Salty Pretzel Carmelitas

Salty Pretzel CarmelitasI’m on the first of two back-to-back trips to Maine, but I’m popping in to tell you something important:Salty Pretzel CarmelitasYou should make these Salty Pretzel Carmelitas ASAP. Like tomorrow. Or tonight. Or right now. Call in sick, go get yourself some pretzels and a bag of caramels, and get ready to fall in love.Salty Pretzel CarmelitasOkay, maybe don’t skip work, but definitely do make some time for these. Salty Pretzel CarmelitasSalty Pretzel Carmelitas are everything. I’m not exaggerating. They’re sweet and salty…Salty Pretzel Carmelitascrispy, crunchy…Salty Pretzel Carmelitaschewy, gooey…Salty Pretzel Carmelitaseasy peasy bites of magic. Magic, I tell you.Salty Pretzel CarmelitasSalty Pretzel CarmelitasI really feel like I could just leave it at that, but perhaps you need a more convincing argument as to why you absolutely should make these this weekend.Salty Pretzel CarmelitasBut if two layers of salted, brown sugary, pretzel- and chocolate chip-studded cookie…Salty Pretzel Carmelitasand stretchy, glossy caramel don’t have you running to the kitchen, I don’t know what will.Salty Pretzel Carmelitas

Salty Pretzel Carmelitas
makes one 8-inch square pan, about 9-16 bars

3 cups salted pretzels
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted & cooled slightly
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips + more for sprinkling (optional)
1 11-ounce bag caramel candies, unwrapped
6 tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil and grease with butter. Set aside.

Place pretzels in a large zip-top bag. Seal bag and place on a counter or other hard, durable surface. Use a rolling pin or heavy pan to crush pretzels until the largest pieces are no more than 1/2-inch in length. This should yield about 1-1 1/3 cups crushed pretzels.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, and crushed pretzels. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in melted butter—mixture may be crumbly, but should hold together when pinched. Ensure that the dough is not too warm before folding in chocolate chips. Set aside.

Combine caramels and heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Set aside.

Firmly press half the dough (about 2 cups) into an even layer at the bottom of the prepared pan. Pour caramel over the top and smooth to the edges. Scatter remaining dough mixture over the top. Use the palms of your hands to gently pack it into a even layer, covering the caramel.

Bake full pan for 23 minutes, or until turning golden at the edges. Let cool completely in the pan on a rack (you can speed this up in the refrigerator).

Slice bars with a lightly greased chef’s knife, wiping the blade clean between cuts. Do not try to slice bars until they are completely room temperature. If you cooled them in the refrigerator, let them return to room temperature before slicing.

Bars will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days. Layer them with wax paper to keep them from sticking together.

Salty Pretzel Carmelitas

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Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 1: Caramel Pudding

For Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 2, click here. For Vol. 3, click here.

Caramel PuddingIf you’ve been on my social media in the past few days, you know I’ve been busy lately. Aside from working and blogging and petting dogs and being a person in New York City, I’m making a wedding cake!Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 1One of my nearest and dearest friends is getting married on Sunday, and asked yours truly to make a big, beautiful cake for her and her dream man. I said yes—it was a proposal this baker couldn’t refuse. Of course, July 15, 2018, seemed very far away when I agreed to this last summer. In fact, it didn’t start feeling imminent until May, when she and future hubs planned a trip home to NYC to make some final arrangements, including a cake tasting.Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 1Cut to June 4th when I showed up to the bride’s mother’s apartment with three little layer cakes: all vanilla, two with traditional Swiss Meringue Buttercream, one with Seafoam (brown sugar) Swiss Meringue Buttercream, two with mocha filling (the bride’s request), and one with caramel (the groom’s favorite). I wasn’t too confident, not because I didn’t think the cakes would taste good, but because this isn’t just any ol’ cake, you know?Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 1Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 1The original plan was that they would choose one filling and one frosting and that would be that. About five minutes into the tasting we were all in agreement—vanilla, mocha, and bright-white Swiss Meringue Buttercream. But that was before the mother of the bride randomly stacked a bite of the caramel-filled cake on top of a bite of the mocha-filled cake and then insisted the rest of us do the same. Just like my friend and her betrothed, each filling was fine on its own, but they were better together—the combination of chocolate, espresso, and dark caramel is divine. And so, it stands that this cake will be vanilla layers with Swiss Meringue Buttercream and alternating mocha and caramel fillings.Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 1Since this cake has to be made, transported, and assembled in the middle of a hot, humid NYC July, I had to take melting into consideration when developing the recipe(s). Traditional American Buttercream (butter + confectioners sugar + vanilla + heavy cream, AKA most of the frostings on this site) was out as a filling/frosting option—too prone to melting. Instead, the fillings and frosting are all at least partially egg-based. Eggs are textural and structural powerhouses in cooking and baking, and most importantly, they don’t melt.Caramel PuddingThe frosting, which I’ll write more about on Friday, is made from egg whites, while the fillings are made with the yolks. The mocha filling is simply my chocolate pudding with a tablespoon of espresso granules added to the dry ingredients—easy peasy. I’ve already gone on and on about its richness and depth, and used it as a cake filling.Caramel PuddingToday is all about the caramel filling—this rich, silky, insanely delicious pudding that is practically like eating a little bowl of pure caramel! So freaking good.Caramel PuddingCaramel Pudding is a streamlined spin on the Butterscotch Cream Pie filling I made last fall. It’s super quick and easy to make, coming together in just 15 minutes on the stovetop. You may absolutely enjoy it without any accoutrements, but I especially love it with whipped cream and a drizzle of homemade caramel sauce.Caramel PuddingAnd, of course, it also works well as a cake filling, if whispers of dark caramel between layers of buttery vanilla cake are a thing you’re into.Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 1They are definitely a thing I’m into.Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 1

Caramel Pudding
makes 4 servings

1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

For serving (optional):
whipped cream
caramel sauce

Combine sugar, light corn syrup, apple cider vinegar, cornstarch, and salt in a heavy-bottomed 4-quart pot over medium-high heat. Whisking constantly, cook until dark amber, about 7-8 minutes. Do not burn. Whisk in milk. Mixture will bubble violently and caramel may briefly seize, but keep whisking until it has smoothed out and boiled for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Whisk 1/3 of the mixture into the egg yolks. Return egg yolk mixture to pot and place back over medium-high heat. Whisking constantly, bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in vanilla and butter.

Push through a sieve to remove lumps. Divide mixture among 4 4-ounce ramekins. Press a piece of plastic wrap to the surfaces. Refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours, or until cold.

When ready to serve, top with whipped cream and caramel sauce, if desired.

Caramel Pudding will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Caramel PuddingLet’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 1

Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce

Peanut Butter Caramel SauceHere’s some fair warning that I might have a lot of ice cream-related recipes coming your way over the next month or two. I’ve been dreaming them up since the third snowstorm we had this past March, and I’m psyched that it’s finally time to share them! Believe me when I tell you that the Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cake I posted a couple of weeks ago is just the tip of the ice (cream) berg 🙂 Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce
Today is all about my new favorite ice cream topping: Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce. Yes, you read that right.Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce
Peanut. Butter. Caramel. Sauce. ❤ ❤ ❤ Peanut Butter Caramel SaucePeanut Butter Caramel Sauce
This stuff takes all of ten minutes to make and is out-of-this-world delicious! It’s literally as easy as melting some sugar, stirring in butter, heavy cream & creamy peanut butter, and then doctoring it up with some vanilla and salt. That’s literally it.Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce
Pour your hot Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce in a jar and then over some vanilla ice cream. Or chocolate ice cream. Or use it as a dip for apple slices. Or drizzle some over a Chocolate Puff Pancake.Peanut Butter Caramel SaucePeanut Butter Caramel SaucePeanut Butter Caramel Sauce
Or maybe whip some cream in a jar, chop some salted peanuts, and make yourself a quick peanut butter sundae on the hottest day of the year (so far). Don’t forget the maraschino cherry.Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce
It might get a little melty before you have a chance to snap a pic for your Instagram, but who cares? There’s Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce to be had.Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce

Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce
makes about 2 cups (1 pint)

1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup creamy-style peanut butter (not natural-style)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4-1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (depends on your preference)

Place sugar in a 2-3 quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk sugar until the sugar melts and turns a deep copper color. Whisk in butter until completely incorporated. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in heavy cream. Caramel will bubble violently, but will quickly relax into a smooth sauce. Whisk in peanut butter, vanilla, and salt. Transfer sauce to a jar.

Sauce is best served warm or room temperature. Leftovers should be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Reheat by microwaving in 15 second increments, stirring between intervals.Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce