salted almond butter cups

I have a new (somewhat ambitious) goal.  I want to do something new every week.  Being in high school, I feel like I often get stuck  in the school/homework/procrastinating on the Internet rut. Don’t get me wrong, homework will still get done and there are way too many fun personality quizzes on the Internet to give them up entirely.  However, I really want to seize life by the horns, live to the fullest, and conquer my fears.  I have a lot of fun ideas of things I want to add to my “new things bucket list” — and I am extraordinarily excited to give this new project a try.

I love the idea of a bucket list to begin with — maybe I’ll publish one on this blog someday to hold myself accountable and see how many of the things on it I actually get done.  Simply writing my dreams down makes them come more alive.  I want to see a koala in real life and see the northern lights with my own eyes.  I want to attach a lock to a love bridge and go to la tomantina in Spain.  However, I’m not going to get a plane ticket to Australia or a tomato chucked at my face this week (hopefully).

Nonetheless, there are a lot of slightly less extravagant, yet exciting new things right in my own neighborhood.  Starting this week, I want to try something new every week — even if it’s as small as eating something that resembles a peanut butter cup.  This is a project that I want to continue for the rest of my life. Think about it — that means 52 new things a year! 156 new things before I turn 20!

Here’s to Day One of my 365 day adventure trying new things.  Today, I am going to eat something that resembles a peanut butter cup.

Now, you’re probably thinking “wow, this girl has really lost it now.” What’s so special about a peanut butter cup?  If you’ve been reading Cannella Vita for a while, you may have noticed that my blog is completely devoid of recipes with peanut butter.  It’s a little odd since every other baking blog on the planet has some sort of chocolate-peanut butter thingamabobber.

I’m a pretty adventurous eater, and am usually totally down to trying new things, but peanut butter makes me queasy.  I’ve always steered clear of it at all costs.  Once, after eating a peanut butter granola bar, I had hives for a week! Thus, never in my life have I tasted a peanut butter cup.

This is ironic because my dad is obsessed with peanut butter cups.  He will always happily take them from my bag of Halloween candy.

Obviously, I am not going to eat something that is going to give me hives for the rest of the week — however, I came up with an alternative so that I, too can experience the joy of peanut butter cups — almond butter cups!

These are mindbogglingly easy to make — and are a little more gourmet than a drugstore peanut butter cup thanks to the addition of maple syrup and a sprinkle of Maldon salt.

If you’re in need for some almond butter to try out — take a look at Barney Butter, it comes in all sorts of mind-blowing flavors like vannilla bean-espresso and cocoa-coconut!

What new thing will you try this week?

With love,
Erica

Salted Almond Butter Cups

Servings 12

Ingredients

  • 7 oz. dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. fine grain salt
  • sea salt flakes for topping

Instructions

  1. Place the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave for 1-2 minute intervals, stirring between, until completely melted.

  2. Line six muffin cups. Spoon about a teaspoon of melted chocolate into each cup.

  3. Mix the almond butter, syrup, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt together until smooth to make the filling. This mixture should be dough-like.


  4. Scoop out a tsp. of the almond butter mixture and gently roll it into a ball between your palms. Flatten it out a bit and place it on top of the thin chocolate puddle. Repeat so that there is an almond butter ball in each cup. 

  5. Spoon chocolate, about another tsp., on top of each almond butter ball to cover completely. Add a little pinch of flaked sea salt on each one and chill in the fridge to set.

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christmas crack

There’s two reasons this candy is called “Christmas Crack.”

1) It is traditionally made with Saltine crackers (personally, I like to use buttery Ritz)
2) It is INSANELY addictive — once it cools, you literally can’t quit eating it! (I had to gift it off to friends before I finished the entire tray!

Last Tuesday, I got home really late from track practice.  After I kicked off my sneakers and settled in to an episode of Modern Family, I realized that I hadn’t baked my Secret Santa her present!  It was too late to make any sort of quick bread or brownies, and I was too tired to even think about whipping up cookie dough (those 500m relays kill me every time)… 

Ritz crackers + butter + sugar + chocolate = SOLUTION!

This recipe is not only incredibly addictive, it’s also unbelievably easy and quick to make (for better or for worse…).  Just lay out the crackers, melt the butter and sugar, and melt the chocolate. DONE! I decorated mine by marbling white chocolate on the dark chocolate surface — however, the possibilities are endless (you could sprinkle the melted chocolate with some crushed nuts, sprinkles, or even crushed candy canes!). Once you get your first taste I know you will be hooked.

With love,
Erica

Ingredients

1.5 sleeves of crackers* (enough to cover a baking sheet)
1 stick butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups chocolate chips
Sprinkles,  nuts, white chocolate etc. to decorate (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it
with parchment paper and spraying generously with nonstick cooking spray. 
 
Arrange the crackers in a single layer on the baking sheet
so that there are no empty spaces in between them.
 
Place the butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan over
medium-high heat. Stir while the butter melts, and bring the mixture to a
rolling boil. Once boiling, carefully pour the sugar-butter mixture
over the crackers on the baking sheet in an even layer, trying to cover
most of the crackers. If you miss some spots, don’t worry as the toffee
will spread in the oven.
 
 Bake the toffee crackers at 350 degrees for five minutes,
until the toffee is bubbling all over. Carefully remove the pan from the
oven and allow to cool for one minute.
 
Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the hot toffee, and
allow them to sit for one minute to soften and melt (if they aren’t melting quick enough, pop in the oven for a minute and let the residual heat soften them). Once softened, use
an offset spatula or knife to spread the melted chocolate over the
entire surface of the toffee in an even layer. While the chocolate is
still soft, decorate how you like.
 
Cool until set (I left mine on the counter overnight, but you could pop them in the fridge for 30 min, or even the freezer if you cant wait!). Once set, either slice into small pieces with a warm knife or break into small uneven pieces by hand, and
enjoy!

*I used Ritz, but Tollhouse, Saltines, Matzo, even graham crackers would be delicious!

soft salted caramels (no corn syrup!)

Holiday season is quickly hurdling our way.  It seems like just yesterday I was sitting by the poolside eating frozen watermelon cubes and trying not to bake in the sun.  However, today, I am knee-deep in homework with a dire craving for baked goods (particularly Christmas cookies and anything caramel-y).  Instead of starting my history paper, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to start building my holiday inventory #procrastibaking.  From November to January, the area surrounding my house permanently smells like butter and sugar, chocolate chips are shipped by the pound to my doorstep, and my Kitchen Aid’s busy whipping up egg whites like it’s nobody’s business.  I must have plenty of cookies, toffees and other goodies stashed away at all times. It makes me feel secure.  What would happen if I was caught off guard without a cookie in store?  I don’t know, but I don’t want to find out.  Just like squirrels start hoarding nuts around this time or year, I start hoarding candies.  It’s my natural hibernation instinct, and I don’t want to mess with nature…

Things are all fine and dandy until I make things like these soft, salted caramels… I can’t simply “stash these away.”  They are incredibly addictive.  Everyone who has received these as a holiday gift can’t stop eating them.  Problem is that since I’m human, I love these too, and if I keep stuffing them in my mouth at this rate I won’t have  any leftover to give as gifts.  I’ve tried everything to stop nibbling into my stash, but my efforts are futile.  I even tried freezing them… did you know salted caramel is delicious frozen? Yeah. It tastes like the dreamiest caramel ice cream ever.  These bring out the animal in me.

But you won’t do that right? 😉

Do yourself a favor and make these this weekend.  Trust me, they are surprisingly easy and I felt like an absolute magician when I sliced into real-live caramel that I made myself from cream, sugar, and butter.  Plus, they have none of that icky corn syrup mumbo-jumbo, so you can feel a little bit better about eating all a few of these.  Share the love and give them away to friends, family, neighbors, the mailman, and the security guard on L1 who always remembers your name… or you could eat them all yourself.  Either way, you’ll thank me for the recipe.

What kinds of gifts are you planning to make this holiday season?

With love,
Erica

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tb vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy or whipping cream
  • 4oz salted butter, room temperature
  • coarse sea salt (I used La Baleine Coarse Sea Salt)
  • special equipment: candy thermometer 

Combine sugar, honey, and vanilla extract in a large non-reactive
pot. Turn on the heat and let the sugar and honey melt and cook until
caramelized (it will slowly become a deep, dark brown color.)
While the sugar is cooking, bring the cream to a simmer.
When the sugar reaches the color you like, whisk in the butter in
small knobs, until well mixed, then add the warmed cream, whisk until
smooth.
We let this mixture cook until the temperature reached 233F. 
Pour the hot caramel onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Let
cool about ten minutes, and then sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Continue
to let it come to room temperature, and then cut into small squares,
roll, and wrap in packets of parchment or waxed paper.

maple cinnamon pecans

Crispy, sweet, nutty, and slightly salty with warm notes of maple and vanilla — a.k.a the perfect snack. I am obsessed with candied pecans — and I’m not surprised considering that this recipe is loaded with cinnamon!

Personally, I find the candied nuts from the store way too sickeningly sugary, and always feel icky about all of the preservatives that they dump on them. These homemade nuts are sweet, salty, flavorful and have no refined sugar, so you can feel good about snacking on them. Plus, pecans are known to be full of nutrients that help lower cholesterol and help protect the body and mind.

These are great to give as gifts in pretty bags, toss into
salads, sprinkle over ice cream, or (my personal favorite) eat straight
off the baking sheet. This will be a great recipe to have up your sleeve when holiday season comes around.

This recipe also encourages creativity, as you can vary both the spices and the type of nut, so go nuts! (no pun intended). Be sure to tell me any new flavor combinations that you dream up, I would love to hear!

With love, Erica

Ingredients

2 cups pecan halves
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 dashes salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Spread pecans out on a baking sheet.
Place the pecans in the oven and toast for 8-10 minutes.

Remove pecans from oven and set aside to cool. In a small saucepan
combine the maple syrup, vanilla, butter, cinnamon and salt. Stir until
combined and butter is melted.

Remove saucepan from heat and add pecans to the pot. Toss to coat all the nuts with the syrupy mixture. Spray a baking sheet with spray oil, such as PAM.
Spread pecans on greased baking sheet. Return to oven and roast at 300
degrees F for 20-25 minutes.

Spread parchment paper on a cookie cooling rack or counter. Place nuts
on top of the parchment, spreading so they don’t stick to each other
while they cool. When cool, package as you’d like or simple place in a
bowl on the counter for snacking.