Post Disney Funk and Carmelitas

The week following a vacation is generally just a melancholic blur of work and laundry and grocery shopping and laundry and healthier eating and memories of warmth and sunshine.  This goes for vacations lasting the usual 7 days or those extending towards two weeks and/or particularly those cut short at 3 or 4 days, the so-called long weekends.

This week was that week.  Where nothing truly gets done, but one in which I feel exhausted and sleep deprived and a tad bloated and all sorts of hungry…hungry for butter and sugar and ice cream.  Not carrot sticks and tuna salad.  Ugh…so easy to fall out of a good habit and quite the struggle to jump back in.

Disney was great.  The race was great.  The weather was great.  The food was great.  The company was great.  And the ears…I became slightly obsessed.

Proof.

I look good as Mickey.

… 

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Caramel Popcorn

What did you do this past weekend?

Football game?  Corn maze?  Pumpkin patch?

Did you eat an entire roaster of caramel popcorn?  No?  I did.  Well, I should say my family and I did.  But I think I did the most damage.  I have no willpower when it comes to caramel popcorn.  Two of my favorite things in the world, uniting…it is heaven.

I, however, am a picky caramel popcorn eater.  I refuse to eat the stuff that lives in those holiday decorative tins that claims to be caramel corn.  It isn’t.  It never was, it never will be.  Oh and Cracker Jacks…you are not caramel corn either.  Plus, your prizes inside the boxes, well…they kinda stink now too.  Just sayin’.

The pickiness can be blamed on my grandma.  She made caramel corn whenever the urge struck.  We had it for Christmas and for 4th of July fireworks.  We had it as an after school snack and for weekend movie night.  See, we were spoiled.  It was awesome!

I am now the maker of caramel popcorn.  I gave myself this title this past weekend.  So, what makes this caramel corn so amazing?  It is the caramel sauce.  It is thin enough to coat each piece of corn, but thick enough to remain chewy.  Even when it cools.  Plus, it is super simple to make.  You must give it a try and forever give up the decorative tin caramel corn.

Lets get popping.

Freshly popped popcorn.  We are talking like 6 to 7 quarts of this stuff.  4 cups to 1 quart.  Do the math.  It is a lot of popcorn.  I love it.  Go ahead and use microwave popcorn if you want, just make sure it is plain.  No movie butter or light butter or anything to do with butter.  Just plain Jane popcorn.  Or pop your own.  That’ll work too.

Butter, brown sugar, corn syrup…OK, so I never said this was waistline friendly.  Hey, its sweater/sweatshirt season…which means, butter is in season too :)

Bring it to a boil and let boil.  Please be careful.  It is hot.

Stir in vanilla and baking soda when its done boiling.  Baking soda?  Yep.  It helps the caramel thin out a bit and coat the popped corn.  But it will cause the caramel to foam.  So, please be careful.

Caramel waterfall…heaven help me.

Bake it low and slow and after a few rounds of stirring…you are left with some of the best caramel popcorn you have ever eaten.  Promise.

 

And after it is cooled…you are left with these little clumps of caramely popcorn goodness.   That counts as a single piece.

 

 

Caramel Popcorn

Serves:  a lot

Ingredients 

  • 6 Quarts Popcorn, popped ( I used natural microwave popcorn, Black Jewel brand)
  • 2 Sticks Butter
  •  2 Cups Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Light Corn Syrup
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract (optional)
  • 1 large roaster

Directions

 Preheat oven to 200°F and place popped corn in a large roaster.  Set aside.

Place butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup in a medium/large saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil.  Let boil for 5 minutes.  DO NOT STIR during these five minutes.  When the time is up, remove from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla.  Be careful, this will cause the caramel to foam.  Immediately, pour sauce over popcorn in roaster and with a spatula or wooden spoon, stir to coat popcorn.

Place roaster, uncovered, in preheated oven for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  If you want a chewier popcorn, remove from oven after 45 -50 minutes.

Eat warm or let cool completely before enjoying.  It will cool and be rather stuck together, but it will break apart rather easily.

 

Caramel Cake

I baked a cake.

No biggie.

Here is a picture of it.

It is already gone.  Not a crumb remains.  Not a smear of caramel to be seen.  The cake stand is washed and waiting to be put away ( I can’t find my step stool).  And I sit here wishing I had made two of them.  

Truth be told, I don’t think I have enjoyed a piece of cake this much in a long time.  I prefer brownies.  However, this cake…well this cake definately scored a few brownie points in my book.  Hmmm….

This isn’t a fancy shmancy cake.  Nothing wild and crazy.  Nope.  Its simple.  It is nothing more than a  butter cake, slathered with a caramel glaze….  Its not a cake that you scarf, its something that you savor, letting each bite just melt in your mouth. 

It is super easy to make too!  Its just a single layer, anyone can do that!  No layering or stacking.  No icing, just pouring of the glaze.  Simple!   And doesn’t it look decadent, like you spent hours in the kitchen?  You can tell people you did…it’ll be our little secret. 

Let’s bake a cake!  (Warning: Tons of pictures)

Cream together the butter and sugar. 

Add the eggs and vanilla to the party.  Remember to scrape the sides of the bowl!

Sift together the dry ingredients….oh and that there is buttermilk in the background, you will need that too – shaken well!

Blend the dry ingredients into the butter,eggs, and sugar alternating with buttermilk. 

Pour the lucious batter into prepared pan …. smooth it out and bake it!

Baked…let this rest for about 10 minutes, then flip it out onto cake stand.

While the cake is cooling, prepare the caramel sauce.  You will need a candy thermometer, butter, brown sugar, cream, and vanilla.  Yum!

holes

When the sauce is ready, and the cake is flipped out, go ahead and poke holes all over the cake.  Go crazy … the more holes the better! 

While the caramel sauce is warm, evenly pour the caramel over the cake and let it drip down the sides.

And if you can resist…let the cake completely cool before digging in! 

Caramel Cake

Servings 8

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 Stick Butter ( 1/2 Cup) – room temperature
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 Cup Buttermilk – well shaken

Caramel Glaze ( adapted from Laura Donnelly)

  • 1 Stick Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Pinch of salt

 Candy Thermometer

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Butter pans and dust with flour.  Fit a piece of parchment paper into the bottom of the pan – this will make for easy removal!

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, until incorporated.  Mix in vanilla.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 

Into the creamed butter/sugar/egg mixture, mix in the dry ingredients (in thirds), alternating with buttermilk, ( 1/3 flour mixture, 1/2 buttermilk, 1/3 flour mixture, 1/2 buttermilk, 1/3 flour mixture).  Mix just until combined, before each new addition. 

Pour batter into prepared baking pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  ( if the cake begins to get too brown on top, tent with tinfoil, which will stop the browning.)

Remove from oven and place on wire rack and cool for 10 minutes.  Run a knife around edge of pan and then flip cake out onto cake stand, keep the bottom facing up.  With a toothpick or skewer, poke holes all over the cake.

While the cake is cooling, prepare the caramel sauce.  In a medium sauce pan, combine, butter, brown sugar, cream, vanilla, and salt.  Place over medium heat and bring to a boil and continue to heat until caramel reaches 215-218°F on candy thermometer.  ( be careful, caramel is HOT!)  Remove from heat and let bubbles subside, and with a whisk, give it a good stir. 

With caramel sauce still warm/hot, pour over the semi-cooled cake.  Pour from the inside out and do it slowly.  Let the caramel run over the sides, making it all pretty.

Let cool before indulging.

 

Tips:   I would like to cut this cake in half and fill the cake with the caramel glaze and then top it as well…If you choose to do this, then definitely double the caramel glaze. 

This cake actually tasted better on the second day, the caramel glaze soaked into the cake the longer it set. 

Enjoy!

Rolo Cookies (a.k.a HEAVEN)

 

 

Second cookie recipe in a week.  What can I say, I love a good cookie.  Or to be more truthful, I love a good cookie dough.  I normally don’t eat many of the baked creations, but imbibe in quite a bit of dough.  (yes, raw eggs should not be eaten, but I have been eating cookie dough since I could reach into the bowl and have never gotten sick…however if you eat too much dough washed down with Squirt, your stomach may explode!)  

 

 

So, normally I am a few cookies short when the final count is done.  Ah, well who really is counting?  For some reason, I have this idea that if the cookie isn’t baked then the calories don’t count. (this thought also encompasses brownie and cake batter) Ha!  In my dream world maybe. 

In my previous post of cookies, I listed things I loved about chocolate chip cookies ( all of which implies to most cookies).  I would like to add one more thing to that ever growing list.  I love how cookies are a tasty substitute for Thank You notes.  * if you have ever received cookies from me for no real apparent reason, assume you probably deserved a heartfelt Thank You note, but since I am not one for remembering notes, stamps, envelopes, etc… and more apt to have flour, sugar, and butter in the house …cookies it is *  So this batch is sent out to Earl and Theresa for their generous gift of Harley paraphernalia!  For the amount of awesomeness that I received, I should have made a double batch! 

This cookie is a favorite among many and came to me from a great friend.  If you Google search Rolo Cookies, a recipe similar to this one pops up a many of times, so I don’t know who to give the original credit to…ah, well – whoever it is though, I thank them!  This cookie is fudgy and rich with a nice surprise of caramel in the middle.  What more could you ask for in a cookie!?!  

Take note of directions I give when the cookies are removed from the oven.  Refrigerating them will ensure that the Rolo candy doesn’t fall out of the cookie when you try to remove them from the tray.  You want a cookie not a doughnut! 

 

 

Ingredients

(makes about 3 1/2 dozen or so)

  • 2 + 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup white sugar plus extra for rolling
  • 1 + 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 40-50 Rolo candies

 

Directions

  1. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda in medium sized bowl and set aside.
  2. Cream together butter and sugars. 
  3. Add eggs one at a time, allow the first one to be well incorporated before adding the second one.
  4. Add vanilla and blend well.
  5. Slowly add the flour/cocoa mixture to the butter mixture and blend until well mixed.  Remember to scrape the sides and bottom of bowl to ensure a homogeneous mixture. 
  6. Place in refrigerator for at least 15-30 minutes (or overnight) so they are easier to roll. 
  7. Preheat oven to 350° and line baking sheet with parchment paper  ( if no parchment paper no sweat…an ungreased baking sheet is fine)
  8. Unwrap rolo candies
  9. Using a teaspoon or cookie scoop, scoop out a golf ball or walnut sized piece of dough and roll it into a ball.  (I am a freak and weighed the dough balls…its 1 ounce or 30 grams!)
  10. Push the rolo candy through the bottom of the dough ball,  completely enclosing it. 
  11. Roll in granulated sugar
  12. Place on baking sheet about 2 inches apart
  13. Bake for about 8 minutes.  Once removed from oven, place tray in the refrigerator for about 8-12 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack. (Use 2 baking sheets and just alternate them from fridge to oven.)  If you try to remove the cookies from the tray without quickly cooling them, the caramel has a tendency to fall out of the cookie or stick to the tray.  If you try to cool them on the tray outside of refrigerator then the cookie becomes over baked because tray remains hot and continues to bake the cookie….JUST REFRIGERATE!!!
  14. Enjoy with a big glass of milk or a nice cup of coffee. 

 

I have used Reese’s mini peanutbutter cups in leiu of the Rolo candies…works well, be creative!’

 These do freeze well, just thaw before enjoying or you will break your teeth…