caramel

Make Monday Better: Caramel Apple Pudding

IMG 5114 Edited Make Monday Better: 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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Caramel Apple Pudding
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  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.

 

Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: The Dessert

IMG 3508 Edited Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: The Dessert

Happy Cinco de Mayo! For the grand finale, what do you say we enjoy some Mexican Chocolate Cakes with caramel sauce? The original recipe, from Booze Cakes: Confections Spiked with Spirits, Wine, and Beer Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: The Dessert, called for a tequila cajeta caramel sauce. The book describes cajeta as “a devilishly good Mexican caramel.” Upon further research (a.k.a. a Google search), I learned cajeta is caramel made from goat’s milk.

Since I: a) don’t yet own a goat (I want a goat so bad!), b) didn’t make it to a grocery store with a good international section so I could look for cajeta, and c) hate tequila unless it’s mixed in a good margarita, I made regular caramel sauce.

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 Caramels I can make, but caramel sauce is the bane of my existence! I takes me at least three attempts each time to get it right. It burns or it’s too chewy or something else happens altogether. By attempt three this go-round I was out of heavy cream, so I used ice cream instead. Perhaps ice cream is the magical ingredient because that caramel sauce pulled together just fine.

If you are like me and struggle with caramel sauce, there are really nice posts about how to make homemade caramel sauce at Baker’s Royale and My Baking Addiction. If you are not like me and enjoy the taste of tequila in things other than margaritas, you can stir 1/2 cup tequila into 1/2 cup caramel sauce and microwave until the mixture is able to be stirred smooth (about 2 minutes).

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As much fun as five days of consecutive blogging have been (take that with a grain of margarita salt), I’m going to go chill. You may notice in my Cinco de Mayo pictures some tortillas and refried beans that I have not yet wrote about. Not to worry, as I’ll soon be back with a post about how to make your own delcious Taco Bell Bean Burrito at home, what to do with leftover tortillas, and of course a dessert.

For now, I’m off to drink a margarita. Happy Cinco de Mayo!

IMG 3506 Edited Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: The Dessert

Day 1: The Appetizers
Day 2: The Main Dish
Day 3: The Side Dish
Day 4: The Drink
Day 5: The Dessert
 
Mexican Chocolate Cakes
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar, divided
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon coffee liqueur (like Kahlua)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter and ¼ cup of the sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
  2. When melted, stir in the chocolate and cook until melted.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
  4. While the mixture cools, beat the egg whites and salt until stiff peaks form.
  5. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks and the remaining cup of sugar until pale yellow.
  6. Add the coffee liqueur to the bowl with the egg yolks.
  7. Stir in the warm (not hot!) chocolate mixture into the bowl with the egg yolks.
  8. Gently fold the egg whites into the mixture.
  9. Pour the batter into paper-lined cupcake wells (the batter will not rise, so the level of the batter will be the height of the cake).
  10. Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes.
  11. Serve with caramel sauce.
Notes
The original recipe called for 9 ounces of chocolate. Since Baker’s chocolate is sold in 8 ounce packages, I used 8 ounces. For my tastes, the chocolate flavor was more than rich enough with just 8 ounces.

 

Delicioso! Tres Leches Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Buttercream

SAM 5939 Edited e1327436546267 Delicioso! Tres Leches Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche ButtercreamBack in June, I received a request for Tres Leches cake. I was looking through Warren Brown’s Cake Love when my phone chirped and alerted me to a text message that contained the said request. I’d never made a Tres Leches cake, and it sounded like one of those cakes a baking-focused blog should  feature, so on the to-do list it went. I went back to the book, turned the page, and I kid you not, Tres Leches was the next cake recipe!

Granted, I didn’t give this coincidence/sign from the baking gods much significance given I waited until January to bake Tres Leches cupcakes, and I didn’t even use Cake Love’s recipe! It’s too bad I waited, because Tres Leches turns out to be everything I love in a cake. It’s sweet, flavorful, moist, and dense without being dry.

SAM 5926 Edited Delicioso! Tres Leches Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Buttercream

Last Sunday, I joined the after-church lunch crowd at the Flying Biscuit. While waiting for a table, I walked over to a nearby bakery in search of something that would inspire me. Truth be told, my walk was more an effort to stay warm while waiting outside in frigid 45 degree temperatures. (Ha -Growing up in the Midwest, I used to think 45 degrees in January was balmy!) I also knew full well what was displayed in the bakery’s storefront since I was just in there the day before feeding my doughnut addiction.

Anyway, the bakery’s window display included a lovely cake decorated along the sides and the top with large circular roses like those seen here. This technique looks so pretty and is incredibly easy to create. Simply use a 1M decorating tip and frost in a circular motion from the center of the cupcake to the outer edge. I considered step-by-step pictures, but truly, this techniques is so easy just one or two practice swirls should make you a master.

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These cupcakes do take some advance planning as the tres leches must soak into the cake for at least two hours, though overnight is preferable. The original Food Network recipe includes a recipe for from-scratch dulce de leche frosting, but I simply added the dulce de leche I had on hand to my standard confectioners’ sugar buttercream. Taking a cue from a previous ducle de leche post comment, these cupcakes are delicioso!

SAM 5941 Edited Delicioso! Tres Leches Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Buttercream

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Tres Leches Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Buttercream
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cups butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • ½ cup sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • Frosting
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup dulce de leche
  • 1 cup lightly toasted flaked coconut, optional
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl set to medium speed, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating until all the yellow disappears, then add the vanilla.
  4. Alternately add the buttermilk and the flour mixture to the mixing bowl, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
  5. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form, then fold into cake batter.
  6. Fill paper-lined muffin cups about ¾ full with the batter.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
  8. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then use a skewer to poke several holes in the top of each cupcake.
  9. Stir together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and the coconut milk.
  10. While the cupcakes are warm, pour the milk mixture over each cupcake.
  11. Refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight before frosting.
  12. To make the frosting, cream the butter on medium speed.
  13. Add the confectioners’ sugar, ½ cup at a time, beating well after each addition.
  14. Add the vanilla and dulce de leche.
  15. Continue to beat at high speed until the buttercream is smooth.
  16. Sprinkle lightly toasted coconut over the tops of the frosted cupcakes.