Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Work has me on the strangest schedule, closing one night, opening the next morning.  I do love my new job and enjoy going to work, but it's making it hard to keep up on my blog and I apologize for that.  The weather in DC is finally cooling down, and when I say cooling down it hits high 70's, low 80's,  And I already feel like it's cold and have started bringing a light jacket with me when I go out now - somehow I've adapted to the southern weather faster than I imagined and can't believe I think that 80 degree weather is a little cool and need a jacket.  I would of never of done that in MA. 

It was nice and cool last week, fall is in the air here.  I had some egg whites in my fridge that needed to be used, why not make some marshmallows.  And then I remembered I wanted to make these.  A delicious treat - marshmallows topped with a layer of caramel then dipped in chocolate.  I learned while doing these that if you dip the whole thing in the chocolate, it melts.  Next time I will freeze them first and then dip the whole thing in chocolate.  So for now just the tops are dipped. 

Not the prettiest thing, but they are kept in the
fridge so the caramel doesn't go all over the place
So if you are a lover of marshmallow, caramel and chocolate, then these are a must make.  And yes, they do take a while - split it up over 2 days. 

For the Marshmallows:
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup room temperature water
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cornstarch, sifted

1. Coat a 13-by-9-inch pan with nonstick spray, line the bottom with parchment cut to fit, and then spray the parchment.
2. Pour 1/2 cup of the water into a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and set aside for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.
3. Put the sugar, corn syrup, the remaining 1/3 cup water, and the salt in a medium saucepan and stir to combine. Attach a candy thermometer and cook over medium heat until it reaches 240°F. Remove from the heat and whisk in the softened gelatin until dissolved. Cover the pot and leave on the stove with the burner turned off, to keep warm.
4. In the clean, grease-free bowl of a stand mixer, whip the egg whites on low speed using the wire whip attachment until frothy. Add the cream of tartar, turn the speed to medium-high, and whip until soft peaks form. Pour a thin, steady stream of the sugar syrup directly over the meringue with the mixer running. Do not pour any on the whip or the sides of the bowl. Whip the meringue until cool to the touch; this could take 5 minutes or more. Beat in the vanilla. The marshmallow should be thick and glossy and form medium-firm peaks.
5. Immediately spread the marshmallow in the prepared pan with an offset spatula, pressing down into the corners and smoothing the top. Lightly dust the top with a thin veneer of cornstarch. Let sit at room temperature for 6 hours or overnight.

Make the caramel:
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or bean paste
Heaped 1/2 teaspoon sea salt flakes
1/2 cup light corn syrup or golden syrup
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp butter, cubed, at room temperature
Prepare the caramel
Place cream, vanilla, salt and butter in a small saucepan and gently heat, stirring every now and then until the mixture just comes to the boil. Cover and set aside, keeping it warm while you prepare the sugar syrup. In a medium or large heavy based saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, place golden syrup and sugar and place on medium heat, stirring gently until the sugar dissolves. Once the mixture is melted together and the sugar is evenly moistened, only stir is as necessary to keep it from getting any hot spots. Cook until the syrup reaches 300°F. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the warm cream mixture (take care as it will bubble up a lot) until it is smooth and even. Return to the heat and cook the mixture to 245°F. Remove the pan from the heat and stir until smooth.  Remove extra cornstarch from top of marshmallows, then pour caramel all over marshmallows, spreading evenly.  Let set, at room temperature or in fridge. 

Cut into desired size pieces, set on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Freeze for 15-30 minutes.  Melt 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips or candy quick and stir until smooth.  Dip each square into chocolate, coating it evenly.  Return to sheet and dip remaining squares.  Let set in fridge 15-30 minutes.  Keep in fridge so caramel doesn't ooze out if you don't cover the whole thing in chocolate.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Sometimes you see a recipe and you just have to make it.  It calls to you until you make it, and then you soon realize that you will make this one again and again.  Of course this happened with this recipe.  Extremely easy, addictive (so addictive), who wouldn't love that combination?  And the best part is, you can fill it with anything you like.  I used mini marshmallows and Rice Krispie Treats cereal, but you can add whatever you like for the middle of these bars.  Nuts, caramel, graham crackers and marshmallows (a combination I'm absolutely going to try out), the list can go on and on but I think you get the idea. 

ah yes, chocolate food porn,
my favorite kind

Fudgy - fudgy and amazing and so delicious.  You will be amazed at how easy these are for them to taste this good. 

makes (1) 8x8" pan
2 2/3 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp espresso powder
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
1/2 cup Rice Krispies cereal
  1. Line an 8x8" pan with parchment paper and then spray with cooking spray.
  2. In a small saucepan combine chocolate chips, heavy cream, espresso powder, corn syrup and vanilla extract. 
  3. Heat over low-medium heat until the chocolate has softened and is almost completely melted.
  4. Remove from heat and stir until chocolate is fully melted and mixture is smooth. 
  5. Spread half of the chocolate mixture into prepared pan and spread evenly. 
  6. Top with mini marshmallows and cereal (or whatever items you are using), making sure your cereal has gone in between the marshmallows to make one even layer.
  7. Spread the remaining chocolate on top of cereal and marshmallows, spreading to the edge of the pan so everything is covered. 
  8. Cover pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.  Before cutting, let sit until it comes to room temperature.  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Salted Caramel Cake

I went out one night to a local restaurant for a drink and some dessert and on the menu they had the best sounding dessert - Salted Caramel Cake.  It was calling to me, I had to get it.  Vanilla Bean cake, caramel filling, and a caramel frosting.  Our waiter came for our order and tragedy - they were out of the cake I wanted.  I had to settle for a Peanut Butter Cake - which was good, but it wasn't what I wanted.  The cake was on my mind and I knew I had to make it, but with a few twists.  I'm not a fan of any of the vanilla cakes I've tried so I knew I was going to go Caramel all the way with this cake - Caramel Cake, Caramel Pastry Cream Filling, and a Salted Caramel Frosting. 

Simply amazing
I'm warning you now, this takes a long time.  I broke it up into two days.  Made the cake and the filling one night and then made the frosting and assembled the cake the next day.  You can do it all in one day - it will take a good chunk of your day, a lot of it is waiting time for everything to cool completely.  But it is so worth it.  A good combination of sweet and then a little salty to balance things out.  And don't think about the amount of sugar you use in this - it's a lot, like disgustingly a lot, but so worth it.  If you are a caramel lover this is a must try. 

Salted Caramel Cake
makes (1) 2 layer 9" cake
2 cups (4 sticks) plus 2 tbsp butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
2 1/4 cups cake flour
pinch of salt
1 package of butterscotch instant pudding
3/4 cup milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray cake tins with cooking spray and then line with parchment paper and spray again; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, vanilla and salt on medium-high speed until light and fluffy,about 3 minutes.  Add eggs and mix until combined.
  3. Add in flour and pudding and mix, then add in milk.  Mix until fully combined. 
  4. Divide batter evenly into both prepared pans.  Bake, rotating halfway through, 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in middle comes out clean.  Let cool completely on wire racks. 
Filling: (makes 2 1/2 cups - you will have some left over.  It will keep in the fridge for a month)
6 oz.  sugar
1/4 cup water
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 oz cornstarch
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Combine 5 oz. sugar and water in a small, heavy saucepan.  Bring to a boil, brushing down the sides of pan with water when needed, and boil for 8-10 minutes, or until caramelized.  It will be a deep amber color. 
  2. Remove pan from heat, slowly add in heavy cream.  (Don't worry if the caramel hardens, it will re-melt once placed back on the burner).  Return pan to low heat and stir until smooth.  Increase heat to a medium and heat to a simmer.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk together cornstarch and remaining 1 oz sugar in medium heatproof bowl.  Whisk in egg and yolks.  Continue whisking while adding hot caramel mixture in a thin stream - a little at first to temper and then slowly add the rest. 
  4. Transfer mixture back to saucepan and cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until it thickens and just comes to a boil.  Immediately strain through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl. 
  5. Stir in butter and vanilla.  Press plastic wrap directly onto surface and refrigerate. 
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/8 tsp salt
2 cups confectioners sugar
  1. Put sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring mixture to a boil and heat until caramel becomes deep amber brown color, about 7 minutes. 
  2. Remove from heat and slowly stir in heavy cream and vanilla extract.  Let cool 20-30 minutes. 
  3. In a large bowl, cream together butter and salt until fluffy.  Slowly add in confectioners sugar until fully combined.
  4. Slowly add in cooled caramel and mix until combined. 
Assemble Cake:
Place bottom layer on cake plate or whatever you are using.  Top with Caramel Pastry Cream Filling.  Evenly spread around top of cake, leaving a small rim of cake showing around edges.  Carefully place top layer of cake on top of filling and gently press down.  If desires, place in fridge to set filling for 15 minutes.  Frost cake, place a good amount of frosting on top and spread around till frosting is even.  Then frost sides of cake.  If any frosting remains, use it to fill out edges and any holes.  Keep in fridge and then take out 5 minutes before serving.  

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Coconut Crispy Bars

One of my friends recently had to give up dairy and asked me for some dairy free treats.  Loving a challenge I happily accepted and went on the hunt for some good ones.  I came up with two great recipes.  This one is the easiest, and you will be surprised at how easy and delicious they are.  Even if you aren't dairy free, these should be made.  All you need is a blender, a large bowl and a baking dish.  Yes, I found a dairy-free no bake treat.  Perfect for all year round, and can be made in under 10 minutes, the longest part is when it goes into set the freezer to set. 

I mean look at these - must try
I happily posted this on my personal Facebook page and sent the recipe along to my friend that requested it. Some of the responses were great - send them to me, send them to me and I can deliver, licking the screen right now.  I have to say I was highly impressed with these.  I wasn't sure how a fake rice krispie treat would taste, but these are amazing.  And if you want to make them non gluten-free, just use regular Rice Krispies. 

Coconut Crispy Bars
makes 12 bars
1-1/2 Cups + 1/4 Cup Shredded Unsweetened Coconut, plus additional for sprinkling if desired (about 2 Tablespoons)
6 Tablespoons (1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) Honey or Agave Nectar
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 Cups Gluten-Free Rice Krispie Cereal
3/4 cup Dairy-Free Vegan Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
  1. Lightly grease an 8 x 8 baking pan
  2. Place the 1-1/2 cups of coconut in a food processor or spice grinder, and whiz until it begins to clump and turn into a paste (about 1 minute).
  3. Add the honey and vanilla, and quickly blend again to incorporate.
  4. Place the crispy rice cereal and the remaining 1/4 cup of shredded coconut in a large bowl, add the coconut paste mixture, and stir with a wooden spoon or lightly greased hands (I use my hands) to combine.
  5. Press the crispy mix evenly into the baking pan. If needed, you can use plastic wrap or parchment paper between your hands and the mix as you press it in to avoid sticking.
  6. Chill the treats in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
  7. In a microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate 30 seconds at a time until chocolate is almost fully melted.  Stir until smooth.  Pour over the top of treats and sprinkle remaining coconut on top of chocolate if desired.  Place in fridge to set for 10 - 15 minutes. 
  8. Cut the krispies into squares or bars, big or small.