Tag Archives: caramel

Caramel Sauce (for a Caramel Latte)

My most favorite coffee drink is a caramel latte from Avelino.  As you watch them prepare the cup you begin to wonder if they are over doing it with the caramel.  Trust me, they’re not.  I got away with some of my favorite fellow moms back in early March, where I brought caramel sauce to make said latte for them.  Talia looking at the cup as I spooned the gooey sauce in said, “Uh, maybe a little less for me.”  I said with all courtesy & politeness (maybe a little blunt) to a pregnant lady, “No, trust me–you don’t want less.”  As I handed it to her, she said, “You’re right Kamille–this is perfect!”

I often dream of getting away in a cabin far away on days like this.  Caramel latte in one hand, good book in the other, and peace & quiet.  It could be that I’m anxiously awaiting my anniversary getaway this weekend with Ben and without the kids.  But, I think it’s a little deeper.  I’ve been very short, sarcastic, rolling the eyes due to kid annoyances, and feeling like life should stand still for me.  My tolerance level is at an all time low and my connecting with my girls seems to have fallen off the radar.  When I’ve been told about the importance of having a “daily quiet time” with God or somehow that is equated with spiritual depth–I begin to wonder how true it is.  My friend read a book recently where the author (and I paraphrase) said, “maybe we shouldn’t gauge spiritual life with daily devotion/quiet time.  Instead, when we find ourselves becoming angry, bitter, impatient, lacking grace & forgiveness–maybe those should be the signs of spiritual decay.”

My pastor mentioned something along these lines on Sunday.  How he’s definitely a proponent of reading the Bible, but we’ve met many people who read their Bible daily, yet their life lacks any evidence of it.  I’m in need of a cleanse.  My soul is stagnant waters in a cesspool right now.  It’s on days like today that I’m reminded the most important job I could do is give my girls as many hugs & speak life-giving words to them.  It’s not about the laundry getting done, the ratio of carbs & proteins on their lunch plates, or hurrying them off to bed to be partly done with the day.  And I need more than myself to do that job.  Yes a break this weekend is nice, but I’m running on empty right now.  So how are you?  How do you refuel, in order to do better than “just make it” to the weekend?  I’m grateful to you, who allow me to open up my heart & mind on days like this.

Caramel Sauce & Latte (printable recipe)

This recipe is from Fine Cooking Winter 2004 issue.  I cook mine in my dutch oven to ensure it doesn’t burn.  Making caramel is more about color and temperature than about time.  The original recipe says it takes “about” 28 minutes to get to the right color.  But, what you need to do is stay right by the stove while it cooks, because it can go from just ready to burnt in no time.  Make this when you have peace & quiet without disturbances–you’ll feel better when you’re licking the spoon and no one is watching.

Ingredients:

1 cup water, plus more for brushing down sugar crystals

4 cups granulated sugar

2 Tb light corn syrup

4 cups (1 quart) heavy whipping cream, at room temperature

4 ounces (1/2 cup, 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces

1/2-1 tsp sea salt

Directions: Have your cream & butter ready.  Pour some water into a small bowl and a pastry brush to set aside the stove for brushing down sugar crystals.  Pour 1 cup water into a heavy-bottom pot (8 quart or dutch oven).  Add sugar & corn syrup.  Cook over high heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until sugar has dissolved and the mixture is boiling.  If you see any sugar crystals forming on the sides of the pot, just above the sugar mixture, wipe down with wet pastry brush.

Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle boil; it shouldn’t be sputtering.  DO NOT STIR it any longer.  Simply allow the sugar to cook.  You will need to gently swirl the pan to disperse the sugars & even out the color.  Continuing wiping down the sides if sugar crystals form and allowing the sugar to reach a light honey color, this should take roughly 20 minutes.  Continue with the swirling & wiping of the pastry brush, and the sugar should become a rich, red-brown color, roughly an additional 8 minutes.  The best way to tell what color the sugar is is to spoon a bit on a white dish.

Remove pot from heat and slowly pour in the cream, but be careful while pouring as it will splatter.  Stir with a wooden spoon, making sure any solidified caramel on the bottom or sides melts.  If it’s not melting, you can set it over medium heat again & gently stir until it is completely smooth.

Stir in the butter and salt.  Let cool to room temperature. If you want flavored caramel sauce, look below.

Put in a jar and refrigerate.  Will keep about 3-4 weeks in the fridge–perfect to give some away.

Caramel Latte

To make a double tall caramel latte, steam 8 ounces milk, two shots espresso & about 3 Tb of caramel sauce.  Put caramel in bottom of mug.  Add hot shots and stir to thoroughly combine.  Add your frothy & creamy steamed milk and you have yourself “paradise in a cup.”

Orange-Cardamom Caramel Sauce:

In a small saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups fresh orange juices with 2 Tb plus 2 tsp finely grated orange zest, bring to a boil, and cook until reduced to about 1/2 cup.  Pour through a fine sieve, pressing against the zest to release all the liquid.  Stir the strained, reduced orange juice and 4 tsp ground cardamom into the cooled caramel sauce.


Bursting with Delight Cookies

Not only are these cookies bursting with delight, but I have been reflecting upon this notion as I await what the Christian world calls “Holy Week” or “Passion Week.”  As my girls took their nap today, I was folding laundry listening to the song, ‘O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus.’  One of the lines says, “How he loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore…how for them he intercedeth.”  I was struck by how great his love is for me.  When I was a little girl I would stand up on mall benches and sing “Jesus Loves Me.”  When people would ask me why I believed in Jesus, I would respond with, “why wouldn’t I (this at a very young age).”

I think it’s because I was drawn to Jesus’ incredible love.  I knew he was good, but not just good as in the superhero fighting the villain, it was much deeper than that.  And as my oldest is three understanding more concepts, listening to all the stories we tell her, taking initiative in conversations & thoughtfulness, I’m seeing how at such a young age–Jesus makes sense.  I was reading to her some Bible stories, very simplistic in nature, and it came to the part where Jesus was being crucified (like I said, it was simplistic, not the Passion in full swing) where she had a sadness in her eye.  I could identify with that sadness and conjure it up from when I was her age, because I like her, could see why it was so sad.  It was sad & lonely, because this person who was so incredibly good & just was being robbed of life.

But the part in which I burst forth, as did she, was when we soon realized that wasn’t the end of the story, but Jesus overcame death, bursting forth from the tomb–leaving it empty.   I could see the shadow of sadness quickly being replaced with joy & hope in my three year old’s eyes.  And as I saw in this child illustrated Bible, feet on a cross, my eyes got misty connecting with the same mourning my daughter was feeling.  But, unlike watching a fake romance movie Hollywood has portrayed giving us hope deferred & hope renewed–this is such a better love story.  This is a love story even a three year old understands to be true & wholeheartedly genuine.

And even though we rarely think about feasting upon cookies during this season of Lent (most people giving them up), I do offer you a burst of delight upon your senses (not that I think these compare to the Easter story at all).  I made these cookies for my mom getaway a couple weeks back and I find they have a wonderful marriage with sour, freshness of the lime, the creamy depth of the cream cheese, the buttery, saltiness of the caramel and the crunch & melding of it all with the macadamia nuts.  I like how the flavors blend, some pack more of a punch, while others leave a nice undertone on in your mouth.

I think that’s why I find these cookies applicable with this post–it’s about awakening the senses.  So as you might read the Passion story for the first time or the 70th time, notice how much of the story deals with smell, touch, taste, sight, & sound.  How Jesus reached us with our senses.  How the Lenten season is typically about denying the senses, yet as Jesus burst forth from the tomb on Easter morning–we burst forth in celebration with him to feast in a hope no longer deferred.

Burst Delights (printable recipe)

I used my Orange Cardamom Cookies as the base for these Lime-Cream Cheese-Macadamia Nut-Caramel Cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lime zest
  • 1/4 cup macadamia nuts, measure out 1/4 cup and finely chop it up
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 lime for juice

Cream Cheese-Caramel Icing

  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup whipped cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup homemade caramel sauce (or store bought)
  • splash of lime oil essence (or extract)
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest

Make dough:
Whisk together flour, zest, 3 Tb. finely ground macadamia nuts, and salt.

Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, then beat in yolk and cream. At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches just until a dough forms. Put the dough on parchment paper.

Mound the dough together and roll into a log. Once you get a basic log shape, position the dough in the middle of the parchment. Then, take the parchment that’s north of the dough and cover it over the dough. Take a bench scraper and push the edge of it at the base of the parchment covered dough, trying to make a concentric log. Roll the log so the parchment covers the whole thing and twist the edges. Refrigerate for 3 hours to overnight (if you want to speed the process, then place in freezer for about 30 minutes to 1 hour).

Cut and bake cookies:
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.

Remove firm dough. Unroll the parchment so the dough is still sitting on top of the paper. Place on a cutting board. Cut the dough into 1/8 inch. Transfer cookies to a parchment-lined large baking sheet, arranging them 1 inch apart.

Bake until edges are golden-brown, 12-15 minutes. While the cookies are still warm, slice the zested lime in half and squeeze the juice over the cookies.  The cookies will absorb the juice and give the cookies that great lime kick.  Cool on baking sheet and arrange with below directions.

Make Icing:

Put the whipped cream cheese in a small bowl and add 1 Tb of caramel sauce at a time.  Mixing to get a balance of caramel & cream cheese.  Then add some lime essence, just a splash.  You want to have a balance of the flavors.  Not too much of the lime, but enough to have it stand out.

Putting them together:

With a spoon, put about 1/2 teaspoon icing on each cookie & swirl around.  Drizzle caramel over the cookies with a fork or spoon.  Sprinkle with remaining chopped macadamia nut & lime zest.


Spicy Caramel Popcorn

This morning I made this wonderful Grapefruit Yogurt Loaf Cake, but I decided I would share with you this Spicy Caramel Popcorn recipe instead and save the cake for a later post.  I made this for our small group, because it was quick, easy & I figured people could munch on however much they wanted to fill their hand (or hands) with.

When it comes to popcorn, I feel like I could call my mom the Popcorn Queen.  Growing up we never had microwave popcorn in the house or a popcorn air popper.  I always felt a little deprived not having the microwave hydrogenated oil goodness that most families produced out of their pantry.  And thinking, “c’mon mom, can’t we be like normal families and get the popcorn out of a box–we’re the weird family!”  But, secretly, I was glad to know my mom didn’t have to rely on Orville to get us through a movie night, because she knew how to add just the right salt/butter/popcorn ratio to the pot.  And as we heard what sounded like BB’s pellet against the metal, we instinctively pulled out the yellow/orange rubbermaid bowl designated “the popcorn bowl” (or occasionally my handmade ice rink for my Barbie’s).

If you’re in the mood for sweet & salty, then try this one.  There is a bit of a spicy overtone, but nothing that makes your mouth water.  It’s also perfect for packaging up for gifts, but be sure to grab a handful or two for yourself.

Spicy Caramel Popcorn (printable recipe)

This recipe comes from The Craft of Baking, which I checked out from the library.  I’ve really enjoyed this cookbook as the author encourages you to build from the recipes she gives and making them your own.  After originally posting this recipe, my friend emailed with a question about the high heat to make the caramel and having a problem with it boiling over.  See my notes at the end of the recipe.
Makes about 4 quarts

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 3 Tb vegetable oil
  • ½ cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 Tb unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ Tb kosher salt

Lightly coat two large heatproof rubber spatulas and a large mixing bowl with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large saucepan or pot with a lid, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat.  Add the popcorn kernels, cover, and keep the saucepan moving until all of the kernels have popped, about 4 minutes.  Transfer the popped popcorn to the prepared bowl, removing any unpopped kernels.

In a small bowl, whisk together the baking soda and cayenne pepper.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, salt, and ½ cup water.  Cook over high heat, without stirring, until the mixture becomes a light golden-yellow caramel, about 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and carefully whisk in the baking soda mixture (the mixture will bubble up).

Immediately pour the caramel mixture over the popcorn.  Working quickly and carefully, use the prepared spatulas to toss the caramel and popcorn together, as if you were tossing a salad, until the popcorn is well coated.

Pour the popcorn onto a large baking pan and quickly flatten and separate it into small pieces while it is still warm.  Cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.  Once it is cool, store it in a well-sealed airtight container.

Caramel popcorn will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

My Notes:

  • When making the caramel, the recipe says to not stir while having it on high heat.  It is important not to stir caramel, in order to allow the sugar to “caramelize.”  The sugar is going through stages and each of those stages cooks the sugar into a deeper color and deeper flavor.
  • However, if you do not have a heavy bottom pot, you may encounter burning much too quickly, boiling over, or cooking much too quickly before you hit the 10 minute time given.
  • The 10 minutes is a guideline, so pay more attention to color versus the clock.
  • It’s okay to swirl the pan.  This will distribute the color, keep the sugar from burning, and help you see what the true color of the sugar really is.

Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Sea Salted Caramel Frosting

My youngest daughter turned one on Saturday.  We had two different celebrations for her to avoid having our house feel like a zoo (small quarters make for a claustrophobic mama).  I made some yummy food, because…well, that’s what I do.  And since she is only one and cannot talk, I got to pick the menu (that’s both good and bad).  It’s good, because it’s pulling out the creative card in the kitchen.  It’s bad, because when it comes to picking out a recipe for dessert the sky is literally the limits.

Ben laughs at me saying it takes me three hours to decide what I want to make and then leaving me only an hour to get it all done (too many options isn’t always the best thing in life).  I made an apple cake with a cream cheese drizzle frosting for our family gathering.  Then, on Sunday I envisioned making a caramel cake with sauteed apples and a salty caramel cream cheese drizzle icing.  However, as the clock continued to tick on while I was no where near my kitchen post…I came upon a brown sugar cupcake recipe and then mixed it with an easy breezy Salted Caramel Frosting.

This was our Tayers (not her name) first taste of cake, which she thoroughly enjoyed.  And I have to say how much I love this little girl.  As I was approaching this weekend (she was born on the 14th), I began reflecting on the 12th (because that’s when my water broke) of what I had been doing a year ago before she graced us with her presence…41 hours later.  She fills the house with laughter, cuddles, and squeals of delight when she should be going to bed.  Let’s face it…to her life is a party, which is to be enjoyed to the fullest.

I remember thinking after she was born, “what did we do?  We had it perfectly with our family of three and now we have this little one who’s going to change everything!” (postpartum moms are allowed to say just about anything, especially when they go through 41 hours of waiting for the baby to be born without drugs, I’m just saying 🙂 )  However, a year later…everything DID change, but it was a good change and she is well worth it.

Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Sea Salted Caramel Frosting

(printable recipe)

The cupcake recipe is from Chockylit, which is a fantastic & inspiring cupcake blog.  The frosting recipe is adapted from here.

Brown Sugar Butter Cupcakes

24 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cup light brown sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

2 teaspoon vanilla

1. Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds.
2. Add sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Add eggs one at a time, beat for 30 seconds after each.
4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
5. Measure out milk and vanilla together.
6. Add about a fourth of the flour to the butter/sugar mixture and beat to combine.
7. Add about one third the milk/vanilla mixture and beat until combined.
8. Repeat above, alternating flour and milk and ending with the flour mixture.
9. Scoop into cupcake papers about half to three-quarters full.
10. Bake for 20-22 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Sea Salted Caramel Frosting

1/2 cup (one stick) butter

1 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon finely ground sea salt

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4-1/3 cup milk

additional sea salt for sprinkling

Melt butter in saucepan and continue over heat until the butter is brown, but not black.

Remove pan from heat and add lemon juice and brown sugar–stir until smooth.

Return pan to a med-low heat and bring to boil while constantly stirring. Boil mixture for one minute and remove from heat. Then add cream, stir until cream is incorporated.

Return pan to heat and stir until just boiling. Then remove from heat, add salt and let mixture cool to room temperature. When you taste the mixture at this point is may taste very strong and a bit too salty–that’s what you want.

Transfer caramel mixture to mixing bowl and slowly beat in sugar and vanilla until smooth.  **my notes: I beat mine in my kitchen aid stand mixer, which mixed it up into a blob similar to playdoh.  I then added milk & mixed it again, in order to make it spreadable, which worked.  It may have been better if it was mixed by hand.

Frost cupcakes and sprinkle with sea salt.  Tastes even better the day after.


Oatmeal Caramelitas

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This past Saturday I sold food at a Craft Bazaar.  It’s a pretty amazing cause as 5% of the vendor’s profit helps families adopt children.  The Adoption Connection sponsors the event, which is a group of families within our church body who have either adopted or are looking to adopt children.  I got involved in this four years ago by selling homemade chili and my baked goods.  As the years have progressed, so have the Health Department’s operating procedures for permits and what you can and cannot sell at bazaars.

This dials out to me not selling any soup next year, because I could only sell soup from a can.  Unless of course, I wanted to pay an $85 dollar permit for a one day event, then I could make soup from scratch. But anyone who’s ever worked in selling food knows that the permit plus cost of food and packaging would not meet the overhead costs.  I have done baked goods every year though and my oatmeal carmelitas are a permanent fixture on the menu.  People can’t get enough of these and you truly cannot have just one bite.

It’s the gooey goodness of the caramel, the richness & texture of biting into the chocolate chips, and the buttery, salty, crumble of the compacted crust.  Yes, it’s seriously that good.  I’m salivating just thinking about them.  I have realized that food not only has to taste good, but have a wonderful texture to keep me wanting more…especially desserts.

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There’s a couple other reasons they’re so gosh darn good.

  1. One they’re not time consuming, but people will think you slaved in the kitchen.
  2. Two, they’re bar cookies (I’m totally a fan of the bar cookie if I know they can taste better than a drop cookie–time saver).
  3. Three, when people eat them, they’re one of those sweet treats that make people’s eyes pop and then the, “OHHH MY Goodness! (with a MMMM added in)”

I implore you to add these to your shopping list, holiday baking, or simply because you need to eat sweet oatmeal love with caramel & chocolate.

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Crust mixed together


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Bottom crust baked for 10 minutes

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The caramel and chocolate chip filling

IMG_1715Top crust and ready to bake for 18-22 minutes.

Oatmeal Carmelitas (printable recipe)

I have been making these for over many, many years now and they’re ALWAYS a hit.  The recipe came from a college housemate’s cookbook, but I don’t know the original source.  Whoever it was is genius.

Ingredients:

Crust

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 cups quick cooking oats

1 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Filling:

12 ounce caramel ice cream topping

3 Tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.  Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper.  Combine all of the crust ingredients into a large bowl and mix together on low speed until nice and crumbly.  It should resemble a fruit crisp topping.  Put about 1 1/2 – 2 cups of the mixture into the parchment lined pan.  Your pan should have a layer of packed in crust without making it too thick and not ultra thin.  Bake this for 10 minutes.

While the bottom crust is cooking, combine the caramel topping with the 3 tablespoons of flour, till no streaks are left.  Once the 10 minutes are up and you’ve removed the pan from the oven.  Sprinkle the 1 cup of chocolate chips over the half-baked crust.  Then, drizzle the caramel syrup as evenly as possible over the chocolate chips.  Take the remaining crust mixture, using your hands and crumble over the filling mixture.  You want to try and cover all of the caramel and chocolate chips as if you’re sealing them in.

Return the pan to the oven and bake for 18-22 minutes.  Cool to room temperature on a cooling rack.  Once cooled, cover and put in refrigerator for 2 hours.  Cut into bars as big or small as you’d like and relish the goodness.

**The original recipe uses walnuts or pecans as well in the filling, but I never put them in.  I think it’s about a 1/2 cup of chopped nuts if you’d like to add them.  You might want to toast them to make them even better.

**I have interchanged rolled oats with quick oats and I think the quick oats produces a better texture.  However, it’s not a big deal at all if you only have rolled on hand.

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