A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: salted caramel

I picked up some dates on clearance at the supermarket. I wasn’t sure what I would do with them at the time, but at 25p a pack I snapped them up.

While looking on Pinterest for recipe ideas, this recipe caught my eye. I am a complete sucker for anything that purports to be salted caramel. While I was dubious about whether dates could ever aspire to the deliciousness of cream and sugar, I had some tahini in the fridge and decided to give it a go.

Tahini is one of those things that I find it hard to use up. I tend to buy a jar to make hummus, only to have the rest of it sitting in the fridge for the next five years, looking all separated and neglected. However, since I am attempting to reduce my plastic waste, maybe more homemade hummus is in my future, especially since I finally found a satisfactory recipe.

Anyway, here is the recipe for the bite things.

Ingredients

  • 175g dates, pitted
  • 80g tahini*
  • 100g dark chocolate, at least 70%
  • Sea salt
  • Cocoa powder (optional)

*You can substitute any nut or seed butter of your choice for the tahini. For my second attempt at these bars, I only had 30g tahini left so I swapped out the rest for peanut butter.

Method

Combine the tahini and stoned dates in a blender. If you are using a domestic machine, make sure to pulse for short periods of time so you don’t overload your motor! The mixture will come together into a ball. If it’s not coming together, add a little extra tahini.

Press into a container. I found this baking tray too big but I’d already oiled it so went ahead with it anyway.

Refrigerate overnight or freeze for 30minute, then chop the date mixture up into chunks of your desired size. I recommend not making them too big so that you get plenty of chocolate in every bite.

Melt the chocolate and coat each piece.

While the chocolate is still melted, sprinkle over sea salt.

I also coated some of my bites in cocoa powder because (I think because of my kitchen being hot) the chocolate had some bubbles on the surface that looked unappetising.

Store in the fridge in an airtight container.

I was sceptical about this recipe but these bites are delicious. The texture is much nicer than most dried-fruit nut bars, with a nice bite and chew. The dark chocolate adds an amazing bitter counterpoint to the sweetness of the dates and the brightness of the salt is the icing on the cake (so to speak).

I would love to learn to temper chocolate. Imagine how beautiful these bites would look if the chocolate was shiny!

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I found the recipe for this cake ages ago on Pinterest, and decided to have it as my birthday cake this year. Honestly, this was the most stressful baking experience I’ve had in ages. So many things went wrong and the cake ended up looking a mess. Here is a picture I managed to snap before I mostly destroyed the cake trying to transfer it off the baking parchment. However, this experience was also a reminder of how rubbish it is to be a perfectionist. Everyone in the office loved the cake.

I rediscovered the awesome combination of caramel, chocolate and pecans, kicked up a notch by salting the caramel. Next time I bake, I will most likely make salty turtle cupcakes or brownies.

Once again this post will be various process pictures. Hopefully I’ll have a better baking experience soon.

Ingredients

  • 2cups (280g) plain flour
  • 1.5cups ( 340g) sugar
  • 1/2cup (60g) cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup (140g) melted butter
  • 1 cup (250g) buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1tbsp baking soda
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1 cup fresh coffee

Frosting

  • 1 cup (220g) sugar
  • 1 cup (250ml) whole milk
  • 6 tbsp (90g) butter
  • 12oz (350g) dark chocolate
  • 1-2 tsp hot coffee (optional)
  • 1 1/2 pecan halves

Salted caramel

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, salted
  • 1/2 cup double (heavy) cream
  • Extra salt to taste

Method
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter bottom and sides of three 8- or 9-inch cake pans and line bottom of each pan with parchment paper. Butter the paper; dust pans with unsweetened cocoa powder and set pans aside.
In a small bowl, stir together egg, buttermilk and oil
In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
Slowly add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, beating until combined.

Gradually beat in coffee

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans; layers will appear shallow.

Bake until a toothpick inserted near the centre comes out clean, about 22 to 25 minutes. Remove towire racks for 10 minutes. Loosen sides from pans, then invert cakes on racks. Remove cakes from pans. Peel off paper and cool completely.

Salted caramel

I’ve made caramel twice recently and it has come out slightly greasy, but still tasty. I will look for a new recipe. I used the one from Sally’s Baking Addiction.





Frosting

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and milk. Add butter. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add chocolate pieces. Using a wire whisk, stir until smooth. If frosting is too thick or grainy, stir in 1 to 2 teaspoons freshly brewed coffee. If necessary, let frosting stand for several minutes before using.

Assembly

I forgot to toast the pecans, which definitely makes a difference.

This post is reminding me that perfectionism spoils my enjoyment of my cooking as well as my making. This cake tastes fine. Just because it doesn’t look like something that costs £4 a slice shouldn’t diminish that.


Salted caramel and chocolate tart is basically my favourite dessert. Like, ever. And I bloody love desserts. I’m totes a connoisseur. Anyway, this is my first attempt at this delicious treat. I decided to go for tartlets as I’m trying to avoid death by butter. These are pretty amazing, but I’m still searching for my perfect recipe. This will make one 20cm tart or ten 8cm tartlets.Image

Ingredients

For the sweet hazelnut pastry

  • 50g blanched hazelnuts
  • 200g plain flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 140g cold butter, diced
  • 1tbsp icing sugar

For the salted caramel

  • 75g caster sugar
  • 25g butter
  • 100ml double cream
  • large pinch sea salt flakes
  • 50g toasted blanched hazelnuts

For the chocolate filling

  • 100g 70% cocoa chocolate
  • 75g butter
  • 2 large eggs, plus one yolk
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1tbsp cocoa powder

Method

  1. For the pastry, whizz the hazels up in a food processor (or with hand blender) until finely ground.
  2. Add the flour, icing sugar and butter and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. If you don’t have a processor, rub in by hand.Pastry breadcrumbs
  3. Add your egg yolk and 1-2tbsps cold water and mix until the dough comes together. Pastry ball
  4. Flatten into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and leave to chill in the fridge for half an hour.
  5. Butter your tin or tins.
  6. Heat oven to 180C (fan 160C/gas 4). Flour your work surface and roll the chilled pastry out. Roll it thin, this helps it to be lovely and crispy. Pastry rolled
  7. Line your tin or tins, pressing any cracks in the pastry together. Trim the edges and prick the bases to help prevent the pastry from rising. You can also pop them in the freezer for a few minutes to help further.Pastry case before baking
  8. Line with (crumpled) baking parchment and fill with baking beans. Blind bake for 15-20mins, until the edges of the pastry are pale golden. Remove the baking beans and parchment and bake for a further 5-10 minutes until the bottom of the pastry is dry and beginning to colour.Three baked cases
  9. While the cases are baking (or afterwards if you don’t want to take a risk with multitasking), make your caramel. Put the sugar in a small pan over a medium heat with 2 tablespoons of water. Use this amount even if you halve the recipe. Don’t stir very much.Sugar water in pan
  10. Once the sugar has dissolved, crank up the heat until the sugar becomes an amber coloured caramel. Don’t worry if the sugar re-hardens into white lumps before this happens- leave it on the heat and the caramel will form. Again, avoid stirring and DO NOT be tempted to touch the mixture, it will be unholily hot.                  Caramel sugar only
  11. Reduce the heat and add the butter, cream and golden syrup, and stir until the sauce is smooth and thickened. Remove from the heat and add the salt. You can drop a little caramel onto a cold spoon so that you can taste for your desired level of saltiness. I added 2 large pinches.Caramel finished
  12. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then spread onto the pastry. Scatter with chopped hazelnuts.Three with nuts
  13. Now for the chocolate filling. Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave, checking after 30 seconds. Stir until smooth, then remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  14. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg, egg yolk and sugar for about 6 minutes until thick and pale.Pale and fluffy eggs
  15. Fold in the chocolate and cocoa powder, then pour into your pastry case.Three with chocolate
  16. I popped a couple of these babies into the freezer at this stage as I’d made too many. I’ll let you know if they turn out to be a disaster.
  17. Bake for 15-25 minutes until the chocolate mixture has risen and set, forming a crust.Three baked
  18. Allow to cool before serving. With some double cream. Yum.

I’ve been meaning to do cake pops for a while since becoming obsessed with Bakerella. I thought this would be a nice idea for the office Christmas party as well as a good way of using up the cake I had left in the freezer from these. This is how they turned out.Image

I think they look a little bit like they were made by a child, but I don’t think they’re bad for a first attempt and they were pretty straightforward to make, if time consuming.

Ingredients

  • Cooked cake. I used about ten brown sugar cupcakes.
  • Frosting. I used about 5tbsp of dulce de leche frosting.
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 100g white chocolate
  • Sprinkles.

This makes around 12 walnut sized cake pops. I wouldn’t go any bigger since they’re very sweet and rich. You’ll also need:

  • Paper lollipop sticks (available online)
  • Baking parchment

Method

  1. Start off by making your cake into fine crumbs. Since cupcakes have a lot of edges, I whizzed them up with my hand blender.Crumbs and frosting
  2. Start mixing tablespoons of frosting into the crumbs until it begins to form a thick paste. You want it to be quite dry so that it just holds together when rolled. If too wet, your cake pops will just slide off their sticks. Mine looked like thisMixture and first rolled ball
  3. Roll your mixture into balls, around the size of a walnut. Put onto a tray lined with baking parchment and freeze for 5-10 minutes to firm them up. Remove to the fridge after this time.                                                                          Cake balls
  4. Once the cake pops are in the fridge, melt your chocolate in a longish, narrow cylindrical container. I used a glass. The chocolate should be deep enough for you to dip the cake balls (hee hee) into the chocolate in one smooth motion. Melt in the microwave for around a minute, watching carefully.
  5. Remove a few balls at a time from the fridge. Dip the top centimetre of a lollipop stick into the chocolate, then insert no more than half way into the cake pop. Put back in the fridge straight away.About to insert stick
  6. Once you’ve got sticks into all of your cake balls and they’ve been in the fridge for a few minutes, you’re ready to dip. Check the consistency of the chocolate. If it’s getting a bit thick, add some butter or flavourless oil to thin it out slightly.
  7. Take your pop and dip it into the chocolate in one smooth motion. Do not twist. Remove immediately and tap on the edge of the container to remove some of the excess chocolate.                                                    Dipped
  8. Leave the pop to dry upright. Styrofoam is great for this but I didn’t have any, so I just poked some holes in some cardboard packaging and stuck them in that.
  9. Once your chocolate layer is dry (at least 10 minutes), you can start on the white chocolate dripping icing. Why are Christmas puddings often pictured with icing dripping off them? I’ve never eaten one like that. Anyway, break up the white chocolate into a different container and melt that as well.
  10. Take a scant teaspoon of white chocolate and drop it on top of the cake pop. Use a lollipop stick to guide the white chocolate as it drips down the cake pop so that it looks nice. If the dark chocolate starts to melt into it, don’t worry. You can always do another layer of white chocolate on top and it’ll look grand.                                                                                                             Pud with just white icing
  11. Decorate with a few sprinkles and leave the chocolate to set completely.One pud

Once your chocolate is completely set, you can transport the pops easily in plastic containers, with sheets of baking parchment in between them for safety.

Bitten

Merry Christmas!


I was introduced to the wonder of dulce de leche…. when was it? A few years ago, while travelling in South America. The specifics of time and location pale in comparison to my memory of my first experience of this sweet, creamy, melting caramel. Man, it’s delicious.

For the past year, I’ve been baking whenever someone on my training course celebrates their birthday. One of the ladies is a Columbiana, and so the question of what to make became blindingly obvious. Unfortunately, the recipe I based these on wildly underestimated the amount of icing sugar required to get piping consistency, so the presentation isn’t quite there. Fortunately, I have a second batch biding its time in my freezer, so hopefully I’ll have some more beautiful pictures to post in a few weeks.

You will need:

Cupcakes:

  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 1/4 cup cornflour
  • 1 1/2 tsps baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsps baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup dulce de leche, plus more for drizzling (if making dulce de leche, you will need a tin of condensed -NOT evaporated- milk)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 6 cups icing sugar
  • A little rock salt, for sprinkling

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180deg C
  2. Line 2 12-hole muffin pans with paper liners
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugars until fluffy and pale brown (about 3 minutes).
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for one minute between each addition.
  6. Beat in vanilla extract.
  7. Add half of the flour mixture to the egg and butter mixture.
  8. Slowly add the buttermilk. Beat until just incorporated.
  9. Add the rest of the dry ingredients. Beat until just incorporated.  Try not to over mix. The mixture will be very thick.
  10. Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake pans, filling each liner about two thirds full.
  11. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center of one of the cakes comes out clean.
  12. Let rest in the cupcake pans before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.  Cupcakes must be completely cooled before frosting.

If you want to make your own dulce de leche, the easiest way is to boil unopened tins of condensed milk. Apparently there is a risk of the tins exploding, so you must ensure that they are completely submerged throughout. I boiled two tins for about three hours and ended up with this

Half an hour less would have been fine, but this was still more than usable and delicious. In some supermarkets, you can buy pre-boiled tins, which I would recommend. Saves time, gas and stress.

For the frosting:

  1. Beat cream cheese with a hand mixer for about 30 seconds, until very soft and pliable
  2. Add the butter and dulce de leche.  Beat until well incorporated.
  3. Add the salt and icing sugar. Beat for about 3 minutes, until fluffy and lighter in color. I would start with 3 cups and keep adding half a cup at a time until frosting is piping consistency.
  4. Generously spoon frosting on top of cupcakes, or use a large frosting tip to pipe on frosting. I think it would be a good idea to marble some dulce de leche into the piping bag with the frosting like so. Mine didn’t quite work as I ran out of icing sugar before my frosting was ready.
  5. Alternarively, heat a few spoonfuls of dulce de leche of a low flame until just pourable. Drizzled over the cupcakes.
  6. Add a few sprinkles of fine sea salt