Posts Tagged 'caramel'

I have writer’s block, I think – Walnut Toffees

All right. Here it is. Tuesday. And another attempt at caramel.

This one is all right. Only all right, though. I had some walnuts to use up. I had some condensed milk open from something else I was whipping up.

The caramels weren’t very soft when they were cooled. I preferred them straight out of the freezer. They kind of shatter in your mouth and then get chewy. It reminds me of this one Canadian toffee (or English, maybe?) that my mum used to get when we were little.

Today is just today. There’s always tomorrow. Ok. Ok bye. I think I have writer’s block. You could gift these. That would be cute. But they’re not that good.

L

Walnut Toffee

From food.com

2 cups white sugar
2 cups light corn syrup
1/2 cup butter
2 cups evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
Line a 9×13 pan with parchment. (I halved the recipe and used a smaller pan.) Butter the parchment. Boil sugar, salt and corn syrup to 245 degrees, stirring occasionally. Add butter and evaporated milk gradually so that the mixture does not stop boiling, stirring constantly. Boil until the thermometer reaches 240 degrees F, being careful not to scorch the caramel. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and nuts.  Pour into greased pan. When caramel is cool and firm, cut and wrap with waxed paper squares. Store in the refrigerator (or freezer, if you like a shatter-y caramel).

 

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Pipe Dream #3: To Make The Perfect Caramel, Revisited Again – Caramel Cake

Haha another caramel fail. I bet you were beginning to wonder what a caramel fail looks like. After all, I’ve only posted my successful caramel stories on this blog. Now you will know my true self.

This cake looked and sounded fabulous on smitten kitchen. Even though her caramel didn’t turn out as it was supposed to, either, it at least looked yummy. In my case, the caramel sauce tasted swell, but it looked like chunky puke. Chunky puke that was lovingly spread over a heart-shaped vanilla cake.

I really should have known that I would have problems. I had no heavy cream, so I used half and half instead and threw two tablespoons of butter into the pot, hoping to make the fat content similar to heavy cream. I used brown sugar I had made from scratch. And my candy thermometer was janked so I didn’t know if it was reading right, and I probably didn’t let it boil long enough. I can’t pinpoint the source of my problems, but I’m willing to bet the fail was due to one or all of those factors.

Moral of the story, always keep a gallon of heavy cream in your fridge in case of emergency.

The cake itself is actually quite good. It’s dense and richly flavored. The caramel will probs work out better for you, so don’t let these pictures deter you from what will surely be caramel-laden bliss.

Just fine and dandy,

L

Caramel Cake

Adapted from smitten kitchen

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature 30 minutes
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk

1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Equipment: a candy thermometer

Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter an 8-inch square cake pan and line with a square of parchment paper, then butter parchment. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture may look curdled). Add flour mixture in 3 batches, mixing until each addition is just incorporated.

Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.

Make the glaze: Bring cream, brown sugar, corn syrup, and a pinch of salt to a boil in a 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Boil until glaze registers 210 to 212°F on thermometer, 12 to 14 minutes, then stir in vanilla.

Put rack with cake in a shallow baking pan and pour hot glaze over top of cake, allowing it to run down sides. Cool until glaze is set, about 30 minutes.

Do ahead: Cake (before glazing) can be made 1 day ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.

Pipe Dream #57: To Maintain a Blog, Among Other Things – Caramel Praline Sauce

I have to be honest with you. In an attempt to spread out my posts throughout the summer, I separated two inseparable recipes. Namely, this caramel praline sauce and yesterday’s succulent bread pudding. In trying to be smart about time management, I have purposely sacrificed your potential satisfaction in yesterday’s recipe.

In fact, I may have even compromised my future readership. What if some unwitting soul read yesterday’s post, decided they couldn’t live another 24 hours without that pudding and went ahead and made it without today’s recipe? Although they would surely be happy with the results of the recipe, their subconscious would doubtlessly feel something lacking. Their internal monologue would progress as such:

“Man, that bread pudding was awesome. Except, it could have been better. I don’t know how, but I feel as though something was missing. What the heck, Lauren? How did you miss this? I can’t trust any of your recipes again because you are purposely leading me away from the purest forms of happiness. See ya.”

And then no one would read my blog.

I guess I’m taking chances, posting these two recipes separately. Like a risk-taker. Gosh, I wish I could say I was cool enough to be a risk-taker.

And now for a completely random side note of Lauren philosophy. To anyone who says they like change: 1) I am jealous of you. 2) I don’t understand. 3) In my heart, I don’t actually believe that you are telling the truth. No one likes change, really.

Hokay. This recipe requires making caramel, something at which I have gotten better, as evidenced by things like Homemade Twix Bars and Salted Caramel Brownies, a recipe which I may or may not post due to the lack of sufficient picture-age. This caramel was practically fun. I was more confidenced this time, despite a frantic scramble to find a candy thermometer that I knew was somewhere in the drawer, but that I couldn’t find for the life of me. Meanwhile, my caramel was getting bubblier and bubblier…

One of my mom’s many good qualities is that she can find things that other people I can’t. When I’m home, I usually lose shoes in the closet and spices in the cupboard. I’ll spend ten minutes looking for whatever I’m missing, I mean, really looking. Then I’ll give up, ask her to come find it, and she will spot it in approximately .63 seconds. Because the thing that I am looking for is right in front of my face. Story of my life.

If you have any plans to make yesterday’s bread pudding (and I will take the liberty of saying that you should), do NOT leave out this sauce. Do not. It is essential.

This post has been so random,

Lauren

Caramel Praline Sauce for Bread Pudding

Adapted from famousdavesbbq.com

1 cups unsalted butter, cubed

3/4 cup chopped pecans

1 1/2 lbs light brown sugar

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/4 cups sour cream

3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat 1/2 cup of the butter in a large saucepan until melted. Add the pecans and mix well. Bring to a boil. Cook until the pecans begin to change color. This mixture will foam over, so use a large saucepan. Add the remaining 1 cup of butter and mix well. This will cool the pecan mixture and stop the cooking process. Remove from heat.

Combine brown sugar, whipping cream and cinnamon in a separate saucepan and mix well. Cook over low heat until blended, stirring constantly; increase heat. Cook to 230 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Stir in pecan mixture. Add sour cream and vanilla and mix well. Remove from heat.

Yield: 2 cups (I halved the original recipe and it still made a ton. No one complained. Pretty sure we had it the next day on ice cream.)

Pipe Dream #3: To Make the Perfect Caramel (or “How To Win Friends And Influence People”)

twixes

I am not a candy maker. I have tried it plenty of times. Last November, I tried making these maple-nut truffle things. I didn’t add enough sugar because I miscalculated when halving the recipe. Typical. More recently, I tried making Penuche Fudge, a Martha Stewart recipe. This was actually a complete bomb. The last I heard, my little sister had taken half of the batch to school and told her friends it was ” dry fudge.” Ahaha. Apparently the 15-year-olds were raving about the recipe. I wasn’t.

But my real trouble is caramels. Caramels are irresistible. Probably, they have all read the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” They have won me and influenced me in almost every area of my life. Perhaps I exaggerate. However, I have tried many times unsuccessfully to make them on my own. How easy! all the recipes taunt me. Essentially, they are just sugar and cream. My most notable failure-turned-success in caramel-making is actually another Martha Stewart recipe for Caramel-Dipped Hazelnuts. Martha, why are your recipes so tricky?

While the caramel sort of came together, I was left with a bunch of hair-like sticks and some messed-up hazelnuts to ponder. Luckily, I was able to salvage enough of the sticks for a few photos…

All this to say, anyway, that I have finally found a caramel recipe that hasn’t defeated me. I can’t explain why. I was being blessed with heretofore unknown ability. For a two-hour period. Shortly after I made these Homemade Twix Bars, I forgot to stow them in my car. They were supposed to be a hostess gift. I just tried to be extra nice to my hostess instead. A poor substitute, I know. I’ll make it up next time.

Here is the glorious product of my work. I make a lot of recipes. This one I highly recommend.

twix

Please make this immediately and then give me one,

Lauren

Homemade Twix Bars

Adapted from “Desserts By The Yard” by Sherry Yard

Shortbread

1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup sugar

2 cups cake flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons ground rice (I ground mine in a food processor, which did about half the job. Then I tapped it through a sieve. It took forever. I’m pretty sure you could do without it.)

Make the Shortbread:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-X-13-inch baking pan with pan spray and line with parchment paper. Spray the parchment.

In a large bowl  cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Gradually add the flour, ground rice and salt and allow the dough to come together. The dough will be crumbly but should hold together when you squeeze it.

Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the baking pan. Place in the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Rotate the pan from front to back and bake for another 10 minutes, until the shortbread is a deep golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.

Caramel

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup corn syrup

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup sweetened condensed milk

1/4 teaspoon salt plus more for sprinkling over the caramel layer

Make the Caramel:

Combine the sugar, corn syrup, water, and lemon juice in a large saucepan. Remove any sugar crystals from the sides of the pan by wiping down the sides with water. You can use your hand or a pastry brush. Place the pot on medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Wipe down any stray sugar crystals that appear using a very clean and wet pastry brush. Do not stir from this point on, but keep an eye on the pan. The mixture will be very bubbly.

When the sugar syrup starts to turn golden brown, insert a candy thermometer to check the temperature. When it reaches 300°F, remove the pan from the heat and let it sit for one minute, or until the bubbles subside. Whisk in the heavy cream. Stir until smooth, then whisk in the condensed milk. Add the salt and whisk until smooth.

Return the pan to the heat and stir constantly over medium heat until the caramel reaches 240°F. Remove from the heat and pour over the shortbread. While the caramel is warm sprinkle the surface with the best quality salt you have. Note: the caramel will burn you severely if you try to dip your finger in it at this point. Believe it. Let it set for 2 hours.

Chocolate Glaze

6 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (Bittersweet chocolate chips also work)

2 tablespoons butter

Make Chocolate Glaze:

Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave. If using the microwave melt it slowly in 30 second intervals. Stir well after each interval.

Once completely melted, pour over the caramel.  Using an offset spatula or whatever you want, smooth the chocolate into an even layer.

Place in the refrigerator to set. The caramel cuts best when chilled, but the chocolate needs to be finnagled into cutting nicely, so be careful or it will crack. I used a serrated knife to decent effect. Cut into desired shape and size and serve. Store in the refrigerator.


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