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. 😀 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 😀

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 😀
  • 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 😛
  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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Girl Scouts, Schmirl Scouts! Who Needs ‘Em?!

Coconut Caramel Cookie Bars AKA Samoa Wanna Be Cookie Bars

I have mentioned before that I’m not too fond of coconut in baked goods. Yet I have noticed a fair amount of coconut recipes here in my blog. I’m not counting the coconut milk ones however because I adore coconut milk and would happily eat it straight form the can day in and day out if it wouldn’t leave me weighing as much as a semi. Yet I said something about not caring for coconut in this post for Chewy Coconut Lime Cookies and I used coconut here in these Oatmeal Coconut Raspberry Bars . I sure whine a lot about not liking it and then use it anyway. In my defense though, the ones with real coconut in them have it on top, not IN it. Coconut inside a baked good, I have said before, has, to me, the same appeal as finding a hair in my food.

Moving on… remember this Caramel Sauce that we made a few weeks ago? What do you mean, you never got around to making it!? Sigh. What am I going to do with you people? Now before you can get to making these amazing cookie bars, you have to make the caramel. If you had listened to me weeks ago, you would be all set for baking. But noooo…. nobody listens to Zathras! Bonus points if you know (without googling) where that line came from.

Well, that caramel sauce you forgot to make is being put to use today. A very very good, very rich very “omg, I want 16 of these right now” sort of use. My step daughter, who is visiting, said they exert a gravitational pull on her and she can’t stay away from the pan. I found the basic recipe for these on I really didn’t change much though any of you who have read this for a while know I can’t not change SOMETHING, usually something that makes recipes more caloric, higher in fat and working towards getting voted “Most Likely To Clog Your Arteries In One Bite”. So what did I change? I used home made caramel sauce… you know, the one you forgot to make *sticks my nose in the air and looks snotty* instead of jarred, I doubled the amount of coconut flavoring because the original amount was chintzy, I kinda, maybe, could have, might of, quadrupled (or more) the amount of chocolate chips, double the amount of the caramel sauce and used about an extra half cup of shredded coconut. WHAT!? Don’t judge me. It had to be done. It was a moral imperative!

These are like Girl Scout Samoa Cookies (or whatever they are called now) on steroids. They are way more…well…everything, including tasty. My husband is a major fan of Samoa cookies and I think this means I will be making these often. I have to admit it, I loved them too. They are rich and gooey…boy, are they gooey. Plus they have one heck of a dose of chocolate and the home made caramel sauce is awesome in these.

So git to cooking… though now you have to make the caramel sauce first, you doofus. Then come back and tell me how wonderful I am to have shared this recipe with you. I can take the heavy praise if you need to give it out. Don’t overcook these or the crust will get too crispy.

Coconut Caramel Cookie Bars AKA Samoa Wanna Be Cookie Bars

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut flavoring (in the same aisle as the vanilla extract)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups quick cooking oats (not instant)
  • 2 cups chocolate chips plus another 1/2 cup for the top of the bars
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
  •  1 cup caramel sauce (preferably home made)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13×9 inch pan with foil and butter well or spray with cooking spray.
  2. Spread the coconut on a cookie sheet and toast until lightly browned, stirring every few minutes. Watch carefully; coconut can go from pale to burnt  very quickly. When it’s done, set aside.
  3. Place the softened butter and the brown sugar in a large bowl and beat well, until relatively light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla, coconut flavoring and egg. beat well.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the flour, oats, 2 cups chocolate chips, baking soda and salt. Stir to combine then add into the wet ingredients. Stir well to combine.
  5. Press the mixture into the bottom of the foil lined pan. Top with the extreme abundance of caramel sauce, then the shredded coconut. Top this with the extra 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.
  6. Bake at 350 until the bars are just barely set. The middle shouldn’t wiggle but should just feel barely firm when pressed. Don’t press too hard because molten caramel on your fingertip hurts. Don’t ask how I know this please.
  7. Let cool for about 15 minutes in the pan, then use the foil to lift the bars out of the pan to finish cooling on a rack. If they start to collapse onto themselves when you lift, let cool for a while longer.

Coconut Caramel Bar Cookies AKA Samoa Wanna Be Cookies


Once Upon A Time… (Homemade Caramel Sauce)

Home Made Caramel Sauce (Easier than you think. Honest!)

…I thought candy that came in a bag was the be all and end all of yumminess. I thought that Hershey bars were divine,  Lemon Heads were the best dessert ever (ok, I still love lemon heads. I admit it) and Kraft Caramels were the tastiest thing since…since…since…I dunno what, but I loved them. Mind you, don’t get me wrong. I still think there is a time and a place for all of those things. Hershey Bars are a wonderful late night “I’m reading a book and lazing in bed; leave me alone” treat, Lemon heads are…well…awesome any time of day or night and Kraft Caramels, while I no longer eat them plain, are good in a handful of dessert applications and great for give away on Halloween.

Then as I got more into cooking as I aged, I found a caramel sauce recipe that was simple and to the point. It was brown sugar, butter and cream. it was good and I used it for years.

That said however, there came a time when I wanted to expand my cooking knowledge and I got brave enough to try to make homemade caramels and caramel sauce (I was desperate for a caramel sundae) . I have never looked back since that day. And for those of you thinking “I could never make REAL caramel” I say only this. Yes. You can. If you have an IQ higher than that of the average eggplant (thus excluding my neighbor from this endeavor) and aren’t totally careless when it comes to cooking (you DO need to pay attention or you could end up very badly burned), you can make it. Don’t let “OMG, it’s cooked sugar and I’ve heard it can kill you if it touches you, it’s so hot!” scare you. I repeat…it’s not hard. I’m even going to include a few pictures so you can see what it should look like (approximately) at certain points in the cooking process.

So come on. Go get out a sturdy pot, some water, sugar, butter, vanilla and some heavy cream. That’s it. That’s all you need. No thermometer. No haz-mat suit. No extra fire insurance. Another reason you need to make this beyond it’s wonderful to eat straight off of the spoon? Because we will be using this later in some pretty darn awesome recipes. So shoo… go, young grasshopper and get sugar.

This makes 2 pint jars of sauce. Go ahead and make the full batch. I promise you; it will get used. And it will keep stored in the fridge for about 3 months.

Home Made Caramel Sauce

  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Pour the water and corn syrup into a large heavy bottomed pot. Yeah, that one you use to boil pasta in will do. When the cream is added to this, it is going to bubble furiously. You need a LARGE pot. I can not stress that enough.
  2. Pour the sugar into the middle of the pan, trying not to let it touch the sides any more than necessary.  Don’t stir it. No really. Don’t.
  3. Heat on medium high until the sugar has dissolved then turn the heat to high. You’re going to cook the sugar water mixture until it turns a wonderful shade of golden brown. It will take somewhere around 25 to 30 minutes. Also, it smells like toasting marshmallows as it cooks. Pretty yummy smelling lol.

    Sugar/water at 16 minutes cook time

  4. Again, as this cooks, don’t stir. It can cause sugar crystals to form/get into the mixture and leave you with a grainy end product.
  5. Meanwhile, while this cooks, combine your cream, vanilla and butter in a large measuring cup or spouted bowl.
  6. Heat in the microwave until it is hot but not boiling (the butter should be leaving a nice film on top but shouldn’t be fully melted). Set on the counter within reach of the pot.

    sugar/water at 23 minutes. Almost ready to add cream

  7. When mixture is golden brown, whisk in the cream mixture. It is going to bubble and sputter and scare the crap out of you. Even after having done this many times, it still makes my heart race when I add the cream cause of the reaction of the cream in the sugar. Just continue to slowly pour and whisk (if you have someone who can pour while you whisk, even better.

    Caramel sauce after the cream has been added. This is bubbling like it wants to escape the pot 😛

  8. Boil for about 2 minutes more. It will seem thin, but will thicken up appreciably when cold. Don’t keep cooking or you will end up with caramels, not caramel sauce. Not that this is a bad thing. If by chance you do (you’ll know if you go to get some out of the fridge and it’s solid instead of just very thick) you have 2 choices. You can just heat it every time you need to use it or you can heat it once, pour it into a heavily buttered 9 inch square pan, let it become about half firm in the fridge, cut it, then finish cooling it. Then you have some completely delicious caramels that you can eat as is, dip in chocolate, whatever.
  9. Let mixture come to room temp in the pan, then pour into jars and store in the fridge. I use pint canning jars.
  10. This is amazing on vanilla ice cream, in yogurt, over berries, in recipes calling for store caramel sauce or just off a spoon as a treat. Try it once; see how easy this is. You will never buy that unnamed brand of caramel sauce again.

    Really; it was an accident that so much got left in the pot. But then I couldn’t waste it now could I?




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When The Moon Hits Your Eye Like A Big Pizza Pie…

Sigh. Have I mentioned recently that I REALLY need a good camera?


That’s so NOT amore as Dean Martin crooned years ago. It’s more like, sayyyyy, the apocalypse.  That moon thing might hurt. Well, ok, no it won’t because the whole Earth would go BOOM long before the moon actually hit your eye… or your nose… or even an outstretched “OMG, the moon is about to hit me!!!” sort of arm. Now the boom thing? That may hurt for a split second or so.

I am pretty sure that Mr. Martin was dead drunk when he sang those words. But then again, I don’t recall any sightings of him on TV where he WASN’T dead drunk.  Am I the only one who remembers the show he had on TV many many years back? Erhmmm, not that I’m old enough to recall it. I watched it on you tube. Yeah, that’s it. And in those shows…erhmmm, reruns, I remember him always being surrounded by gorgeous women, always lounging against a piano and always dead drunk. Ahhh, the days when men were men. Or something like that.

Now I’m feeling all nostalgic for old TV shows. I used to love all the old variety shows that came on during the Christmas season. My favorite was always the Bing Crosby Special. Oh Gawd, I loved those shows! I have on an old VHS tape one that came out a few years after Mr. Crosby died that was a compilation of all the shows. I kept it once I found it because for YEARS, and I mean MANY YEARS, I remembered the version of “The Little Drummer Boy” he sang with David Bowie ( go look it up on you tube. It’s beyond amazing!) and that was the only way I could hear the song. Then a few years ago, “Now That’s What I Call Christmas” came out with a CD that had that song on it. I was one happy Bing lover.

Back to that moon and pizza pie thing. I love pizza. Matter of fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone who DIDN’T like pizza. But if they did, I bet I could change they mind with this one. This doesn’t have sausage or pepperoni or extra cheese or mushrooms (damn. Now I’m hungry.) Nope. This one is covered in a nice cheesecake filling, apples, cinnamon and sugar as well as caramel and a delicious streusel topping. Drooling yet?

I saw a recipe for caramel apple pizza and while it sounded good, that genetically warped part of me took over (go figure huh?) and I had to mess with it. I mean c’mon, would you really expect anything different form me? I didn’t think so. So I added a nice sugar cinnamon sprinkle to the crust to give it some flavor and then topped it all off with an oatmeal crumb topping. The cinnamon sugar could be left off if you preferred but…why? 😀 This makes a great family dessert, especially this time of the year when apples are excellent. It would also be great at a kids Halloween party. This makes 2 pies so if you want to do the math, you could cut the recipe in half 😛

Streusel Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pizza

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • Cinnamon sugar topping-
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 heaping tablespoon cinnamon
  • PIZZA-
  • 2 store bought pizza crusts (yes you could make your own but this is meant to be a fairly easy quick to put together treat)
  • 2 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup caramel dip or topping
  • 3 large apples, cored, thinly sliced (Gala work well)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped peanuts (I didn’t do this because I don’t like them but figured I’d add it to make it more caramel apple seeming)
  • more caramel topping for drizzling.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, combine all the topping ingredients. Mix well then cut in the butter using a pastry blender. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the cream cheese and the caramel topping.
  4. Spray the pizza crusts with butter flavored baking spray (regular is fine too) and put them on large cookie sheets.
  5. Combine the cinnamon sugar and sprinkle it over the two pizza crusts. Get annoyed at me cause I’ve made you dirty 3 bowls and 2 baking sheets.
  6. Spread half the cream cheese mixture over each pizza crust.
  7. Arrange the apple slices on each crust in a purty spoke design even though they are going to be covered in streusel and you won’t see them. YOU’LL know it’s pretty under there. It’s like wearing nice underwear in case you get into an accident.
  8. Drizzle the apples with more caramel topping. I didn’t give an amount for that because I am heavy handed with it. You may want less…. or more even, in which case call your dentist.
  9. Sprinkle half the streusel topping over each pizza crust.
  10. Bake at 350 degrees until the topping is browned and crispy and the apples are tender.
  11. Serve this with vanilla ice cream. Curse my name as your hips get bigger as you eat and your jeans button pops open. Know that I’m giggling over here.

Caramel- Butterscotch’s Little Sister

Or maybe little brother… or cousin… or third cousin four times removed. Or who knows; maybe it’s a step child. That wicked red headed one. But I know that for me caramel has never ranked as high on the family list of sweets. Mind you, that doesn’t mean I don’t like it. Ahem… hello, you DO recall whose blog you’re on don’t you?  Janet… liver hating, sweet loving, the richer and creamier the better silly kinda needs massive therapy blog writer. Yep, that’s me!

I love caramel. Just not as much as I love butterscotch. But please… don’t tell either of them where I rank them. I don’t want to be responsible for gooey hurt feelings. There is a time and a place for both. Butterscotch gets my love on sundaes and in schnapps (Oh.My.God. Is that stuff awesome or what?! Liquid “I’m gonna get you tipsy” butterscotch candy) and as a great add in to coffee. Yes, I know; caramel is the normal add in flavor for coffee but if you’ve never tried butterscotch in coffee, you have to try it. Or just buy some, decide you don’t like it and then send it to me. Caramel is for the guts of candy bars that you freeze and then nibble off layer by layer. It’s also for Dulce De leche which is meant to be eaten by the spoonful. Really; it is. It’s the law. Would I lie to you? It’s also for the following recipe. Along with the dulce de leche. I am currently browsing through the Southern Living 1001 Ways To Cook Southern cookbook and among the 3 million four hundred thousand pages I have folded down, one kept saying “try me… NOW. Do NOT wait, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars” (if anyone wants to send me that two hundred dollars, I’m not gonna argue 😛 ). So I listened. Cause I’m cool like that. When books talk to me, I listen. After I stop cowering in the closet cause a book just talked to me.

So try this. Caramel… more caramel. All tucked into a thick brown sugary square… or circle. Or an octagon if that’s what makes you happy.

Death By Caramel Squares

  • 3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, softened (yes, 2 cups)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract (optional; my addition)
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup regular uncooked oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 regular sized Snickers bars, chopped
  • 1 14 ounce can dulce de leche
  1. Preheat your oven to 325. Line a 13×9 inch pan with foil (I used the non stick kind) and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well.
  3. In another bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to the butter mixture, stirring just until blended. Fold in the chopped candy.
  4. Spread batter in the lined pan. It’s quite thick so you will probably have to pat it down some. I used the tips of my dampened fingers so that I didn’t get covered in goop.
  5. Spoon dollops of the dulce de leche onto the top of the batter. Use a knife to swirl it into the batter. Eat some because again… it’s the law. I swear it is!
  6. Bake for an hour and 20 minutes. The recipe said an hour and five minutes but in my oven, it was still very jiggly in the center. Your oven may vary so check after an hour.
  7. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. This is gonna take a while cause these bad boys are thick! Use the foil to lift the brownies out and cut into squares. Or you could do that octagon thing  again. Just sayin’.
  8. These are very chewy which I liked and very thick; also liked. But next time I think I will add something to it… maybe a little maple flavor. It just needs that little something extra.

Ben Needs This Dessert Cause His Parents Are Mean

Can't you just taste that oozing caramel now?

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

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • splash of vanilla extract
  • 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
  • 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
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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!
  6. Let cool for about ten minutes then pour over the shortbread crust. Cover with foil and refrigerate for about an hour.
  8. 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 )
  9. 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.
  10. Cut into wedges and serve with whipped cream (and maybe some of the extra caramel sauce if you’re really into excess.

Boredom Is REALLY The Mother Of Invention

I think all the things we take for granted were discovered out of boredom, not out of necessity.  Did we NEED electricity? Nope. Did we NEED phones? Nope. Did we NEED cars? Nope. Did we need Twinkies and Cheetos? Ok, maybe we needed those. I do anyway. Life would be hell without my Cheeto fix. Dipped in hot sauce and/or blue cheese dressing. I know. Strange. But it’s good darn it!

Boredom works in cooking too. Buffalo chicken wings, brownies, Twinkies , God knows how many things came about because the creator was bored with cooking things the normal way and wanted something different.

Well, today I wanted something different. And while it won’t be as earth shaking as Twinkies or Cheetos cause I mean, really, can ANYTHING match those two, it turned out pretty yummy.

Years and years ago, I learned how to make a Caramel flan. I always got a kick out of how quickly the melted sugar would harden up. Yes, I realize I’m easily amused. But the transformation from a solid to a liquid back to a solid again, albeit one that tasted completely different, was strangely fascinating to me. So for the longest time I had been wanting to play around with caramelized sugar. Not caramel sauce though that ended up in this recipe too… just the sugar. But my worry was wasting a bunch of sugar and it not working.  A couple months ago one of my favorite bloggers, Culinary Concoctions By Peabody, did it with
These delicious cookies and since I now knew it could be done, I knew I would be trying it sooner or later.

Today was the day. But I didn’t want cookies. I wanted cupcakes with a creamy “OMG, how much sugar did you put in this” type of frosting. So I made a cupcake with the finely ground caramelized sugar. When you make this, be ready; the sugar doesn’t immediately dissolve into the butter the way regular sugar does. It clumps up. Just keep beating. You will still have some clumps after the batter is completely made but that’s actually ok. When the cupcakes are done, you will have these slightly dimpled cakes with small bits of caramelized sugar and those bits give a nice caramelly burst of flavor. The cupcakes themselves aren’t overly sweet but the frosting makes up for that 😛

If you have never worked with caramelized sugar before, be careful. This is dangerously hot when liquid and stays that way for a while.


  • For the Caramelized Sugar-
  • 2 cups granulated white sugar
  • For the cupcake-
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups finely ground caramelized sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • For the frosting-
  • 3/4 cup Smuckers Caramel Sundae Syrup
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1) For the caramelized sugar, first, line a cookies sheet with foil and set aside. Then take the 2 cups sugar and pour into a heavy bottomed medium saucepan. Over medium heat and never leaving the stove, cook the sugar. When you start, it will start to lump up. That’s fine. It will smooth out as it melts. Stir every ten seconds or so to expose all the sugar to heat. When it starts to melt, just continually gently stir & turn your heat down to about 4. This isn’t a quick process but if you have the heat too high the only thing you’re going to end up with is a scorched pan and a really nasty smelly mess of burnt unusable sugar. When it is all melted and a nice golden brown color (be careful here. It can go from golden brown to burnt in a heartbeat), carefully pour it out onto the foil lined pan. Set it aside somewhere not reachable by small hands and let it cool.

2) Once it is cool, break it up into large chunks. Eat some :-P.  Save some for garnishing the cupcakes. Put the chunks into a food processor bowl and process until it is finely ground.

3) For the cupcakes- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 14 muffin cups. Or use cupcakes liners because you are smart and don’t want to have to scrub a muffin pan 😀 . In a small bowl, combine your flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

4) Put your butter and sugar into a large bowl. Beat until well blended. Remember, it’s going to look clumpy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. Add the extracts.

5) Add half the flour mixture, beat well, then add in half the milk. Repeat.

6)Pour the batter into the lined cupcake pan.

7) Bake at 350 for 19 to 21 minutes or until the top is firm and a nice golden brown. Let cool in the pan that is set over a wire rack for five minutes then take out and let cool thoroughly on a wire rack.

8)For the frosting- Beat  butter and caramel syrup (I wanted to use the ground caramelized sugar in here too but I realized that it wouldn’t work after I saw the way it clumps since it can’t bake back out in frosting.) until creamy. Add in the vanilla and the powdered sugar and beat until thick and creamy. Spoon or pipe onto the cupcakes. Garnish with the slivers of hard sugar you held back and more caramel syrup.



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