Salted Caramel Sauce

20121024-195831.jpgCaramel sauce and I go way back. I have made (and attempted) SO many different recipes I can’t even remember them all. Dry method, wet method, in the microwave…butter, no butter, cream and no cream…I’ve tried it all. But every time except for maybe one (lucky) exception, I’ve burnt it. Now, I don’t burn it into smithereens, so they’ve almost all been delicious, as burnt caramel is a thing people actually want to make sometimes. But, I was after just regular, DIY, delicious plain-Jane caramel sauce.

20121024-204935.jpgNow, I’ve tried this recipe before, but I burnt that too. Worse, I had burnt it before all of the sugar melted. Then my mom made it, the exact same recipe, and it was perfect. Of course. Her secret? Turn down the heat! Although it takes a long time to start melting, perfect caramel will be your reward. This caramel is rich, thanks to lots of butter and cream. It has a wonderful salty edge, that enhances that wonderful flavor ten fold and balances out all of that sweetness.

20121024-200347.jpgNow the salty/sweet combo has been in style for a LONG TIME. Why? Because salt enhances the flavor of what you put it in. Now you may ask, “but what would I use all of this caramel sauce for?”…eat it use it in a recipe, make the perfect ice cream sundae, pour on top of apple pie with whipped cream, stir into lattes/coffee…just about anything. Or, be a savage and dip crackers into it…not that I would ever do that…

Salted Caramel Sauce

Adapted from The Brown Eyed Baker

Ingredients:

2 cups granulated sugar
12 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp fleur de sel (or any other flaky sea salt. Do not substitute table salt)
1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions: In a large sauce pan over medium-low heat add sugar. Gently swirl pan to insure even melting. Cook until temperature on candy thermometer reaches 350F or becomes a deep amber color. Take off heat, whisk in butter. When butter is melted, whisk in heavy cream. Whisk in salt and vanilla. If salt does not dissolve, blend in blender until smooth.

Yield: about 2 cups sauce.

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Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

20121017-225121.jpgThe crisp fall air embraces me with a chill, as the colorful leaves fall all around me blown by the lively autumn winds. I stop, taking in the moment of pure seasonal beauty. As my hair is tossed to and fro with reckless abandon while I head back to my home, I can smell something…just a whiff of something wonderful. As I enter the house, the smell has gotten clearer; warm, spicy, sweet, buttery and…pumpkin. Pumpkin will always be a part of my heart in the fall.

20121017-225804.jpgI come into the kitchen, the smell
now taking over my senses and warming me to the bone, and I see pumpkin muffins, with so much streusel they can barely hold it all. I pick one up, and take that first bite. Aside from the spiced, moist, pumpkin and the crunchy, buttery streusel I find a very pleasant surprise: a creamy vanilla-scented cream cheese center, perfectly balancing out the soft pumpkin flavor with its bright tanginess.

20121017-230345.jpgThese muffins are the epitome of fall comfort food. I can think of no better way to spend a fall afternoon than baking these and sharing them with loved ones, seeing their utter delight as you make their day.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Recipe from The Brown Eyed Baker

For Cream Cheese Filling:

4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For Streusel:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp butter, melted

For the Muffins:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin purée
5 oz (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For Cream Cheese Filling: In medium bowl, combine filling ingredients, stir until smooth. Form the mixture into a 12-inch log on a piece of plastic wrap, wrap tightly, and freeze two hours.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with muffin papers or spray with cooking spray; set aside.

Make Pecan Streusel: In medium bowl, use a fork to combine streusel ingredients; set aside.

Whisk together first 7 ingredients in large bowl; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients.
Pour pumpkin mixture over the dry ingredients. Stir together just until dry ingredients are moistened.

Divide cream cheese mixture into 12 pieces.

Scoop a small amount of batter (1 1/2 tbsp) into the muffin cups. Place 1 slice of cream cheese in center of batter; fill with remaining batter.
Sprinkle the streusel on top of each muffin. Press streusel lightly into batter.

Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes; remove muffins to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Yield: 12 muffins

Oreo Crunch Bars

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My apologies for this NOT fall themed recipe, but you’ll thank me later. After making triple oreo cookies, I spotted this recipe on How Sweet It Is, and I knew my obsession with Oreo baked goods was not over yet. In fact, when I saw her photos, I almost DIED. Seriously…Yum.
Brownies. With whole Oreos. Chocolate chips. Crushed Oreos. Peanut butter and chocolate poured on top. Yes…you heard that right. And the texture…oh goodness.20121006-235657.jpg The texture of these bars–chewy brownie, crunchy Oreos, smooth, melty peanut butter and chocolate…all of that paired with the flavors; chocolate brownie, sweet Oreos, nutty peanut butter and rich chocolate make for one insanely addicting bar! And they are oh-so fun to make! These bars would be perfect to make for a sunday football party to munch on, a fun project to do with the kids, or just because they are SO. GOOD.

20121009-203552.jpgAny reason you can conjure up, or even if you have none at all, you should definitely make these bars…people will love you like 10x more. Just kidding! Maybe.

Oreo Crunch Bars

Recipe from How Sweet It Is

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp cocoa powder
2 cups chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
20 Oreo cookies

Preheat oven to 350.

Line a 9″ square baking dish with parchment paper (or grease with butter).

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time; add vanilla. Add in cocoa powder and mix until combined. Add flour and salt, mixing well until batter is smooth and comes together. Fold in 1/2 cup chocolate chips.

Spread into prepared baking dish. Place 9 Oreo cookies on top and press down slightly. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Meanwhile, crush remaining Oreos in plastic bag. Remove brownies from the oven and sprinkle with 1/2 cup chocolate chips and crushed Oreos. Place in oven for 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, microwave remaining chocolate chips and peanut butter in bowl on HIGH, stirring every 30 seconds until melted. Remove brownies from oven and pour melted chocolate mixture over top, spreading to cover. Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

Let brownies sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before cutting into 16 pieces.

Yield: 16 bars