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    Bringing back the lost art of home cooking.
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    Aug 26, 2011 5:55PM

    No Bake Nutella Peanut Butter Bars with Sea Salt and Cooking In Pajamas Cooking School!

    I don't know what most people do on a hot summer afternoon, when you are stuck at home, with nothing to do except wait for the sprinkler repairman to show up.  I probably could have done a yoga DVD, read a book, cleaned out my closet, or even started dinner.  That would have been constructive.  Instead, I decided that I needed to come up with a no-bake recipe that included Nutella, peanut butter and sea salt.  Doesn't that sound delicious?  I thought so too!

    So off to work I went.  I began by taking out my three main ingredients: a jar of Nutella, a jar of peanut butter and a jar of sea salt.  I thought of making ice cream or frozen yogurt, but I wanted something that I could give away after I tasted it.  I thought that a layered bar would be my best best, so I began to create a crust and a topping.  It's hard to go wrong with no bake bars, because you can taste each layer as you go and if it doesn't taste the way you want it to, you can change it right away.

    These took about ten minutes to prepare and get in the refrigerator.  If you want them to set more quickly, you can place them in the freezer.

     

     

    No-Bake Nutella Peanut Butter Bars with Sea Salt

     

    Crust:

    2 c. confectioners sugar

    ¾ c. peanut butter

    ⅔ c. graham cracker crumbs

    ½ c. butter, melted

     

    Topping:

    ⅔ c. dark chocolate chips

    ¼ c. peanut butter

    ⅓ c. Nutella

    2 T. softened butter

    1 - 1 ½ tsp. flaky sea salt

     

    Line a 9 inch square pan with foil, allowing the foil to overhang on all four sides.  Butter the foil and set the pan aside.

     

    In a large bowl combine all of the crust ingredients.  Spread into prepared pan.

     

    Combine chocolate chips, peanut butter, Nutella and butter in a microwave safe bowl.  Meat until melted and smooth.

     

    Spread over graham cracker layer.  Sprinkle sea salt over top.

     

    Refrigerate until cool.

     

    Using foil lift out of pan, then slice into bars.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.

     


    We now offer the following options for our cooking classes:

     

    Birthday Parties

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    There is an option for every budget!

     

    email us for further information or to book your next event:

    gwenn.weiss4@gmail.com or Like us on Facebook and contact us on the website

     

     

    0 Comments ~ Posted By GwennW
    Filed in: desserts ~ Tagged with: no bake, nutella, peanut butter, bars
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    May 16, 2011 11:05PM

    Carmelitas

     

    Here is the recipe I promised you, for Kelsey's Carmelita Bars.

    The homemade Caramel Sauce is what makes these bars so special.  I strongly encourage you to try your first batch with the recipe for the Salted Caramel Sauce from yesterday.  Everyone has to step outside their comfort zone every once in a while.  I make sure to try new things all the time.  If I am nervous or uncomfortable doing it, then it must be worth trying!

    In the area of cooking, making pie, pizza and pastry dough from scratch is my Achilles' Heel.  I have read books, watched cooking shows and youtube videos, and taken classes, all in the hopes of getting more comfortable with my dough making abilities.

    I make a fabulous Apple-Praline Pie.  It is an Apple Pie with a homemade, brown sugar praline candy baked into the top crust.  When I make it with store bought pie crust, it comes out gorgeous, but I feel like I am cheating.  I am all for short-cuts in the kitchen, but making a pie crust is an essential baking skill that everyone's grandma could do without even using a recipe!  I did make the pie one time with a homemade crust. The crust came out flakey, buttery, light and delicious.  I used a combination of pastry flour and unbleached all-purpose flour, in addition to a special, high fat, Irish butter.  I followed all of the tricks that my (very famous cooking TV personality) pastry instructor taught me.  Did I mention, the crust took me two hours to make?  And it kept falling apart?  And I made a huge mess in my kitchen?  And I ended up with a migraine and sore back?  I figured out the problem was that I was too much in my own head.  If I just relaxed, and stop worrying about making a perfect pie crust, it would be really fun.

    BTW...I made Jamaican Meat Patties tonight, and made a homemade curry dough.  It came out great, and I'm getting a little better at my homemade doughs!

     

    Carmelitas (courtesy of Kelsey Nixon)

    2 cups flour

    1 3/4 old-fashioned oats

    1 1/4 cups brown sugar

    1 teaspoon baking soda

    1/4 teaspoon salt

    1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

    1 cup chocolate chips

    3/4 cup chopped pecans

    1 1/2 cups caramel sauce (preferably homemade salted caramel sauce)

    2 1/2 tablespoons flour

     

    DIRECTIONS

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13-inch pan.

    Combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, and softened butter in the bowl of a mixer. Mix on low until crumbly. Divide the mixture into 2 equal portions.

    Press half the crumb mixture in the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove and cool slightly.

    Sprinkle the chocolate chips, and chopped pecans over the cooled crust. Mix the caramel sauce, and flour together, and drizzle over the chocolate chips, and nuts. Top with the remaining crumb mixture.

    Return to the oven and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until the crust starts to brown. Allow the pan to cool, and refrigerate it until the caramel filling is set.

    Cut into bars and serve.

     

    0 Comments ~ Posted By GwennW
    Filed in: desserts ~ Tagged with: oats, brown sugar, caramel, bars
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    May 15, 2011 11:04PM

    Salted Caramel Sauce

     

    I never realized how easy it is to make homemade caramel sauce.

    I was watching Kelsey Nixon of Kelsey's Essential Kitchen making recipes that would be ideal for giving as gifts.  I love giving food gifts, and am always looking for new ideas.  When I saw her make this Salted Caramel Sauce, and I saw how easy it is, I knew I would have to try making a batch.  I even purchased a couple of Ball jars, like the one she used in the photo above, to gift it in.  She even baked a recipe for Carmelita Bars, that uses the homemade Caramel Sauce.

    To say the Caramel Sauce and Carmelita Bars were a huge hit, could be the understatement of the year.  My first batch of Caramel Sauce went to use in a tray of Carmelita Bars, which I divided up and gave out as gifts over the holidays.  Keeping in mind that I usually give out homemade treats at the holidays, I know how much people enjoy them and appreciate them. When I passed out these Carmelita Bars, they were not even making it back to people's homes.  People were gobbling them up in their cars before they even got home.  Other's were hiding them in their  vegetable bin so no one else would find them. Another person told her kids they were "Healthy Vitamin Bars" so they wouldn't want to try them!

    My next batch of the Caramel Sauce was for my personal use. I kept the jar in my refrigerator to see what other uses I would come up with.  My favorite way to stick a spoon in the jar of sauce, and eat in right from the jar.  A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!  I used a flakey, grey sea salt in my batch, so I would get a tiny crunch of sea salt along with every super sweet, gooey, mouthful.

    Check out the Caramel Sauce today, and look for the Carmelita Bars tomorrow.

    Salted Caramel Sauce (courtesy of Kelsey Nixon)

    1 cup sugar

    1/4 cup water

    3/4 cup heavy cream

    3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

    1 teaspoon gray sea salt, crushed or kosher salt

     

    DIRECTIONS

    In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, without stirring. If necessary, use a wet pastry brush to wash down any crystals on the side of the pan. Boil until the syrup is a deep amber color, about 5 to 6 minutes.

    Remove the sugar from the heat and carefully whisk in the heavy cream. The mixture will bubble. Stir in the unsalted butter, and salt. Transfer the caramel to a dish and cool.

    *Cook's Note: This recipe will last in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks. Reheat before serving.

     

    0 Comments ~ Posted By GwennW
    Filed in: desserts ~ Tagged with: sauce, sea salt, caramel
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    Feb 22, 2011 3:23PM

    Whoopie Pies

    Is it a cookie? Is it a cake? Is it a pie?  This controversial chocolate cake with white frosting in the middle has been causing issues for decades. Both Maine and Pennsylvania claim to have originated the Whoopie pie.  In addition, the humble Whoopie Pie is currently making headlines in Maine. Legislatures are embattled in heated debates as to whether the Official State Dessert of Maine should be the Whoopie Pie or Blueberry Pie (made with Maine blueberries, of course).  People all over the country are weighing in!

    Some even say that Whoopie Pies are the new cupcakes. They are popping up everywhere from Magnolia Bakery to Zingerman's to Trader Joe's.  I personally never had a Whoopie Pie until last year and I found it to taste very much like the Drake's Devil Dogs I grew up with.  They are a snap to make, especially this recipe, which starts with a cake mix. I have seen Whoopie Pies made with Red Velvet Cake, jam, fresh berries, lemon cream, peanut butter... A good rule of thumb is if it would make a good cupcake, it will make a good Whoopie Pie.  This recipe is the classic black and white, chocolate cake and vanilla middle.

     

    Whoopie Pies

     

    Ingredients:

    1 (18.25 oz.) pkg. devil's food cake mix

    5 T. all-purpose flour

    1c. milk

    1 c. shortening

    1 c. white sugar

    2 tsp. vanilla extract

     

    DIRECTIONS:

    1. Preheat oven to 350.

    2. To prepare cakes: Prepare mix as directed except use only 3/4 c. water. Drop batter onto a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper into 3 inch circles (I use an ice cream scoop). I usually get 16 - 18 cakes. Bake 8 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool.

    3. To make the filling: In a medium saucepan, combine milk and flour. Cook and stir constantly until a thick paste forms. Set aside to cool.

    4. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat sugar and shortening until fluffy. Add vanilla and cooled milk mixture. Beat until very fluffy and doubled in volume (3 - 5 minutes).

    5. Turn the cooled cakes over on their backs. Spoon a dollop of filling onto half of the little cakes. Place the other half of the cakes on top of the filling to form a sandwich. I usually get 8 - 9 sandwiches or Whoopie Pies.

     

     

     


    0 Comments ~ Posted By GwennW
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    Dec 2, 2010 10:34AM

    Pecan Sandies

    I was craving something sweet last week.  A crumbly, crunchy, sweet cookie that would go well with a cup of coffee.

    These Pecan Sandies are a great "go-to" recipe to have.  The ingredients are staples that are always on hand (I keep a big bag of pecans from Costco in my freezer).   Plus, the cookies, once baked, will freeze very well for up to two months.   If you don't have pecans handy, substitute slivered almonds, chopped peanuts (salted or unsalted), toasted hazelnuts, walnuts, etc.  Any nut will work.  To make these cookies look a little more elegant, you can melt some chocolate and dip half of the cookie in melted chocolate.  Let cool on parchment paper until chocolate hardens before serving.

    Pecan Sandies

    printable version

     

    1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, softened

    1/2 c. packed brown sugar

    2 tsp. vanilla extract

    1/4 tsp. salt

    1 c. all-purpose flour

    1 c. pecans, coarsely chopped

     

     

    DIRECTIONS

    Preheat oven to 350.

    Line two cookie sheets with silicon baking sheets (like a silpat).

    In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy; beat in vanilla and salt. With mixer on low, gradually add in flour, beating until just combined. Fold in pecans.

    Roll dough into one inch balls, and place on cookie sheets. Flatten with your hand or the bottom of a glass.

    Bake until cookies are golden brown, 15 – 17 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

    Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

     

    0 Comments ~ Posted By GwennW
    Filed in: cookies ~ Tagged with: pecans, desserts
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    Jul 27, 2010 12:03AM

    New York Style Cheesecake I

     

     

    I was at a lovely dinner party recently, thrown by a couple that Phil and I have recently befriended.  There were some old friends there, and I met some new people too.  As a matter of fact, I was seated next to someone who I just met that night.  We hit it off, and had lots to talk about, which is unusual for me, because I am not the most extroverted person out there.  I usually stay in my comfort zone and talk to the people I already know, or I let my gregarious husband do the talking for both of us.

    As the evening went on, I discovered my dining partner loved to bake and was famous for her cheesecake.  She had brought one to the dinner party for us to have for dessert.  I told her I was very excited to try her cheesecake because I had baked an Oreo Cheesecake the week before and wasn't thrilled with the results.  I was looking for a new recipe and some tips from a fellow baker would be very helpful.  She turned to me and told me that she NEVER gave out her cheesecake recipe.  She would give me any other recipe, but not the cheesecake recipe.

    What?!?!?  At first I thought she was joking, so I sort of dismissed what she said and continued to ask questions about the recipe.  A bit more firmly she repeated that she does NOT give out the recipe, but will be happy to make it for me whenever I wanted one.  What??!?!?  I just met her and I am going to call her up to bake me a cheesecake?  I don't think so.  I decided to let the matter go until dessert.

    Finally, dessert was served, and the famous cheesecake was brought to the table.  I got my slice and took a bite.  It was good...very good.  Was it the best I ever had?  No.  Would I still like the recipe?  Yes.  It had a better texture than my cheesecake, and I think having this recipe would help me improve my recipe.  I complimented her and told her that her cheesecake was just what I had been looking for, and would she reconsider giving me the recipe.  Once again, she said, "No, I do not ever give out my cheesecake recipe."  At this point, I was really annoyed!  It seemed as though my dining companion was quite self-important and exclusionary.

    I am a food blogger and home cook. Cooking is all about sharing secrets, shortcuts and methods.  If you are reading this blog, or if you have ever read a cookbook or watched a cooking show, someone has shared a recipe with you.  All of my recipes have been past down to me from someone else.  I may have gotten it from another blogger, from a cookbook, a website, from The Cooking Channel, from a friend or from one of my grandparents.  When someone asks me for a recipe, I am flattered and give it to then graciously.  If no one was willing to share their recipes, we would all be eating the same four or five dishes our whole lives.

    So I began to wonder, why won't she give me her recipe?  I assured her that I wouldn't publish it on my blog.  She doesn't have a business where she sells her cheesecakes, and even if she did, I wasn't a potential business competitor.  She doesn't work for The Cheesecake Factory, so I don't think she is bound by a signed contract.  We don't travel in the same social circles, so it is not as though I will be showing up at events with "her" cheesecake, made with "her" recipe and try to steal her "thunder".  Is there a million dollar cheesecake competition coming up that I don't know about?  Perhaps, the recipe is actually the recipe from the box of the Philadelphia cream cheese she uses.


    Whatever.   It is certainly within her rights not to share her recipe if she doesn't want to.  So I decided to turn to the food blogging community, who were all very generous with their recipes and tips for making the perfect New York Style Cheesecake.

    This is my New York Style Cheesecake Version I.  It has the flavor I was looking for, but I used a shortbread crust, which I would not use again.  I much prefer a graham cracker crust or an Oreo crust.  The consistency was very good, but not exactly where I wanted it.  On a scale on 1 to 10, with 1 being not creamy at all, and 10 being super incredibly creamy, this was a 7.  I am looking for a 10.  Flavor is a 10, which is why I will post my version I recipe.  It is very, very good, and with the substitution of another crust, it will be a very elegant and impressive dessert.

    I am not giving up on my perfect NY Style Cheesecake.  I still have a few tricks up my sleeve, so look for New York Style Cheesecake II to be coming soon.

     

    New York Style Cheesecake

    printable version

    Servings: 12

    Active Preparation Time: 30

     

    Shortbread Crust:

    non-stick baking spray

    1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

    1/3 c. white sugar

    1 egg, beaten

    1/2 c. butter, softened

    Filling:

    40 oz. cream cheese (5 eight oz. blocks), softened

    1 T. vanilla

    1 1/2 c. sugar

    3 T. all-purpose flour

    5 eggs

    1/4 c. sour cream or heavy whipping cream

     

    DIRECTIONS

    Preheat oven to 400. Spray a 10 inch springform pan with non-stick spray.

    To make crust: Combine all crust ingredients in a bowl. Mix well, using your hands if necessary to get the ingredients well mixed. Spread to the edge of the pan. Prick all over with a fork, then bake 15 minutes at 400. Allow to cool.

    Increase oven temperature to 475.

    To make filling: In a large bowl combine all filling ingredients using a hand mixer ONLY to get the ingredients mixed thoroughly together. Do not over-mix, or your cheesecake will be tough. Mix only enough to blend all ingredients together.

    Pour filling over the crust and bake for 10 minutes at 475. Reduce temperature to 200 and continue to bake for one hour. Turn oven off, but leave the cake in the oven for one more hour to cool. Don't worry if it looks underdone in the center.

    Chill overnight. Top with whipped cream, fruit or serve plain (this cheesecake is definitely good enough to serve plain).

     

    0 Comments ~ Posted By GwennW
    Filed in: desserts ~ Tagged with: new york style, cream cheese, cheesecake
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    Jul 8, 2010 11:47AM

    Dark Chocolate Brownies With Chevre Swirl

    Did you see the Bobby Flay's Brownie Throwdown?

     

    This was weird.  There was a Brownie Throwdown on Food Network, so of course, I had to watch it.  Bobby Flay was challenging a small hometown Vermont baking company that specializes in brownies.  Apparently, they are famous for their Dark Chocolate Chevre Swirl Brownies, which are brownies, with a swirl of goat cheese throughout (like a cheesecake brownie, but instead of cheesecake, the swirl is goat cheese).  It sounded intriguing to me, so I continued to watch.  Customers of the small baking company could not stop raving about these brownies.  They were getting orders from all over the world!  Here is Food Network's description of the two competing dishes:

    Shawna and Katherine made their signature goat cheese (chevre) brownie–which uses local Vermont ingredients, including a layer of goat cheese in the center of the brownie. The brownie also includes cocoa powder sprinkled in, as well chocolate chunks and a dash of salt on top. Yes, salt! By contrast, Bobby Flay made peanut butter, caramel sauce brownies. Bobby used three chocolates–unsweetened, semisweet, and bittersweet chocolate. The peanut butter was mixed into a reduced caramel sauce, and then added and mixed into the rest of the brownie mix. Yum, yum!

    By the time the winner was announced, I decided that I had to try this brownie!  If I am ever in Vermont, I will certainly stop by The Vermont Brownie Company, but in the meantime, I am not going to pay $50 for a dozen brownies ($41 for the brownies plus $8 for shipping), no matter how good they are!  I decided to wait patiently for Food Network to post their recipe.  How naive I was!  Bobby's recipe went up right away, but the gals from Vermont weren't going to give away their prize winning, secret recipe.

    It was off to the test kitchen for me.  I won't give you the whole 'Cook's Illustrated' rundown of how I came to this final result, but this is the recipe I ended up with.  The photos look yummy, right?

    So what is so weird?  I did not like the brownies at all.  I love brownies and I love cheesecake brownies.  I also love goat cheese.  But no matter what I did to these brownies, I could not stand the tang of the goat cheese next to the richness and sweetness of the chocolate.  Which is odd, because that is exactly what everyone LOVED about these brownies!  They loved the contrast of the goat cheese to the chocolate.  One person even stated that chocolate and goat cheese is the new chocolate and peanut butter!  Whatever.....

    So give this a try yourself, and don't let my opinion sway you because I am in the minority here (I may be completely alone in my opinion here).

    PS..The Vermont Brownie Company won the Throwdown!

     

     

    Dark Chocolate Brownies with Chevre Swirl

    printable version

    Brownies:

    2/3 c. Dutch process cocoa powder (if available use half Black Cocoa Powder)

    1 1/2 c. white sugar

    1/2 c. powdered sugar

    3/4 tsp. kosher salt

    1 c. all-purpose flour

    3 eggs

    1/2 c. canola oil

    2 T. water

    1 c. chocolate chips

    nonstick baking spray

    optional: 2 drops King Arthur Sweet Dough emulsion

    Chevre Swirl:

    6 oz. chevre (goat cheese), room temperature

    1 T. powdered sugar

    1 egg

    1 T. all-purpose flour

     

    DIRECTIONS

    Preheat oven to 350. Spray an 8 X 8 pan with nonstick spray.

    Make brownies by whisking together eggs, canola oil, water and emulsion in a large bowl. Mix in cocoa, sugars, salt, flour and chips until completely combined. Set aside.

    In a medium sized bowl make swirl by beating together chevre, powdered sugar, egg and flour until smooth and well combined.

    Spoon half of the brownie batter into the prepared pan. Spread the chevre mixture over the top and swirl with the tip of a knife. Spoon the rest of the brownie batter over the top.

    Bake brownies for 35 – 40 minutes. Brownies will be done when the center is set, but still moist and fudgey. Wait until cool before cutting into 16 pieces.

     

     

    0 Comments ~ Posted By GwennW
    Filed in: desserts ~ Tagged with: chevre, goat cheese, brownies, chocolate
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    May 14, 2010 7:40AM

    Caramel Cake with Quick Caramel Frosting

    I finished reading "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett a few weeks ago.  It was one of those amazing books that you didn't want to end.  It takes place in the deep south in the early 1960's.  One of my favorite characters was Minnie, one of the housekeepers in the book, who was famous for her smart mouth and her cooking.  Her specialty was her award-winning Caramel Cake.  Ever since reading the book, I have been determined to make an authentic southern Caramel Cake (I am assuming it is southern, because I have never seen one in any New York bakery).  Although the book never gave Minnie's recipes, it is described as an all-day process.  I knew that wasn't going to happen.

    Over the next few weeks, I found several recipes for Caramel Cake, but they were all a fairly labor intensive undertaking. The frosting is especially tricky because it requires you to actually caramelize granulated sugar, which is a candy-making technique.  You need to pull out your trusty candy thermometer, and get your caramel to the soft ball stage.  Ugh...too complicated for the frosting on a cake!  I decided to put the Caramel Cake on the back burner for a while (no pun intended!).

    Yesterday, I was looking through one of my favorite cookbooks, "The Cake Mix Doctor" by Anne Bryn, when I found a recipe for Caramel Cake with a Quick Caramel Frosting.  If you have never heard of "The Cake Mix Doctor", it is a  fabulous, time-saving cookbook.  Anne tells you how to take a cake mix, add a few ingredients to it, and you have a dessert that tastes like homemade!  It is a lifesaver when you don't have the time (or energy) to bake and frost a cake from scratch.  Every single dessert I have made from her book has come out perfectly.  Her frosting recipes do require that you make them from scratch, but they are all simple and quick to make.  I thought to myself if anyone can make a version of Caramel Cake that is delicious, authentic and easy to make, it is The Cake Mix Doctor.

    I don't know what Minnie's cake tasted like, but this cake is scrumptious, simple and fool-proof.  Even a first time baker can prepare this cake.  I promise you it tastes homemade, not like a cake mix.  Frosting this cake is a little messy, and I didn't quite have enough to get the sides of the cake, so I ended up pouring the frosting over the top, and letting it drip down the sides of the cake, for a "rustic", glazed look.  No worries.... sometimes you have to improvise.  The top is supposed to be a smooth glaze, but I had a few smudges in it, so I tried to make little knife swirls around the entire top of the cake to disguise the imperfections.  It ended up making the entire surface look lumpy.  I really should have left well enough alone.  Food styling is a major weakness of mine.  When you make it at home, the frosting will most likely harden into a nice smooth glaze over the top.  My friend Deb, of Oven Mitts and Apron Strings must be having a heart attack now.  She bakes the most gorgeous cakes you have ever seen!  Click on her brand new blog, and check out the photos of her amazing cakes (and the recipes to go along).  Her Caramel Cake would have been ready to put in the display window of a bakery!

    Not only will everyone love this cake, they will be so impressed that you made a Caramel Cake with Caramel Frosting. Just don't let them in on how easy it was!


    0 Comments ~ Posted By GwennW
    Filed in: desserts ~ Tagged with: cake mix doctor, caramel, southern, cake
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    Apr 2, 2010 5:47AM

    Chocolate Banana Cream Pie

    I always seem to end up with an abundance of bananas in my house.  Not that I mind...I love bananas, and use them in everything from my morning cereal to smoothies to banana bread.   I was trying to decide what to do with my extra bananas this week (freeze them, dip them in chocolate, make banana ice cream?) when I saw someone on TV baking a pie.  I was all of a sudden craving a Banana Cream Pie!  This pie is so easy to make.  You can use a frozen pie crust, or even a pre-made graham cracker crumb crust.  Bananas, toasted coconut, chocolate and whipped cream.....how could this NOT be good?!?!?!?!

    Combine chocolate, 1 T. milk and butter in a medium bowl.  Microwave 45 seconds and stir.  Microwave another 30 seconds, or until chocolate is completely melted.  Spread evenly in pie crust.

    Arrange banana slices over chocolate.

    Pour 1 1/2 c. milk into a large bowl.  Add pudding mix and beat with a wire whisk for 2 minutes.  Stir in toasted coconut.  Spoon over banana slices in crust.

    Spread Cool Whip over pie.  Refrigerate 4 hours, or until set.  Store in refrigerator.  Optional:  decorate with toasted coconut and/or chocolate shavings.

     

    0 Comments ~ Posted By GwennW
    Filed in: desserts ~ Tagged with: Banana, coconut, pie, chocolate
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    Feb 15, 2010 1:30PM

    Dulce de Leche

     

    Dulce de leche is a caramel like sauce that is popular in many South American and Latin cuisines.   It differs from caramel in that dulce de leche is made from only one ingredient....sweetened condensed milk, that is boiled, or otherwise cooked.  Caramel is made with sugar, cream and butter.

    There are several techniques for making dulce de leche, one of which is to poke two holes in the top of a can of sweetened condensed milk, and gently boil the can in a pot of simmering water for two hour.  The only problem with that is there is always the risk that the can will explode (or maybe that is an urban myth...I don't want to find out)!   The method I use, a gentle, slow cooking in the oven, in a water bath, is easy, fool-proof and safe!

    There are tons of uses for this rich, creamy sauce.  Stir into brownies before baking, pour over ice cream, use as the base for an apple tart, spread it on bread, use between layers of cake, or on top of cheesecake.  Get creative...this sauce isn't going to make anything taste worse.

    Here is the recipe I use, which has been adapted from The Perfect Scoop (Ten Speed Press) by David Lebovitz.

     

    0 Comments ~ Posted By GwennW
    Filed in: desserts ~ Tagged with: caramelized