Tag Archives: Caramel

Salted Nutella- & Caramel-Stuffed Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

11 Dec

Whoa! That title is a mouthful. And so are these cookies.

IMG_2963

In case you couldn’t tell from the name, these cookies are delightfully (and maybe a little sinfully) decadent. But when I was considering options for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap of 2013, I knew I needed something big. And since I went with something a little more mature and restrained last year — Chinese Chai Cookies — I decided to go all out. 2013 seemed to call for it.

Oh hai there little choco chip

As you can imagine, Salted Nutella- & Caramel-Stuffed Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies were a bit of a project, but they were worth it. And after I called in reinforcements — my BFF Lauren, aka Betsy Bundt — it really wasn’t too difficult with two people.

As an expert caramel-maker, Lauren took on that project while I whipped up the cookie dough. Once they were both ready, I rolled out balls of dough and pressed them out, Lauren filled them with a bit of caramel and a dab of Nutella, and I rolled out a second cookie disc to press on top and sandwich it all together. The cookie assembling took quite a while, so I finished up that while Lauren managed the multiple batches of cookies going in and out of the oven. See? Teamwork!

IMG_2968

I highly recommend eating these right out of the oven. They’re even gooier and richer and decadent-er. Plus, once they cool, the caramel is a little too tough. In the unlikely scenario that you can’t manage to enjoy the entire batch fresh from the oven and you have a few cookies leftover, just heat them in the microwave for 15-20 seconds before eating so the caramel gets all gooey again.

After I let all the cookies cool down, I packaged them up in adorable little gift boxes and sent them off to my 3 matches from the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!

photo 1\photo 3

Before I launch into the recipe for these delectable treats, a couple updates…

1) Today’s the last day to enter my first-ever giveaway! Check it out in last week’s post.

photo (9)

2) Wine & Plum now has an Etsy shop! Right now there’s hand-knit scarves, like the eco-friendly wine and plum scarf pictured here, and creaseless hair elastics. In the next few days I’ll add new jewelry items as well. Order soon and receive your items just in time for Christmas gifts!

scarf

And now the recipe!

Salted Nutella- & Caramel-Stuffed Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies from Top With Cinnamon

1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used half regular and half extra dark cocoa powder)
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
fleur de sel, for sprinkling
approx. 1/2 cup (8 tbsp) nutella
1 recipe for Salted caramel OR 15-16 caramel-filled chocolates
Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Take off the heat and stir in the brown sugar and eggs. Then add the cocoa, salt, and baking powder. Stir until well combined. Add the flour and stir until well combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Make the caramel, if using (follow link for recipe).

Take 1 heaped tbsp of dough and roll into a fat disc shape. Use your finger make a large indentation the centre of the dough; fill the indentation with a small blob of nutella (like 1/4 tsp ish), and top it up with the still-warm salted caramel (or a caramel-filled chocolate). Top with a flattened tablespoon of dough, and seal the edges. (You may need to dab on a little extra dough to seal the edges.)

Sprinkle with fleur de sel, and bake for 8-10 minutes.

Yield: 15-18 cookies.

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Linking Up With:

Funday Monday from Still Being Molly
Block Party from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Inspiration Monday from Twelve O Eight
Time to Sparkle from Love Grows Wild
Wonderful Food Wednesday from All She Cooks
Create It Thursday from Lamberts Lately
Full Plate Thursday from Miz Helen’s Country Cottage
All Things Pretty from Sparkles and a Stove

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Mini Cheesecake Bites

6 May

My big sister made these awesome little cheesecake bites for our brother’s wedding last month. She made three flavors: plain, chocolate chip, and caramel pecan. The funny part was that she didn’t really think about recipe yield when she started off, and just followed the standard recipe… for all three of them. Since she went with mini, she ended up with over 200 cheesecake bites. We had enough for the rehearsal dinner AND for the dessert buffet at the wedding!

Everyone’s favorite was the caramel pecan. What do you think? Which one would be your favorite? Or would you create a new flavor? The cool thing about this recipe is that it’s easy to swap toppings to customize your own. Chips, nuts, candies, jams, syrups… so much could work here.

Caramel Pecan

Chocolate chip was pretty good too, though I would prefer it to be a little more chocolate-y. Maybe Oreos? Or a fudge layer? I might have to think about that and try this recipe again.

Chocolate Chip

Mini Cheesecake Bites adapted from KraftRecipes.com

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
Optional toppings: chocolate chips, caramel ice cream topping and pecans, chopped fruit pieces, etc.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix graham crumbs, 2 tablespoons sugar, and butter until well-blended. Press onto bottoms of paper-lined mini muffin tin cups.

Spread desired toppings over crust: (1) For plain, skip this step. (2) For chocolate chip, add chocolate chips. (3) For caramel pecan, add caramel ice cream topping and crushed pecans.

Beat cream cheese, remaining sugar, and vanilla with mixer until thoroughly blended. Add eggs one at a time, mixing on low speed after each one until just blended. Pour over crusts. Sprinkle a few more pieces of selected toppings.

Bake 15-18 minutes or until centers are almost set. Cool completely. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight before serving.

Enjoy!

Linking up with:

YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Monday Meet Up from Covered in Grace
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Time for a Party from Fine Craft Guild
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Anything & Everything Link-Up from My Thrifty Chic and The Sapphire Bee
Time to Sparkle from Love Grows WildInside BruCrew LifeThe Recipe Critic, and The Gunny Sack
Blog Link Party from Somewhat Simple
Create It Thursday from Lamberts Lately

Alfajores

11 Feb

Last month was my turn to host book club. I chose Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende, which a friend recommended. I loved it! It was the last book I read in 2012, and it was a great way to end my literary year. If you’ve never read any of her work, check it out.

For the club meeting, I wanted to prepare food that fit the theme of the book. Allende is Chilean, and the main character in this book, Eliza, is also. After some research, I come up with two dishes: empanadas and alfajores. I balanced it out with chips, guacamole, and a few other snacks.

Alfajores are traditional cookies in Spain and many Latin American countries. This particular version I found online as ‘authentic Chilean.’ I prepared them the day of our meeting, and they were amazing! It’s pretty simple…

Make some thin, slightly crunchy, round sugar cookies.

Cookie

Make some gooey, caramelly dulce de leche, kind of to the texture of taffy.

Dulce de Leche

Smush them together into a sandwich.

Sandwich

Dust them with a bit of confectioners sugar.

Dust

Serve. Mmm…

Serve

Alfajores adapted from Mummy’s Busy World

1/4 cup  and 3 tbsp butter, room temperature
1/4 cup and 3 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup and 3 tbsp of flour
1 egg
Powdered sugar for dusting
1 can of sweetened condensed milk

Cookie:

Beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the egg and flour, and mix until incorporated. Once combined, divide into two. Form each into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and freeze for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Flour the surface of your work space and roll one section of the dough out very thinly — about 1/8″. Cut with a round cookie cutter and place on prepared baking sheet.

Bake for about 12 minutes or until edges get slightly brown.

Dulce de leche (adapted from CFE)

Most dulce de leche recipes call for boiling a can of condensed milk for a few hours. I decided to try a different route — one that wouldn’t take as long and seemed safer than risking an exploding can. Still, be very careful with this method. The candy gets hot enough to burn and really sticky.

Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a large mixing bowl. Microwave at medium heat for 2 minutes. Remove and stir with a whisk.

Continue microwaving on two-minute intervals until the dulce de leche has a taffy-like texture after whisking.

Assembly:

Once the cookies have cooled, form the dulce de leche into small coin-sized pieces. Sandwich the dulce de leche between two cookies. Use a fine-mesh sieve to sprinkle a dusting of confectioners sugar on top of each cookie. Serve.

Alfajores

Linking up with:

YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Monday Meet Ups from Covered in Grace
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff

Homemade Caramel Sauce

14 Jan

I usually am a chocolate person, but lately, I’ve been really excited about caramel. I’ve liked it more and more as I’ve gotten older, but I think this particular obsession started with this year’s apples with caramel dip.

(While you’re here, like W&P on Facebook!)

My grandma lives in Hendersonville, home of the North Carolina Apple Festival. It’s an amazing little mountain arts & crafts festival held every year on Labor Day. We always go up, stay with the family, and spend hours walking through the festival. Grandma lives only a couple blocks from downtown, so we can walk up to Main Street whenever we get bored or need a snack. The apple theme pops up everywhere, from the food to the crafts for sale.

This year, as every year, we had apple slices with hot caramel dip. We also had apple pie, a frozen apple slushie, and apple cider. And we took a bag of apples home. Seriously, there’s no end to the apple shenanigans.

Since then, I’ve been all about apples and caramel, though not necessarily together. And when my BFF Lauren told me about the “best caramel sauce ever,” I had to check it out. And really, this is the best caramel sauce ever. It never hardens into that chewy or hard caramel, even when it cools. It’s always perfectly smooth. And it’s super easy!

Caramelly

When I first made this, I just whipped up a chocolate cake from a box mix to go with it. I’ve made it a couple times since then, including a big batch I jarred for my mom and gave her for Christmas. So far, I’ve had it on chocolate cake, as a dip for apples, as a dip for brownies, and as ice cream topping.

Caramel on Chocolate... doesn't get any better than that

My mom was super excited about Christmas this year. She received both a huge jar of caramel sauce and a cotton candy machine. By 7am, she was eating caramel by the spoonful and adding dollops of it to her breakfast oatmeal. And by 8am, she was handing out cones of fluffy pink cotton candy. That’s Christmas!

A jar of caramel sauce is way better than a jar of jam, IMHO

By the way, the sauce tends to absorb into the cake. If you decide to top a cake with it, wait till just before you serve it to drizzle the caramel sauce on top. You could put your caramel in a gravy boat or some such dish and get all fancy with your presentation.

Drizzle

Homemade Caramel Sauce from My Fabulous Recipes

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Heat all except vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Once boiling, reduce to low and cook 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently until the sugar is completely dissolved and it has a caramel color. Stir in the vanilla and remove from heat. Can be served warm or chilled.

Beautiful

Linking up for:

YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Monday Meet Ups from Covered in Grace
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Make Something Monday from Sarahndipities

Brownie Caramel Cheesecake

13 Nov

I was recently invited to a friend’s birthday party, and the birthday lady requested to hang out with friends, play games, and eat cheese. Sounds like a perfect celebration to me. All the guests were asked to bring some dish to share that had cheese. Of course I wanted to bake something, which logically led to cheesecake. But then I heard that another party-goer was bringing baked goods. What? Excuse me? Does he have a baking-themed blog that he painstakingly updates every few months? I don’t think so. Clearly, I needed to up the ante. No more plain classic cheesecake. Enter… brownie caramel cheesecake. Perfect. (You can see the original recipe I found here.)

Betsy came over to help me out with this one, and we started off by preheating the oven to 350 F and greasing my 9″ springform pan. In a medium bowl, we mixed together 1 package brownie mix, 1 egg, and 1 tablespoon cold water. We spread that into the pan and baked it for 25 minutes.

That's not my arm!

While it baked, we worked on the caramel. We unwrapped a whole bag of individual caramels. This is where I deviated from the recipe a bit. It called for a 5-oz can of evaporated milk, which I didn’t have. So instead I mixed in about 5 tablespoons butter and a few spoonfuls of sweetened condensed milk to thin it up a bit. This worked out pretty well, except it was a bit tough, so I recommend testing out the evaporated milk route and see if that works better. Once everything was all melted together, we set aside about 1/3 cup of the caramel mixture in a bowl and got to work on the cheesecake part.

Mmm... melty caramel

In a large bowl, we beat 2 (8 oz) packages softened cream cheese, 1/2 cup white sugar, and 1 teaspoon of almond extract until smooth. I’ll be honest, the only reason I used almond is because I ran out of vanilla. We then added 2 eggs, one at a time, beating just slightly between each one. The key to a good cheesecake, as Betsy says, is to not beat it too much, which allows air to get into the batter, causing cracks when it bakes.

Cheesecake Batter

This was just in time to pull the brownie base out of the oven. I poured the caramel mixture into the pan, keeping that small amount I set aside for later. Then I poured the cream cheese mixture overtop the caramel, spreading evenly to the edges. We popped it into the oven.

Caramel LayerCheesecake Layer

The recipe says to bake it for 40 minutes. We baked it probably a total of 50 because the center looked like it wasn’t finishing. The problem was, the crust over-baked. Next time, I’ll bake the brownie crust for probably half the time. Anyway, the results were still amazing.

After we pulled the cheesecake out and popped the ring off the springform pan, we set out to top it with caramel and chocolate. Betsy poured the caramel in, but it was really thick, so we ended up with large globs instead of a pretty stream. No matter. I spread the caramel into wide zig-zap stripes. (If you use the evaporated milk instead of the butter like we did, your caramel may not be thick enough for this, but you should be able to pull off a nice drizzle.)

That caramel is not really pouring so well

Next I melted 1/4 cup chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons butter in the microwave on 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until it was perfectly smooth. Then I spooned chocolate on top of the cake in between the caramel zags. We made a few drips of chocolate — whoops! So to cover them up, we just decided to drip chocolate polka dots all over the caramel. Perfect. By the time we were done, the entire top of the cake was covered in either caramel or chocolate, and it looked simply amazing.

Brownie Caramel Cheesecake

And I must say, later that night, after the birthday lady blew out the candles, it tasted amazing. It was very rich, so everyone just needed a small slice, which really helped make such a small cake go a long way. And as I mentioned above, the crust was a little tough, but that’s easily remedied next time. Definitely a recipe I’ll be coming back to.

I'm ready for my close-up