Archive for September, 2012

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Salted Chocolate Caramel Shortbread

September 19, 2012

I started a new job this summer.  I love it.  For my first day, I decided to bring in some baked goods.  I made whopper bars, lemon triangles and these babies.  I wanted to have a good variety since I didn’t know anyone.  I’m glad I did.  Although, I’ve been there long enough now, that no one is shy about requests.

These salty and sweet bars are simple.  Don’t let the steps scare you.  It’s a great bar that packs a great wow factor.  Plus it’s the salty sweet thing that I love.  These are a perfect treat now that the weather is starting to get cooler.  But then again, I made them in the summer, so they are a perfect treat for summer too.  I used coarse Kosher salt, but the recipe called for Fleur de sel.

Salted Chocolate Caramel Shortbread

Shortbread:
2 C Flour
2 t Baking Powder
1/4 t Salt
1 C Butter, softened
1/2 C Sugar

Caramel:
1/2 C Butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 C Sugar
2 T Light  Corn Syrup
1 14-oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk

Chocolate:
8 oz Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
1 t Light Corn Syrup
1/2 C Butter, cut into 8 pieces
Salt for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

To make the shortbread layer: Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until well combined, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients and beat just until combined. Transfer the dough to the prepared
pan and press into an even layer over the bottom (it’ll be a fairly thin layer).  Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool completely.

To make the caramel layer: Combine the butter, sugar, corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk in a medium saucepan. Set the pan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the butter is melted. Increase the heat to medium-high, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and turns
a light caramel color. This may take 10 minutes or more, so be patient. Pour the caramel mixture over the cooled shortbread and spread in an even layer. Allow to cool completely, then chill briefly.

To make the chocolate layer: Add the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter to a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until everything is melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Pour the chocolate over the chilled caramel and spread into an even layer with an offset spatula. Let cool for a few minutes, then sprinkle the top with the salt. Let the chocolate set completely before slicing and serving.

Here’s the original.  I’ve shared this site in the past, and it just gets better and better.

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Civil War Mac and Cheese Revisted

September 10, 2012

I’m revisiting some of the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had.  This is my go to recipe.  I love that it’s unique.  I also love that depending on what you boil the  noodles in, this dish can be a one pot casserole.  I say that because I’ve been making it in a wonderful deep skillet that I picked up on vacation this past summer.  It’s a Le Creuset 12″ cast iron skillet.  (Thank you outlet mall.) It’s perfect for a one pot casserole.

The other reason I love this recipe is that it’s simple.  Most everything you need is already in the house, well it’s in mine anyway.  It’s a fairly quick recipe that reheats well, if you have any leftover.  It can be made with cheddar, the sharper the better, but you can also make it with Gruyère, or a combination of both.  I’ve also made it with cheddar and gouda.  I like gouda because it melts so well.

I’ve also made this with shells instead of elbow maccaroni.  Or better yet, I’ve also made it with wagon wheel pasta.  Who doesn’t like wagon wheel pasta?  It’s the perfect complement to melted cheese.  Crumple up some crushed Cheese-Its on the pasta instead of breadcrumbs.  This is perfect for this time of year.  Make it as a side, or just enjoy it as a main dish.

Civil War Mac and Cheese

  • 4 C Milk
  • 2 C Elbow Macaroni
  • 2 C- 3C, packed, grated cheddar cheese
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 t Nutmeg
  • 1/4 C Cheese-Its, crushed
  • Salt, for the macaroni

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Heat the milk and salt in a large saucepan until steamy. Stir in the dry macaroni and let the milk come to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer.  Pay attention while the macaroni is cooking in the milk as the milk may foam up and boil over.  Cook the macaroni for about 15 minutes or until done, the macaroni will absorb most of the milk.  Make sure that there is still milk left in the pan.   As soon as the macaroni is done, add the grated cheese, pepper and nutmeg and stir.  Sprinkle with Cheese-Its and bake for 20 minutes or until top is lightly browned.

Here’s my original post.  As you can see, I’ve stop using the butter because I leave enough milk in the pot to help melt the cheese.

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The Wonder of Waffles

September 3, 2012

I discovered something about my husband this summer that I never knew.  Or maybe, to be fair, I always knew it, but could never persuade him to change his mind.  You see, although my husband loves breakfast food, I’ve never gotten him to enjoy a waffle.  The closest he’s come to one during all the years we’ve been together is the kind that comes out of a box in the freezer section of the grocery store.

And believe me, I’ve tried to persuade him.  I’ve got tons of great recipes, but he’s always just shrugged and said they were okay.  Anyone that spends any time in the kitchen knows that telling the cook it’s okay is worse than saying please don’t make this again.  Nothing is more frustrating than spending time making a meal for someone and encountering indifference.

Oh, but our wonderful trip to Texas changed that.  First, Meeshie had a waffle for breakfast almost everyday.  And, even though she and I share most of our meals, I couldn’t eat the same thing as often.  Not when one of the best things about vacation is trying the local cuisine.  Therefore, my husband finished quite a few of her meals.  It’s that Catholic guilt which can get really tricky when you can’t bring home your leftovers.

Since we’ve been home, I’ve made waffles more times than I had since I’ve been married.  Let’s just say, it’s been a lot.  I don’t mind.  I love waffles.

This recipe is simple but does require some planning.  You make most of the batter the night before to allow the yeast to work its magic.  This allows for a super light and airy waffle.  Crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside just as it should be.  I serve them with an easy apple pear compote.  The compote can be made a day or two ahead and reheats easily.

Waffles

  • 1/2 C Warm Water
  • 1 T Sugar
  • 2 1/4 t Active Dry Yeast (1 packet)
  • 2 C Milk, warmed
  • 1/2 C Butter
  • 1 t Salt
  • 2 C Flour
  • 2 Eggs, room temperature and lightly beaten
  • 2 t Vanilla
  • 1/4 t Baking Soda
  • 1/2 t Cinnamon
  • 1/4 t Nutmeg

Combine the warm water (110 degrees), sugar and yeast.  Let stand for at least ten minutes.  While yeast is foaming, melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the milk until it reaches 110 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt.  Slowly add the milk mixture and the yeast mixture.  Combine until the batter is smooth.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let stand overnight (or for at least eight hours) in a room temperature area such as the counter.  DO NOT REFRIGERATE.

Add the eggs, vanilla, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg to the batter.  Mix thoroughly and let stand for five minutes.  Preheat the waffle iron.  Pour batter into waffle grids.  Close cover and bake until golden brown, about 2-4 minutes.  Remove waffle from iron and place on a cookie sheet.  Place cookie sheet in a low oven, about 200 degrees to keep warm until ready to serve.

Makes 6-8 waffles.

Apple Pear Compote:

  • 1/2 Lemon
  • 4 Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • 3 Bosc Pears, peeled, cored and diced
  • 2/3 C Sugar
  • 1/4 t Cinnamon
  • 1/4 t Ginger
  • 1/4 t Salt
  • 1/4 t Nutmeg
  • 1/4 C Butter
  • 1/4 C Flour
  • 1 t Vanilla

Zest the lemon and set aside. Place the apples and pears in a medium mixing bowl. Squeeze the lemon juice over the fruit, then toss fruit with the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, salt and nutmeg.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until brown. Add the fruit and cook, stirring until the sugar dissolves and juices simmer, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, uncovered, until the fruit softens and the juices evaporate some, about 10 minutes. Evenly mix the flour into the fruit; then cook about a minute more to thicken the juices slightly. Stir in the vanilla and lemon zest; and remove from the heat.

Serve over the waffles.  You can also serve the compote with your favorite pancakes or oatmeal.

 

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