My son Joshie wanted me to read to him the other night. He brought out a book that we’ve had since my older kids were little. It’s called “Ben Finds A Friend.
This has got to be the most depressing children’s book ever written. Poor Ben is a lonely little boy who just wants a pet but the parents from Hell have excuses for every pet suggestion he brings to them. A dog? Nope; too messy and tears up the furniture (Hello? Obedience training anyone?). A cat? C’mon dad, how about a soft tiny purring kitty? No way Ben they scratch and bite and steal food from the refrigerator (Ummm… if that cat opens the fridge and gets food, teach the son of a biscuit to COOK darn it! You can make a mint! Frodo, the cooking kitty!) The picture then shows poor Ben walking off, looking totally dejected, shoulders slumped. I wanted to reach in there and give the kid a hug (and buy him a kitty).
So then he goes back to mom and asks for a Monkey. Hey, I want a Monkey too; I can understand the desire! I want a Monkey that I can name Stash and teach him to stand on a street corner to make money for me. But noooooo, mom says no to a Monkey too because they are dirty and messy and have fleas. The Evil Wench! So it was back to dad and asking for a parrot. Again; no. Even though Ben explained that they didn’t do any bad things or have any of the above mentioned bad habits, it was nil, nada, zilch on a fine feathered friend cause dads response was that they screech and squawk and say terrible things. Ummm… they will only say terrible things if you TEACH them terrible things. Though in Bens defense, the parrot may end up saying “Mom and dad are evil parents who don’t let me know the joy and responsibility of raising a pet”. As for screeching, two words; CAGE COVER.
Then he wanted a Hamster. A small teenieeeee tinyyyyy Hamster that he could keep in his room and take care of. But Mommy Dearest said she doesn’t like hamsters because they sleep all day ( sounds like a good day to ME plus mom, you cretin, the kid isn’t asking YOU to love on it and give it a name. HE wants it… duhhhh.) So he goes to his room where we find out he is sick and when the doctor (who does house calls) arrives, doc says Ben has a bug. The boy gets excited because he assumes it came to be a pet for him. Then he begins to daydream about having a pet…ANY PET *sobs for poor Ben*
So how does this ultimately end as you’re trying as a reader to figure out how to call fictional CPS for emotional neglect? The kid sees a Pigeon on his windowsill and asks mom for some bread crumbs for it. A PIGEON! Poor little lonely Ben, who has no parental interaction, has to settle for a wild smelly mite and vermin carrying Pigeon for a pet. WAHHHH!!!!!
Ben needs chocolate. Lots of chocolate. And since this book was written before sweet and salty caramel was around written and Ben is now grown (and needing massive amounts of therapy thanks to his parents) and probably doesn’t get new food treats in the asylum, I made a treat in Bens honor. This is a buttery shortbread crust covered in a sweet/salty sea salt homemade caramel that has been given a nice shot of rum (as was the creator of the recipe because I was so damn depressed over Ben) and then smothered in a thick chocolate ganache. This isn’t HARD to make but the caramel is a precise recipe and takes time. This also has to chill for hours so you need to pre-plan when you want to make this. But oh my; it’s worth it. Sweet, salty, caramelly (yes that is now a word. I said so.) , chocolatey and buttery with a nice crumbly crust. This makes extra caramel. Just store it in a covered container in the fridge and use it for anything you’d use caramel for…like eating it straight from the spoon.
Rum Infused Salted Caramel/Chocolate Wedges
On A Buttery Shortbread Crust
- SHORTBREAD CRUST-
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- splash of vanilla extract
- HOMEMADE CARAMEL-
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 2 cups heavy cream minus two tablespoons
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- 2 tablespoons rum
- CHOCOLATE GANACHE-
- 1/2 cup semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- more sea salt for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- To make the crust, combine ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix until it is well blended and crumbly. Press down into a foil lined and greased 9 inch pie pan (you can also use a 8 or 9 inch square pan but I like the look of the wedges better). Bake at 350 until lightly browned around the edges, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- For the caramel- While the crust is cooking (don’t forget about it and burn it; I’ve done that lol) melt the 1/2 cup butter in a large saucepan. Add the sugar and sea salt and cook over medium high heat, stirring very often, until the mixture is a deep golden brown, anywhere from 7 to 12 or so minutes. The darker you get it (before you burn it lol) the more intense the caramel flavor is so if you want milder don’t cook as long).
- Add your vinegar and rum to your cream and add the mixture to the pan of sugar (do NOT stir). Cover the pan and let cook over medium low heat without stirring until most of the caramel bits dissolve, about 8 minutes or so.
- Uncover and whisk until sauce is slightly thick, deep brown and reduced to about 2 1/2 cups, stirring often. If there are still any caramel bits that haven’t dissolved, just fish them out with a slotted spoon. Then eat them; they are yummy!
- Let cool for about ten minutes then pour over the shortbread crust. Cover with foil and refrigerate for about an hour.
- FOR THE GANACHE-
- In a microwavable bowl, mix the chocolate chips and heavy cream. Melt at half power, stirring often, until mixture is smooth and thoroughly combined. Let cool for about 3 minutes (no longer or it will firm up and become unspreadable and you’ll have to reheat it )
- Carefully pour over the caramel mixture and smooth. Sprinkle with more sea salt. Let this cool until the caramel has firmed up. This can take about 4 to 5 hours so plan ahead.
- Cut into wedges and serve with whipped cream (and maybe some of the extra caramel sauce if you’re really into excess.