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Megans Cookin: November 2008

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Caramel Cake With Caramelized Butter Frosting And Fleur De Sel Caramels

This months Daring Bakers challenge was a caramel cake with caramelised butter frosting and the option of making caramel candy. Since I've wanted to make caramel for some time now, that's where I started. The hubby bought me some fleur de sel sea salt and I've had it in the cupboard just waiting for the right time. This was the right time!

Cooking caramel can be a little intimidating.

After the caramel was made, I poured some into these silicon ice/candy trays that I won from Blake Makes. I was thinking I was pretty smart and couldn't wait until I made the cake to decorate with these candies. BUT... a few weeks in a baggie, they all melted together. I had a big lump of letters that were all married. I was so bummed. Then someone said to me, why don't you just remelt them. Brilliant! So I did!
The ones in the pan got cut into squares and got a sprinkle of Fleur de Sel.

Then they were wrapped in wax paper and looked like
some genuine old fashion caramel candies.

First part of the challenge complete!

Now for this cake and the frosting, it all centered around making this caramel syrup. It was used to flavor the cake and the frosting. This was the best part of this whole challenge in my opinion. the caramel candies were very good but they stuck to your teeth and tried to pull your caps off.
Me no likey that!

But this syrup was heaven. I was so surprised at how buttery this syrup tasted when there was no butter in it. If I make one element of this challenge again, it will be the caramel syrup! You can pour it on your ice cream or cheesecake, stir it into your coffee, or sandwich it between to cookies. Swirl it into some brownie batter or just eat it by the spoonful. It was sooo good!

The frosting was started with some browned butter. That was the first time I had ever browned butter and I was surprised how caramelised the flavor was. It so complimented the carmel flavor of the syrup. I added 1/2 a teaspoon of the fleur de sel sea salt to cut the sweetness.

My cake turned out quite dense but that didn't take anything away from the flavor. It was actually a pretty easy cake to make and perfect addition to out thanksgiving table.

This month’s DB challenge recipe was brought to you by Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater, as selected by the wonderful Dolores of Culinary Curiosity and co-hosted by Alex and Jenny. Thanks guys!


10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room

Preheat oven to 350F
Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.Sift flour and baking powder.Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it. Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelizing process)

In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.

12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste
Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.
Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month.To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light(recipes above courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon)

GOLDEN VANILLA BEAN CARAMELS- makes eighty-one 1-inch caramels -
1 cup golden syrup
2 cups sugar
3/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons pure ground vanilla beans, purchased or ground in a coffee or spice grinders, or 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks, softened
Equipment A 9-inch square baking pan Candy thermometer
Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil.

Combine the golden syrup, sugar, and salt in a heavy 3-quart saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to simmer around the edges. Wash the sugar and syrup from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes.

(Meanwhile, rinse the spatula or spoon before using it again later.)

Uncover the pan and wash down the sides once more. Attach the candy thermometer to the pan, without letting it touch the bottom of the pan, and cook, uncovered (without stirring) until the mixture reaches 305°F.

Meanwhile, combine the cream and ground vanilla beans (not the extract) in a small saucepan and heat until tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Turn off the heat and cover the pan to keep the cream hot.

When the sugar mixture reaches 305°F, turn off the heat and stir in the butter chunks. Gradually stir in the hot cream; it will bubble up and steam dramatically, so be careful. Turn the burner back on and adjust it so that the mixture boils energetically but not violently.

Stir until any thickened syrup at the bottom of the pan is dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, to about 245°F. Then cook, stirring constantly, to 260°f for soft, chewy caramels or 265°F; for firmer chewy caramels.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, if using it. Pour the caramel into the lined pan. Let set for 4 to 5 hours, or overnight until firm. Lift the pan liner from the pan and invert the sheet of caramel onto a sheet of parchment paper. Peel off the liner. Cut the caramels with an oiled knife. Wrap each caramel individually in wax paper or cellophane.

Variations Fleur de Sel Caramels: Extra salt, in the form of fleur de sel or another coarse flaked salt, brings out the flavor of the caramel and offers a little ying to the yang. Add an extra scant 1/4 teaspoon of coarse sea salt to the recipe. Or, to keep the salt crunchy, let the caramel cool and firm. Then sprinkle with two pinches of flaky salt and press it in. Invert, remove the pan liner, sprinkle with more salt. Then cut and wrap the caramels in wax paper or cellophane. (recipe from Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert)

If you like this recipe, please click on the link below!

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Mexican Turkey Soup!

Oops, I mean Mexican Chicken soup. Yea, that's what I made. It's the Barefoot Blogger edition and this recipe was picked by Judy of Judy's Gross Eats. Perfect timing, now that everyone has leftover bird, don't you think? Chicken was what I made, well..., because that was the challenge. But if I had a big bird for Thanksgiving, I would turn the leftovers into a big pot of this soup. But I would cut the recipe in half for my little family. It made way to much for us. After the Hubby had it for 2 dinners and a lunch, he declared that was enough soup. I threw some away, but not because it was bad.... Oh No! It was delicious, it just made alot! So chicken or turkey, you decide, and then make this soup for your next soul warming meal. For the recipe, you can find it on the Food network website or click here!

For more reviews, head on over to the Barefoot Bloggers site.
Click on Who's Turn Is It, and you'll see all the links!
If I send the most people, I get to pick a bonus recipe.
What do you say? One more click?
Click here and thank you.

If you like this recipe, please click on the link below!

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Myspace Comments


Twas the night of Thanksgiving, but I just couldn't sleep.
I tried counting backwards, I tried counting sheep.
The leftovers beckoned--the dark meat and white,
but I fought the temptation with all of my might.

Tossing and turning with anticipation,
the thought of a snack became infatuation.
So, I raced to the kitchen, flung open the door
and gazed at the fridge, full of goodies galore.

I gobbled up turkey and buttered potatoes,
pickles and carrots, beans and tomatoes.
I felt myself swelling so plump and so round,
till all of a sudden, I rose off the ground.

I crashed through the ceiling, floating into the sky
With a mouthful of pudding and a handful of pie.
But, I managed to yell as I soared past the trees
...happy eating to all---pass the cranberries, please!

~~Author Unknown.~~
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Chocolate Chunk Celebration!

Last year I won this cookbook called
I'm Dreaming Of A Chocolate Christmas By Marcel DeSaulniers
I've only baked a few things out of it, but I knew this was the book that I would pick from, when it was my turn to pick the recipe. April from abbysweets and I are doing our "Cookbook Project" and this round was my pick! And I picked Chocolate Chunk Celebrations.

These were individual size little desserts that taste like a cookie, but they were kind of like a brownie, in a little cake shape. What ever these are, they are delicious!
It has a thin crisp shell over the top and dense chocolaty goodness inside.

Extreme chocolate!

Per special request, I left the nuts out. Your choice! This recipe made 18 cupcake size, cookie tasting, chocolaty brownies.
Easy to make and pretty enough for a celebration!

You wont be able to keep even The Grinch away from these Celebrations!

Chocolate Celebrations
by Marcel DeSaulniers

18 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
8 TBS (I stick) butter
1 Cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 Cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 TBS Vanilla
1 Cup pecans
4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped.

1. preheat oven to 350F. Place eighteen foil muffin cup liners in a cupcake pan.

2. Melt the coarsely chopped chocolate with the better in the top of a double boiler and stir till smooth

3. In a sifter, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Sift onto a large piece of parchment or wax paper.

4.Place the sugar and eggs in the bowl of a stand electric mixer fitted with the paddle. Beat on medium for 2 minutes until light in color and slightly thick. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl and then add the melted chocolate and mix on low to combine, about 5 seconds. Gradually add the dry ingredients. Once all the dry ingredients have been incorporated about 10 seconds, stop and scrape down again. Add the vanilla and nix on low for 5 seconds. Remove the bowl and use a rubber spatula it fold in the pecans and the chocolate chunks and to finishing mixing until thoroughly combined.

5. Portion 2 slightly heaping tablespoons into each cup. Place in the center of the oven and bake till a tooth pick comes out clean but still slightly gooey, almost 18 minutes. Rotate baking pans 180 half way thru baking.

6. Remove from oven and let come to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Keep the celebrations in a tightly sealed plastic container and they will stay fresh at room temp 4-5 days, or refrigerate for a week to 10 days, bring to room temp before eating.

If you like this recipe, please click on the link below!

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Second Chance To Win A Hershey Basket!!!

This is your second chance to win this Hershey Chocolate girt basket. Get on over to Baking Delights and check how you can get your name in the drawing 4 times. Yes! 4 chances to win!
Good Luck.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Trim The Tree Thursday

Check out here site for a lot more links for your holiday viewing pleasure.
Beware: It will put you in the holiday spirit!!!
And while my Christmas stuff is still in the attic, I decided to take inventory of the gift closet. You know all the stuff you buy on clearance after the decorations are taken down and put away. Here are my clearance deals I couldn't live without.

Here is what the closet held. Lets take a closer look, shall we?

I got these great basket for a steal! Normal price on these babies were $15.99. Now I would never pay that as I'm sure you wouldn't either. Even at 50% off I wouldn't but these. Call me cheap, that's o.k. In fact, the better deal I get on something, the more I love it. These ended up costing me, are ya ready? only $1.59 each. Not bad in my book!
I'm going to fill these with homemade goodies and jam.

2 very cute wine bags. Sparkling apple cider is another good choice
for those who don't drink alcohol.

Remember Mr. Happy Spoon? Got 2 more!
Plus some candles and a little salt bowl. How cute!

This is my collection of bottles to house my homemade vanilla extract. I've been on the lookout for bottles all year. Lets hope they don't leak. That wouldn't be nice.

Here are some appetizer plates. Normally they were $24.99 for a box of 4. I bought mine for $3.49 a box. One year a friend gave me a cheese ball with a bottle of wine for Christmas and I enjoyed it so much that I was gonna do that with these plates. Add a cute snowman cheese spreader and you have a great gift. I'm not sure I can part with these plates. I really really like them. :/

So there ya have it. The beginning of my Christmas. This is the start I will build on. Fill those baskets with homemade Christmas treats and I'll have some gifts from the heart. And it wont cost me an arm and a leg this year.
I don't think the retail stores will get much of my money this year.
How about you?

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thanksgiving Countdown: Chedder Shortbread

Gotta a few minutes? I have a great appetizer that takes about that much time. I stole borrowed this recipe from Sheri at Whisk: A Food Blog. And I loved it. Simple food that's perfect for the holiday appetizer buffet.

It comes together in seconds using a food processor. It's just butter, cheese, flour, and a hint of cayenne. Doesn't that sound good?

After it's quick whirl, you dump it out and give it a little lovin. I used cold butter so it didn't form a ball like it should have, but it came together quite easily after my hands warmed it up a bit.

Just form out a few logs. This is when you can sample the raw dough. Just slice off a little piece. But be careful, you'll eat the whole log if you don't watch yourself. Not that I did, I'm just saying!

Now you can use your useful little whatyamacallit and suck the air out to freeze for later or... bake up a batch.

I sliced and baked!

See how pretty it looks on my cheese and cracker platter? And it was a total hit with my guests!
Sooo... What are ya waiting for? The holidays are comming!

If you like this recipe, please click on the link above!

Cheddar Shortbread
By Shari at Whisk:A Food Blog
3 ounces (about 1/3 cup) unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces old cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
In a food processor, mix the butter, cheese, flour and cayenne pepper with the metal blade until the dough forms a ball. Roll the dough into a log. Chill for one hour or freeze for later,
Slice into ¼-inch rounds and place on baking sheet.
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until light brown. Let cool.


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A Hershey Giveaway!!!

No not here silly. It's at Marye's blog. Go check it out and get your name in the drawing. She is giving one away a week for the next 4 weeks. Yeaa Marye!!! What a sweet giveaway. :)


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Weekday Meals: Sleigh Sliders

Tis the season of hustle and bustle and I have a great dinner to fit your holiday schedule that's quick, easy and very tasty. These are elf size turkey burgers (with only 180 calories) that will fill you up, not out. Perfect for this time of year. My taste testers LOVED them. So rather you have a Santa size appetite or an elf size hunger pain, you can have these on the table in just 20 minutes. Just what you'll need after a full day of shopping. Your gonna thank me for this one!

Sleigh Sliders

recipe by Raleys
1 (20 oz) package ground turkey
3/4 cup whole berry cranberry sauce, divided
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 tsp each poultry seasoning and garlic salt
1 (12oz) package Kings Hawaiian sweet Rolls, cut in half
12 small pieces of lettuce leaves

Stir turkey, 1/4 cup cranberries, onions and seasoning together. Shape into 12 very flat patties.

Cook on nonstick skillet for 4-5 minuets on each side or till cooked through. Top roll bottoms with lettuce and burger. Top each with remaining cranberry sauce and roll tops.

Makes 12 small burgers.


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Friday, November 14, 2008

Ina's Onions

Well, ... I don't know what to tell you about these onions. This was the Barefoot Bloggers Challenge picked by Kelly of Baking With The Boys. Herb Roasted Onions was a great pick and I know a lot of the other members really liked these, but they didn't do it for me. And the comment galley in my house was pretty quite about this particular dish. That's a sure sign.

I know I liked the red onions better then the white onion.
I know it was a really easy dish to prepare.
I know I was dissapointed.

I just don't know if I would make them again. I still have some in the fridge.
If you would like to try them yourself, you can find the recipe here.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thanksgiving Countdown: Pumpkin Creme Brulee

April, one of my BBF's (best blogging friends) and I decided to do a cookbook project together and bake through some cookbooks. You know, just for fun. For our first project, April choose Pumpkin Creme Brulee from Gail Gund's book Butter, Sugar, Flour, Eggs. It also went perfect with my Thanksgiving Countdown, my Thanksgiving dinner that I'm having in increments. Well, if you know me, you know that I'm game for anything pumpkin.
And, ... well, ... basically, ... anything creme brulee. This means my favorite flavor AND my favorite kitchen gadget. The Torch!

I made this recipe twice because I was not happy with my first results. A couple of things I learned were;

1. Don't use a Kitchen Aid with the whisk attachment. Don't bother. Use a simple whisk.

I whisked the hell out of my first batch. Not even thinking I'm working with eggs and cream here and incorporating a lot of air. I had that machine just whirling away which gave me a lot of air bubbles. So a full ramekin was not really full after it settled and baked, and left ugly rings in my half full ramekin. Which then burned. Not a pretty site. So just use a simple whisk.

2. Sparingly, sprinkle a little sugar on top. More is not better here folks. I poured way to much sugar on the top and it burned as we were trying to get the top caramelized evenly.
Less is more. Got it?

3. Scrape a vanilla bean and seep the pod and the seeds with the cream and spice. You just cant go wrong with a fresh vanilla bean. This was a little extra that I added!

4. Use fresh nutmeg! if you don't have a nut, go buy some at world Market. Their cheap and make a big difference.

This is an easy recipe (if you learn from my mistakes) and perfect for those holiday dinner party's. More eloquent then pudding, fancier then pie, this easy dessert will steal the show. But don't think it's just for the stuffy occasions. This dessert is every bit as good for those quite evenings at home.

Go check out April's Creme Brulee And then, when you go to the store, be sure to pick up some cream. Cause your gonna want to make this.

Next installment of our cookbook project will be picked by me. Stay tuned!

Pumpkin Creme brulee
By Gale Gund


1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 pinches nutmeg
1 pinch ginger
1 pinch ground cloves
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/3 cup coarse sugar or raw sugar
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

In a medium saucepan, heat the cream, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves over medium heat, stirring occasionally, just until it comes to a boil. Immediately turn off the heat and set aside to infuse at least 15 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the granulated sugar. Whisking constantly, gradually pour in the hot cream mixture. Whisk in the pumpkin puree.
Pour the mixture into 4 ovenproof ramekins and arrange in a hot water bath. Bake in the center of the oven until almost set but still a bit soft in the center, 30 to 40 minutes. The custard should "shimmy" a bit when you shake the pan; it will firm up more as it cools.
Remove from the water bath and let cool 15 minutes. Tightly cover each ramekin with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic does not touch the surface of the custard. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, and up to 24 hours.
When ready to serve, preheat a broiler to very hot (or fire up your kitchen torch). Uncover the chilled custards. Pour as much coarse sugar as will fit onto the top of 1 of the custards. Pour off the remaining sugar onto the next custard. Repeat until all the custards are coated. Discard any remaining sugar.
Place the ramekins on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan and broil until the sugar is melted and well browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Let cool 1 minute before serving.


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