Sunday, October 30, 2011

nuts and caramel

The weather is pretty crummy out. I should be getting my 9 miles in as my race is soon. I probably still will. First I decided to get some shopping done and get some other things made. A version of Ina Garten's Chipolte & Rosemary Roasted Nuts and some salted caramel. See here for the recipe. These nuts are not too sweet, salty or spicy. A great snack and will disappear quickly. A double batch is a must. Note, a double batch will not fit safely on one pan. It will make a big mess.

Delicious nuts!
(adpated from Ina Garten's recipe in Barefoot Contessa: How Easy Is That)

Vegetable oil
2 cups whole roasted unsalted cashews (14 ounces)
2 cups whole walnut halves (7 ounces)
2 cups whole pecan halves (7 ounces)
1 1/2 cups whole hazelnuts (5 ounces)
1/2 cup whole almonds (3 ounces)
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons ground chipotle powder (others I know have had a hard time finding this. I found it at my local grocery store)
4 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves, divided
4 teaspoons Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Brush a sheet pan generously with vegetable oil. Combine the cashews, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, the maple syrup, brown sugar, orange juice, and chipotle powder on the sheet pan. Toss to coat the nuts evenly. Add 2 tablespoons of the rosemary and 2 teaspoons of salt and toss again.
Spread the nuts in one layer. Roast the nuts for 25 minutes, stirring twice with a large metal spatula, until the nuts are glazed and golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with 2 more teaspoons of salt and the remaining 2 tablespoons of rosemary.

Toss well and set aside at room temperature, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking as they cool. Taste for seasoning. Serve warm or cool completely and store in airtight containers at room temperature.

You can use whatever nuts you like. I love hazelnuts, had some and wanted to use them.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

chocolate cupcake, touch of coffee & caramel

Things are a bit crazy at work. My team loves sweets and I love baking for them. This is a chocolate cupcake, with a little coffee in them, some caramel buttercream, dash of fleur de sel and shaved bittersweet chocolate on top.

I'll get the recipe out, but the buttercream is usual and you can add a bit of coffee (instant or brewed) to any chocolate cake recipe and it will be pretty close. As you can see it's late and I should be in bed.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

pumpkin cupcake with maple buttercream and a sugared pecan

What says fall better than pumpkin? I'll admit, I'm not a huge fan of pumpkin, but this cupcake isn't too much pumpkin and the maple buttercream goes perfectly. I love pecans so what better to top it with, than one cooked in sugar?

Pumpkin Cupcake
(adapted from the

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup solid packed, canned pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 350F.

Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners or spray each cup with a non stick vegetable spray.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, ground spices, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then with the mixer on low add the pumpkin puree and flour mixture in three additions. Begin and end with the flour mixer. (I wasn't paying attention so I added the pumpkin then the flour mixture and they turned out fine).

Fill the muffin cups evenly with the batter using two spoons or an ice cream scoop. I used a 4 tablespoon scoop. Bake in the oven and bake for about 20 - 22 minutes or until firm to the touch. I checked them at 18 and they needed at least 21 minutes. When a toothpick comes out clean they are ready. Cool on a wire rack.

Maple Buttercream

One recipe Epicurious vanilla buttercream

I used 3 sticks of butter (instead of 4) and 1 tsp vanilla and added 1 - 2 oz of Grade B Maple Syrup. This is to your taste.

Sugared Pecans

1 large egg white
1 T water
1/2 cup packed golden brown sugar
1 1/2 cups pecan halves

Heat oven to 350 F.

Butter a rimmed baking sheet.

Beat egg white and water until frothy, add brown sugar and beat until dissolved. Mix in the pecans. Spread the pecan mixture on baking sheet. Bake at 350 for about 20 - 25 minutes. Watch these closely, if your oven is running hotter reduce the temperature. These will burn. Stir a few times while baking to ensure even browning and no burning.

Once the pecans are done and crisp, cool completely. Eat for a snack or top these cupcakes with them.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

caramel, bananas, peanut butter

I've been away for a week or so. It's been so busy with PTSA, work, kid homework and everything else that happens in between. I have been itching to get in the kitchen. The Nutella Brownies that were made last week were only little baking fix.

It was a blustery rainy day today and that didn't stop into the night. I made a quick dinner and relaxed a little before starting on the evenings sweet treat. A long day smoothed over with an evening in the kitchen. How all evenings should be.

I started with making salted caramel sauce. Easy, delicious and relaxing. Once you make your own, you won't want to buy it ever again.

Salted Caramel Sauce


2 cups sugar
1 2/3 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons salted butter
1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel or coarse sea salt (or to taste) I generally don't have salted butter so I used to a little more fleur de sel.


1. Spread the sugar in an even layer in a large metal Dutch oven or casserole, at least 6 quarts (6 L). On moderate heat (about medium) and cook without stirring, until the sugar near the edge just starts to liquefy.

2. Using a wooden spoon or silicone heat proof spatula, begin gently stirring, pushing the melted sugar around the edges toward the center and delicately stirring up any sugar melting on the bottom as well. The sugar will start to look pebbly as it cooks, but keep going; it will melt completely as it gets amber.

3. Keep cooking until the sugar turns deep brown and starts to smoke. (Don’t worry about any large chunks of caramel.) The darker you can cook the sugar without burning it, the better the final sauce will taste. It’s ready when it’s the color of a well-worn penny, and will smell a bit smoky.

4. Take the pot off of the heat and quickly stir in about a quarter of the cream. The mixture will bubble up furiously, so please wear an oven mitt over your stirring hand. Whisk in the remaining cream, to make sure it’s smooth. Stir in the butter and salt. Serve warm. If you like your sauce a bit thinner or less rich, add 1/4 cup water.

Caramel will last about a month or so in the fridge. Warm it in a small sauce pan or in the microwave to use.

I used this caramel to top a moist banana cupcake that was topped a second time with a light peanut butter frosting and drizzled with more caramel.

Banana Cupcake
adapted from Epicurious

* 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 2 very ripe large bananas, peeled
* 1/2 cup sour cream
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 teaspoon dark rum
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 1 large egg
* 1 large egg yolk

Preheat to 350°F. Line 12 standard (1/3-cup) muffin cups with paper liners. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Mash bananas with fork in another medium bowl until smooth. Mix sour cream, vanilla and rum into bananas.

Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and egg yolk and beat until well blended. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with banana-sour cream mixture in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating just until blended after each addition. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups (generous 1/4 cup for each).

Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center of each comes out clean, about 20 - 25 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to rack and let cool completely.

The cupcakes sink a little in the middle. Perfect for adding some of the caramel.

Lastly, whip up some peanut butter frosting to pipe on top of the banana caramel goodness.

Peanut Butter Frosting

• 1 cup confectioners' sugar
• 1 cup creamy peanut butter
• 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/3 cup heavy cream

Place the confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

This will frost about 20 cupcakes. I used a large star tip.