salted caramel pumpkin roll

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Pumpkin rolls are one of my favorite desserts and it kinda sucks because I only get to eat them once a year. For some reason it’s less acceptable to enjoy a pumpkin roll from January through October, but November? November is fair game. I think I’m going to make an effort to bring it back in 2015. This March, PUMPKIN ROLL BIRTHDAY  CAKE! You heard it here first, guys.

I took a big risk making this for Thanksgiving. We’ve talked about it before, the fact that Mr. Eats has a deep love for my praline pumpkin cake. I mean, I love it too, but I also like to not eat the same exact thing every year for Thanksgiving. This meant that a regular old pumpkin roll just wasn’t going to cut it. I needed to kick it up a notch. I

First thought? I know! Praline pumpkin roll! Which did seem like a good idea until I realized the praline would just crack off of the roll, assuming I was able to even roll the cake with hot, molten, drippy praline all over it. So I used my second thought instead: salted caramel.

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Initially I thought a beautiful salted caramel layer swirled between the cake and frosting would be gorgeous and delicious, and maybe it would have been, except for one small issue… You see, caramel is liquid and so it did what liquid does and oozed out… all over the counter. I really wish I had been able to snap a picture but I was too busy trying to fanangle my pumpkin roll and yelling “I MADE A MISTAKE” and “OH GOD NO” in the kitchen, so there was no time.

Back to the drawing board.

The solution, of course, was to beat the caramel IN the frosting. That way you get all of that salted caramel flavor and zero mess on the counter. Well, not zero mess. Pumpkin rolls are a bit on the messy side, but the mess won’t be caramel, so at least you’ll have that going for you.

 

 

This is the part where I tell you how to roll up your pumpkin roll without it cracking. And I would really love to tell you that, except that I’m 0 for 3 at the moment… However, I did some research (read: talked to some pumpkin-rolling masters) and we decided that I was most likely rolling the cake too tightly. So when you’re rolling, roll it loosely and gently and with care. Then say a prayer.

The good news is that if you do crack it, it will still taste just as good. And if you use some artistic liberty in your photos and angle the roll “just so” and crop out most of the cracks no one will ever know it cracked to begin with! Well, except the people who are actually eating it. Just slice it before you serve it and those dummies won’t know any better anyway.

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salted caramel pumpkin roll

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 1 10-inch roll

Ingredients
Cake:
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ⅔ canned pumpkin puree
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
Salted Caramel:
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspooon fleur de sel
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup sour cream
Filling:
  • 1 (8-oz) package cream cheese
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup salted caramel
Instructions
Make the cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a 10 by 15-inch jelly roll pan and line with parchment.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, eat the eggs and sugar on medium speed until thick and foamy.
  4. Add pumpkin puree and continue to beat until combined. Stir in flour mixture and pour into prepared pan.
  5. Bake 10 to 15 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Dust a dish towel with ¼ cup powdered sugar and invert cake onto towel. Starting from the short end, loosely roll the cake until a spiral and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the salted caramel:
  1. In a small saucepan mix the water, sugar, and corn syrup. Stir to combine.
  2. Mix heavy cream and fleur de sel in a small measuring cup and heat in the microwave for about 1 minute until it is hot. Stir to dissolve the salt.
  3. Heat over high heat until it reaches about 340F and is dark amber in color. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 1 minute.
  4. Carefully pour the heavy cream into the sugar mixture (it will bubble and spit), whisk to combine. Add the sour cream and continue whisking until it is incorporated. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside to cool completely.
Make the filling.
  1. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter at medium high until combine. Add the vanilla and powdered sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the salted caramel and beat to combine. (You could also probably just stir the salted caramel in for a more swirly effect but, whatever)
Fill the cake:
  1. Carefully unroll the cake, if it breaks just keep going, you've come too far to stop now.
  2. Spread filling onto cake leaving one inch un-frosted at the end and re-roll into spiral. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place into refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours.
Notes
Once chilled, you can move the roll to the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw roll overnight in the refrigerator prior to serving.

[ Pumpkin roll recipe source: Libby’s Pumpkin ]

[ Salted caramel recipe source: Baked Sweet & Salty Cake FROM: BAKED: New Frontiers in Baking ]

sweet and salty cake

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I know that by now my birthday was like over a week ago and I should get over it.

Except I can’t, because … this cake.  Guys, this cake.

My god.

I don’t know what came over me because I was already super excited to have not only picked out what cake I was making but I had all the ingredients ready to go… Then, at the last minute, it happened.

It was just a quiet night, like any other night, lounging in my super awesome grown up monkey pajamas, watching Keeping up with the Kardashians some critically-acclaimed drama on TV with some of my best friends a stack of cookbooks by my side,  and I opened the book directly to this.

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It was a sign. From the heavens above. A sign.

I had to make this cake.

You see, when I received this book some Christmases ago, I had never made a “real” cake nor caramel and making both at the same time seemed like an insane task that was doomed for failure.

Now, several years later, I was still pretty sure that I might fail, but there was a chance that I could not only accomplish this goal, but that it would make a fine birthday gift to myself.

The gift of self-satisfaction and accomplishment. And cake.

I like cake.

I especially like cake when it is sandwiched between layers of gooey caramel, and salted-caramel-chocolate frosting and then finished with a light dusting of crunchy fleur de sel.

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I’m not usually the type of person who usually really cares for frosting. I’m usually that weirdo who is always scraping it off of my cake and pushing it to the side while people stare at me in horror “BUT THE FROSTING IS THE BEST PART”

1. If the frosting is the best part of your cake, your cake is awful.

2. If your cake isn’t awful and you still like the frosting best, then you’re awful.

Ok, you’re not awful. In fact we should probably be best friends because then I can eat all of your cake  guilt-free while you eat all of my frosting. It’s better for the environment – no waste!

But this frosting. I would inject it into my veins if I could just to get it inside of me.  It’s so fluffy and creamy and sweet and delicious and amazing and … you get the point. You should make it. Even if you don’t make the cake. Eating a bowl of frosting is a totally acceptable thing to do.

I did learn three things in the process of making this particular cake.

(Yay knowledge!)

First – I HATE chopping chocolate. Like, really hate it. An absurd amount.

Sometimes I will even skip making a recipe JUST because it calls for chopped chocolate. I will instead find a recipe in which I can use cocoa powder instead.

Chopping chocolate is messy and annoying and awful and it takes forever and shoots chocolate particles all over my kitchen.

My million dollar idea? Let’s sell pre-chopped chocolate! You know there are chocolate crumbs in factories somewhere – LET’S BAG THAT SH*T AND SELL IT!!

Second – If you have ever made caramel before, you know when it’s done. Trust yourself.

The book’s recipes call to bring the caramel to 350F degrees. I did not follow my instinct and instead waiting for it to reach the 350F degree mark, and then had to dump it down the drain because burned caramel, as it turns out, is not actually very delicious (trust me, as someone who hates wasting food, I really did try to salvage it and make it work in the recipe).

Lesson learned: Do not burn your caramel. Instead, do it like this:

I took mine off the heat a bit before 350 but the temp kept going up all on its own. When all was said and done I think I still added the cream a tiny bit before the official 350F mark, but just trust your eyes. And your nose. You want an amber color, maybe dark amber… think : color of brown sugar. If you see black or any HINT of black-like color, you’re done for. Just let it go and start over.

Third – I need to buy another 8-inch cake pan.

As for the frosting – Future Husband is NOT a fan of dark chocolate (I will get him to the dark side eventually, but he’s not there yet). Since I didn’t want to eat a whole cake (or two, for that matter) by myself, I used milk chocolate in the frosting recipe. And I loved it. It was amazing. If you’d rather use dark, go for it.

Dark chocolate will be amazing, but I liked the combo of the dark chocolate cake with the caramel layers and milk chocolate frosting. It was a winning combination for sure.

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sweet and salty cake

Yield: One 8-inch cake (3 layers)

Ingredients

    For the cake
  • 3/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cups hot water
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter,softened
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmply packed
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • For the salted caramel
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon fleur de sel
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup sour cream*
  • For the frosting:
  • 1 pound chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Instructions

    For the cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare three 8-inch round cake pans with butter and parchment.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the cocoa powder, hot water, and sour cream; set aside to cool.
  3. In another medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together until combined; set aside.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening on medium speed until well smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides and add the sugars to the butter mixture, beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  5. Scrape down the sides again and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and mix again for another 30 seconds.
  6. With the mixer on low, carefully add the flour mixture, alternating with the cocoa mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. (flour-cocoa-flour-cocoa-flour). Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure the batter is well-mixed.
  7. Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the rack, remove the pans, and let cool completely.
  8. *These cakes are VERY delicate. Since I made mine a week in advance, I very carefully wrapped my cooled cakes and kept them in the freezer until I was ready to use them. Be gentle.
  9. For the salted caramel:
  10. In a small saucepan, combine the cream and fleur de sel. Bring to a simmer over very low heat until the salt is dissolved. (I hate dirtying extra pans, so I cheated and warmed mine in the microwave for just under a minute, stirring to ensure the salt dissolved).
  11. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan combine 1/4 cup water, the sugar, and corn syrup, stirring them together carefully so you don't splash the sides of the pan.
  12. Cook sugar mixture over high heat until an instant-read thermometer reads 350 degrees F*(see note above), 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 1 minute.
  13. Add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture. Whisk in the sour cream. Let the caramel cool to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the cake.
  14. *You can make the caramel up to two days in advance.
  15. For the frosting:
  16. Put the chopped chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and set aside.
  17. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over very low heat (again, you can cheat with the microwave if you like. You don't want to BOIL the cream, only heat it to a gentle simmer).
  18. Meanwhile, MAKE ANOTHER BATCH OF CARAMEL. Don't worry, you just did this at least once (or twice, if you're me) so you've got some practice in...
  19. In a medium saucepan combine 1/4 cup water, the sugar, and corn syrup, stirring them together carefully so you don't splash the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat until an instant-read thermometer reads 350 degrees F*(unless yours is done before it reaches 350F), 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the caramel cool for 1 minute.
  20. Add the cream to the caramel and stir to combine. Stir slowly for 2 minutes, then pour the caramel over the chocolate.
  21. Let the caramel and chocolate sit for 1 minute, then, starting in the center of the bowl, and working your way out to the edges, slowly stir the chocolate and caramel mixture in a circle until the chocolate is completely melted.
  22. Let the mixture cool, then transfer it to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  23. Mix on low speed until the bowl feels cool to the touch (This took about 8 minutes and I started to worry about my poor mixer but he pulled through).
  24. Increase the speed to medium-high and gradually add the butter, beating until thoroughly incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and beat on high speed until the mixture is fluffy. Transfer to a container until ready to use.
  25. *You can prepare the frosting up to two days in advance. Bring to room temperature before using.
  26. To assemble the cake:
  27. Place one cake layer on a serving platter. Spread 1/4 cup of the caramel over the top and let the caramel soak into the cake.
  28. Spread 3/4 cup of the ganache frosting over the caramel and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the fleur de sel over the frosting.
  29. Top this with the second cake layer and repeat with caramel, frosting, and fleur de sel.
  30. Top this with the third cake layer and spread with caramel. Crumb coat the cake and place cake in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm up the frosting.
  31. Frost the sides and top with the remaining frosting. This frosting is amazing. I would say it spreads "like butter" but it spreads SO MUCH BETTER than butter. It spreads like a soft, buttery, cloud.
  32. Garnish with a sprinkle of fleur de sel.

Notes

* You may notice that my cake is only two layers while the recipe makes three layers. I realized (a bit too late) that I only had two cake pans of each size, so I opted for a 2-layer cake, and got about 12 cupcakes in addition to my two cake layers. This worked out in my favor as now I have a bunch of frozen cupcakes to enjoy at my leisure.

* This cake can seem overwhelming. Help yourself out by breaking it into steps. Day one: Make caramel. Day two: Make frosting. Day three: Make cake. Day four: ASSEMBLE ALL THE THINGS .

* This cake can be stored in a cake saver at room temperature (cool and humidity free) for up to 3 days. If your room is not cool, place the cake in a cake saver and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving.

http://wee-eats.com/2014/03/25/the-baked-bakerysweet-and-salty-cake/

[ Recipe from: Baked: New Frontiers in Baking ]

sweet & salty cake | wee-eats.com

salty caramel pretzel brownies

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Sometimes managing a blog can be difficult.

I mean, aside from all the time spent shopping, prepping, cooking, photographing, and planning… all of that aside, the hardest thing by far is writing. Sometimes I just want to put up a picture and then put the recipe below and be done with it.

Writers block. It’s real, yo.

And it’s serious.

Sometimes I could talk about brownies for days (and sometimes I do)…  and then other times, like today, I’m all like, “How much can you really say about brownies?” 

Hi, I made brownies. Here is a picture to prove I made them. Here is another picture in case you’re still not convinced. And here is a recipe for said brownies. Yup. Looks like brownies.

>Brownies, brownies, brownies.

Then, a magical thing happened.

I realized I didn’t need to spend hours thinking about the brownies or how awesome their pretzelly crust was and how chewy and chocolatey they were and how delightful the little bits of caramel were or even how well the crunchy/salty pretzels accented them.

I didn’t have to ponder synonyms for “moist” (ew, right?) or different ways to describe the flavor of chocolate… in fact, I didn’t have to do any of that at all.

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I could, instead, talk about something completely different.  Like fortune cookies.  And how FH solidified for sure in his mind that we were meant to be (which is good, considering I’m wearing his ring on my finger and all. You think maybe he should have figured that out beforehand?)

Now you might be wondering what fortune cookies have to do with love, but let me get there.

FH and I tried a new Chinese joint last weekend. It was Saturday and I didn’t want to get out of my pajamas but FH wanted Chinese food, it was just our luck that someone left a menu on our doorstep for a new Chinese restaurant. I glanced through to see if they delivered (a lot of places don’t deliver when you live in the burbs – it’s the worst).

Luckily for us we were within their delivery area so we ordered it up and put a movie on – lucky for me O Brother Where Art Thou (which I recommend watching if you haven’t seen it yet) was playing on the movie channel so I got to watch my boy George while I waited for dinner to arrive.

The food came, and it was actually pretty good, which is neither here nor there… because the main star of this story, my friends, is this:

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Yeah, you’re eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. That’s two fortune cookies. One wrapper.

Two.

 “WE WERE MEANT TO BE! OUR FORTUNES CAME TOGETHER!

To this day we haven’t even OPENED the fortune cookies because FH said it was so rare, “like a unicorn,” and said we should save them in our memory book, which I reminded him would mostly likely result in crushed fortune cookies. So I think that tonight I will force him to crack open the cookies, read our fortunes, and hope it doesn’t say something ominous like, “Everyone dies alone” or “You’re about to make a grave mistake.”

Anyway, here’s the brownie recipe.

They’re good, I promise.

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salty caramel pretzel brownies

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: 20 to 30 brownies (or 1 giant brownie, depending on how you slice)

Ingredients

    Pretzel crust
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose
  • 1 cup crushed pretzels
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • Brownie layer
  • 7 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (11-oz) package caramel bits; divided into 8 oz and 3 oz
  • For topping
  • 3 oz chocolate, melted
  • 3 oz caramel bits, melted
  • 1 c coarsely-chopped pretzels

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a 9x13 pan with foil and parchment
  2. For the crust
  3. Stir together flour, crushed pretzels, and brown sugar. Add melted butter and stir til combined. Press into bottom of lined pan.
  4. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until crust is golden brown. Set aside to cool while you make the brownies.
  5. For the brownies
  6. Combine chocolate, espresso powder, water, and butter in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat until butter and chocolate are melted, stirring occasionally.
  7. Once melted, transfer the chocolate mixture to a large bowl and allow to cool slightly (if it is too warm, it will cook your eggs when you add them).
  8. Once cooled to luke-warm, add the sugar and brown sugar, beating with mixer at medium speed until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and continue beating about two minutes more.
  9. Stir in flour and salt until just combined, then stir in caramel bits, being careful not to over-mix.
  10. Bake for about 25 minutes until cooked through - a toothpick should come out mostly clean with a few crumbs sticking to it. With brownies, I always err on the side of under-baked vs over-baked.
  11. Cool in pan for about 10 minutes.
  12. For the topping:
  13. Crush pretzels and sprinkle over top of the brownies.
  14. Melt chocolate in microwave or double-boiler until smooth, drizzle over brownies.
  15. Melt caramel in microwave or double-boiler until smooth, drizzle over brownies.
  16. Allow brownies to cool completely and for chocolate to harden (you can speed this step up by placing brownies in the fridge).
  17. Once cooled, slice into bars and serve.
http://wee-eats.com/2014/02/17/salty-caramel-pretzel-brownies/

[ adapted from Bakers Royale ]

salty caramel pretzel brownie pin

 

samoa cookie bars

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Saturday morning a strange thing happened – someone knocked on the door.

This might not seem that strange to you, however, we live in a pretty quiet area and we know approximately zero people so we basically never get visitors. Like, ever.

And when we do, we follow a strict protocol involvng things like muting the TV and waiting for the person to leave.  This time, however, our front door was wide open and we were sitting in the living room (which is where the front door leads into) so I wasn’t confident that the whole “muting the TV” thing would work.

Unless we could also convince them that we were statues…

FH told me to “handle it” so I got up to assess the situation and there she was – standing no more than three feet tall, quite possibly the smallest Girl Scout I had ever seen.  Normally I am a firm believer of the “stranger danger” motto, but she was pretty small so I was pretty sure I could take her if things went south.

She mumbled something shyly about cookies and I assumed that in this case “handle it” meant to find any cash I had on hand and throw it at her in exchange for cookies, so I yelled for FH to get his wallet. If FH’s “handle it” meant for me to tell her to go away he was sadly mistaken, because who can say no to a little girl? No one.  Well maybe this guy could, but I don’t have any Knuckle Blasters so that’s not even an option.

Even if I could say “no” to a small child, I definitely couldn’t say no to cookies, especially since for the other 11 months out of the year I listen to FH go on and on about how much he loves samoas and how delicious they are. So I quickly purchased a box of Samoas from her and ran back inside, closing the door behind us to prevent any future incidents.

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FH hurried into the kitchen and ripped into them, took a bite, and… groaned?

It wasn’t the usual “these are so good” sound that you might hear when you eat your favorite cookie. It was a more whiny tone filled with dismay and dissatisfaction.

I asked him what was wrong, hoping for something cool like finding a finger or a dead bug or something like you hear about in those news stories. But, no. Nothing so exciting.

His “problem” was that just last week I made these samoa bars for him and apparently the flavor was still fresh in his mind and now he real samoa cookies, the ones that inspired the very bars that I made because he loved the cookies so much, are now “ruined” for him.

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Ruined.

His word, not mine.

I will admit that these bars are bit more “grown up” than their ancestors. Rather than just being a vessel to carry the caramel, this cookie layer is thicker than that of the original samoa with a bit more crunch and a more intense vanilla flavor. Meanwhile, the caramel layer is a bit more complex with a hint of saltiness, and the dark chocolate gives the perfect bit of bitter-sweet to compliment the sweet caramel and cookie.

Oh yes, and don’t let me forget the ground unicorns and cocaine, but those ingredients are optional.

So at the risk of ruining the legendary Girl Scout cookies for someone you love…

And at the risk of putting thousands of young girls out of business…

Give these bars a try.

photo

Ground unicorns and cocaine optional.

samoa bars

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: One 9-by-13 pan

Ingredients

    For the cookie layer
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • For the caramel layer
  • 3.5 cups shredded coconut
  • 2 11-oz packages caramel bits
  • 3 Tablespoons whole milk or cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • For the chocolate drizzle
  • 6 oz dark chocolate (I used the Ghiradelli melting wafers)

Instructions

    For the cookies:
  1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla extract and milk. Add flour and mix on low until just incorporated. It will be on the dry side.
  3. Pour out onto parchment paper and form into general rectangle shape. Roll close to 9 x 13” and transfer into 9 x 13 baking pan. Press into bottom of pan until it reaches the edges, leaving a slight lip on the edges.
  4. Poke holes in shortbread with a fork and bake at 350F for about 20 minutes, until lightly golden on top. Cool completely in pan before topping.
  5. For the coconut/caramel layer:
  6. Toast the coconut by placing on a parchment-lined baking sheet and baking at 300F for about 15 minutes, stirring often to avoid burning. Coconut is done when it is a golden-brown color. Set aside to cool.
  7. Melt the caramel bits with the milk and salt per package directions, until smooth. Once metled, stir in the vanilla extract and the coconut.
  8. Pour onto the cookie layer, spreading into an even layer with a spatula and pressing down with your hands.
  9. For the chocolate layer:
  10. Melt chocolate at 50% power in the microwave starting for 1 minute, then continuing in 30 second intervals, stirring in between. Drizzle over coconut layer and allow to cool completely. Once hardened, cut the cookies into bars and store at room temperature in an airtight container.
http://wee-eats.com/2014/02/09/samoa-cookie-bars/

[ shorbread adapted from here]

samoapin

apple cake tatin

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Now, I’ve never been a huge ‘pie’ girl.  All the rolling and cutting and par-baking and fussing… I just don’t have that kind of energy (generally speaking).  As ashamed as I am to admit it… when I do bake a pie, it’s often with the aid of a store-bought crust.   I know, I should probably just go kill myself now.  Especially when we have such dedicated bakers who make such marvelous pies and poor Ms. Natalie can’t be bothered to run her food processor for 30 seconds and wait for the dough to chill after rolling it out.

I should just throw myself off of a cliff.

So when apple pie season rolls in and you’re not a huge pie person but you still want to serve a delightfully autumnal dessert, what’s a girl like me to do?

Cake!

apple cake

FYI: I find that in much of life’s dilemmas, the answer is usually cake.

I spotted this cake ages ago on an episode of Barefoot Contessa, and it’s been sitting in the back of my brain ever since.  Just gnawing at my willpower.  Whispering from my subconscious to my brain, “make me…”  So, I did!

It basically ends up like a caramel apple upside-down cake, which isn’t as fancy as Ina’s title of “apple cake tatin”, but let’s be realistic here.  This is a caramel apple cake.  I’d bet it’s best served warm with a scoop of melty vanilla ice cream, but a cold slice for breakfast is enjoyable as well.

I mean, it’s healthy… “apple a day” or something like that.

Apple Cake Tatin

Ingredients

  • *6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • *1 1/4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch slices
  • *1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • *2 large eggs, room temperature
  • *1/3 cup sour cream
  • *1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • *1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • *1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • *1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • *1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • *Confectioners' sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Generously butter a 9-inch glass pie dish (I used a cake pan lined with parchment) and arrange the apples in the dish, cut side down.
  3. Combine 1 cup of the granulated sugar and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over high heat until it turns a warm amber color, and registers about 360 F on a candy thermometer. Swirl the pan but don't stir. Pour evenly over the apple slices. Stare in awe while it bubbles.
  4. In a large bowl, cream the 6 tablespoons of butter and the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar until light and fluffy. Lower the speed and beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the sour cream, zest, and vanilla and mix until combined.
  5. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the butter mixture and mix just until combined, being careful not to overmix.
  6. Pour the cake batter evenly over the apple slices and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
  7. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto a flat plate. If an apple slice sticks, ease it out and replace it in the design on top of the cake. Serve warm with ice cream, or at room temperature.
http://wee-eats.com/2013/10/14/apple-cake-tatin/

[ Adapted from Barefoot Contessa ]