Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Salted Pumpkin Caramels- Our New Thanksgiving Delight

Every now and then, a holiday screams for a little something new to tease your tate buds. Something straying from the norm pie choices and family favorites. For our Thanksgiving day, these homemade salted pumpkin caramels were just the ticket. Same ol' fall flavors remixed into creamy, bite-sized melt in your mouth caramels.

I think I will make these for every Thanksgiving feast.

I have made caramels mutiple times. This was the easiest recipe as of yet. Follow the instructions and there is no messing this up. I can say this confidently because if there was a way to mess these up, I would have done it!

Salted Pumpkin Caramels
Source: Food 52
Makes 64, 1-inch caramels

2/3 cup unsalted pepitos (pumpkin seeds) (I didn't use these)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cups light corn syrup
1/3 cup good maple syrup
1/4 cup of water
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in chunks
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon fleur de sel (sea salt)

Dry toast the pepitos in a skillet until they start to pop. (I skipped this part) Line the bottom and the sides of an 8-in square glass pan with parchment. Butter the parchment on the sides of the pan. I didn't have parchment, I used wax paper and it worked just fine. Evenly spread out the toasted pepitos on the bottom of the pan, on top of the parchment.

In a saucepan, combine heavy cream, pumpkin puree and spices. Get this mixture quite warm, but not boiling. Set aside. In a second heavy bottomed pan, with sides at least 4 inches high, combine the sugar, both syrups and water. Stir until the sugars are melted, Then let it boil until it reaches 244 degrees (the soft ball point on a candy thermometer). Then very carefully add the cream and pumpkin mixture, and slowly bring this mixture to 240 degrees on a on a candy thermometer. This can take awhile -- like 30 minutes -- but don't leave the kitchen, watch it carefully and stir it more frequently once it hits 230 degrees to keep it from burning at the bottom of the pan. As soon as it reaches the 240, pull it off the heat and stir in the butter and lemon juice. Stir vigorously so that butter is fully incorporated.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Let cool 30 minutes and sprinkle the salt over the top. Let the caramels fully set (at least 2 hours) before using a hot knife to cut them into 1-inch squares and wrapping them individually in waxed paper.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies

Well...the holidays are among us! Are you ready? I am going to get my Christmas cards printed this week. Last year I had my card sent out by the end of November. Let me tell you....this ROCKED in December when I was soooo busy with bakery orders. It felt great to have 90% of the shopping done and the cards sent before December even rang in. Especially since we are always in Utah the week before Christmas, December is a short month! But...bring it on...order away...I am ready for ya Christmas!I have, as always, been baking lately. We had company in town...twice. I introduced my parents to the wonders of pistachio cake. And got my brother in law Jared addicted to these sugar cookies. And my sister in law taught me her tips and recipes for homemade chocolates...YUM! I will share with you soon. In the meantime, here is one of our favorites!

Just looking at this picture makes me want to go bake a batch of these bad boys. These are probably my favorite peanut butter/chocolate recipe (with these cupcakes in a close second). My brother in law Ross LOVES chocolate and peanut butter. Val, you better make these for him...SOON! I got this recipe from my all time favorite blog, The Girl Who Ate Everything. Not only does she have the BEST recipes, but she is a really humorous writer and I actually read her posts...every one.

Peanut Butter Truffles

Brownie Base:
1 box (1 lb 6.5 oz) Betty Crocker® Original Supreme brownie mix
Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on brownie mix box

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons milk

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom only of 13×9-inch pan. For easier cutting and prettier looking bars, line pan with foil, then grease foil on bottom only of pan.

In medium bowl, stir brownie mix, pouch of chocolate syrup, water, oil and eggs until well blended. Spread in pan. Bake 28 to 30 minutes until it passes the toothpick/fork test. Cool completely, about 1 hour. I always speed this up by sticking the pan in the fridge or the freezer.

In medium bowl, beat filling ingredients with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Spread mixture evenly over brownie base.

In small microwavable bowl, microwave topping ingredients uncovered on High 30 to 60 seconds; stir until smooth. Cool 10 minutes; spread over filling. Refrigerate about 30 minutes or until set. Store covered in refrigerator. (I take it out or the fridge about 15 minutes before serving. This allows the chocolate on top to soften a little)

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