Make Monday Better: Caramel Apple Pudding

Caramel Apple Pudding

Today was the loveliest of Mondays. A light rain fell most of the day. As I am lucky enough to work at a desk near an open window, I spent the day typing to the sound of rain drops falling softly against the trees.

Who am I kidding? Rainy days and Mondays tend to have enough negatives going for them on their own. Combine them, and it is the ultimate no-win situation. And now that we are past the mid-point of September, three weeks into college football, and have apples showing up at the farmer’s market, I am forced to let summer go.

When the seasons change from winter to spring, most of us probably do a lot of spring cleaning. I tend to do a lot of fall cleaning as well. Finally acknowledging the rapid approach of autumn, I did a little cleaning this past weekend.

Caramel Apple Pudding

My efforts led me to a diary I kept while in college. I imagine I got into the habit of writing a diary for two reasons: 1) I like to write and, 2) I grew up watching my grandfather  keep a daily diary. Though for a man, grandpa would probably rather I refer to his writings as a journal.

Every year for Christmas, he and grandma would give me a blank journal. And every year I would think, “Well, I guess I better write something in this.” So I did.

Though I do not keep a diary anymore, I am grateful I came across the thoughts I kept a decade ago. It gave me insight into the things I did not realize I still refuse to let go. It reminded me of how far I have come, and how much farther I hope to go. It made me feel good to know that I could once stay awake past 10 p.m.

Caramel Apple Pudding

I will spare you all the sordid details, but these were a few of my favorite things I once thought were terribly important:

July 11, 2002, 11:14 p.m. A nice thing that happened today was that Sister Nadine gave me three sticks of gum!

 July 24, 2002 10:08 p.m. I am writing now because I am eating popcorn and feel I should do something productive at the same time.

November 19, 2002 10:05 p.m. So it’s Michigan week, woo hoo! We are all so excited it is like we have ants in our pants.

Undated entry I had a six-year-old tell me he did not want to get married because he did not want to change stinky diapers. When I told him that he did not necessarily have to change diapers if he got married, he looked at me with giant blue eyes, and in an incredulous whisper said, “Really?”

Funny, I still like gum, popcorn and feeling productive. I had forgotten about Sister Nadine, but I was glad to remember her. The Ohio State-Michigan game week continues to raise my anxiety level. Equally sad, I continue to remain quite fond of corny catch-phrases like “ants in pants.” Heaven help those who have to listen me to speak in such a way.

Caramel Apple Pudding

While I enjoyed a glimpse into my former self, I hope you will enjoy this Caramel Apple Pudding dessert. Though it requires a bit of time to chill between its multiple steps, this dish is really quite easy to pull together.

I made it a day ahead of eating, and I am happy to report the gingersnap crust remained crispy. To keep the apples from browning prematurely, I tossed them in lemon juice before scattering them across the top. It maintains the lightness of a summer dessert, but the crisp caramel apples are the perfect taste to transition to fall. Enjoy!

Caramel Apple Pudding

Caramel Apple Pudding
Recipe type: Dessert
  • 2 cups crushed gingersnaps
  • ⅓ cup butter, melted
  • 1, 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3-1/4 cups milk, divided
  • 1, 8 ounce carton whipped topping, divided
  • 2, 3.4 ounce packages instant butterscotch pudding mix
  • ½ cup caramel sauce, divided
  • 2 medium apples, chopped
  • ⅓ cup roasted peanuts or walnuts, chopped
  1. Stir together the crushed gingersnaps and butter until blended.
  2. Press the mixture onto the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or more.
  3. While the crust chills, beat the cream cheese, sugar and ¼ cup of the milk until smooth.
  4. Fold in 1 cup of the whipped topping.
  5. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the chilled crust.
  6. In a large bowl, whisk the remaining 3 cups milk and the pudding mixes for 2 minutes.
  7. Allow to stand for two minutes after whisking or until soft-set.
  8. Stir ¼ cup of the caramel sauce into the bowl.
  9. Spoon the pudding mixture over the cream cheese layer.
  10. Cover and refrigerate an additional 15 minutes, then spread the remaining whipped topping on top of the layers.
  11. Cover again and refrigerate for 4 hours or until filling is firm.
  12. Before serving, top with chopped apples, nuts and remaining caramel sauce.

2012′s 12 Months of Giveaways {Giveaway 9: Everyday Food }

Everyday Food Magazine

It’s September12th, so it’s giveaway time again. This month one reader will win a one-year (10 issue) subscription to Everyday Food magazine. This handy publication of practical recipes is one of Martha Stewart’s side projects. You really want to win it now, don’t you?

When I started this whole 12 Months of Giveaways project back in January, it seemed like a good idea. Now that it’s in the home stretch, I’m wondering if brilliance or madness was behind it all. I’m leaning towards the latter. What I’m trying to say is, I’m running out of giveaways I think you might like.

Since I can think of nothing all that overwhelmingly interesting to ask of you, it’s up to you to tell me what you think I should know. Maybe you’d like to suggest giveaway ideas? Leave any comment your heart desires on this blog post to enter.

Sometimes I ask you to follow Love & Flour on Facebook or Twitter, but you know what, maybe I should follow you! If you have a page I should know about, let me know in a comment below or on the L&F wall.  Or send me a Tweet (I love tweets. To me, they are like little pieces of cyber candy.) Any such social media activity you engage in will earn an additional entry.

As for the fine print, the contest will end at 1201 a.m. EST on September 29. I will use a random number generator to select the winner.

Good Luck!!

***This giveaway is now closed.  Thank you for entering!***

Coffee, Donuts & Cookies

Coffee and Donut Cookies

I do not recall exactly when my love affair with donuts began. All I know is I love donuts in nearly every form. I love the fraternal twins of the donut world – the classic sugared and the traditional glazed. I love plump round donuts that hold delightful little bites of custard or jelly. I love oblong donuts filled with veins of pastry cream.

I love the beauties coated in frosting and their cousins adorned with sprinkles. I love the heart-shaped ones that show up around valentine’s day. I love the red, white and blue sprinkled ones at 4th of July as much as I love the orange and black sprinkled ones at Halloween. I love them all. Well, except for the plain ones. I’m with this girl when it comes to plain donuts.

Coffee and Donut Cookies

There was once a box of donuts in the office, and I overheard someone remark, “LeAndra will want the sprinkled one.” What? How could my co-workers see past my “I’m sick of ego-driven nonsense, let’s just get this sh!t done”  attitude and into my fun, loving, sprinkle-adoring soul? I guess donuts bring out the best in us all.

And about donuts in the office, I think this pretty much sums it up: “Mr. Scorpio says productivity is up two percent, and it’s all because of my motivational techniques, like donuts and the possibility of more donuts to come.”  –Homer Simpson

Despite my love for them, I eat a donut maybe once or twice a month. I am rapidly aging, and my metabolism simply can not keep up with a donut-based diet.  Unlike donuts, I begin most every morning with a cup of coffee.  So when I came across a cookie recipe that combined the two, I was sold.

Coffee and Donut Cookies

The recipe was a bit vague, as well as a bit large with an original yield of 100 cookies! It did not clarify if cake donuts or fried donuts would make a better cookie. I opted for fried because, like plain donuts, I do not like cake donuts all that much. As for the yield, I halved the ingredients with the exception of the eggs and the vanilla.

I was not sure how to best halve an egg, so I used two instead of the three called for in the original. In regards to the vanilla, I once read doubling the vanilla in a recipe often improves its taste. I cannot vouch for the scientific accuracy behind that idea, but I like vanilla so I rarely halve it when messing around with measurements.

The recipe calls for espresso powder for the coffee flavor. I happen to be partial to Savory Spice Shop’s Baker’s Brew Coffee Spice. It combines coffee with cocoa, cinnamon,  nutmeg, cardamom, allspice, mace and ginger. I am beginning to love that spice mixture as much as I love donuts.

Coffee and Donut Cookies

As I draw this segment to a close, I think it is important to note I am not alone in my love for donuts. June 1 is National Donut Day. We spell their name not one, but two, ways: do you like donuts or doughnuts? In fact, we think they are so special that we keep them behind glass cases. You know what else we keep behind glass cases? Diamonds! And the delicious flavor of donuts can be enjoyed in both vodka and beer (though preferably not at the same time).

In the event you are adamantly opposed to eating donuts for health reasons, take into account the advice of Lewis Black: “If you stop eating donuts, you will live three years longer. It’s just 3 more years that you want a donut.” If you are still opposed, you can paint donut sprinkles on your nails for what it likely the only healthy donut fix.

I thought few things could go together as well as coffee and donuts. Then I baked them in a cookie. Enjoy!

Coffee and Donut Cookies

Coffee Donut Cookies
Recipe type: Dessert (or breakfast)
Serves: 24
  • For the Cookies
  • 2¼ cups all purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ sticks butter
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1¼ cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso power or coffee spice
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2½ tablespoons corn syrup
  • 6 ounces donuts or donut holes, cut into small pieces
  • For the Glaze
  • 1¼ cups confectioners' sugar
  • ¼ cup strongly brewed coffee
  1. Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.
  2. Cream together the butter, the sugars and the espresso powder or coffee spice until light and fluffy.
  3. In a small bowl, lightly beat together the eggs and the vanilla extract. Slowly add this mixture to the creamed butter and sugar mixture.
  4. Add the corn syrup to the mixing bowl.
  5. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
  6. Use a large spoon or spatula to gently fold in the pieces of donut.
  7. Place the cookies by rounded tablespoons onto parchment-lined baking sheets.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-12 minutes or until lightly browned.
  9. When cool, glaze with a mixture of confectioners' sugar and strongly brewed coffee. Sift the confectioners' sugar in a bowl to remove lumps, then stir in the coffee. Pour a spoonful of glaze over each cookie.
I do not have a kitchen scale, so I used 3 glazed donuts as approximate six ounces of donuts/donut holes.