Tag Archives: Caramel

German Chocolate Sheet Cake

German Chocolate Sheet Cake

Where did the phrase “as American as apple pie” come from? When you think about it, it makes zero sense, because Americans can hardly lay claim to a dessert of softened apples encased in a buttery pastry. The Germans have apfelstrudel, the French have tarte tatin, and that’s just the beginning. Apple pie is, quite frankly, not American!

German Chocolate Sheet Cake

German chocolate cake, on the other hand – surprisingly, that is 100% American. No lie, this wonderful dessert was created in central Texas long ago, and the German in its title refers to the type of chocolate originally used, not the country of origin. But, I guess the phrase “as American as German chocolate cake” just didn’t quite have the same ring to it…

German Chocolate Sheet Cake

Anyways, I adore German chocolate cake, but it’s usually a real production to pull off. Every time I’ve had it, and all the recipes I saw for it were very tall layer cakes that would’ve taken hours and made a huge mess to complete. I have really been craving this cake lately, but wanted a more simplified version of it, yet refused to dumb it down or compromise any of its winning characteristics.

German Chocolate Sheet Cake

The idea of a sheet cake occurred to me, admittedly with some amount of skepticism. It seemed kind of wrong, and I wondered if the flavor would really translate. But, you never know till you try, so try I did, and I’m thrilled to report that this was extremely successful! It tasted exactly as it should, but was incredibly easy to pull off. Matt took the leftovers to work, as usual, and people there immediately recognized it as German chocolate cake and effusively proclaimed its deliciousness. I have to say, they are correct. I absolutely LOVED this cake and would happily eat my beloved German chocolate cake as sheet cake from now on. Enjoy!

German Chocolate Sheet Cake

Source: The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion

Ingredients:

CAKE:
12 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 large eggs
1 ½ cups whole milk

FROSTING:
1 cup heavy cream
20 oz. caramel candies, unwrapped; or 2 cups store-bought caramel sauce
2 ½ cups chopped toasted pecans
7 oz. sweetened shredded coconut
Pinch of salt

Directions:
First, bake the CAKE: preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease a 9×13” baking dish and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, salt, baking soda, and vanilla until fluffy and light, at least 5 minutes. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and cocoa powder.
Add the eggs to the butter mixture one at a time, beating well after each addition. Slowly blend one-third of the flour mixture into the creamed mixture, then half the milk, followed by a third of the flour, the remaining half of the milk, then the last of the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary during this process.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 35-40 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and cool completely before frosting it.
Make the FROSTING:
Heat the cream in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat until it simmers; add the caramel(s) and stir until melted. Bring the mixture to a boil then remove it from the heat. Stir in the pecans and coconut, plus a small pinch of salt. The cake should be completely cooled before frosting, and the frosting should be cooled to about room temperature. It should be thick but spreadable.
To assemble, carefully pour the cooled frosting onto the top of the cooled cake and use an offset spatula to evenly spread it across the cake. Let it set for at least a few minutes before cutting. Cut into squares and serve.

Bacon and Hazelnut Buttermilk Caramels

Bacon and Hazelnut Buttermilk Caramels

Good day, everyone! We’re going to make today a Twofer Thursday; I fully intended to publish this one on Tuesday, but I got caught (literally!) in the middle of the Snowpocalypse of the Damned, and that sort of put a kink in my style. So I’ll also be sharing another post later on today to make up for it. The good news is, Matt and I both made it home safely, and now I can share these *amazing* homemade caramels with you!

bacon hazelnut caramels, being cut

I’m continuing my theme of Christmas Gift Week, where I’m showcasing recipes made with food/cooking related Christmas gifts this year. Today’s recipe highlights two gifts: a new cookbook I bought with some money I got from my mom, and a brand new candy thermometer from my sister and brother-in-law!

bacon hazelnut caramels

A few years ago, I bought the cheapest candy thermometer I could find (mistake) and well, you get what you pay for. It pretty much sucked. Thus, I’ve tended to stay away from making things that require one, like marshmallows, fudge, and caramel sauce. Thanks to my dear sister and her family, I’m back in business! This new one is awesome! Much easier to use and read. Thanks you so much, Megan, Trey, Jack and Claire!!

The book I got myself is entitled, Bacon 24/7. I don’t have to tell anyone how incredibly awesome that is, right? I mean, there’s bacon in Every. Single. Recipe! Come on!! How cool is that? These candies are the first thing I’ve made from the book, and so far, I’m quite impressed.

Bacon and Hazelnut Buttermilk Caramels

I have to sort of apologize for my pictures today; I took these babies to a gathering at a friends’ place and could not bring my new fancy-pants camera along. So I had to slum it with the point-and-shoot. I’ll rationalize by saying that sharing good food with good friends, which is what I did, is way more important than food photography, and if I have to choose, I’ll choose my friends every time. That works, right? 😉 These were well-loved and highly complimented by everyone in attendance. Try them yourself, soon, and you too can be the most popular person at your next gathering! Thank you so much for the book, Mom!!

bacon and hazelnut buttermilk caramels

Source: Bacon 24/7 by Theresa Gilliam

Ingredients:
2/3 cup hazelnuts
½ cup cooked and crumbled bacon (about 6 slices)
¾ cup buttermilk
¾ cup heavy cream
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1/3 cup light corn syrup
¼ cup (4 tbs) unsalted butter, cut into pats
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Spread the hazelnuts on a small baking sheet or a cake pan. Toast in the oven for about 8 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a clean kitchen towel and rub briskly to remove the skins. You don’t have to be too precious about every little bit of skin coming off, just get the majority of it. Chop the hazelnuts coarsely.
Spray an 8×8 inch square baking pan with cooking spray. Cut 2 pieces of parchment paper (about 8×15 inch) and lay 1 vertically in the pan and the other horizontally in the pan so the pan is fully lined with the parchment paper with the extra paper coming up over the sides to make handles to remove the cooled caramels. Spray the parchment paper with cooking spray.
Sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts evenly over the bottom of the pan, then sprinkle the bacon evenly over the hazelnuts. Set aside.
Combine the buttermilk and heavy cream in a measuring cup. Pour half the mixture into a medium saucepan. Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Continue to cook 10 minutes without stirring.
Now stir in the remaining buttermilk mixture; continue to cook without stirring until the temperature reaches 250 F on a candy thermometer. This takes roughly 10 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla, being careful of your hands and face as it will bubble and steam.
Immediately pour the hot caramel into the prepared pan, over the bacon and hazelnuts. Leave it to cool completely, at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
When the caramel is completely cooled, lift it out of the pan with the parchment handles. Lightly grease a sharp knife and cut the caramels into about 48 even squares. The book says you can store the caramels at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. I wouldn’t know anything about that, and you probably won’t either. These little morsels disappear fast!

Caramel Apple Layer Cake

Caramel Apple Layer Cake

Happy Monday everyone! I had a WHIRLWIND of a weekend – I was a culinary volunteer at the NYC Wine and Food Festival. I had shifts Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and by about 3 pm yesterday I was BEAT. It was a blast though. I met some amazing chefs, tasted some crazy good food, gained some invaluable cooking experience, and made new friends. And though I am exhausted today, it was totally worth it.

components of caramel apple cake

Over the next few weeks I’m going to be making some food inspired by things I saw and tasted at the festival, and I’ll expound on my experiences more, too. Today, though, we are having cake. I hesitated to blog this recipe, because mine didn’t really turn out as perfect as I’d hoped. But, it was delicious, and with a few recipe notes, I think yours will be quite successful.

caramel butter cream frosting

apple filling

There are three components to this cake, none of which are terribly difficult to make. The cake itself is a basic yellow cake batter; then there’s a sautéed apple filling that goes in between the cake layers, and then a caramel butter cream frosting, which was incredibly tasty. It comes together quite nicely.

Caramel Apple Layer Cake

caramel apple layer cake

So – recipe notes! I changed the original recipe a little. The cake batter called for the liquid to be half a cup of heavy cream and half a cup of applesauce. I hate applesauce, and I’m not buying it, even for baking. So I scoured the fridge and found some sour cream. Then I thought that the combination of sour cream and heavy cream might make the cake batter too thick, so I used whole milk instead of the cream. It worked perfectly fine, but if you want to go with the original ingredients, it’s half a cup each of heavy cream and applesauce.

Caramel Apple Layer Cake

Secondly, the filling was a hot mess, but I quickly realized (too late of course) that it didn’t have to be. The recipe instructed to slice the apples. For the love of all that is good and holy, do not slice your apples. Chop or even dice them instead. The cake doesn’t cut properly when you slice them and the filling slides out all over the place and hangs out and just generally makes the whole endeavor become an ode to sloppiness. There’s no reason for this. Chop the apples and you should be fine.

caramel apple layer cake

And lastly, just make sure your caramel sauce is cooled but pourable. Obviously you don’t want to melt the butter for the frosting. That would be sad.

caramel Apple layer cake

Source: adapted from Every Day with Rachael Ray, November 2007

Ingredients:
CAKE:
2 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 sticks (16 tbs) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
½ cup whole milk
½ cup sour cream
2 tsp vanilla extract

FILLING:
3 tbs unsalted butter
3 crisp apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tbs heavy cream

FROSTING:
2 sticks (16 tbs) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 cup caramel sauce, store-bought or homemade, cooled but pourable

Directions:
First make the CAKE. Preheat the oven to 350 F. generously grease two 9” round cake pans. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Using an electric mixer, mix in the butter until the mixture is crumbly.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, milk, sour cream, and vanilla. Pour into the flour mixture and beat until just combined.
Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the cake pans to a rack and cool for 10 minutes. Line the cooling racks with parchment (otherwise your cake will stick). Run a knife around the edges of the cakes to release the layers, then invert the cakes onto the racks. Let cool completely.
Make the FILLING. In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the apples and the sugar. Cook, stirring often, until the apples are tender and the juice is syrupy, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and simmer another 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. I immediately poured it into a small mixing bowl, which I think made assembling the cake easier.
When the filling and cakes are cool, make the FROSTING. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together until creamy. With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the caramel sauce. Mix until just combined.
Now assemble the cake. Place 1 cake layer (your ugliest one, if there’s a discrepancy) on a cake plate. It’s helpful, though not essential, to line the cake plate with two pieces of parchment paper. This will make your finished frosted cake look a lot neater. But, not necessary.
Spread the apple filling evenly in a layer on the top of the first cake. Top with the second (prettier) cake layer. Using an offset spatula or butter knife, cover the top and sides of the cake with the caramel frosting. Cut into wedges and serve.

Vanilla Ice Cream with Caramel-Chocolate-Peanut Butter Brittle

This is Matt.  He is my husband, best friend, confidante, lover, life partner, cheering section, shoulder to cry on, traveling companion, sounding board, love of my life.  Last weekend was his birthday.  I’m not sure exactly when this got started, but our birthday tradition is that we get one home-cooked meal, whatever we want, and we go out to eat for one special meal.  Matt varies what he wants for dinner every year, but for the past three years he has not wavered on dessert.  He always wants this ice cream, so I make it for him every year.

I’m not going to lie, it’s a bit laborious, and every year, I say I’ll not make it again.  But then I taste the finished product, and that all goes out the window.  It tastes so amazing that of course I’ll make it again and again.  Besides, I’m only kidding myself if I really think I could ever deny my amazing other half his special-request ice cream, the one that has become known in our house as “Matt’s Birthday Ice Cream”.

This dish actually combines two recipes: one for a basic vanilla bean ice cream, and one for caramel-chocolate-peanut brittle.

You chunk up the brittle and it becomes the add-in while the ice cream is churning.  It was inspired by Ben & Jerry’s peanut brittle flavor, and we both agree this one is even better.  The ice cream is super creamy, contrasted with the satisfying crunch of the brittle, which is that irresistible combination of chocolate and peanut butter, along with some caramel and sea salt thrown in for good measure.  I really don’t have words to convey how heavenly it is, so you’ll just have to make it and see for yourself.

The brittle is actually very quick to make, about twenty minutes hands on time (not including time for cooling and chilling of course).  Sure, your hair is on fire those twenty minutes, but it’s all worth it.  You’ll also have a ton of leftover brittle to snack on, which you deserve after all that work to make it.

Source:
Vanilla Ice Cream – Lightly adapted from Cooking From the Hip, by Cat Cora
Brittle – Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine, November 2007

CARAMEL-CHOCOLATE-PEANUT BUTTER BRITTLE:

Ingredients:
4 unsalted matzo crackers
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
One 12-oz bag milk chocolate chips
1 cup creamy peanut butter
Coarse sea salt

Directions:
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Very important, and I pity the fool who skips this step. Place a layer of matzo crackers on the surface, breaking as needed to fit.
In a heavy medium stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the sugar and 2 tbs water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook undisturbed until it is light golden and a thermometer inserted reads 255 F. This takes 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool 1 minute. Stir in the vanilla and quickly pour all over the matzo layer. Use a metal knife or spatula to spread it around evenly. Bake for 8 minutes.
Remove the brittle from the oven and sprinkle evenly with the chocolate chips. Bake 2 minutes, until the chocolate starts to melt. Then spread the chocolate out evenly. Let cool for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the peanut butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Drizzle it over the chocolate and, using the handle of a spoon, swirl the chocolate and peanut butter. Sprinkle with salt.
Let the brittle cool for 1 hour, then refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours. Break into pieces to serve the brittle alone.

VANILLA BEAN ICE CREAM:

Ingredients:
4 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Directions:
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar and salt; pour into a medium to large saucepan. With the side of a paring knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the saucepan, and toss the vanilla bean in as well. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. This takes a good 20 minutes. Don’t cheat or your ice cream will lack creaminess.
Strain the custard into a medium bowl and place the bowl in an ice bat. Continue stirring every few minutes until it’s tepid. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
When you’re ready to churn, add the cream to the base and stir well. Follow your ice cream maker’s instructions for churning. While it’s churning, remove the brittle from the refrigerator and immediate break off a large piece. Chop it into bite-size chunks, but be careful not to go too small. In the last five minutes of churning, add the chunks to the ice cream maker. When it’s done, freeze until you’re ready to serve.