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.

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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.