Red Velvet Cupcakes #1

My sister is getting married next August.  We’re on a mission to find THE best Red Velvet Cake recipe.  I think this one is it, but she’s not convinced.  She’s going to have to recreate perfection if she is going to top this one.  I hope she accepts the challenge!  In short, over the next year, you may see several Red Velvet recipes, but in the end, the best shall be named.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

2¼ cups cake flour
1½ teaspoons baking soda
Pinch salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons natural cocoa powder, not dutch processed
2 tablespoons red food coloring
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1½ cups granulated sugar

16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
16 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces, softened
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch salt

1. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla, and eggs in large measuring cup. Mix cocoa with food coloring in small bowl until a smooth paste forms.

2. With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as necessary. Add one-third of flour mixture and beat on medium-low speed until just incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add half of buttermilk mixture and beat on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl as necessary and repeat with half of remaining flour mixture, remaining buttermilk mixture, and finally remaining flour mixture. Scrape down bowl, add cocoa mixture, and beat on medium speed until completely incorporated, about 30 seconds. Using rubber spatula, give batter final stir. Scrape into prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes then turn out onto rack to cool completely, at least 30 minutes.

3. For the frosting: With electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Beat in vanilla and salt. Refrigerate until ready to use.

4. When cakes are cooled, spread about 2 cups frosting on one cake layer. Top with second cake layer and spread top and sides of cake with remaining frosting. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 3 days.


Chocolate Caramel Commotion

I have a dance party in my car every morning on the way to work.  My two year old claims that Katy Perry’s “The One That Got Away” is his old song because his new song is Selena Gomez’s “Need You Like a Love Song”.  I caught him singing “Moves Like Jagger” while he was building with blocks.

While this makes me happy because my taste in music is trash, my husband is not so thrilled.  He is a high school band director.  He makes my two sons listen to Coltrane, Charlie Parker, and Ella Fitzgerald as they go to bed.  Don’t get me wrong, I think this is fabulous.  I just think its funny that I never catch him (my son) humming “A-Train”.

Its funny how all the things you “say” you’re going to do when you’re a parent get thrown out the window.  I said I would always make my kids listen to Raffi, Disney music, and Craig and Company.  The music I grew up listening to.  Then, I realized, this meant I had to listen to it too.  Over and over and over and over…

So, now its a compromise.  My son marches around the house to Les Miserables “Do You Hear the People Sing” one minute and air guitars to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”.  He can recognize Michael Jackson and Coldplay by voice and I think its all good.

Hey, my parents made me listen to Van Morrison, The Carpenters, Harry Chapin, and Blood, Sweat and Tears.  Its the same thing, right?

Chocolate Caramel Commotion Bars (Yes, they do cause a commotion)

original recipe Unknown

Layer 1: Cookie Crust (Martha Stewart)

27 store-bought chocolate wafer cookies

1 Tb plus 1 1/2 tsp sugar

Table Salt

6 Tb Butter

Grease a 9-by-13 baking dish and line with parchment. Pulse wafers in a food processor until finely ground, and transfer to a bowl.  Add sugar and a pinch of table salt.  Melt 6 Tb butter, and stir into crumbs.  Press into bottom of dish.  Bake for 10 minutes. Cool.

Layer 2: Chocolate

2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 C Butter

1 14 oz. Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 tsp vanilla

In a saucepan over medium low heat, melt chocolate and butter.  Stir until smooth.  Remove from heat, add condensed milk and vanilla.  Stir until smooth.  Spread over cookie layer.  Let cool.

Layer 3:  Peanut Butter Nougat

1/4 C Butter

1 C Sugar

1/4  C heavy whipping cream

1 1/2 C marshmallow cream

1/4 C creamy peanut butter

1 1/2 C chopped peanuts, or walnuts

Melt butter in medium saucepan, over high heat.  Add sugar and whipping cream, bring to a boil for about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Stir in marshmallow cream, peanut butter, and peanuts.  Spread over chocolate layer.  Let cool.

Layer 4: Caramel Layer:

1 14 oz package caramels, unwrapped   (You can buy ready to go caramel bits in the baking aisle of your grocery store.  That’s what I used, no hours of unwrapping plastic)

1/4 C whipping cream

1/2 C shredded coconut

Melt caramels and whipping cream in a small saucepan until smooth.  Spread over nougat layer.  Sprinkle with coconut.  Let cool.

Layer 5: Chocolate Butterscotch

1 C semi-sweet chocolate

1/4 C butterscotch

3/4 C creamy peanut butter

Melt and stir all ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat until smooth.  Spread over caramel layer.  Sprinkle with chocolate chips and peanuts/walnuts.  Let cool for at least two hours to 24 hours.

Cut into squares and serve.

Pumpkin Pie

There is nothing more Thanksgiving than Pupmkin Pie.

And this my friends is the King Kong of Pumpkin Pies.

To quote my mom, “This pumpkin pie is amazing, and I don’t even like Pumpkin Pie”.

Wow, your friends.  Amaze your boyfriend.  Savor it all by yourself.  Whatever you do…make this pie on Thursday.

Pumpkin Pie

from, yes again, Cook’s Illustrated

yield: one 9-inch pie

  • For the crust:
  • 1 1/4 cups (6 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons cold vodka (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • For the filling:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 large eggs plus 2 large yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup drained candied yams from 15-ounce can (see note)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon table salt


  1. For the crust: Process 3/4 cup flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about two 1-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 10 seconds; dough will resemble cottage cheese curds with some very small pieces of butter remaining, but there should be no uncoated flour. Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining 1/2 cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

  2. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Flatten dough into 4-inch disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
  3. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 400°F. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out on generously floured (up to 1/4 cup) work surface to 12-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang on each side. Working around circumference, ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Refrigerate 15 minutes.
  4. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch beyond lip of pie plate. Fold overhang under itself; folded edge should be flush with edge of pie plate. Using thumb and forefinger, flute edge of dough. Refrigerate dough-lined plate until firm, about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove pie pan from refrigerator, line crust with foil, and fill with pie weights or pennies. Bake on rimmed baking sheet 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights, rotate plate, and bake 5 to 10 additional minutes until crust is golden brown and crisp. Remove pie plate and baking sheet from oven.
  6. For the filling: While pie shell is baking, whisk cream, milk, eggs, yolks, and vanilla together in medium bowl. Combine pumpkin puree, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in large heavy-bottomed saucepan; bring to sputtering simmer over medium heat, 5 to 7 minutes. Continue to simmer pumpkin mixture, stirring constantly and mashing yams against sides of pot, until thick and shiny, 10 to 15 minutes.
  7. Remove pan from heat and whisk in cream mixture until fully incorporated. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl, using back of ladle or spatula to press solids through strainer. Rewhisk mixture and transfer to warm prebaked pie shell. Return pie plate with baking sheet to oven and bake pie for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300°F and continue baking until edges of pie are set (instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 175 degrees), 20 to 35 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack and cool to room temperature, 2 to 3 hours. Cut into wedges and serve.
If candied yams are unavailable, regular canned yams can be substituted. The best way to judge doneness is with an instant-read thermometer. The center 2 inches of the pie should look firm but jiggle slightly. The pie finishes cooking with residual heat; to ensure that the filling sets, cool it at room temperature and not in the refrigerator. To ensure accurate cooking times and a crisp crust, the filling should be added to the prebaked crust when both the crust and filling are warm. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream. Vodka is essential to the texture of the crust and imparts no flavor; do not substitute. Any brand of vodka will work, but make sure it is 80 proof (40% alcohol by volume).

Almond Joy Cupcakes

Did I miss it?  Am I too late?  

It’s still November 4th somewhere in the US, right?

National Candy Day!  And one of my favorite candies! Almond Joy!

This was truly a labor of love.  I want to document this recipe not because it’s a good cupcake (actually, it really wasn’t), but because it was the most harrowing experience.  Have you ever made something and the baking/cooking gods just were totally against you the whole time?  I bring you my worst baking experience of all time–

First, the first recipe I tried was a TOTAL fail.  I should have taken a picture.

Then, I thought I’d try again with a tried and true favorite, Martha Stewart, but I was out of eggs.  A few months ago, I went through this vegan thing so I had egg replacement stuff.  I thought, what the heck I’ll give it a try.  So, I made three eggs worth of this Ener-G stuff.  

Next, when I was pouring the dried ingredients in, I spilled half of it on my counter.

If that wasn’t enough, my mixer paddle got stuck on my standing mixer and when I yanked it off, I totally punched myself in the stomach, and got chocolate all over my shirt.

Then, when I called my sister to complain about these stupid cupcakes, I realized I was doubling the recipe, and so, I should have put in 6 eggs, not three.

Another failed attempt.

Finally, after a trip to the Grocery store, and sleeping children, I made the cutest darn cupcake I ever saw.

So, finally, things seemed like they were going my way.  The cupcakes looked good, so surely, they must taste good too.  Unfortunately, they’re not the best.  Will I make them again?  No.

Next time, I’ll buy a bag of Almond Joys and call it a day.

Almond Joy Cupcakes

Adapted from sources including Martha Stewart and Ina Garten


  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 C shredded coconut


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. Into a medium bowl, sift together cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each, then beat in vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with sour cream and beginning and ending with flour.
  3. Pour batter into cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. Cool in pan 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely  
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 C Heavy Cream
1 Tb corn syrup
Put chopped chocolate in a heat safe bowl.  Heat heavy cream in a sauce pan until simmering.  Pour over chocolate and let sit for 2 to 3 minutes.  Whisk until smooth, add corn syrup.  Place in fridge until thickened and pipeable.
Coconut Frosting
  • 1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 1/2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth.

Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.


Orange Infused Pumpkin Custard, Crock-Pot Style

So, I’m not really big on using the crock pot.  It’s not that I don’t like it, I just haven’t found a recipe that hasn’t come out either dry or gushy or flavorless.  

That’s not true.  I like a Cranberry Pulled Pork recipe.  But other than soup, chili, and shredded things, I just have not been successful in the crock pot realm.

So, this week’s Holiday Exchange recipe was for Crock Pot meals.  My thought, sigh.  I could have skipped it I guess, but I’ve had fun the past two weeks making new things, and seeing what everyone else linked up.  I just didn’t want to pass it up.  So, I thought I’d go outside of the box.  (For me, at least)

This custard was pretty good.  It basically tastes like the inside of a pumpkin pie, but with a hint of orange.  The problem with it was that each bite I took, I expected to taste crust, and I didn’t.  I would make it again because it was so easy, and nice to have a pain free dessert waiting.  But, if you’re going to have pumpkin pie, have pumpkin pie.  You know?  

I think this would be awesome in chocolate.  I’m going to try to create something magical and chocolatey in my crock pot.  Oh, the excitement…

Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by West Bend

Orange Pumpkin Custard

From Better Homes and Gardens


3 eggs, slightly beaten

1 C Pumpkin, canned 

1/2 C sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp freshly grated orange peel

1 C evaporated milk (13 oz)


Combine eggs, pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, allspice and orange peel; stir in milk. Pour into a 1 qt souffle dish. Cover tightly with foil.  Take 2-20 x6 sheets of foil and fold in thirds. Crisscross sheets and place souffle dish in center.  Lift from foil and place into a 4-5 qt crock pot.  Fill crock pot with 1 1/2 inches of water.  Cook on low for four hours or until a knife comes out cleanly.  Lift from foil and remove from crockpot.  Serve warm or cold with whipped cream and chopped pecans.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

I told you not to be surprised.  I have no self-control.

I saw these on Sunday, and couldn’t get them off my brain.

I am on a Pumpkin Spice binge.  I can’t get enough of it.  Maybe I’m pregnant.  No, I’m not.

The funny thing about all this Pumpkin Spice nonsense is that I have yet to have the REAL deal.  I went to Starbucks with the intent on diving in a few weeks ago, but THEN I saw the Salted Caramel Mocha, and well, if you read my post on Salted Caramel Brownies, then you can imagine what happened.

These cupcakes are great as muffins, but even better as a cupcake.  And we all know, a muffin is just a cupcake in disguise.  They are based off of William Sonoma’s Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes.  William Sonoma is like  a foodie’s paradise.  I mean, doesn’t everyone need a Quick Pop Character Design tool kit?  

I’m wondering what will catch my eye next.  I’m a little scared.  Darn you, Pinterest!

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

from AnnieEats, adapted from William Sonoma


Yield: about 2 dozen cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. espresso powder
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. salt
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
4 large eggs
½ cup coffee or espresso, for brushing


For the whipped cream:
2¼ cups heavy cream, chilled
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar


For garnish:
Ground cinnamon
Caramel sauce


To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt.  Stir together and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend together the pumpkin, granulated sugar, brown sugar and oil. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  With the mixture on low speed, add the flour mixture in two additions, mixing just until incorporated.


Fill the cupcake liners about three-quarters full.  Bake until the cupcakes are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 18-20 minutes.  Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pans.  While the cupcakes are still warm, brush them two or three times with the coffee or espresso, allowing the first coat to soak in before repeating.  Let cool completely.


To make the frosting, place the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whip on medium-low speed at first, gradually increasing to high speed.  Blend in the confectioners’ sugar gradually.  Whip until stiff peaks form, being careful not to over-beat.  Use a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip to frost the cooled cupcakes.  Sprinkle with ground cinnamon and drizzle with caramel sauce.  Store in an airtight container and refrigerate.


Homemade Pop-Tarts

Now that I’m older and wiser in my ripe old age of 31 (yeesh), I look back on how I used to eat and cringe.  A typical day of eating in my teenage years, would consist of the following:

Breakfast: A Pop-Tart

Lunch: Otis Spunkmeyer Chocolate Chip Cookie, Medium Fry and Cheese Dip, Soda (all purchased in my High School cafeteria…obviously, this was prior to any healthy kid initiative.  No one cared if we were fat.)

Dinner: Whatever my mom made for me

Dessert: 1, 2, or 4 Tastycake Butterscotch Krimpets

Now, I’m no rocket scientist, but I’d say those were some very wise choices.  From a nutritional standpoint, I would definitely encourage my children to follow my lead.  My arteries are crying.

Anyway, although my meal selection may have improved with age, my love for Pop-Tarts remains the same.  Pop-Tarts are delicious.  That buttery crust filled with jelly-ish substance and dipped in sugary glaze, what is not to love?  

Side Note: Do Pop-Tarts ever expire?

You may remember a few weeks ago, I posted Homemade Cheez-Its.  Cheez-Its are equally delicious and  equally as cheap to buy at the store as Pop-Tarts.  But, that wouldn’t be as fun, now would it? Unfortunately, now that I’ve made homemade Pop-Tarts, I am forever changed.  The two sticks of butter surrounding the 6 C of sugar filled Jam, though extremely delicious, will never make it to my breakfast table again. 

Now, I hope I have not deterred you from trying to make these.  Because, you should.  You absolutely should.  My husband had his with ice cream.  (He is so smart.  Top of his class, and it’s ideas like that, which got him there.)  They are very good.  I truly believe they are what Mr. Kellogg intended his Pop-Tarts to taste like.  They are buttery, flavorful, and delicious.  Not the dry, flavorless, sugary gelatinous filled thing that we’ve all come to love.

They are a great dessert treat, and a fun thing to make with kids.  BUT, a breakfast they are NOT.  

Sorry Kellogg’s, but they’re not.

Oh, and BTWs…I made my own jam.  I’m that special.  

Homemade Pop-Tarts

From King Arthur Flour and Smitten Kitchen

cups (8 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pats
1 large egg
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) milk

1 additional large egg (to brush on pastry)

Cinnamon Filling (enough for 9 tarts)
1/2 cup (3 3/4 ounces) brown sugar
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, to taste
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 large egg, to brush on pastry before filling

Jam Filling (This is the kind that I made)
3/4 cup (8 ounces) jam
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water

Alternate fillings: 9 tablespoons chocolate chips, 9 tablespoons Nutella or other chocolate-hazelnut paste or 9 tablespoons of a delight of your choice, such as salted caramel or a nut paste

To make cinnamon filling: Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and flour.

To make jam filling: Mix the jam with the cornstarch/water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer, stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool. Use to fill the pastry tarts.

Make the dough: Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Work in the butter with your fingers, pastry blender or food processor until pea-sized lumps of butter are still visible, and the mixture holds together when you squeeze it. If you’ve used a food processor, transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Whisk the first egg and milk together and stir them into the dough, mixing just until everything is cohesive, kneading briefly on a well-floured counter if necessary.

Divide the dough in half (approximately 8 1/4 ounces each), shape each half into a smooth rectangle, about 3×5 inches. You can roll this out immediately (see Warm Kitchen note below) or wrap each half in plastic and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Assemble the tarts: If the dough has been chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to soften and become workable, about 15 to 30 minutes. Place one piece on a lightly floured work surface, and roll it into a rectangle about 1/8″ thick, large enough that you can trim it to an even 9″ x 12″. [You can use a 9″ x 13″ pan, laid on top, as guidance.] Repeat with the second piece of dough. Set trimmings aside. Cut each piece of dough into thirds – you’ll form nine 3″ x 4″ rectangles.

Beat the additional egg and brush it over the entire surface of the first dough. This will be the “inside” of the tart; the egg is to help glue the lid on. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center of each rectangle, keeping a bare 1/2-inch perimeter around it. Place a second rectangle of dough atop the first, using your fingertips to press firmly around the pocket of filling, sealing the dough well on all sides. Press the tines of a fork all around the edge of the rectangle. Repeat with remaining tarts.

Gently place the tarts on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick the top of each tart multiple times with a fork; you want to make sure steam can escape, or the tarts will become billowy pillows rather than flat toaster pastries (I FORGOT THIS STEP). Refrigerate the tarts (they don’t need to be covered) for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 350°F.

Charming tip from King Arthur: Sprinkle the dough trimmings with cinnamon-sugar; these have nothing to do with your toaster pastries, but it’s a shame to discard them, and they make a wonderful snack. While the tarts are chilling, bake these trimmings for 13 to 15 minutes, till they’re golden brown.

Bake the tarts: Remove the tarts form the fridge, and bake them for 20 to 25 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown. Cool in pan on rack.

Strawberry Glaze:

1 tb butter, melted

1 tb milk

3/4 C confectionary sugar, more or less, depending on your desired consistency.  More will make it harden, like lemon cookies, less will stay sticky.

2 tsp of jam, heated to a syrup texture (can do in microwave)

Whisk all ingredients together and spread on pastry.  Let cool.  Eat the rest with a spoon.




Salted Caramel Brownies

Salted Caramel….Brownie

Salted Caramel….Brownie

Salted Caramel…Brownie

Yes, that is the perfect combination.

Ok, I know what your thinking.  You’re just trying that now?  I’m a little behind on the times.  Sorry.  People have been doing salted caramel stuff for what 5 years now?  I know, I know.  I’m pathetic.  But I don’t get out of the house much, and who, other than me, spends their day surfing the internet drooling over sweet confections other people have made.  

This week’s challenge on MyBakingAddiction and Goodlife Eats is Chocolate, sponsored by Sharffen Berger.  So what better excuse to fatten up and make these bad boys than a Holiday Exchange Challenge?

Anyway, I saw this on the Pioneer Woman.  And, while it is delicious, and should TOTALLY be made ASAP, there are a few changes you should do.  

1.) Don’t do what I did:  Here’s how my salted caramel making went down…made brownies, made caramel, caramel must set before eating, did Insanity Workout, checked brownies, seemed set, tried to cut one, gooey mess everywhere, standing over brownies, with fork, eating half the pan, before thinking…maybe the caramel isn’t set yet.

2.) In all seriousness, here is what I will do next time (and OH YES, there will be a next time).  I will pour 2/3 of the brownie mix in the pan.  Bake for 18 minutes.  Spread caramel mixture on top.  Cover with the rest of the brownie mix.  Continue baking for 20-30 minutes.  

3.) Get these out of your house as fast as you can.  I sent them to work with my husband, two came back.  I ate both in one sitting…plus the crumbs, and scraped the caramel off with my finger.  It’s a very sad thing.  Very Very Sad.

4.) Also, don’t be worried or intimidated by the caramel.  It was very easy.  Just don’t leave it alone.  Like, gremlins.  Oh wait, that was a water thing.  Nevermind.

Ok, so here is the recipe.  The brownies come from the Queen herself, Ina.  If I could just steal her brain for like, an hour, that would be awesome.  The caramel topping is from Amelie’s Bakery, featured in Charlotte Magazine.  

Outrageous Brownies

Adapted from Ina Garten

1 stick unsalted butter

1/2 C butter flavored shortening
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided into 8 and 4
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 extra large eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
1 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1 plus 2 TB cups sugar
1/2 plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

4 oz white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 12×18×1 inch baking sheet. Melt together the butter, one pound of the chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature. In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chips in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup flour, then add them to the chocolate batter. Pour into the baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and dough. Bake for another 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake!

Allow to cool thoroughly, before spreading caramel.

The beginnings of Salted Caramel

Salted Caramel Topping

from Amelie’s Bakery

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2  cup water
  • 1/4  cup unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons powdered gelatin,
  • combined with 1/4  cup cold water

In a small saucepan over low heat, warm heavy cream until hot, but not boiling. In a separate tall saucepan, combine sugar and water. Place over medium-high heat.

Do not stir as sugar dissolves and mixture reaches a dark amber stage.

Do you know how hard it is not to stir this clump??

Add cream, butter, and salt. Stir gently until mixture is smooth and well combined. Remove from heat and add gelatin, stirring to combine. Use immediately.

I’d let this beauty cool overnight in your fridge.  I know, I know…you want to eat it, but patience is a virtue.

Also, say hello to my lady friends (my measuring cups!)…

Aren’t they just the cutest??? Enjoy!

Caramel Nut Apple Pie

What a weekend! It started with the beautiful wedding of a great friend, and ended with delicious Apple Cider donuts at the local apple orchard.

Most of the week’s recipes will focus around apples due to the fact that my kitchen is exploding with bags of freshly picked apples of various shapes and sizes, and I would love to see my countertop sooner than later.

With this in mind, our first recipe will be for a Caramel Nut Apple Pie. Yum!

My dad used to make the best Apple Pie. One of my biggest regrets, now that he is gone, is that I didn’t write down his recipes or pay more attention to him as he cooked. Fortunately, his “award winning” Clam Chowder, the one for which he (according to him) won several Chowder cook-offs on the shores of Cape Cod and spent years perfecting, can be easily found in one of the Disney Cookbooks…hmmm, odd.

The Apple Pie, though, I don’t know where this recipe came from. So, my quest is to find something close to what I remember growing up.

This recipe, though not a traditional Apple Pie, is DELICIOUS!! We watched Modern Family last night on Hulu, and ate a piece. When the episode was over, we ate another. And for breakfast, I had another slice. Its ok though, because its rainy outside, which means Mother Nature wants me to lock myself away eating pie and muffins.

Here is the recipe for a great pie. You will wow friends and family alike. If there is any left, after you get to it, of course.

Caramel Nut Apple Pie

For the crust:

Adapted from Martha Stewart

2 ½ C All-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp cinnamon (I added this, and I think it makes all the difference)

1 C (2 sticks, uh-huh!) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

¼-1/2 C ice water

Pulse flour, salt, sugar, and cinnamon in a food processor. Add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with some larger pieces remaining. Drizzle ¼ C water over the mixture. Pulse until mixture just begins to hold together. If dough is too dry, add more water 1 Tb at a time.

Divide the dough in half onto two pieces of plastic wrap. Gather into two balls, and loosely wrap. Press each into a disk and refrigerate until firm, one hour. You can keep in fridge for up to 2 days. Freeze for up to 3 months, and thaw before using.

For the filling:

3 TB flour

3 lbs or about 5 apples, assorted: peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch slices (Use tart apples)

2 Tb fresh lemon juice

¼ C sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/8 tsp salt

3 Tb caramel sauce

½ C chopped walnuts

On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 disk of the dough to a 13-inch round. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate, do not trim overhang. Refrigerate or freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425. (The high temperature will help set the crust quickly. We’ll lower it later, but no one wants a soggy crust.)

In a large bowl, toss together apples, flour, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, caramel sauce, and nuts. Pour mixture into chilled pie shell, piling in center. Dot with butter.

At this point, you can either roll out your second disk for a crusty top, or you can continue below for a crumb topping. If you use the second disk, roll out the dough, as before. Use a sharp paring knife to cut slits in top of the dough. Brush rim of crust with a wash of 1 egg yolk and 1 TB of heavy cream. Center dough on top of pie plate, and trim with kitchen shears, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Tuck dough under bottom piece, and crimp edges. Brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with sugar. Refrigerate or freeze until firm, 30 minutes.

For Crumb Topping:

1 C Flour

1 C Brown Sugar

1/4 C butter, cut in small pieces

About 2 Tb Caramel Sauce, more if desired

Mix together the flour and sugar. Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Top pie with crumb topping. Drizzle with caramel sauce. Refrigerate or freeze until firm, 30 minutes.

To Bake Pie:

Transfer pie plate to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake on lowest rack until crust begins to brown, about 25 minutes. Reduce heat to 375, and bake until crust is golden brown and juices bubble, about 60-70 minutes. If top or crust begins to brown too quickly, tent pie with foil. Transfer pie to a wire rack to cool completely.

Double Chocolate Coconut Cookies

Yesterday, I fell in love.  He was sweet, warm, soft with a home-made, old-fashioned goodness.  And to top off his perfection, he was filled with coconut, white chocolate, AND walnuts.  Oh, this cookie was heaven.  I don’t know if I will find another that can replace him.  Fortunately, I only made six of these bad boys and have a whole tub of cookie dough perfection waiting to be savored.  

I am a profound lover of the chocolate chip cookie.  Don’t believe me?  Ask my mother-in-law.  I ate 30 of her chocolate chip cookies after my mud run on Saturday.  There is nothing more comforting than a chocolate chip cookie just out of the oven.  The smell fills your home with warm childhood memories and you find yourself standing in a pool of drool in front of your oven just waiting for that buzzer to go off, so that you can dive into their tastiness.

Growing up, I have vivid memories of opening my front door to the smell of cookies.  My mom-queen of “the diet starts Monday”-once came up with a theory that if she made everything she loved and didn’t eat it, it would prove the strength of her willpower and her diet would be successful.  This “diet” consisted of cookies, brownies, potato chips, and baked potatoes.  While it may not have been her favorite fad diet, it certainly was mine!  I was the benefactor of such deliciousness!!  

With that cookie love, I am always trying to find the “perfect” cookie.  And, while I LOVE the traditional chocolate chip cookie, this Double Chocolate Coconut Cookie is as close to perfection as I’ve ever come.  To quote my husband as he ate his way through this 3 cookies, “I am already depressed that they’ll be gone, and I still have two cookies to go”.  You must make this cookie.  And I don’t mean someday, I mean right now.  Like, stop reading this and get in your kitchen.  Why aren’t you there yet?  Oh, you need the ingredients…


Double Chocolate Coconut Cookies

From Martha Stewart Living (where else would the best cookie ever come from??)


1 C (2 Sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 C granulated sugar

3/4 C packed light-brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 3/4 C all-purpose flour

1/4 C unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp coarse salt

1 12 oz bag of white chocolate chip

1 3/4 C sweetened flaked coconut

1 3/4 C coarsely chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 350.  Cream butter and sugar in your electric mixer with paddle attachment, mix on medium until smooth.  Stir in vanilla.

Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl.  Add to butter mixture on low speed until well combined.  Stir in chocolate, coconut, and walnuts.

Using a 1 1/2 inch ice cream scoop, drop batter onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart.  Flatten slightly.  Bake until set, 10-12 minutes.  Let cool on cookie sheets on wire racks for  2 minutes.  Transfer cookies on parchment to racks to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.  They won’t last that long, trust me.