Monthly Archives: February 2011

Salted Caramel Brownies

I made these.

Salted Caramel Brownies.

It sounds delicious, right? Since my chocolate and caramel making experience a couple of weeks ago, the chocolate-caramel combo has been on my mind.

And I think it could be. But honestly, this was one recipe that was a lot of work for some not-so-great results. Mostly, they were way too salty! And I kinda burnt the caramel sauce … It could be that I made these on Thursday night instead of packing for my weekend in Florida, or that there were several places in the recipe that I should have gone with my intuition and not with the printed instructions.

Plus there was the added inconvenience of the brownies being the cause of my bag being examined and bomb-checked at the airport on Friday morning.

Here’s where I got the recipe.

This is what I did (and this is what I would do differently).

Salted Caramel Sauce

Put 2 T light corn syrup in a pot.

 

Add 1 cup sugar.

 

and 1/4 cup water.

 

Cook over high heat until it turns a nice amber shade (about 350 degrees).

 

But try not to overcook it, like I did (mistake #1).

I should have followed my intuition with this caramel sauce. I mean, I just learned how to make caramel from a bonafide chocolatier! I think I would cook it over medium heat (not high) and add the sugar just a little at time, all the while rotating my pot (instead of using my wooden spoon to stir), until a beautiful amber color.

Then I added 1/2 cup heavy cream and be careful stirring – it will bubble up.

 

and strangely, 1/4 cup sour cream,

 

and 1 teaspoon fleur de sel. (I might adjust this to 1/2 a teaspoon in the future).

 

Set aside and start the brownie batter.

Mix together the dry ingredients.

1 1/4 cups flour

 

1 teaspoon salt

 

And 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

 

Now, set up a double boiler (did I mention this used a lot of dishes?)

Melt 1 cup butter and 1 bag of bittersweet chocolate chips

 

Once melted, take off the heat (but leave over the warm water) and add:

1 1/2 cups sugar

 

and 1/2 cup brown sugar

 

At this point, I had to transfer this to a larger bowl (generating, yet more dirty dishes).

Add 5 large eggs, in two batches, mixing well.

 

and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

 

Fold in dry ingredients.

 

Pour 1/2 the batter in a buttered 9 x 13 inch glass casserole dish, followed by a layer of the caramel sauce.

 

Top with remaining brownie batter. Bake at 350 degrees. The recipe suggests baking for 30 minutes, I think I actually ended up baking for about 40-45 minutes total. They weren’t overbaked or dry at all. The caramel layer soaked into the brownie and kept them unbelievably moist.

They certainly look pretty. Too bad they were so salty!

I did however, find a way to make them pretty tasty. When I got to Florida, I discovered that Scott had surprised me with a pint of salted caramel ice cream. Now, I actually thought the ice cream wasn’t quite salty enough (fickle, I know), so I decided to top the brownies with the ice cream.

Genius.

Not a total flop – but I suppose a good learning experience. My intuition may be more sound than I give it credit for. Also, don’t try a new recipe the night before you have to travel.

All’s well that ends well.


Friday :)

You know you are in for a good day when:

You are leaving Minneapolis (with its snow and 3 degree temperature) to go to Florida (with its sun, 80 temperature and a very special gentleman).

You encounter the shortest security line you’ve ever seen at MSP airport.

And your coffee comes with a bad muffin joke.

Happy Friday.

Not-my-birthday-yet cake

This is my friend Patti.

Yes, it’s a picture of a picture. It was taken many, many years ago, before digital cameras had taken over the world or. I am not exactly sure how we ended up with three drinks between us, but it looked like we were having fun. It could be because I was just in the beginning of my twenties or it could be because I was with Patti. You always have fun with Patti. She has the best sense of humor with the most addicting laugh and the warmest smile. I am pretty sure I haven’t seen Patti since this photo was taken, but thanks to this current state of technology and social networking, we’ve managed to keep tabs on each other.

Once upon a time, Patti made the most amazing Rum-Butter Cake, back when her kids were munchkins and not teenagers. I mean, seriously amazing. I still remember it years later. I am not sure why I was thinking about it all weekend long, but I was.

Maybe because I am just about a week away before I say good-bye to my twenties. (Although given my previous statement about how quickly kids grow up, perhaps I am really an older than I think I should be).

Maybe because it snowed ALL day on Sunday (and most of Monday) and I want winter to be over already.

Maybe because I just like rum. And cake.

So thanks to Facebook, I sent Patti a quick note requesting the recipe for Rum-Butter Cake. And she sent me this link.

So I literally trekked through the snow to pick up a bottle of extra dark, super flavorful rum.

And a box of yellow cake mix.

Puck was very interested in this development.

This cake was super-duper easy.

Butter a bundt cake pan and evenly distribute a cup of pecans to the bottom of the pan.

Mix together:

1 box of yellow cake mix,

1 box of instant vanilla pudding,

4 eggs,

and 1/2 cup each of the following:

water

vegetable oil

dark rum

And mix together. I am pretty sure I could have used a wooden spoon to mix this all together, but I am still completely infatuated with my stand mixer.

Pour into the bundt cake pan.

Bake for 1 hour in  325 degree oven.

(I may or may not have made a mojito while waiting for the cake to bake. I mean, the rum was already open…)

When finished baking, let set in pan for ten minutes before inverting.

And make your glaze. Which I am sure is what makes this cake absolutely fabulous.

In a pot, heat 1/4 cup of water

1/2 cup of butter

and 1 cup sugar.

Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Take off heat and stir in 1/2 cup rum.

Pour 1/2 of glaze in bottom of the bundt cake pan.

And put the cake back in and top with remaining glaze.

Let the cake absorb all of the glaze. Resist the temptation to stick your face and eat it straight from the pan.

Because then it probably wouldn’t look this pretty.

It tastes even better than I remember. There is the perfect amount of crisp to the crust while maintaining a super moist interior. And don’t forget that rich, rum flavor.

A perfect not-my-birthday-yet cake.

Mac and Cheese

Arg.

Winter is not over. I thought it might be but I was mislead.

It looks like we’ve already had about 7 inches of snow fall today … and it shows no signs of stopping.  Some reports are predicting up to 15 inches. It will likely be the snowiest winter since 1891. Whoa. And I decided to live here for it. What was I thinking?

(Good thing I have another trip to Florida next weekend)

So it’s back to my comfort food.

Ultra-cheesy carbohydrates aka Mac and Cheese. Perhaps my favorite dish ever (this time I mean it).

This time I made it with three cheeses: Cheddar, Gruyere and Asiago.

I mean how could this not make you feel better?

This recipe is almost exactly how I learned it from my mother when I was young. I’ve modified it slightly with the addition of garlic salt and cayenne pepper and sometimes different combinations of cheese.

Best Mac and Cheese Ever

Start by melting 3 tablespoons butter in a pot over medium-low heat. (What I love about this recipe is that the sauce is super easy to scale: equal parts butter and flour (in tablespoons) and the equivalent number of cups of milk).

Whisk in 3 tablespoons of flour.

Now season with some garlic salt.

And a dash of cayenne pepper.

Whisk in 3 cups milk.

And cook until sauce thickens.

Add about 3/4 of ALL the shredded cheese. (I really have no idea how much cheese this is in total – see photo above.)

The cheddar.

The gruyere.

And the asiago.

Make sure you leave a little so you can top off you dish.

Take off the heat and stir to melt the cheese.

Now, drain your cooked elbow macaroni noodles (about 1/2 a pound).

And put in an oven-proof casserole dish.  Add the cheese sauce.

And top with remaining cheese.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.

I think I make this at least 2 or 3 times a month …

Spring Fever

We are halfway through February.  At any other point in my life (except for my freshman year of college when I was in eastern Washington at Washington State University) it would already start to feel like the beginning of spring.  Now I know that officially spring doesn’t start until March 21, but you would start to see hints of spring emerging.

And I was pleasantly surprised with Minneapolis this week.  Temps in the 4o’s and even a day in the 50’s.  That’s what I’ve been waiting for since October. Out came my skirts and shoes that weren’t boots. It was fantastic. It felt amazing.  The snow began to melt and everybody was talking about “The Thaw.”

It put me is a springtime state of mind.

I scrubbed down my apartment.

And I decided to pull out this cute little gadget I got for Christmas from Scott’s family.

What a fantastic gift! I had mentioned it earlier this summer when I was making popsicles the old-fashioned way but in no way was expecting to ever receive it. It basically makes popsicles in less than 10 minutes. And is pretty damn cool (pardon my pun). I felt like a kid again as I was completely awed by how it works.

So excited in fact, that I was negligent in taking photos of the entire process.

But here is what I have.

Creamy Strawberry Lime Popsicles

4 or 5 strawberries

Juice of one lime

Lime zest

2-3 Tablespoons lemon juice

1/3 cup sugar

3/4 cup milk

Blend together until smooth.

And pour into your popsicle maker.

And wait. For 10 minutes. As it says on the box – watch them freeze. It is just about the coolest thing ever.

There is even this super-cool tool that helps extract the popsicles from the machine.  It basically screws into the popsicle sticks and you twist it. It will eventually be hard to turn and then magically it will be loose again (the first time I thought I had stripped it out) and your popsicle will just slide out!

Delicious!

You can make up to three batches (9 popsicles) at a time. I had enough ingredients to make six. I may have eaten ALL of them. But hey, they are only two ounces each … so it was kind of like eating a frozen smoothie. Perfectly acceptable.

Stay tuned for the next batch. I have plans for some fancy popsicles, using my cute little tool set that will put in diagonal sections.  It involve chai tea and white chocolate cream.

Which is a perfect type of popsicle for a cold, snowy winter day.

Because the Minneapolis winter isn’t quite ready to surrender to springtime.

I woke up to snow falling this morning (again).

Good thing I have popsicles to entertain me!

Or maybe I’ll knit myself a new hat…