Tag Archives: chocolate

Chocolate Marbled Banana Bread

Nearly everyone I know loves banana bread.  And chocolate.  And who isn’t fascinated by a marbled baked-good?!  When I saw this recipe on the PPK (Post-Punk Kitchen) the other day, I actually started wishing my bananas would hurry up and get over-ripe.  Which for me, is when the spots start to appear.   My beautiful slightly green bananas granted my wish and soon became spotted and then became delicious work of (vegan!) baked art.

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Grab those over-ripe bananas and a few other ingredients and create your own edible art.

ingredients

  • 1 cup mashed very ripe banana  (about 3 bananas)
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 TBSP canola oil
  • 1/3 cup almond milk (or your preferred non-dairy milk)
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 TBSP boiling water, divided

Preheat oven to 350F and lightly oil a 4×8″ loaf pan.  Put water on to boil.

Peel and mash bananas.  Measure before placing in a mixing bowl.

mash and measure the bananas

Add milk, sugar, oil and vanilla.  Mix until well combined.

add vanilla sugar milk oil

Add flour, salt and baking soda.  Mix until JUST combined.  If you still see a bi of flour, that’s ok.  Be careful to not over-mix.

add dry

mix til moistened

Measure and scoop out one cup of this mixture and transfer to another bowl.

remove 1 cup

In a small bowl, dissolve the cocoa powder with 3 TBSP boiling water.  Stir vigorously with a fork until smooth.

dissolve cocoa

Add the dissolved chocolate into the one cup of banana mixture.  Mix until completely smooth and combined.

add cocoa to 1 cup mix

Add 3 TBSP boiling water to the original plain banana mixture.  Mix until mostly smooth.

add boiling water to plain mix

Scoop alternate “1/2 cupfuls” into the oiled loaf pan.  I used a large “spoonula” to mix each batter and just used those to scoop out each mixture.  Have fun and place the two different batters into the pan in a random fashion.  The randomness will help you make the groovy swirls!  Here are my layers as they built up.

layer 1

layer 2

layer 3

layer 4

layer 5

When all the batter is in the pan, use a butter knife or wooden skewer to swirl through the batter in a circular motion for about 10 seconds.

swirl

Bake 55-65 minutes.  Check for doneness by inserting a skewer or butter knife into the center of the loaf.  It’s done when a few moist crumbs cling to the skewer.  Cool in the pan on a rack until you can handle the pan without an oven mitt, then turn the loaf out to cool completely.

bake and cool

Now comes the oooooooo-ahhhhhhh part:  Cut 1/2 inch slices and watch the ever-changing, swirled banana bread art present itself.

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No need for a spread–moist and flavorful on its own.  Freshly cooled, this bread has a nicely crisp crust; after storage, it softens.

I went to the store today looking for bananas past their prime.  Alas, none to be had.  I bought the least ripe ones which are now in a paper bag on the counter.  Can’t wait to make another one of these beautiful and yummy breads!  I highly recommend you make one for yourself and keep the recipe in mind for the next potluck or food-gifting occasion.  Perfect!

The PPK is my go-to site for fabulous vegan recipes.  The recipes are easy to follow and written with just the perfect amount of humorous snark.  Isa Chandra is not your Mom’s Betty Crocker.  Click on over and see for yourself!

 

 

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Filed under breakfast, comfort food, dairy-free, dessert, food gifts, Potluck, recipe, snack, vegan, Vegetarian

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

Just before this blog went over 35,000 views, I posed a question on Facebook asking what I should make to celebrate the big number.  One friend suggested Gazpacho, one suggested something sweet and another suggested these very cupcakes as she perused my newest cookbook purchase, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  (A must-have if you’re vegan, for the recipes, tips and snarky commentary.)

vegan-cupcakes-take-over-the-world

Here’s the description from the cookbook: “Our favorite warm and toasty drink made into a cupcake-able form.  These have a subtle, crunchy top and a very moist interior with a delicate crumb thanks to the addition of coconut milk.  The corn flour and almonds give it an interesting texture that’s a lot like the drink (Mexican hot chocolate has pleasantly gritty bits in it), and just a little bit of cayenne gives it a spicy kick.”  Ummmm…exactly!

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Mine sank a bit in the middle, possibly due to expired baking powder or uneven heating (info from the troubleshooting portion of Vegan Cupcakes!), but not to worry–they really DO taste like Mexican Hot Chocolate!  Gather ingredients and see for yourself!

ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 TBSP ground flaxseed (find in the bulk section of a natural foods mart)
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 TBSP corn flour (I used masa harina.  Corn meal is way too gritty!)
  • 1/4 cup almond meal (found with specialty flours in some bigger grocery stores, for sure at natural food stores)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of cayenne pepper (up to 1/8 tsp)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract

For topping:

  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 TBSP cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F, and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners (recipe makes 12 cupcakes).

Whisk together coconut milk and ground flaxseeds and allow to sit for 10 minutes.

flax and milk

In another bowl, sift together: all purpose flour, corn flour, almond meal, cocoa,baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cayenne.

dry ingredients

Whisk sugar, oil, vanilla, and almond extract into the coconut mixture.

wet ingredients

Gently add wet to dry and fill cupcake liners 3/4 full.  I use an ice cream scoop sprayed with cooking spray to do this.  Bake 22-25 minutes–until a toothpick inserted near the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  Cool completely on a rack.

divide into pan

Sift a layer of confectioners sugar on the tops of the cooled cupcakes, then sift on cocoa, keeping more to the center, then cinnamon.  TADA!  Keep ’em in the fridge for a nice cool “hot chocolate.”  😉  A totally yummy way to celebrate 35,000 views!

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Vegan Chocolate Mousse Pie

It’s March 14–Happy Pi Day!  A nice coinky-dink that I just happened to make this pie yesterday.  I kinda had a hankering for a chocolate dessert and remembered a recipe I’d seen on one of my fav vegan blogs, The Vegan Flavorista.  A quick pantry and fridge check confirmed I had everything I needed for this not-too-sweet, luscious, creamy, chocolatey confection.  Oh my.

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I followed the Flavorista’s recipe, but added a teaspoon of espresso powder along with the chocolate.  I like the way espresso intensifies chocolate.  Mmmmmm.

ingredients

  • 1 cup non-dairy chocolate–chips or chunks or a bar cut into pieces, melted
  • 12 oz silken tofu
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp espresso powder (I thought of this at the last second, so it didn’t make the ingredients picture)
  • pre-made chocolate cookie crust, or make your own  (Individual pre-made cookie crusts would make cute little personal pies to share with your friends!)

Melt the chocolate using a double boiler or in the microwave.  I used the microwave, cooking 20 seconds at a time, stirring in between until the chips were melted.  I used these vegan chips from my local natural grocer.

vegan chips

Drain and press excess moisture from the tofu and place it into a food processor with the non-dairy milk and vanilla.  Blend until smooth.

blend tofu milk and vanilla

Add the chocolate, espresso powder and salt.

add chocolate and espresso powder

Blend again until silky-smooth.  Doesn’t that look yummy?!

blend til smooth

Pour into prepared crust and garnish if you want.  I used more of the chips, but thought chopped nuts, crumbled chocolate cookie, toasted coconut, or toffee bits would be pretty and tasty as well.

pour into shell and garnish

Cover (a bonus with the pre-made crust is that it comes with its own cover!) and place in the fridge to firm up for at least 4 hours.  Being a mousse, it doesn’t get truly firm, it stays soft but cut-able and serves up beautifully.  Garnish with a few of the season’s first strawberries and voila!

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You’d never suspect this decadent dessert was dairy-free, low fat and had no added sugar.  It tastes like sin.  Big creamychocolicious sin.  Heavenly.  🙂

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Vegan Triple Chocolate Cupcakes

Low-fat vegan baking is a challenge…well, for me anyway.  I have trouble achieving the texture and mouth feel of the baked goods I’ve always made.   Happily, a friend posted this link on her Facebook page, just in time for Valentine’s Day.  I adjusted just a couple of things for my personal taste, and ended up with a real Ta-Da moment!

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Do you like moist, tender chocolate cake topped with melty chocolate?!  If you answered yes(!), line yourself a cupcake pan with 12 liners and get a-bakin’!

ingredients

  • 1/4 cup mini vegan chocolate chips, plus more for topping (find these at a natural foods store) 
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk, such as soy, room temperature
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2/3 cup sugar (I like organic–it’s not as processed)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp espresso powder (optional, but really intensifies the chocolate flavor)
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (I used white whole wheat)
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

Melt 1/4 cup chocolate chips in a double boiler, or microwave.  Since it’s such a tiny amount, I chose microwave.  Place in a microwave-safe container, cook for 20 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until melted.  Set aside.

melt choc chips

Whisk the non-dairy milk with the vinegar in a large bowl and let sit for a couple minutes.  The vinegar will “curdle” the milk a tiny bit–but not in a bad way.  🙂

combine wet ingredients

Stir in the sugar, vanilla, applesauce and melted chocolate.  (I attempted this using milk straight from the fridge.  When melted chocolate met cold milk, the chocolate solidified!  I fixed this by microwaving the wet ingredients for 20 seconds or so.  Lucky this recipe has no eggs!)

add chocolate

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

combine dry ingredients

Add the dry ingredients to the wet in two batches.  I used a hand mixer to get everything well mixed.

add dry to wet

Scoop the batter evenly into the 12 cupcake liners.  I used these pretty ones I got at an after Valentine’s Day sale last year.  Very pretty, but hard to get the batter in them because they are so tall!  Bake 18-20 minutes; until a toothpick comes out cleanly.

place in cupcake liners

Remove from oven and place the pan on a cooling rack.

baked

Top with more of the mini chips while cupcakes are still hot.  That way, the chips will melt onto the tops of the cupcake.  Yum!

top with a few chips

Cool completely, about 20 minutes.  Ummm….the ones that were allowed to cool came out of the papers better….they were awfully yummy still a bit warm.  I didn’t mind scraping the wrapper for a few little chocolatey bits.  🙂

yum1After they’d cooled a bit, I wrapped up some as Valentine surprises for the neighbors–one set of neighbors are vegan, the others aren’t.  These cupcakes were a hit with everybody!

gifts for neighbors

I decided to call them triple chocolate, because there are two kinds of chocolate inside the cakes, and more on top.  Whatever you call them, you’re gonna love them!

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Flourless Chocolate Cake

We had friends over New Year’s Eve for dinner, games and champagne.  I wanted to make a special, decadent dessert for this special evening.

pwdered sugar

Special, decadent AND gluten-free as well as dairy-free to accommodate the dietary needs of our guests.  I adjusted a recipe from the cookbook, Gluten Free and Easy by Robyn Russell.

ingredients

  • 14 TBSP dairy-free margarine, such as Fleishmann’s
  • 1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup light vegetable oil (I used canola)
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • powdered sugar for serving

Preheat oven to 350F.

Trace the bottom of a 9″ springform pan onto parchment paper, cut out the shape.

trace onto parchment

Grease the inside of the pan, including the bottom with dairy-free margarine.  Place the parchment circle in the bottom of the pan and grease it, too.

grease and line

Melt the butter and oil over medium-low heat.

melt butter

Remove the pan from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth.

add cocoa

In a large bowl, mix egg yolks and sugar until thick.

mix eggs sugar

suar and egg yolks thickened

Add the chocolate mixture and beat until fully combined.

add cocoa mix

well combined

In a clean glass or metal bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.

stiff peaks

Place half of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and gently fold in.  This will be a bit difficult at first, but hang in there!  Add the rest of the egg whites and fold in until fully combined.

fold egg whites in

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.

pour into pan

Bake 45-50 minutes or until the center is set.

bake until set

Allow the cake to cool and fully set up in the pan.  Your cake will probably fall some and develop cracks in the surface–it’s supposed to look this way.  🙂  When fully cool, gently turn it out, remove the parchment from the bottom and place right side up on a serving plate.  Dust with powdered sugar prior to serving.  I placed a doily on top of mine before dusting to create this pretty pattern.

powdered sugar 2

Ta-Da!  Beautiful, right?!

pwdered sugar

Fudge-like, dense, rich, perfect for a special occasion.

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My guests were pleased!

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Clementine cuties are wonderful this time of year, and perfect with this cake.  Ice cream would be lovely, or whipped cream, or coffee, or……another slice.

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No need to wait for a friend with special dietary needs.  😉

 

 

 

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Healthy Fruit and Nut Bars

Yup, healthy!  I found this recipe turning through the pages of the April 2012 Whole Living magazine in a section devoted to healthy alternatives for afternoon snacking.  I must say these bars are satisfying and best of all, really hit that sweet-tooth spot.  At 176 calories per bar, they are nearly 100 calories less than a Snickers.   You’d have to walk at a 3mph pace for half an hour to make up the difference if you chose the Snickers instead. 

I think I’m in love…

These are super-easy-peasy and quick to make.  Make ’em Sunday night and have a bar for each day of the work week, plus Saturday!

  • 1 1/2 cups dried fruit (I used a combo of apricots and cherries)
  • 1/2 cup raw nuts, toasted if you want (I used almonds)
  • 2 TBSP unsweeted shredded coconut, toasted if you like
  • coarse salt
  • 1/2 oz chocolate, melted (I used white chocolate–just sounded yummy with the apricots.)

Line a 9×5 inch laof pan with parchment paper, leaving an inch or so of overhang.

Place fruit, nuts and a pinch of salt in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely ground.

Transfer mixture to the prepared loaf pan and press firmly.

Using the parchment “handles,” lift the bars out and drizzle with melted chocolate, then top with coconut.

Chill in refrigerator until firm, about 15 minutes.  Cut into six bars and enjoy!

So, so yummy!  Wrap individual bars in parchment paper for on the go snackage.  Experiment with different dried fruits or combos and different nuts.  So many possibilites!  The big challenge? Keeping the rest of the fam out of your fruit and nut bar stash!  Might need to make more….

The rest of the nutrition info per one-bar serving: 176 cals, 8g fat (2 g sat fat), 0mg cholesterol, 25g carbs, 56mg sodium, 4g protein, 4g fiber.  

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Sweet-Tooth Saturday: Heavenly Banana-Chocolate Bread

Heavenly.  This adjective will occur to you, sniffing the air while this bread is baking.  And again when you sample a warm, melty slice.  And again when you wake up in the middle of the night and realize your house still smells of sweet banana bread and chocolate….and the rest of the loaf is calling to you from the refrigerator.

Even if you think you don’t like the combination of banana and chocolate (like me), you’ve gotta try this recipe next time you have bananas going past their prime.  The recipe is adapted from Everyday Food Magazine.

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature (You can microwave a stick for 20 seconds to achieve softness.)
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp table salt (NOT kosher.)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed banana (3-4 bananas)
  • 2 TBSP plain yogurt–I used Greek yogurt (can substitute sour cream)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Butter and flour a 5×9″ loaf pan, set aside.

Chop up chocolate, even if you’re using chocolate chips like me.  This will create the magic that makes this bread so amazing–the tiny shards will blend into the loaf and the larger pieces will make melty puddles of yumminess.  Chop the nuts as well.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, soda and salt.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy, 3 minutes.

Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each, scraping down the bowl if necessary.

Beat in bananas, yogurt, and vanilla.

Beat in flour mixture.

Stir in nuts and chocolate.

Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake until a skewer comes out with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it; 1 hour-1 hour and 20 minutes.

The top will be dark, but aside from the melty bits, this is my favorite part.  Crispity-crunchity mmmm-mmmm-yummy!

Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove.  The original recipe says to cool completely on a wire rack, wrap tightly in plastic and store in the refrigerator or freeze, up to 3 months.  Really?  I say slice and enjoy right away!  While it’s all warm and melty! 

Then later, if you want to store or freeze the rest, go ahead.  This treat doesn’t last long around here.  Yummy by itself, yummy with a scoop of vanilla ice cream….just sayin’.

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Sweetheart Chocolate Waffles

Chocolate.  Waffles.  Oh, yeah!  When I first saw these in the recent “Chocolate Issue” of the Food Network Magazine, I thought how perfect they’d be, made up in my cute little heart waffle iron, for Valentine’s breakfast.  But then, if I waited, none of you would have the recipe in time.  So, I sucked it up and made them this morning.  How I sacrifice for this blog.  😉

No more trouble than any waffle, and not overly chocolatey or overly sweet; I’ll be making more of these!

  • 6 TBSP butter, melted
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 TBSP sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chocolate syrup
  • toppings of your choice, such as powdered sugar, chocolate syrup, berries, …..!

Melt the butter and set aside to cool a bit.

Whisk the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder together in a large bowl.

In a smaller bowl or large measuring cup (which I like for the pouring part!), whisk the eggs, milk, vanilla and melted butter together.

Whisk the egg mixture into the flour mixture.  The batter will be thick.

Heat a waffle iron, ladle batter in and cook until done.  These waffles smell uh-maze-ing while they cook!  It’s a bit tricky to see if they’re done or not, since they’re already brown, but they do get a little browner. 

Serve up topped however you like.  I loved the way the powdered sugar played against the crispy chocolatey waffles.  Mmmmmm-yummy!

Michael liked them like he likes any waffle–topped with a bit of butter melting in….but this is way prettier, don’t you think?

AND THEN!  I got this idea that the little hearts could be separated, and two of them could be the outside of a cute little ice cream sandwich, with hot fudge and whipped cream. 

Oh but these were yummy–the Sweetheart Sundae!  I toasted the waffles I made this morning in the toaster for perfect crispy warmness.  Yum-yum-yummy!

Have a sweet Valentine’s Day!

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Sweet-Tooth Saturday: Easy Chocolate Truffles

Let’s start this post with a picture, shall we?!

I am so patting myself on the back for making these uber-rich, chocolatey, beautiful and EASY little truffles today.  Lucky for me, I am a woman of a “certain age,” because I found the recipe in the February/March AARP Magazine–just the thing for Valentine’s Day!  Make the truffles classic and simple by rolling them in cocoa powder, or go wild with coatings! 

  • 10 ounces of semi- or bitter-sweet chocolate, finely chopped  (I used semi-sweet chips.)
  • 1 cup heavy cream 
  • 4 TBSP unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 TBSP light corn syrup
  • about 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder for coating, or a combination of coatings!  (I used cocoa powder, espresso powder, powdered sugar, coconut and a variety of pink sugars and sprinkles.)

Line an 8×8 pan with plastic wrap, leaving some up over the sides.

Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time, stirring every 30 seconds until mostly melted.

Bring cream just to a boil in a sauce pan.  (Watch VERY closely, it doesn’t take much time between starting to boil and a huge mess all over your stove!) 

Remove from heat and pour over chocolate.

Stir until the mixture is thick, smooth and shiny.  It will seem to not be combining at first, but keep stirring, it will get shiny!

Stir in butter, 1 TBSP at a time.  When all butter is incorporated, stir in the corn syrup.

Pour mixture into the prepared pan.

Fold plastic over the top, and gently press against the chocolate.  Refrigerate 2-3 hours, until firm.

Lift truffles out, plastic and all, to a cutting board.  Carefully cut into 36 pieces, using a long, cold chef’s knife.  You may need to clean your knife in between cuts.

Line a baking sheet with wax paper and assemble your coatings in bowls large enough to roll the truffles in.

One by one, roll the pieces between your hands to make balls.  This is super-uber messy.  Truffles are supposed to melt in your mouth, and will melt on your hands while you roll them.  Roll each ball in the coating of your choice.  I learned to not switch back and forth between coatings–the coatings will stick to your chocolatey fingers and contaminate the look of the next truffle.  (Eat any “mistakes.”  I won’t tell.)  Place rolled truffles on wax paper.  I also learned to wash my hands between coatings, rinsing with cold water to try to keep my hands colder.

Continue until all truffles are coated and placed on the sheet.  Refrigerate until firm again.  Serve cold.

I had some little mini-muffin liners–I just used the pink ones; and found some Valentine-y ones at the store, along with these cute little heart tins! 

I just love-love-love how pretty these look! 

I think my Valentines are going to love the different coatings and the rich, melty chocolate.  Yummy!

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Sweet-Tooth Saturday: Chocolate-Covered Salted Caramels

While in Hawai’i on vacation, I bought my mom Red ‘Alaea and Black Lava sea salts as a Christmas gift; she loved cooking with gourmet salts. She never even got to see them.  My dad is a self-described “survival cook,” so we agreed I’d use them more than he would, and I brought them home with me.  They’ve been up in my cupboard for almost a month now, calling to me every time I open the door.  What does fancy sea salt say, you might be wondering?  (Imagine this in a soft whispery voice, almost like a breeze) “Saaalted Caaaramellls.  Saaaaalted Caaaaaramelllsss….”  What could I do?  Here are some caramels for you, Mom.

I found a caramel recipe on line.  Candy-making is not my forte, but after over-cooking the first batch I learned a lot.  Tips I’ll be passing on to you!

For the caramels:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 2 1/4 cups brown sugar  (I only had 2 cups, so filled in the last 1/4 cup with granulated organic sugar.)
  • 1 cup corn syrup  (Please don’t hate me.  I usually avoid corn syrups, but for a yummy caramel with the proper texture, well, I had to.)
  • 1-14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

For the chocolate and salt parts:

  • 2-10-oz bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tsp espresso powder
  • sea salt  (I have 3 sea salts and a pink Himalyan salt.)

Butter an 8×8 pan, line it with parchment paper and butter it again.  The parchment will act as handles to help get the caramel block out of the pan.

Melt butter in a 4-6-quart pan over medium heat.

Add milk, sugar and corn syrup.

Stir until combined.  Place a candy thermometer on the pan so the tip is under the surface of the caramel-to-be, but not touching the bottom of the pan.

Stir constantly until the mixture reaches 242F.  Scrape the sides of the pan as you stir to prevent sugar crystals from forming. 

We pause here for the “Here’s what I learned making these caramels” part.  The original recipe says to heat to 242-248F.  The first time I let it go to 250F.  Very bad–they turned into something I could not cut, I tried remelting and burned it.  There’s just no fixing it if it goes past the target temp.  This time, I cooked until 245F; thinking I’d split the difference of the recommended temperatures.  These caramels were cut-able and super yummy, if a bit on the chewy side.  Next time I make them I’m heading for the low end of recommended temperatures, to see if they will stay a bit less threatening to my fillings.  😉

OK, on with the caramels.  When the mixture reaches 242F, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, bounce it on the counter for a minute to help bubbles rise to the surface, and refrigerate until cooled.

Here’s more of what I learned:  The original recipe said to wait until cool, but not completely set, cut into 1″ pieces and return to the fridge until firm.  I tried this and they were so gooey, they stuck to my knife and then were kinda stretched out of shape and didn’t want to go back into their pan.  I gave up after cutting just 3 rows, and found out letting them set until firm was easier to cut anyway.  The bottom of the pan still felt a tiny bit warm to the touch.

So, lift caramels from the pan with the parchment handles to a cutting board.  Cut into 1/2-1-inch pieces using a very sharp, buttered knife–I used a long chef’s knife.  The long cuts here are 1-inch apart.  I cut the first row into 8-1-inch pieces, but that seemed a bit too big to me, so from there on, I cut each row into 12 pieces.

Eat them just like this if you want.  You’ll want to wrap them individually or they will stick together.  Mr17 and I tried them at this stage–yummy–just like a “real” caramel!  Or, gather up your caramels and a few more things and head toward caramel nirvana!

Working with one bag of chips at a time, melt chocolate chips in the microwave in 20-second intervals, stirring in between, until smooth.

Stir in 1 tsp espresso powder per bag of chips.  You won’t taste the espresso much, it just makes the chocolate even more rich and chocolatey.

Dip caramels and place on wax paper.  I tried being neat about this process, using a toothpick stuck in the caramel to dip it into the chocolate.  The chocolate kept sucking the caramel off the toothpick, and I’d have to use my fingers to rescue it.  So I just ended up using my fingers.

While chocolate is still wet, sprinkle a few salt crystals on top of each caramel. After washing and thoroughly drying your fingers, of course.  🙂   

Pretty soon, you’ll have enough for everybody in the neighborhood!  I really like how the different colors look–very gourmet, don’t you think?!  The flavor of each is ever-so-slightly different, with the least salty being the black lava salt and the most salty being the regular sea salt.

Himalyan Pink is pretty,

but the Red ‘Alaea is my favorite.

Your friends will LOVE it if you share.  I save baby brie boxes; they’re perfect little candy boxes.

Heart-shaped boxes filled with these yummy salted caramels will make you the Valentine’s Day rock star!  Everyone I know loves dark-chocolatey, rich-caramely flavors, intensified by sea salt.  Yum-yum-yummy! 

Last thing I learned:  The original recipe mixed in 1 TBSP of butter with the chocolate, but reviews of the recipe indicated that the butter was problematic, so I left it out.  Everything worked fine, and the caramels taste uh-maze-ing, but they did dry kind of dull.  I’d like the chocolates to be a bit more glossy.  More experimenting?  Yummy!

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Filed under dessert, food gifts, Holiday foods, recipe