Caramel Apple Pie Streusel Bars

Caramel Apple Pie Streusel Bars

Caramel Apple Pie Streusel Bars



I am notorious for totally sucking at making apple pies. I add far too much cinnamon and don’t slice my apples thinly enough, leaving some pieces half raw and others too mushy. I also stunk at pie crusts.  Well, I used to be anyway. For holidays, I STILL tend to buy Marie Callendars Dutch Apple Pie. Why, if I no longer suck? Cause 1) I’m lazy and 2) I love them, so I keep using the whole “I stink at making apple pies!” excuse. Sooner or later, my husband will catch on that I continue to buy $8.00 pies when I could just as easily make one for half the cost, but for now, when Thanksgiving day gets here, I have a Marie Callendar pie waiting in the freezer. Darlin’, if you’re reading this, I’m lying right here…honest, I still stink at making pies *bats lashes and looks innocent*

But, to be honest, I may just leave that pie in there this year and make these bars. I had originally planned on a bar that could be more hand held and had a double crust. But, as happens with me often, and with a lot of bloggers, it morphed into something different. This is still caramel apple pie, but less hand held bar (even though it was done is a square pan) and more “cut a slab of this bad boy, put it on a plate and smother it in caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream” sort of pie. It CAN be hand held, if you’re on the run, since it’s not drippy unless you put far too much caramel lol. But it’s really more of a plate dessert.

This is more multi-step than I usually do, but none of those steps are difficult. Make the dough for the crust and while it’s chilling, prepare your streusel and the pie filling. Then roll out your dough, put it in the pan, top with the filling, then top with the streusel. Voila… ready to go. You DO need to let this cool until it’s completely cool however. Really, with any fruit pie, you should do that. How many times have you cut a warm pie and ended up with half of the filling oozing out into the pan? Let it cool and if you want it warm, you can nuke it for 30 seconds. Trust me. It will set up firmer and not be an oozing mess. Once ready to serve, cover it as desired in caramel sauce (in my case, about 8 or 9 cups worth) and maybe some ice cream. Eat, Enjoy. Thank me. Oh..this crust makes enough for two, so if you’re not wanting to double up the filling and streusel and make two pans, just freeze the other half of the dough until you need it. It never hurts to have some on hand.

Caramel Apple Pie Streusel Bars

  • Crust- (lightly adapted from Emeril Lagasse)
  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, cold
  • 2/3 cup solid shortening, cold
  • 6 to 10 tablespoons ice water (the original recipe called for 4 to 5, but that was nowhere near enough)
  • Filling-
  • 5 1/2 cups cored, peeled and chopped (bite sized chunks) apples, about 5 apples. I used a mix of tart and sweet apples
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup Kraft caramel bits (found in the baking aisle)
  • Streusel-
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cups oats (NOT instant)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold
  • caramel sauce for topping
  1. Make the crust- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9×9 square pan with foil, using two long pieces, each going in the opposite direction. (line one way, turn pan, line the opposite way, so that all four sides of the pan have a layer of foil) In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter and shortening until it looks like small pebbles or peas.
  2. Add the ice water, no more than 2 tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add water until the dough comes together when mixed and isn’t sticky, just firm and holding itself together when pressed. Wrap dough in foil or plastic and chill while you make the streusel and filling.
  3. Streusel-
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, oats, salt, sugar and cinnamon. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender or your fingers until it is crumbly with, again, pea sized pieces. It’s ok if some chunks are a bit larger. Set aside.
  5. Filling-
  6. In a large bowl, toss the apple chunks with the lemon juice. In a small bowl, combine the flour, spices and sugar. Pour over the apples and mix well, making sure to stir from the bottom, as the flour will settle. Add in the caramel pieces and stir well.
  7. Put together-
  8. Get your chilled dough. Cut in half and store half for later use. On a lightly floured board, roll the dough out into a square that measures about 2 inches larger than the pan, about 11×11. Easiest way to gauge- just hold the pan upside down over the dough and eye how large it is. If you need more dough, just use some from the saved half. That half can still be used for mini tarts or tassies. Gently (I use a dough scraper) lift the dough up and lay it in the pan. Press gently down into the pans, going up the sides about 2 inches. If it is uneven, carefully cut tiny bits off of the higher areas and use it to patch onto the shorter ones.
  9. Pour the filling over the prepared crust, smoothing top. Sprinkle the streusel over the filling. Bake at 375 minutes until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling around the edges, about 60 to 70 minutes.
  10. Let cool in the pan until completely cool. Cut and serve, drizzling (pouring copious amounts of…) caramel sauce on top of each piece, reheating for about 30 seconds in the microwave is desired.

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Easy Caramel Apple Granola

 

Easy Caramel Apple Granola

Easy Caramel Apple Granola

Back when I was a kid (yeah, yeah, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and we wrote by chiseling on stone tablets), cereal was so much more fun. No one was worrying about whether it was gluten free, because no one knew what the heck gluten was. There was no panic over HFCS being used in cereals because we had the good stuff in our cereals… real sugar! Parents didn’t make their children start their days with food that was approved by our presidents wife (wth is up with that crap, anyway?); food that would carefully begin their days with a perfect balance of nutrients so that little Joey could go kick little Bobbys ass out on the playground when no one was looking because little Joeys mom and little Bobbys mom were in a feud over whose youth soccer league was better.
Nope… when I was a kid, we had far more fun being..well, kids. We ate Pop Tarts for breakfast (for the record, no, my son does not eat pop tarts for breakfast and yes, I know that makes me hypocritical. Ask me if I care. :-D ), followed by a heaping bowl of something like Kaboom… aka round sugar shapes disguised with a bit of grain. Or maybe King Vitamin, aka, round sugary shapes disguised by a vitamin or two. Then there was the really fun stuff like Count Chocula, which one can only get now during the Halloween season (when the heck did Halloween become big business and even GET its own season, btw?) or one of my favorites, Super Sugar Crisp, well named because sugar made up 95% of its ingredients. In other words, damn, it tasted good! Now however, they have changed the name and the ingredients because the word sugar makes everybody freak out.
Did I forget to mention that was a child, we also played outside unattended, even after dark, and the police weren’t called on our parents, that if we acted up at school, our parents didn’t go in and blame the teacher, but actually disciplined us for what we did wrong and lets not forget the ever reliable, we walked five miles to school… uphill…. both ways.
All that being said, even when I was a kid, one of my favorite cereals has always been any type of granola. Granola has always had this strange rep as healthy. But guess what… it rarely is :-D It has its good points nutritionally. Since it has a high proportion of fruit, nuts and grains, it has a fair amount of fiber and protein. But that comes with a price. It is also very calorie dense and if you use it like a “normal” cereal and just pour it in a bowl and douse it in milk, you will most likely end up with a 600 calorie bowl of breakfast. It’s better to use it more sparingly; portioned out for the kiddos or yourself in a baggie or mixed into yogurt, spooned over some ice cream or served as a snack with some cheese and fresh fruit.
When I got the idea for this granola, I was sure I would find 500 other incarnations of it online. But lo and behold, while there are caramel apple desserts galore, there was not one caramel apple granola that I found in like 20 pages of Google search. (Edited to add- my brother informed me that yes, there ARE a bunch of them and I realized that what I had googled was what I had originally intended to call this- caramel apple PIE granola. There are none of those, but alas, I’m not original in the other name. *sobs* Brothers! Always have to ruin ones fun!!) Yay for a brief moment of being unique!! I also originally intended to make this completely from scratch, but changed my mind. There are a TON of tasty, plain granolas out there for a decent price that are easily doctored up so I just rolled with that idea. I used my favorite plain granola- Cascadian Farms Fruit And Nut Blend. Then I added some salted caramel sauce (Trader Joes brand, but feel free to use homemade and to use a plain caramel sauce rather than salted), some chopped dried apple slices, some dried cherries, some roasted pistachio pieces for a bit of protein and crunch, mixed it all together and baked it for long enough to “set” the caramel. Let it cool, break it up and voila, you have the perfect snack!

You know the drill… :-)

Caramel Apple Granola

  • 4 cups (one 13.5 ounce box) of your favorite plain granola
  • 2 cups chopped dried apple slices (about 1.5 bags)
  • 2/3 cup dried tart cherries
  • 2/3 cup roasted pistachios (no shell)
  • 1 1/4 cups caramel sauce (homemade, store bought, salted or not; your choice)
  • whatever else makes you happy in the way of nuts or fruit. You could also add about 1/4 cup of flax or chia seeds or some wheat germ
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Drizzle the caramel sauce over the top and using either a large wooden spoon or just your hands, mix it all together until the granola is evenly coated.
  3. Spread out onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake at 325 for ten minutes. Take out of the oven and break the granola up turning the pieces over, as the bottom will be getting crispy. Bake for ten more minutes at 325. Don’t over bake this. Remember, the granola was already ready to go. You are just baking this to set the caramel.
  4. Place the pan on a rack to cool completely. When cool, break this up into bite sized pieces (or chunks if that’s the way you roll… I tend to prefer smaller pieces so I can use it in yogurt). This is NOT a completely dry granola. It will have a slightly tacky feel even after baking because of the caramel sauce.
  5. When this is 199% cool, store in a tightly covered container.

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Caramel Apple Pie Bread With Streusel Topping

Caramel Apple Pie Bread With Streusel Topping

Caramel Apple Pie Bread With Streusel Topping

 

I remember when I was a child… or maybe I’ll be poetic and say, “I be remembering when I was but a wee tyke”. No, that doesn’t work. I feel like I should be wearing a Leprechauns outfit and eating Lucky Charms. So… I remember when I was a child, back in the Stone Age. Every Autumn our school would start selling caramel apples, or “Affy Tapples” as they were named. Yes, that was the specific brand name. I think they are still available in the Midwestern area. I always loved when they came around. End of the school day, there people would be, small booth set up in the school lobby, selling Affy Tapples for 25 cents. I would wager that the kids today pay a dollar or more for theirs; damned inflation. But, I would go there, tarnished quarter grasped in my dirty little hands and then I got it…. that much loved apple. Is there anything better in Autumn than a caramel apple? You get that tart juicy apple dripping down your chin, a blanket of sweet chewy caramel that gets stuck in your teeth and then the crunchy peanuts. The perfect treat when it comes to a mix of flavors and textures.

I wanted to recreate that experience with this bread, with one exception. I don’t use nuts a whole lot, one, because I am not a huge fan, though I have my times when I like them and two, I just can’t eat them much anymore, what with aging teeth lol. So no nuts in this bread. You could easily add a half cup or so of your favorite nut (would have to be salted chopped peanuts to be authentic though) to the batter.

This is a really good quick bread that goes together fairly quickly. One tip though- don’t shred your apples until just before you get to the step of adding the flour to the batter or they may have time to turn brown. It doesn’t take long for an apple to oxidize at all.  Sweet, moist, great for dessert or a quick breakfast. Have some hot coffee waiting, or tea if you’re like me, and enjoy.

You know the drill…. :-)

Caramel Apple Pie Bread

  • 1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk mixed with 2 teaspoons baking powder (Don’t mix this till just before you need it or you could end up with a volcanic science experiment hehe)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1 /2 teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups shredded tart apple (I used Granny Smiths and just shredded them on a box grater, I also didn’t peel mine; feel free to peel yours if you want, but there’s really no reason to do so) (remember; shred just before using so they don’t turn brown)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 cup quartered Werthers Baking Caramels (takes about 20 caramels to get that amount)
  • Streusel-
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch loaf pan and set aside.
  2. Make your streusel first and set it aside until ready for it- In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut in the softened butter until the mixture is crumbly.
  3. In a medium bowl on low speed with a hand mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Add in your sugars and beat well. Add in the eggs and vanilla extract. beat well.
  4. Add in the buttermilk/baking powder mixture. Mix well (darn, I’m using that phrase a lot)
  5. Dump in the flour, salt and spices. On low speed, mix just until combined.
  6. Gently fold in the caramels, the apples and the raisins. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  7. Sprinkle the top of the bread with the streusel.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 to 65 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. A small bit of moist crumb is ok; liquidy is NOT.
  9. Let cool in the pan for about 20 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to finish cooling. Be aware, this one is touchy to unpan due to the streusel. Make sure you have it totally loosened before trying or most of the streusel is going to end up on your counter and not on the bread.

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Chewy Salted Caramel Hazelnut Cheesecake Brownies

Chewy Salted Caramel Hazelnut Brownies

Chewy Salted Caramel Hazelnut Brownies




I’ve come to the realization that, during the Summer, I am NOT a prolific blogger. I bake like the dickens (what IS a dickens anyway and do they even bake?) during the fall, Winter and early Spring, but I live in Kentucky in a house with an A/C system that barely works when it’s hot out and I have asthma; not a good combination when trying to bake lol.

Weeks ago I said I was going to make some Nutella Brownies. Today the temp wasn’t bad so FINALLY I got around to it. Erhmmm, kind of. You see, I have the great honor of being mom to six kids, three of whom still live at home, with two of those being teenage walking stomachs boys. So what did I find when I went into the cabinet to grab the Nutella? An almost empty jar with incriminating spoon marks in it. Gee, wonder how THAT happened? So I went to the back up jar of Nutella wanna be imported from Italy that I got at Big Lots. And know what? That crap is Nasty with a capital nas! I wouldn’t feed that to my worst enemy. Welllll, I know of one woman I used to be friends with that I might feed it to as well as one ultra controlling ex boyfriend. :-D

So, being the inventive soul that I am (be nice and work with me here…) what did I do? I got out the jar of Jif Salted Caramel Hazelnut Spread that I keep on hand for emergencies. Those emergencies being when I am craving something sweet and delude myself into thinking that since this is made with nuts, it’s good for me. Point being, this is some yummy stuff! Not Nutella, I admit that, but it has a unique flavor of its own; sweet, salty, with an undertone of caramel to go with the hazelnuts.

Then when I was in the fridge getting eggs, I saw the cream cheese and I immediately thought of cheesecake brownies! So that’s what we have here- deep dark and chewy chocolate brownies swirled with a salted caramel hazelnut cheesecake, then topped with some salted caramel sauce. Can we spell decadence, class?? And OMG? Wait, that one is rather self explanatory. My bad. And maybe even “please don’t share these with anyone that you don’t want to have following you around the house whimpering like a puppy to get more from you”. Just sayin’. And you don’t really have to spell that last part. I understand.

You know the drill….

Salted Caramel Hazelnut Cheesecake Brownies

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temp
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup Jif Salted Caramel Hazelnut Spread
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (not a typo; you need some for the swirl and the brownie batter)
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup baking cocoa
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • salted caramel sauce for drizzling n top (I used Trader Joes brand)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a greased 13×9 inch pan with parchment paper and lightly grease the paper.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the softened cream cheese until it is smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in the hazelnut spread, 2 tablespoons sugar and vanilla extract. Beat well to combine. Set aside while you make the brownie batter.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter and the 2 1/4 cups sugar. Beat well for 3 to 4 minutes. Add in the eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Beat well.
  4. Add in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to mix the batter just until it is combined.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth down.
  6. Drop spoonfuls of the cheesecake batter on top of the brownie batter and swirl it into the brownie batter using a butter knife.
  7. Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick or skewer inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean with no liquid batter on it, though a few moist crumbs are fine.
  8. Let cool in the pan on a rack for about an hour.
  9. Use the parchment paper to carefully lift the brownies out of the pan. Let them cool completely on the rack. Wrap loosely and refrigerate for about 2 hours or overnight. Take them out about an hour before you’re ready to serve them so that they will be easier to cut. Cut into squares of whatever size makes you happy; no 1/2 inch tidbits mentioned in THIS blog :-P
  10. Drizzle each square (chunk, half pan…whatever, I don’t judge) with some salted caramel sauce. Serve these with ice cold milk or some hot coffee. Thank me later.

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Café Caramel Parfait

Café Caramel Parfait

Café Caramel Parfait




When we cleaned out our garage, I found that I had about 798 cans of sweetened condensed milk. I kind of figured I might, just might, need to use some of them up. I was totally tempted to just sit down in front of the TV with a can or eight and a spoon and watch endless reruns of Downton Abbey, but just for YOU, I resisted that urge. Though in all honesty, I still have 796 cans of sweetened condensed milk left, so I make no promises as to my future plans. Downton Abbey and I have a date with destiny. Wait for me, Bates!!! I love you!

Sorry.

So what did I use some of that condensed milk for? Just for you, I made the noble sacrifice of developing a Café Caramel Parfait. Talk about easy, also. This is so easy, even my husband could make it. Ok, maybe I’m pushing it when I think that the man who lived on frozen burritos and Doritos before he met me could make this.

This is a whipped cream lightened with Dulce de leche, vanilla, a touch of instant coffee and sour cream layered with plain Dulce de leche. Easy, huh? You make your dulce de leche (or cheat and buy it premade), mix it with the other ingredients and layer.

This is rich and creamy, yet surprisingly light in taste (definitely not in calories). It’s like having your favorite coffee drink in a spoonable treat.

You know the drill… :-)

Café Caramel Parfait

  • 2 cans sweetened condensed milk (or 3 small cans premade Dulce de leche)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee powder
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  1. To make the Dulce de leche- I’m going to tell you how I do it, but know that it’s not “recommended” by many. I will touch on other methods, but how I make it is how I’ve done it for over ten years, with not even one problem.
  2. Fill a LARGE pot with water. Put your unopened cans of milk in the water. make sure, now and at all times, while it cooks, that the cans are covered by at least 2 to 3 inches of water. This keeps the pressure inside and outside of the pan equal and that is what makes this safe. The ONLY way this would explode would be if the pressure was different in and out of the can. Keep it covered and you’ll be fine.**
  3. Over medium heat, cook the cans of milk for 2 to 3 hours. The longer it cooks, the thicker and more…well…caramelly (yes, that is now a word. hush.) it will become. I usually cook in the 3 hour range. Just keep an eye on your water level.
  4. Once it’s cooked, turn the water off, leaving the cans in the water until the water is completely cool. take the cans out, let them cool also before you open them. When you do this, you’re best off to make a few cans and just store them in the cabinet. This is the the most time consuming part of this recipe so having extras never hurts. It’s great in coffee too!
  5. Once your caramel is cooled, you can beeeeginnnnn. :-p
  6. Whip the one cup heavy cream in a medium bowl until firm peaks form.  Slowly beat in 3/4 cup of the Dulce de leche, the vanilla and the instant coffee powder. Beat in the sour cream. Cover and chill for one hour (after eating a few spoons of it :-D )
  7.  Scoop the remaining Dulce de leche into a small bowl. Beat at medium speed for about one minute. You’re just trying to lighten it up because it’s a very thick product.
  8. Spoon a layer of the Dulce de leche into 6 small glasses. Top with a layer of the chilled cream and then drizzle with more of the Dulce de leche. Chill until ready to serve. You may end up with a little of the cream and/or the caramel. Just cover it and store in the fridge. It’s wonderful in coffee or as a dip for fruit.

**Here is a wiki detailing some of the other ways to make the Dulce de leche- Dulce De Leche Wiki . Feel free to use any of these methods. The only one I’VE used however is what I detail above. Many of the others leave you with slightly burned caramel. Ick!

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Fleur De Sel Caramels (Salted Caramels)

Fleur De Sel Caramels

Fleur De Sel Caramels

The fancy name sounds so purty, but it’s just salted caramels. I was about to say “just plain old salted caramels”, but that would have been an insult to these rich creamy pieces of goodness. There’s nothing plain about these. There’s also nothing difficult. Back when I first made my Homemade Caramel Sauce, I was one of those people that assumed that something that tasted so decadent had to be hard to make. Nope; flat out easy. Now don’t get me wrong. You walk away from this during the caramelizing of the sugar, you will end up with every smoke detector in a ten mile radius going off, an embarrassing fire department visit, a ruined pan that no amount of soaking will save and worst of all…. NO CARAMEL! And while this isn’t hard, it is not a put the pot on the stove during ANY step and go sit and watch The Real Housewives Of The Amazon Rainforest sort of thing to cook. You need to stick close by.

Is it worth it? You tell me. Your choice is this- go spend 5 bucks at Trader Joes for a container of caramels that, while good, gives you about 20 caramels for the price and STILL isn’t as good as homemade. Or you could go buy a bag of Kraft or Brachs caramels that are cheap but..well, you can tell they are cheap. Very little flavor, the mouth feel isn’t the same and you get what you pay for. OR… you can spend about 6 bucks and get a 9 inch pan of gloriously burnt sugar tasting, creamy rich “OMG, if I eat any more of these, I’m gonna weigh 500 pounds but they are so damn good!” caramels. So you choose. :-D

Also, if you prefer just regular caramels, just omit the salt in the caramel and on top. Regular caramels at your service. Fat girl pants optional.

P.S.- If you don’t have Fleur De Sel, you can use any coarse grained salt. Just don’t use table salt.

You know the drill….

Fleur De Sel Caramels (Salted Caramels)

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel

Make sure you have all your ingredients at hand. Have the cream measured and nearby and to save time, just grind your salt right into the cream as well as pour the vanilla in it and make sure your butter is unwrapped and at the ready. Then set it all aside right by the stove. Line a 9 inch square pan with foil (preferably the non stick kind.). Butter the foil, bottom and sides. Set aside near the stove.

  1. Get a nice deep heavy bottomed saucepot. At least a 4 quart one. Combine the sugar, water and corn syrup in the pot. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Swirl the pan a couple of times while cooking but do NOT stir it. If you stir caramel as it’s cooking, you stand a good chance of ending up with grainy, gritty caramel.
  2. Boil until the mixture has turned a nice dark golden brown color. Do NOT leave the stove during this step. When it is the right color, immediately move it to a cool burner. Pour in the cream mixture all at once and carefully drop in the butter. This is going to sputter like crazy so be prepared. Just pour and then give it a minute to settle down some.
  3. Set it back on the stove over medium high heat. Don’t stir. Just swirl the pot a few times carefully to combine the mixture. You can, very carefully, if you have to, use a wooden spoon and gently stir in the middle of the mixture, making sure to not touch the sides or bottom of the pan. But just the one time to get things combined.
  4. Keep the mixture over medium high heat and cook to 245 degrees. Use a candy thermometer or good instant read thermometer to get an accurate reading. This will take about ten minutes.
  5. When it gets to 245 degrees, take off the heat and immediately pour into the prepared pan without scraping the bottom of the pot. If there’s any left in the bottom, just let it cool and consider it the cooks treat. :-)
  6. Allow this to sit overnight or until firm. You can refrigerate it and it will get firmer much quicker but it also makes it a bit more difficult to cut, though not hard if you have a good knife. Cut into about 48 pieces, using a sharp knife.
  7. Sprinkle more fleur de sel on top of each piece and either wrap in plastic wrap or put in mini candy cups. These are perfect for Christmas gift giving!

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Caramel Apple Toffee Dip

Caramel Apple Toffee Dip

Caramel Apple Toffee Dip

My family has a serious apple addiction. We are equal opportunity fruit lovers but apples always seem to be eaten the most by the guys in the house. Well, except for my husband for whom fruit means Blueberry flavored coffee, though I CAN get him to eat some if it’s cooked or covered in homemade caramel :-P. We’re working on the line between good for you and dessert with him. But the rest of us love it. As I age, I unfortunately have to cut my apples up before I eat them because aging teeth and jaws don’t do whole ones well lol. I look like a mouse trying to eat an elephant whole  Excuse me while I go get my walker and take some Geritol, you young whippersnappers!

Which brings this dip into play. There are variations of  this all over the web. I won’t claim to be the first nor will I claim that the changes I made make this into an entirely new dip and oh my gosh, I’m unique! Lol. That wasn’t the point. I saw it, I thought it sounded yummy and figured some of you would like it too. I DID make some changes, one of which was to add some Kahlua to this, making it a perfect treat for an adult Halloween party or a fruit tray some other time of the year (Christmas buffet maybe?). But you can easily omit the booze and make this kid friendly. Just pour the small amount of Kahlua into a cup and drink it yourself. :-D See how I make your day better? I also added some caramel bits to it to make this even more of an Autumnal treat. The toffee chips and the caramel combine so well with the apple slices. The original recipe called for cream cheese but 1) I adore Mascarpone and 2) I had some I needed to use up, but feel free to sub cream cheese in this. This is good when it’s first made but it’s even better when the flavors have time to meld and the toffee chips get softer. YUMMY! Also, this isn’t just good with apples. Try some on a cinnamon bagel or one of the limited edition (out right now) Pumpkin Spice Bagels. Oh, my gosh, it’s good. It kind of melts right into it and…*swoons*

You know the drill… git to cooking! Or erhmmmm, mixing in this case.

Caramel Apple Toffee Dip

  • 8 ounces mascarpone or cream cheese, room temp
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • a scant 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons Kahlua (optional)
  • 3/4 cup toffee bits (in the baking aisle near the chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 cup Kraft Caramel Bits
  • sliced apples for dipping (dip them in a lemon juice/water mix to prevent browning)
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the mascarpone (or cream cheese), both kinds of sugar, the vanilla and the Kahlua if using. Beat well, until smooth and creamy.
  2. Fold in the toffee bit and the caramel bits.
  3. Sprinkle top with more toffee bits and caramel.
  4. Serve with the apples for dipping or just sit down in front of the TV with a spoon and the bowl. I won’t tell. But I’m also not buying you any new fat girl pants. Just sayin’.

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Caramel Apple Bread Pudding

Caramel Apple Bread Pudding

Caramel Apple Bread Pudding



I’ve said before, and will probably say again because I’m getting old and like redundancy, that I used to have a love/hate relationship with bread pudding. Back before the world grew so much smaller (or larger depending on ones perspective) with the internet, recipes for bread pudding consisted of stale white bread, soaked in a custard base of plain milk. Raisins and cinnamon were usually added and then it was baked. British nursery food to the max. Great thing to feed a small child who likes bland or an invalid or say, someone with no taste buds who is also blind and can’t see the mushy mess in their bowl. The rest of us however would probably prefer something with a little oomph to it, some flavor, more than just soggy bread. And nowadays you can find whatever kind of bread pudding trips your trigger, including savory ones for that matter. But I prefer the sweet kinds for the most part.

So, being the time of year it is, I wanted to make one that fits the season and the flavors people love this time of year. If I do say so myself, I outdid myself with this one. This is sweet but not too sweet, crispy at the edges, covered in delicious satiny caramel as well as caramel bits inside plus tart sauteed apples all through it. This is damn good! It makes a ton though (you have to remember I have teen boys lol) so cut it in half if you’re not feeding a small country. I got a 2.5 quart baking dish and 3 ramekins from this. When I invent, I invent big lol.

You know the drill… :-)

Caramel Apple Bread Pudding

  • 8 large apples, peeled and chopped into bite sized chunks (I used Braeburn apples)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 loaf Kings Brand Hawaiian Bread, cut into about one inch pieces
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 jar ( 12.25 ounces) caramel topping (or you can make homemade caramel sauce I simply went the easy route this time)
  • 1 bag Kraft caramel bits
  1. In a large pan, melt the butter. Add in the apple chunks and over medium heat, stir to blend with the butter. Cover the pan and turn the heat to medium low (about 3 on an electric stove). Let the apples cook until soft and about half of them have broken down and turned saucy. Stir in the cinnamon.
  2. Add the 1/2 cup sugar into the pan. Stir well. Pour in the 1/2 cup cream and cook over medium heat until the cream has cooked into the apples. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until foamy. Pour in the 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, 1/2 cup milk and the vanilla extract. Whisk in the 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar. Dump the bread pieces into the cream mixture and stir well. Press down with a spoon to make sure all the bread is submerged in the liquid. Let sit for anywhere from 30 minutes to 60 minutes.  Pour the bag of caramel bits into the bread mixture and stir well.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease either a 3 quart baking dish or a 2.5 quart dish and 3 8 ounce ramekins with butter.
  5. Pour half the pudding into the prepared pan(s). Cover with half the jar of caramel topping. Cover with another layer of pudding and more caramel sauce. If doing a 3.5 quart dish and ramekins, I’d suggest filling the ramekins first so you don’t end up with too much in the baking dish. Put a 13×9 inch pan half filled with hot water on the bottom rack of the oven.
  6. Bake pudding at 325 degrees for about 45 to 55 minutes for the ramekins (if you insert a butter knife in the middle and twist it, there should be no liquid there, just a moist pudding) and 90 minutes for the baking dish (same test for doneness)
  7. Let cool a little and serve warm, drizzled with more caramel sauce. Can also be served chilled. Reheats well in the microwave.

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Browned Butter German Chocolate Chip Cookies

Browned Butter German Chocolate Chip Cookies

Browned Butter German Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have a major personality flaw. Well, I have more than one but we won’t get into the others today. The one I’m talking about right now is my inability to let things alone. I am that person who when being sarcastic, always has to say that one last sentence that gets people wanting to look for cement shoes for me. I’m that person that when a joke goes flat, will be standing there saying “no, no, let me explain it to you! It’s funny! Really, it is!”. I’m also that person who, once I’ve made a recipe, then has to make it about 463 times more in different variations just because I love to play around with recipes and put my own stamp on it. I guess that’s one reason I’m a food blogger, huh?. Sometimes it works, but sometimes it’s a case of I should have left well enough alone.

Today it was a definite case of “it works”. Oh…my…gosh…did it work. Now, contrary to what one would think, I’m not a huge cookie person. I prefer my sweets to be floating in a puddle of cream and maybe even have fruit in them. I know, I know, I just shocked a bunch of you. I LOVE sweets, don’t get me wrong but creaminess (aka fat lol) and fruit put together tend to do it for me more than cookies. But there are times I like something a little homey, a little old fashioned, a little…well…cookieish.  So yesterday, on my Facebook Page, I mentioned that I was making These cookies. Well, I never got to them yesterday and this is a good thing because overnight, I got the inspiration to try to make them a bit different. My husband, who is my favorite person ever, was my inspiration. He LOVES German Chocolate Cake and I make it (or buy it) for him every year on his birthday. So I decided to make these Browned Butter cookies in a way that mimics the flavors in his favorite cake. And since I love the chocolate/coconut flavor combo myself, I am kind of in love with these cookies myself. The dough alone was fantastic lol. I kept snagging bits of it from the bowl. The nutty taste of the browned butter, the chocolate, the crispy toasted coconut, the caramel… oh my *drools*

You know the drill…

Browned Butter German Chocolate Chip Cookies

    • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, browned to a golden brown color & cooled
    • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 egg yolk
    • 2 tablespoons cream
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    • 1 teaspoon coconut flavoring
    • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 12 ounce bag semi sweet chocolate chips or chunks (I actually used more like 3 cups because I had a partial bag opened that I wanted to use up so extra wouldn’t go amiss :-) )
    • 1 1/4 cup sweetened coconut, toasted, 1/4 cup set aside
    • 25 Kraft Caramels,
    • 1/4 cup heavy cream or half & half
  1. To brown the butter, in a medium saucepan, over medium heat melt the butter. Let cook,stirring frequently, until it turns a golden brown color. This can take anywhere from five to ten minutes. It will sputter and spit a lot at first then that will stop. Do NOT walk away from this as it can go from yellowish butter to burnt garbage very quickly.
  2. Pour the browned butter into a large bowl and let cool.
  3. When cool, pour both kinds of sugar into the bowl with the butter. Beat until well mixed.
  4. Add in the egg and egg yolk, then pour in the vanilla, coconut flavoring and the cream. Beat on low speed until well mixed.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.
  6. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and at slow speed (unless you want to be covered in flying flour), mix until you have a cohesive cookie dough.
  7. Fold in the chocolate chips and one cup of the toasted coconut.
  8. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.. Spray the cookie sheet with baking spray before lining it if using the parchment paper.
  9. Scoop the cookies up and place about 2 inches apart on the lined cookie sheet.
  10. Bake at 350 until golden brown on the edges, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  11. Let cool for a minute on the sheet then transfer over to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  12. When the cookies are cool, make the caramel drizzle.  Unwrap your caramels and put them into a bowl. A cereal sized bowl is sufficient. Pour the cream over the top. Then microwave at 70% power for 30 second intervals until the caramel is melted and bubbly. Stir well to mix. Be careful… there is nothing as fun as scraping out a bowl of hardened burnt caramel because you didn’t watch carefully. Please don’t ask how I know this.
  13. Drizzle each cookie with some of the caramel and while it’s still gooey, sprinkle some of the reserved toasted coconut over each one.

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Salted Caramel & Dark Chocolate S’mores

Sea Salt Caramel & Dark Chocolate S'mores

Sea Salt Caramel & Dark Chocolate S’mores

I don’t like s’mores much. There. I said it. I have no problem with the marshmallows and the chocolate. I mean c’mon, this is me.  I love those parts. But I really don’t care for graham crackers. We were fairly poor growing up and as graham crackers were cheap, they were one of those things that my mom bought a lot as a treat. I ate them then… I was a kid… give me a shoe sole with sugar and I’d have eaten it. but even then they weren’t a favorite. Still aren’t. but you know what? When I made this S’more, the first thing I tried was the cracker that was all coated with caramel, chocolate and sea salt. And know what? It was amazing! I now have a way I will eat graham crackers lol. Of course, it takes a somewhat benign food and makes it a heart attack on a plate, but I’m cool with that :-D

If you like s’mores the old fashioned way, you’ll like these even better. If you like salted caramel and fancy schmancy chocolate this will be heaven on a plate for you. A layer of graham cracker covered in a square of good quality chocolate ( I used Lindt Caramel Sea Salt bar just to layer that sea salt caramel flavor , covered in a toasted marshmallow and sea salt caramel sauce, then coated with more chocolate, another graham cracker THEN slathered in more caramel, good chocolate sauce and more sea salt. Yep… Heaven. On. A. Plate.

Salted Caramel And Dark Chocolate S’mores

  •  1 3.5 ounce bar Lindt Caramel Sea Salt Bar (or any flavor you prefer… but use GOOD chocolate)
  • 5 graham crackers, broken in half
  • 5 large marshmallows. (I used the extra large ones from Campfire brand)
  • A half batch of my homemade caramel sauce (you’ll end up with some left over but I promise that you won’t mind. It has many uses :-D
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup good quality chocolate sauce
  1. After you make the caramel, stir the teaspoon of sea salt into. If you want to hold on to some of the sauce plain, just use what you want and cut the salt accordingly. Set aside.
  2. Set the graham cracker halves on plates (one cracker to each of five plates) and put a square of chocolate on each piece.
  3. Toast your marshmallow by whatever method you prefer. I just used the stove but go for it and be authentic and use a campfire, a grill, whatever… use a Bic lighter if it makes you happy :-P
  4. Put the marshmallow on a graham cracker half, cover with some of the caramel sauce, then put the other cracker half on top.
  5.  Drizzle with chocolate sauce, more caramel sauce then sprinkle with some sea salt.
  6. Inhale. Thank me later.

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