Monday, December 5, 2016

Salted Caramel Nuts

LOVE this new recipe!  I spied this recipe in my newest issue of PEOPLE  - Holiday Entertaining. This is a yummy recipe from Ina Garten!  All of her recipes are fabulous - this one caught my eye.  I made them Saturday for a Sunday School party.  I plan to make them again today.  I think this might be my new favorite holiday recipe.

It is easy and quick.  By quick, I mean... that at the very end - it all happens quickly - pouring, stirring, keeping them from clumping, etc.  I think I will do better this next time.

The recipe does call for kosher salt and fleur de sel.  I wasn't sure about the "fleur de sel" so I googled it.  You could use any sea salt .... but always go that extra mile and use fleur de sel if you have any or have access to it.   I did remember that my good friend Barb had given me a little ziploc bag of Fleur de Sel for just this kind of recipe.


Salted Caramel Nuts (adapted from Ina Garten and People magazine)

1 cup each whole roasted cashews, whole large pecan halves, 
               whole unsalted almonds and whole walnut halves (4 cups total)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fleur de sel

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine the nuts and spread them to a thin layer on a sheet pan.  Roast them for 7 minutes of until they become fragrant.  Set aside to cool.  

After the nuts are cooled, place sugar and 1/4 cup water in a medium 10 inch saute pan and mix with a fork, until all of the sugar is moistened.  Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar melts.  From this point on, don't stir the caramel, just the swirl the pan.  Don't worry, the mixture may start to look as they it's crystallizing, continue swirling for 5 - 10 minutes, until the mixture because a clear golden brown, swirling the pan constantly at the end. Off the heat, quickly add the vanilla (it will bubble up) and swirl the pan to combine.  Quickly add the nuts and kosher salt and using two large spoons, quickly toss until the nuts are completely coated.  

Pour the nuts any any extra caramel in teh pan onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  Spread the nuts out in one layer - pulling them apart with two forks.  Sprinkle with flear de sel and set aside to cool.  When they are completely cooled, carefully break the nuts into the desired size pieces, trying not to break the nuts too much!


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Pumpkin Chocolate Brownies

I know this is still pumpkin season... everything is pumpkin.  I enjoy pumpkin.... but don't totally love it.  These brownies are yummy.  They aren't just real easy... a few steps... but if you love pumpkin pie, you are going to love these brownies.  I LOVE chocolate and thought the chocolate was amazing in these brownies.  My teachers friends that love pumpkin pie thought they were fabulous.  I might just swirl a little more next time so the pumpkin isn't so thick in spots.  Also, be sure to bake it until done. This is an extra moist dessert - with the six eggs and pumpkin - so just make sure it is nicely done. Mine was too gooey in the middle!




 Pumpkin Chocolate Brownies (adapted from Southern Living)

1 1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate morsels
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces (I used salted)
3  (1 oz) squares of unsweetened chocolate, cut into pieces
3 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 Tbsp cold brewed coffee
1 Tbsp vanilla extract

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt, divided

1 ( 15oz) can pumpkin
3 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350.  In a double boiler, bring one inch of water to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer.  Place first three ingredients in top of double boiler over simmering water.  Cook, stirring occasionally ... 5 - 6 six minutes or until melted.  Remove from heat and cool 10 minutes.  

Whisk together 3 eggs, granulated sugar, brewed coffee and vanilla.  Gradually whisk warm chocolate mixture into egg mixture and cool 10 minutes.  

Grease a 13 x 9 inch baking with butter and dust with flour or line with parchment paper - leaving 2-3 inches over the side to form handles.  (I didn't use parchment paper - just greased and floured pan)

Sift flour, baking powder and 1/2 tsp of the kosher salt.  Whisk into chocolate mixture and pour into prepared baking pan... reserving 2/3 of the chocolate mixture.  

Whisk together pumpkin and next 4 ingredients and the remaining 1/2 tsp kosher salt.  Pour over brownie mixture.  Top with the remaining 2/3 cup brownie mixture.... swirling batter 3 times in one direction and three in the other - with a knife or wooden spoon. 

Bake at 350 for 45 - 50 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool completely on a wire rack, for about two hours.  If using parchment paper, use parchment paper handles and lift out of the pan.  Cut into 24 squares.  

Note - To make ahead, refrigerated cooled uncut brownies, uncovered, overnight and cut into squares while cold!


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Baked Caramel French Toast

This is amazing!  My friend Stacie at preschool is a great cook.  I don't think she has brought one thing to preschool that I haven't loved.

She often makes this Baked Caramel French Toast for a large crowd.  She will use a thinner Italian loaf and she stands the slices up so she can get a lot in a pan.  That works great for a crowd.  She also mentioned that she has topped it with cooked bacon crumbles or cooked sausage crumbles - before baking.  Yum!

I used French bread so I had pretty big slices.  I love pecans so I made one pan with pecans and one pan without... so I doubled the recipe... making two pans of sauce too.

My girls favorite part was that the bread was crunchy on one side and then nice caramel was on the other side.

One other side note... one of my pans was on a darker metal an one was a lighter colored metal.  I definitely liked the texture of the caramel from the recipe in the lighter colored pan - not quite as chewy!  I should probably have used a glass pan like the recipe suggested!


Baked Caramel French Toast

Topping

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
6 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
sprinkling of sea salt on top (optional)

French Toast

3 eggs
1/2  cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
8 (1/4 inch thick) diagonal slices French bread

Spray a 9 x 13 glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.  In a medium saucepan, combine all Topping ingredients, mixing well.  Cook over medium heat until smooth, stirring constantly - do not boil.  Spread topping in sprayed baking dish.  (if adding chopped nuts, sprinkle chopped nuts on top of poured topping and... then I sprinkled some sea salt over the nuts)

Beat eggs in a shallow bowl.  Add milk, vanilla and salt - beating well.  Dip each bread slice in egg mixture - making sure to absorb all egg mixture.  Place bread slices over Topping in sprayed baking dish.  Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

To serve - heat oven to 400 degrees.  Uncover baking dish and bake 20 - 25 minutes or until bubbly and toast is golden brown.  Let stand 3 minutes and invert onto a large serving platter, scraping any extra caramel topping from baking dish onto toast.  Serve immediately.  4 servings

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Strawberry Bread

We have been making this yummy Strawberry Bread for years.  It is definitely a favorite.  I use to make it without the glaze on top but my mom starting mixing some of the reserved strawberry juice with powdered sugar and pouring it over the top.  I love this addition - the sweet crunchy top is extra yummy!


Strawberry Bread

3 cups flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
4 well beaten eggs
1 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/2 tsp red food coloring
*2 (10 oz) pkg of frozen strawberries, chopped (reserve 1/2 cup juice
3/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray and grease two loaf pans.  Mix all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in dry ingredients; add eggs, nuts, oil, food color and chopped strawberries.  Mix all together except the reserved 1/2 cup juice.  Pour into the two prepared loaf pans.  Bake at 350 for 50 - 60 minutes - or until tester comes out clean.  Run a knife around edge of pan and invert onto a platter. While cooling, mix some or all of the reserved juice with powdered sugar to achieve a glaze-like texture.  Spoon over the warm bread.  Enjoy!

*I could only find a 15 oz container of strawberries - turned out great!
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