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

Advertisements

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

Caramel Apple Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}

Caramel Apple Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}I must have pancakes on the brain. Last week, I posted this single-serving pancake recipe, and thanks to the response I got, I have spent the last week working on another. If I ever get the banana version to quit sticking to the pan, I’ll put it on here.

Until then, let’s talk about this Caramel Apple Puff Pancake. Oh, y’all. It is good. Goooood. Like apple pie meets caramel meets the best weekend breakfast there is. You’re going to want to make it for every weekend and holiday brunch you have for the rest of the season because it. is. ridiculous.

Caramel Apple Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}It all starts with a classic Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby} batter. Puff Pancakes are a family favorite. They’re super easy to make and very impressive. The batter comes together in a food processor (or blender) before being poured into a screaming hot pan. Then, it’s baked for about twenty minutes until it puffs up. When it comes out of the oven, it quickly deflates, leaving behind a beautifully browned pancake with a soft custard-like center and chewy edges. It’s a thing to behold and is perfect with some confectioner’s sugar and maple syrup (or lemon juice). It really doesn’t need to be messed with. But we all know that’s not really my style.

Caramel Apple Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}Caramel Apple Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}Here, the traditional batter is poured into the pan and then sprinkled with sliced apples that have been tossed with sugar and pie spices–basically pie filling without a thickener. As the pancake bakes, it envelops the sliced apples. When it comes out of the oven, it’s basically the most autumnal thing ever. A drizzle of caramel sauce is all it needs to bring it over the top.

Caramel Apple Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}Now, of course you may use store-bought caramel sauce (I hear Trader Joe’s has a good one), but I am here to convince you to make your own. It’s quick, easy, involves minimal ingredients, and is SO much better than anything you could get near the ice cream toppings. I swear. All you do is melt some sugar over medium-high heat, stirring until it becomes a dark copper color (but doesn’t burn). Then, whisk in a bunch of butter. Take the pan off the heat and whisk in some cream. It’ll bubble up violently, but just keep whisking and it’ll calm down and become a smooth, luxurious sauce. Whisk in some vanilla and salt, and then pour it on everything.

Caramel Apple Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}The best pieces of advice I can give you for making homemade caramel?

  • Use a silver or white saucepan so you can see the sugar changing color.
  • Wear an oven mit. Molten caramel burns a lot more than boiling water.
  • Don’t step away from the caramel, even for a second. It can burn in the blink of an eye.

If I haven’t scared you away, please try this caramel sauce. It comes together in a matter of minutes and really is worth the (minimal) effort…especially when it’s drizzled over this perfectly spiced apple puff pancake.Caramel Apple Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}

Caramel Apple Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}
makes 4-6 servings*

Apples:
2 large baking apples,* peeled, 1/4-inch slices
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Puff Pancake Batter:
4 large eggs
1 cup milk (not skim or fat free)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
3-4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons butter (unsalted or salted)

Caramel Sauce:
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Place a large ovenproof cast iron or stainless steel pan in a cold oven. Preheat oven to 400F.

Prepare the apples. In a medium mixing bowl, use your hands to toss apple slices and vinegar together. Sprinkle sugar, spices, and salt over the top and toss to combine. Set aside.

Prepare the pancake batter. In the bowl of a food processor or high-powered blender*, combine eggs, milk, vanilla, flour, sugar, and salt. Process 30 seconds, or until no lumps remain. Let batter rest five minutes.

Once oven has reached 400F, remove the hot pan and add butter. Place pan back in the oven for 60-90 seconds, until butter has melted. Remove pan from the oven, and swirl the butter so it coats the pan. Pour in batter. Scatter apples over the top, leaving any excess liquid in the bowl. Bake 19-20 minutes, until puffed and golden. Do NOT open the oven door during baking.

While the pancake is baking, make the caramel sauce. 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 vanilla and salt. Transfer sauce to a jar.

Let pancake cool 2-5 minutes before slicing. Drizzle individual portions with caramel sauce and serve immediately.

Caramel sauce will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Notes:

1. If you’d like to make a 3-4 serving puff, use 3 large eggs, 3/4 cup milk, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 2-3 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons butter. Use the same amount of apples. Follow all instructions as written, changing the baking time to 18-19 minutes.
2. I used one tart apple (Granny Smith) and one sweet apple (McIntosh).
3. If you do not have a food processor or blender, you may whisk all of the ingredients together and then push them through a wire mesh sieve to remove any lumps of flour. Let batter rest five minutes before proceeding as written.

Caramel Apple Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}

Caramel-Stuffed Potato Chip Cookies

Caramel-Stuffed Potato Chip CookiesIn five days, I will post a pumpkin recipe. I promise.

For some reason, this year I’m insisting on holding out on all the pumpkin until it’s “officially” fall. It’s getting silly. I have had absolutely zero recipe ideas this week that don’t involve cracking open a can of the orange stuff. Not a one. But I’m stubborn, and so I am holding out for exactly five more days. If, however, you are not as ridiculous as I am, you can get your pumpkin fix here and here.

Caramel-Stuffed Potato Chip CookiesThank goodness I have an ever-growing list of recipe ideas on my phone. When I feel stuck on an ingredient, or if I have had too many fails in a row and don’t feel up to baking, that list always helps me to get excited about being in the kitchen again. Without it, I may have put off sharing these Caramel-Stuffed Potato Chip Cookies until after Christmas, and that’d be a real shame because they are fabulous.

Caramel-Stuffed Potato Chip CookiesCaramel-Stuffed Potato Chip CookiesCaramel-Stuffed Potato Chip CookiesThese cookies, y’all. They’re super chewy, studded with crispy crushed potato chips, and stuffed with gooey caramel. Top that fantastic mix of textures with an addictive sweet and salty flavor combination, and they’re absolutely irresistible! Trust me, these cookies make holding out for pumpkin season just a little bit easier.

Have a great weekend!Caramel-Stuffed Potato Chip Cookies

Caramel-Stuffed Potato Chip Cookies
makes about 3.5 dozen cookies

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups crushed ruffled potato chips*
20 caramel candies,* sliced in quarters

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until fluffy. Mix in light brown and granulated sugars, followed by egg and yolk and vanilla. Add dry ingredients in two installments, mixing completely after each addition. Add in crushed potato chips, mixing just until dispersed. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for 90 minutes or up to three days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

Scoop dough by the tablespoon and roll into balls. Flatten the balls. Place a quarter-caramel in the middle of each dough ball and wrap the dough around it, using your fingers to smooth any seams. Place dough balls at least two inches apart on prepared pans. Bake 8-10 minutes, until they look just slightly underbaked.

Let cookies cool on the baking sheets for ten minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Serve cookies warm or at room temperature.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Notes:

1.  Use sturdy chips–if they can’t scoop up dip without breaking, don’t use them here. Thin, flimsy chips will basically “melt” into the dough. Use ruffled or kettle-cooked potato chips.

2.  I use Kraft caramels.