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Posts Tagged ‘caramel’

by Caitlin Saniga

Caramel-almond popcorn

These recipes require the line about storing in a sealed container for up to a week, but who, really, has that much restraint?

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by Caitlin Saniga

Caramel-coconut puppy chow

This puppy chow will woo the caramel lover in your life. And if that caramel lover is you, disregard the storage instructions at the end of this recipe and admit that 6 cups of this stuff=dinner.

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by Caitlin Saniga

One Christmas, my mom's dear friend Mrs. Swartz had my brother over to make Christmas cookies. Who knows what else we made that day (It was 20 years ago perhaps), but I'll never forget these easy graham crackers with the salty-sweet coconut-toffee topping. I added a messy drizzle of dark chocolate this time because it never hurts ...

One Christmas, my mom’s dear friend Mrs. Swartz had my brother over to make Christmas cookies. Who knows what else we made that day (It was 20 years ago perhaps), but I’ll never forget these easy graham crackers with the salty-sweet coconut-toffee topping. I added a messy drizzle of dark chocolate this time because it never hurts …

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by Caitlin Saniga

Doughnut holes

I took these doughnut holes back to my room at the bed-and-breakfast and ate them in bed while watching “Toddlers and Tiaras.” Talk about extravagant.

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by Caitlin Saniga

Caramel pudding cups with gingerbread groundhogs

Did you ever try the “dirt and worms” snack as a kid? It consisted of crushed Oreos, layered with whipped cream and topped with gummy worms. These pudding cups were inspired by that elementary school treat.

Let me just say that this recipe took a lot of work. I started making my own groundhog-shaped cookie cutter from a pop can Friday morning and mixed up the cookie dough that afternoon. I made the pudding and baked the cookies on Saturday morning, whipped up the whipped cream that afternoon and finished the assembly in the evening. By the time I dipped in my spoon for the first taste, I darn well deserved it.

Was it worth it? To me, yes. The cookies were delicious, the pudding was a culinary challenge I can now cross off my list, and whipped cream is always best when made from scratch. Could I have taken shortcuts? Ooooh, yeah.

For starters, I could have bought a groundhog cookie cutter like this or decided on some other shape to use, like a circle. I could have skipped making my own gingerbread altogether and found some kind of premade cookie at the grocery store (Maybe Nutter Butters?). I certainly could have saved myself some nail-biting if I’d just used an instant pudding mix. And store-bought whipped cream almost seems like a no-brainer. Will I hold it against you if you don’t make everything from scratch? Of course not! I’m the idiot who thought making this dessert for two days straight sounded like a good idea.

But if you’re up to the challenge, I’ve summed up every step you need to know to make these Groundhog Day pudding cups from scratch. Shall we begin?

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I experimented with shapes and sizes and ended up liking these two. The tall one measures about 2 inches vertically, while the other one is about 1 1/2 inches.

I experimented with shapes and sizes and ended up liking these two. The tall one measures about 2 inches vertically, while the other one is about 1 1/2 inches. I liked the longer cookies because you could really push them down into the pudding without losing too much of the head shape.

Groundhog cookie cutter

*Note: Making your own cookie cutter can be dangerous if you’re not careful. Don’t use dull blades, and handle the metal, which is very sharp, with care.

You’ll need:

  • a clean aluminum soda can
  • a very sharp knife with a pointed tip and flat blade (I used a paring knife.)
  • a pair of scissors
  • a ruler
  • a permanent marker
  • a stapler
See those jagged edges? Those were cut with my sharp paring knife. If anyone knows of a better, safer way to cut off the top and bottom of a pop can, please comment and let us know!

See those jagged edges? Those were cut with my sharp paring knife. If anyone knows of a better, safer way to cut off the top and bottom of a soda can, please comment and let us know! This was the best I could come up with my limited tool supply.

Cut off the top and bottom of the aluminum can with a knife. Watch your fingers, and start each cut with a stab of the point.

Use scissors to make a vertical cut along the length of the open cylinder. You’ll be left with a curled sheet of metal.

Carefully flatten the metal with one hand, reinforcing it with a ruler parallel to the long edge. Use a marker to trace a line along the ruler. Draw a parallel line about 1/2 inch from the first one.

Once you make your cuts, you'll have a thin strip of metal to work with.

Once you make your cuts, you’ll have a thin strip of metal to work with.

Use scissors to cut along the lines you’ve drawn. Be as precise as possible to ensure clean cuts into your cookie dough later. You’ll be left with a curled strip of metal.

From there, bend the strip into the outline of a groundhog, leaving about 1/2 inch excess at the end of the strip. Hard creases may tear the aluminum, so soft bends are best. Use the excess of the strip to overlap with the other end, and staple it to close the shape.

Makes 1 cookie cutter.

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If you don't have a groundhog cookie cutter (Who the heck does??) and you aren't up for making your own, I suggest using a circle-shape cookie cutter or a glass to make small round cookies.

If you don’t have a groundhog cookie cutter (Who the heck does??) and you aren’t up for making your own, I suggest using a circle-shape cookie cutter or a glass to make small round cookies. And is it me, or do my groundhogs look like owls?

Gingerbread cookies

I started the dough for these a day early. See the recipe I used here.

You’ll need:

  • 6 cookies for groundhog garnish
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed cookies, or 10-12 cookies, for “dirt”

For the groundhogs, I used a toothpick to poke holes for eyes after the cookies had baked and set.

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To stop skin from forming on the top of the pudding, press a square of plastic wrap against the top of the pudding and chill.

To stop skin from forming on the pudding, press a square of plastic wrap against the top before chilling.

Practice mis-en-place, and do measure each ingredient ahead of time! You'll thank me as your dabbing the sweat off your forehead and watching your pudding change colors.

Practice mis-en-place, and measure each ingredient ahead of time! You’ll thank me as your dabbing the sweat off your forehead and watching your pudding change colors.

Caramel pudding

I placed a lot of faith in Smitten Kitchen for this one. Didn’t make too many tweaks except for the type of milk, which I switched to skim (and it worked just fine!). We don’t normally do this, but I’m going to direct you to SK’s blog post and advise you to read the recipe 2 or 3 times, assemble your ingredients and take some deep breaths before you start.

Don’t even think about stepping away from the pot once you start! Your diligence will pay off!

Recipe: Smitten Kitchen

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Whipped cream

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In the bowl of an upright mixer fitted with a whisk, combine the whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla, and beat on high until a semi-firm consistency is reached, about 3 minutes.

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Pudding cup assembly

With your pudding already chilled in 6 lowball glasses, sprinkle 1/4 cup crushed gingerbread cookies into each glass. Top with whipped cream and wedge a groundhog cookie into each cup.

Serve and enjoy!

Makes 6.

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by Sarah Steimer

I’m not the wonton-frying master that Caitlin is, but these turned out really nice and crisp – and reminded me almost exactly of apple dumplings.

  • 1/2 Granny Smith apple or another tart apple, cut into 1-inch-by-1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 15 wonton wrappers
  • vegetable oil

Toss the apple cubes in the cinnamon and brown sugar. Working one at a time, wet the edges of the wontons and place one apple cube in each. Seal the wrapper tightly. I folded my square wontons in half and then just wrapped the “wings” around the apple a bit more.

Add enough vegetable oil (or canola oil or another frying oil) to fill the pan about 1/2-inch deep. Heat the oil, checking it by flicking water at the oil. If the water pops in the oil, it should be hot enough.

Frying the wontons softens the apples to a really perfect texture: somewhere between not too crunchy and not too mushy.

Place only as many wontons in the pan as can sit comfortably. Flip after about 10-15 seconds with either a slotted spoon or tongs. When both sides have turned golden brown, transfer the wontons to a paper towel to drain.

For the salted caramel sauce:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

Heat the sugar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until the sugar melts, whisking constantly. Once the sugar has liquefied and begins to boil, stop whisking and add the butter. Whisk until the butter has melted then remove from heat. Add the sour cream and salt, mixing until smooth.

Let the sauce cool before transferring it to a container. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to two weeks and heated before use.

Makes 15 wontons and about 3/4 cup of caramel sauce.

Sauce recipe adapted from: The Chew

* Want One? is our October guide that pays homage to the wonton, a traditionally steamed, fried, baked or boiled dumpling that can be filled with an array of goodies. We’ll feature meatless, meat-full and dessert renditions.

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It goes without saying that our mothers taught us a lot of what we know about cooking. We learned everything from how to saute onions without setting off smoke detectors, to how much raw cookie dough you can ingest before your stomach hurt (not that we listened). So in honor of our moms and obviously to outshine our siblings we each chose a recipe that was handed down to us from our mothers.

Gingerbread cake with lemon sauce

by Sarah Steimer

Gingerbread just for Christmas? Absolutely not.

Sometime during my adolescence I decided I didn’t like regular birthday cake anymore. I often chose a cake alternative: cheesecake, pie, ice cream cake and so forth. I asked for this cake a few times, a recipe my maternal grandmother made for my mom and her siblings. It may not be the exact same recipe she used, but I’m sure it’s just as good. Jameson women know how to bake — whether for six kids  and a husband or just herself.

For the cake

  • 11/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light molasses
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

In a bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder and baking soda.  Add softened butter, molasses, egg, and 1/2 cup water. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed until combined. Beat on high speed for two minutes.

Mom with my little sister and a cake she made. Marth is a cake-decorating wiz. She made the kind of cakes that left other mothers wondering where she had the time and left her three girls convinced she was the favored daughter (I am, for the record).

Pour the mixture into a greased and floured 8x8x2-inch pan or a 9-inch round cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool on a rack for about 10 minutes.

For sauce

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 teaspoons butter

In a saucepan combine sugar, cornstarch and lemon peel. Stir in water and lemon juice. Cook and stir on low to medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir two minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in butter.

Serve the cake and sauce warm. Refrigerate the sauce between uses. It will turn into a jelly-like consistency because of the cornstarch, but makes absolutely no difference in taste.

Recipe: Martha Steimer (mom)/Virginia Jameson (grandma)

Photo: Sarah Steimer

Take 5 brownies

by Caitlin Saniga

Maybe all you have on hand are stale pretzels, almonds and peanut butter... but no chocolate chips or caramel. Pop the pretzels in the oven for a few minutes to freshen them up, and chop up the almonds. Microwave the peanut butter until it's runny, and voila! A new take on toppings for Take 5 brownies. That's what my mom would do. Half the fun is experimenting!

One quality I love about my mom is her thrift. She can make something ordinary seem spectacular with a few thoughtful tweaks. Take for example her recipe for Take 5 brownies. We always had boxes of out-of-season holiday-themed brownies lying around for some reason, and we always had pantry staples like pretzels and peanut butter on hand. So one day, her sweet tooth got her thinking, and Take 5 brownies were born. Sweet and salty — these brownies never lasted more than a few hours with her three kids (me included) lingering in the kitchen.

Well, it's fitting that Mom gave me this image of her to post. 1. She's a graphic artist. 2. My sister, Holly, often makes her own darn dinner. 3. That said, Mom usually makes dessert.

  • brownies (made from a box according to package directions)
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 15-25 square-shaped pretzels
  • 1/4 cup unsalted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup caramel sauce

While the brownies are baking, combine the chocolate chips, peanut butter and milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir continuously for 7-8 minutes, or until all ingredients have smoothly melted together. Remove from heat and set aside.

After brownies come out of the oven, let them cool about 5 minutes. Arrange pretzels over the top of the brownies. Sprinkle peanuts over the pretzels. Drizzle the chocolate-peanut-butter mixture over top, allowing it to pool in spots. Drizzle the caramel sauce over top.

Place brownies in the refrigerator for about a half-hour so the chocolate-peanut-butter mixture has a chance to set.

Serve brownies cool, at room temperature, warm, with vanilla ice cream on top, with seven different kinds of ice cream on top, with Take 5 candy bars on the side, with more chocolate sauce and whipped cream, with sprinkles, with more pretzels, or however you darn well please.

Recipe: Stephanie Saniga (mom)

Photo: Caitlin Saniga (food), Stephanie Saniga (interpretive self-portrait)

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