sauce in the center of the circle.


Arrange a few apple slices on top of the caramel sauce.

Fold the edges of the dough up onto the apple slices.

Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the crust is no longer doughy and the apples are soft.


Caramel sauce

What was I thinking buying jars of this, when it turns out it is so easy to make myself? I’m a little scared to make it again because of how quickly it was inhaled (most of it by the spoonful). I should be ashamed, but it’s just that good!

I was a little nervous my sugar would burn, but if you keep an eye on it and take it off the heat as soon as it’s golden, you should be ok. (The darker the sugar gets, the deeper the caramel flavor will be, but if it gets too dark, it may taste bitter.) When I was whisking in the cream a few areas solidified before I could get everything mixed together, but when I put the pan over low heat for just a few stirs, everything melted back together beautifully.

Remember that boiling sugar is HOT and you need to be really carefuly not to let any splash on you. I of course was not careful enough and have a blister on my finger, but that battle wound was totally worth it!

(from Simply Recipes)

1/2 cup white sugar
3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup heavy cream

Put the sugar in a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Stir gently with a whisk as the sugar starts to melt, then stop stirring and just swirl the pan as it turns golden (It should all be liquid).
As soon as all the sugar is melted and uniformly golden, remove from the heat and add the butter and stir vigorously.
Once all the butter is melted, whisk in the cream. Whisk firmly and constantly until you have a smooth caramel sauce. If bits start to harden before the cream is fully incorporated, put the pan back over very low heat for a minute or too.

Transfer to a glass jar for storage.

When ready to serve, warm in the microwave until liquid.


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