caramel apple crepes

As much as I’ve been trying to focus on my exams, all I can think about is breakfast.  My eyes wander into cookbooks and onto blogs — ogling pancakes, waffles and frittatas. Those of you who follow me on Pinterest know that I’ve been clogging your dashboards with every single granola recipe under the sun. #sorrynotsorry 🙂

Since I’m in a breakfast-y mood, let me tell you about those brown butter crepes that I made on Sunday.
 

The farmer’s market in my neighborhood has the best honeycrisp apples ever.  Every Sunday, my dad picks up a huge bag of about a dozen apples (along with a gallon of apple cider).  Sure enough, all of the apples are gone by the following Sunday.  An apple a day keeps the doctor away! My favorite way to have my “daily apple” is slathered in warm caramel sauce and tucked inside a fresh crepe. ;). That should keep the doctor away.

With love,
Erica

Ingredients:
1 batch whole wheat brown butter crepes
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2-3 apples, cored, peeled, and diced
whipped cream for serving (optional)

Heat pan over medium heat and add butter. When it starts to bubble,
add apples and cook until softened. Add brown sugar and cinnamon and cook 3-5
minutes, until fully soft and coated in butter and syrup. (Yum.)
Generously spoon apple filling onto crepes, roll up, add a dollop of whipped cream, and enjoy!

twix cupcakes

Halloween sparks fear in many of us.
When I was younger, I used to be extremely afraid of any costume that involved a mask. 
I still don’t particularly love those skeleton costumes with the red food coloring “blood” running through them. Ick.  
The number one fear in my family on Halloween has always been running out of candy.
Even though our house only gets around twenty trick-or-treaters, my dad always buys over ten bags of candy (most of which are Reeses, his favorite, because he knows we’ll have leftovers… I know your tricks daddy!).
This leads me to the topic of the day: leftover Halloween candy. What do you do with it all?  Sure you could eat it all on November 1st, but that’s no fun.  I had to bake mine into something.  Sadly, unlike my dad, I can’t stand Reeses, let alone bake with them; so, I’m going to let him take care of those while I bake the rest into Halloween candy concoctions.
These Twix cupcakes have a shortbread Sandie cookie baked into the bottom, just like the candy.  They are filled with homemade soft caramels, frosted with caramel buttercream frosting, and garnished with a chocolate drizzle and half of a Twix bar.
From stale Halloween candy to crazy decadent cupcake madness.
Talk about an upgrade!

What do you do with leftover Halloween candy?
With love,
Erica

Ingredients:

24 chocolate cupcakes (use a box mix or your favorite recipe)
24 soft caramel candies
1 box Simply Shortbread Sandies (or any round shortbread cookies)
1 recipe caramel buttercream frosting (recipe follows)
12 miniature Twix bars
1/2 cup chocolate chips.

Place one shortbread cookie in the bottom of each cupcake wrapper.  Pour cupcake batter over cookie and prepare as usual. Let your cupcakes cool.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 
Core each cupcake with either a melon baller or a cupcake corer. Place a soft caramel candy in the center of each cupcake. Place the cupcakes in the oven for 5 minutes or until the soft caramel has melted.  Take the cupcakes out of the oven and let them cool completely.
Prepare the caramel buttercream frosting.
Once the cupcakes are completely cool, frost with buttercream frosting.
Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave and drizzle the cupcakes with chocolate.
Cut each Twix bar in half and place on top of each cupcake.

Caramel Buttercream Frosting.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup caramel ice cream topping
  • 4 cups (approx. 1 lb) confectioner’s sugar sifted

Cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add ice cream
topping and vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating
well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all
sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Beat at
medium speed until light and fluffy.

apple pie ice cream

You may be under the impression that I have boundless energy.  Decorating pumpkins, taking endless pictures of leaves, and churning my own butter in my spare time.  Confession, I’m one of the laziest people I know.

Here is why.  When an apple pie craving strikes, the thought of cutting myself a slice, walking to the freezer, finding the vanilla ice cream under all of the frozen fruit, searching every single drawer in the kitchen for the ice cream scoop, warming the slice in the microwave for an entire minute and a half, and scooping the ice cream is way too complicated.  I usually end up eating the pie cold. With my hands. And that’s no fun.

That’s why I invented this little concoction, apple pie ice cream.  This recipe does not require an ice cream maker.  Mainly because I am too lazy to order one. But boy is this stuff good.  Apples sauteed in butter, graham cracker crumbs, and homemade caramel sauce make this ice cream taste just like apple pie.

Funny how I’m totally willing to churn my own ice cream, yet too “lazy” to reheat a slice of pie in the microwave.

With love,
Erica

Ingredients 
 
2 cups heavy cream
1 (14 oz.) Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 apple, diced
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup caramel sauce of your choice
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

Whip heavy cream to stiff peaks in large bowl.
In a large frying pan, sautee the diced apple with 2 tablespoons of butter.
Whisk sweetened
condensed milk, melted butter, and cinnamon in large bowl. Stir in apple slices and caramel sauce. Fold in whipped cream.

Pour into a 2-quart container and cover. Freeze 6 hours or until firm. Store in freezer.

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.

a birthday

I told you about my midnight baking sessions.
This is another creation that happened at around 4 AM.
This time, we tried to be productive, and made a birthday cake for our friend Emelia. 

We decorated the cake with this lovely cake banner that Veda made, and delivered it to Emelia’s doorstep the next morning, complete with a Spiderman balloon and a box of our favorite brownies.

{i have no idea what’s in it, but it tastes like heaven and rainbows}

This is the cake that we attempted to make, but we made a lot of adjustments. A LOT. First, I don’t own any measuring spoons, so I always eyeball the baking soda. I added WAY too much, and Annie’s recipe for chocolate cake exploded in the oven. When I went to re-make it, I realized we ran out of eggs. So I made this egg-less chocolate cake instead. 

{there’s a party in my pantry}

 Veda wanted to make the salted caramel Swiss Buttercream (per Annie’s instructions), but I have a fear of eating raw eggs, and made my version of Buttercream with a lot of caramel sauce in it. 

{aftermath}

Veda made the chocolate frosting. It tasted amazing… but I have no idea what she put in it. If I did, I would share it with you, because I thoroughly enjoyed eating half of the bowl the next morning with a spoon. #healthybreakfasts

With love, 

Erica

Eggless Chocolate Cake
 (makes 2 8 inch layers)
Ingredients
 

3 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, optional

2 cups (250 ml) water

1/2 cups + 4 Tbs. vegetable oil

2 Tbs vinegar 

2 tsp vanilla 

a few hand-fulls of chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Oil 2 8 inch cake pans and line
with parchment paper.
Mix all of the ingredients except the chocolate chips in a bowl and stir until there are no more lumps. 
Pour evenly into prepared pans. 
Sprinkle with chocolate chips. 
Bake for 30 minutes. 


Adapted from Life’s a Feast

Salted Caramel Buttercream

Ingredients

 1 stick butter
 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup caramel sauce (I used Parfait Ice Cream Vanilla Caramel Dessert Sauce )
1/2 – 1 tsp salt


With your electric mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Slowly add in the confectioner’s sugar. Add in the caramel sauce and salt and continue beating. If you feel as though it is too thick, add milk until the desired consistency is achieved. 


Chocolate Espresso Buttercream

 I have no idea how Veda made this frosting. All I know is she used almost the entire bottle of this stuff that I got in San Francisco. Here is a link to a decent looking chocolate frosting recipe.  I would add a little bit of instant espresso powder for flavor.

salted butterscotch pots de creme

My favorite restaurant that we ate at in San Francisco was Claudine. It is
tucked away in the French Quarter, right behind the famous Cafe Claude. It’s a
tiny restaurant with a charming, green, outdoor seating area– an alluring
oasis away from the busy streets of San Francisco. The cuisine is a fusino
between Californian (think avocados and citrus) and traditoinal French cuisine.
Claudine refers to it as “an intersection where slow food concepts meet
global inspiration.”

The best part of our meal was dessert (of course!). My dad ordered the
salted butterscotch pot de creme. A light sprinkling of sea salt really adds a
whole new dimension to the familiar flavor of caramel. It turns this from a
butterscotch pudding into an elegant pot de creme au caramel — oozing
with extraordinary butterscotch flavor.

This no-bake recipe is the easiest one out there, no egg yolks, no heavy
cream — just really good caramel and milk whisked together to
pudding-perfection! The hardest part is waiting for it to set in the
fridge. 

These desserts can be kept chilled in the fridge for a few days — making
them perfect for a simple yet sophisticated make-ahead dessert. I made mine in
my new mini Weck jars that I couldn’t wait to use.  If you don’t have
clear small pots, you can always use ramekins.

With love,
Erica

Butterscotch Pudding

Adapted from Ripe For Dessert

Ingredients 
 

  • 4 tablespoons (60g) butter, salted or unsalted
  • 1 cup (180g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2½ (625ml) cups whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • sea salt and whipped cream for garnish

Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the dark brown
sugar and salt, then stir until the sugar is well-moistened. Remove from
heat.
In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch with about 1/4 cup
(60ml) of the milk until smooth (there should be no visible pills of
cornstarch), then whisk in the eggs.
Gradually pour the remaining milk into the melted brown sugar,
whisking constantly, then whisk in the cornstarch mixture as well.
Return the pan to the heat and bring the mixture to a boil,
whisking frequently. Once it begins to bubble, reduce the heat to a low
simmer and continue to cook for one minute, whisking non-stop, until the
pudding thickens to the consistency of hot fudge sauce.
Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
Pour into 4-6 serving glasses or custard cups and chill thoroughly, at least four hours, before serving. Garnish with whipped cream and fresh sea salt before serving.