Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake
Welcome to #15Cheesecakes – an anniversary celebration for Camilla and her husband. Like Joe and I, Camilla and her husband also celebrated their vows with a delicious cheesecake in place of the standard wedding fare. So when I saw her call for 15 bloggers to make a cheesecake to help them celebrate I KNEW I had to be involved. My first plan was to recreate our wedding cake, a fantastic Dulce de Leche creation but that didn’t exactly work out due to poor dulce de leche making skills on my side – thankfully I had back-up ingredients. One of the biggest take-aways from doing all these blog challenges is to always, always, always have a back-up plan in place. Sometimes the recipe just won’t cooperate while other times it will be life in general. Thankfully my back-up cheesecake worked out perfectly! The real trick is to gradually lower the temperature of the cake to prevent it from cracking – or at least that’s what I heard many moons ago and so far the “trick” works.
Happy 15th Anniversary Camilla and! May you have dozens and dozens and dozens of more cheesecakes together! Also a happy early anniversary to my husband – 5 years together tomorrow and 3 years married (!!!) next month 🙂
Poached Cinnamon Caramel Apples
Poaching is nothing to new to me, at least not anymore. Which is why when I first saw poaching as the theme for /52weeksofcooking I really wasn’t that worried. Until I tried to figure out something to poach that: 1) was vegetarian and 2) I hadn’t poached before. This eliminated a fair amount of things, so I started checking out my cook books to see if any of them could offer insight. In doing so I found more than a few recipes for poached pears, which I’m not a fan of, but realized I could use that same concept on apples. Unsure of how they would turn out I grabbed three varieties at the store: granny smith, honeycrisps, and pink ladies – figuring I would test them all and see what worked the best.
In the end the pink ladies won for me – the skin stayed crisp while the flesh was moist and delicious. Plus it still had the same tart/sweet contrast as the granny smiths, which become all soft. The honeycrisps were just a disaster, falling apart in the pan and having to be skimmed out…which was a total pain. I served the pink ladies over oatmeal (pictured), while the granny smiths topped a mini-dutch baby.
Apple Caramel Muffin
I’ve never been a big muffin fan, no matter how delicious the first bite is they aren’t interesting enough to hold my attention. However that is also the reason why I’m constantly experimenting with muffins in an attempt to find a combination that will keep me interesting. Part of it is in the texture, there has to be some bite to the muffin, while the other is the repetition in taste. So with those “issues” in mind I set out to create a muffin that I would want to finish and not save for later or hand off to the husband. I had some leftover caramel left along with an apple that was threatening to turn on me. With those two ingredients I figured I stood a chance at creating the perfect (for me) muffin. I made a few muffins each time before finally figuring out the right proportions and the right time to add the caramel – too soon and it blended in while adding it too late resulted in a sticky mess.
These muffins were perfection! They have enough sweetness that they can work as a dessert, but no so sweet that they can’t be served at breakfast or with dinner. The real trick was putting the caramel in the middle allowing for it to bubble up but reducing the chance of it sticking (or burning) on the liners.
Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies
I’ve been trying to be good, honestly I have, however the theme this week for /52weeks is guilty pleasures – which just screams for being bad. I debated between the large range of foods I’m suppose to be avoiding right now: espresso brownies, 5 cheese manicotti, double fudge cupcakes, donuts, essentially the shopping list of every kid. In the end I did decide to go with something sweet, but not as decadent as the Molten Lava cake that was the first runner-up. I also decided to make my own caramel sauce in order to take things to the next level. I had seen the caramel in slow-cooker recipe on Pinterest for months now, but had a feeling it was going to be more of a Pinfail so had blown it off. Yesterday however I decided to finally give it a try, figuring that if it failed I had plenty of time to buy some caramel. Success! Total and complete success! In order to avoid the rust rings a few people seemed to encounter I poured the sweetened condensed milk into an empty jam jar with a very secure lid. Just popped that in the slow cooker with enough water to cover and let it go for 8hrs on low. Once I let the caramel cool it was time to get to work on the cookie dough!
I have a feel this caramel sauce would also go great with a dark chocolate cookie or turned in to a variation of a toffee cookie. I’m going to have to forget how easy it was to make the caramel, otherwise it will become a regular occurrence which is just not a healthy thing. These were a great treat at the end of my Downton Abbey viewing party – now just need dates for Season 4!
I apologize for the lack of posts this past week, I was getting my Geek on at GenCon Indy 2012. This was my 5th year as a Captain and hopefully I’ll be a Captain for many years to come. In my visit to Indy I was able to follow-up at a few of the restaurants I visited last year, and for the most part was pleased at what I saw. However this post is not about the Indy food scene, this post is about a new version of an old favorite. Once upon a time I could not bake to save my life and had to rely on roommates to make cookies in order to fulfill any cookie cravings. There was one exception to the cookie rule: no-bake cookies! I started with the standard “preacher” cookie recipe involving oatmeal, peanut butter, butter, and vanilla. I then started experimenting with other combinations based on what was available finally settling with the following crazy combination.
If you can’t find the caramel syrup, vanilla extract can also be substituted. I find there is something about the caramel that goes amazingly well with the nuttiness of these cookies.
I am also submitting this to Maison Cupcake’s Zero Baking Required Link-Up, which is all about oven free baking.
Salted Caramel Apple Bliss
Another month, another fun challenge from the amazing International Incident Party
. This month the not-so-secret ingredient was: salt. Normally I try to cut as much salt as possible from my diet, thanks to some fun health problems. However there is one salt combination that I LOVE, one that is worth upping my water consumption beyond my normal amount. Salt & Caramel. A match made in heaven, or in the very least a match made in my mouth. The first time I came across this amazing couple was while living on the Cape back in college. There was this little bitty candy shop right off the main road in Hyannis Port and not only did they have amazing handspun milkshakes they only had a few dozen types of fudge. Among their remarkable collection was their caramel fudge, which they topped with salt. One bite was all it took to convince me that this combination was just right 🙂 I wanted to do something that included that pairing, but was lighter on the calories considering all the holidays right around the corner. Enter the apple juice. I am a huge fan of warm apple juice, and I know from numerous experiences that caramel and apple get along just right. The result: a warm drink just right for the winter just around the corner with the right amount of sweet and salty…and some whipped cream with more caramel to make it even better.
2 cups apple juice (aim for organic/no sugar added)
2 1/2 tbsp caramel syrup (Monin if you can find it!)
1 tsp sea salt plus more for topping
1. Heat the apple juice, caramel, and salt in a tea pot until hot. Pour into mugs and allow to cool slightly.
2. Top with whipped cream and at least 1/4 tsp sea salt!
Now to have real fun you can make your own caramel whipped cream. All you need is one of these
and some of these
. Pump 5tbsp caramel syrup into the carafe then fill with heavy whipping cream until the line on the inside of the bottle. Use one of the canisters as directed and chill for around 5minutes, or as long as it takes the apple juice to heat up. Then top it off and add the sea salt. Yum!