Salted Caramel Peach Pie

Without further ado, I return us to the summer fruit frenzy.  August is the month for peaches, and if you find yourself in possession of a few extra, I think I have an idea of how to use them.

Ok, I have another confession.  You all know I love pie.  What you may not know is that I love pie filling just a little bit more than the crust.  Yes, I’m one of those people that scoop the filling out of the crust or leave the crimped edges for the crust-lovers to eat (I’m the same way with pizza).

Though I am getting better at appreciating a good crust.  Especially since whenever I make pie, I always make my own crust.  I now finish my entire piece of pie almost every time!  However, one thing I really am not ready for is double-crust pie.  Nope, can’t do it.  I need an open-top pie or a crumble pie; baby steps here people.

I am all about this crumble pie.  Fresh peaches, salted caramel, crumb topping…yeah, this is practically my perfect pie.  It could be your perfect pie too.  Do me a favor and make this pie.  Make sure to drizzle each piece with extra caramel.

Ohhhh yes.  Summer just got slightly more tolerable.

Salted Caramel Peach Pie

Adapted from Evil Shenanigans

Makes one 9” pie, 10-12 servings

For the dough:

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
½ tsp salt
8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter, cubed and chilled
3-5 Tbsp ice water

For the crumble:
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup (half a stick) butter, cubed and chilled

For the filling:
6 medium peaches, peeled, stone removed, and sliced
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ cup salted caramel (I used this brand)
½ tsp vanilla
¼ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg

salted caramel sauce, for garnish

First make the crust.  In a large bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, and salt. Whisk to combine then add the cubed butter and, using your fingers, rub it in until the mixture looks like coarse sand and no large pieces of butter remain.

Add the water, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture forms a shaggy ball. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and press the dough into a disk. Flatten the dough, fold it in half, and flatten it again. Repeat this process 4 times, then wrap the dough in plastic and chill for 1 hour.

Once chilled, pull the dough out of the refrigerator and let stand for 5-10 minutes to warm up. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thick, about a 12-inch circle, turning the dough often to make sure it does not stick. Dust the surface with additional flour if needed.

Press the dough into a greased 9” pie plate and trim the dough so that ½” of dough hangs over the plate’s edge. Tuck the dough under and crimp the edges. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to fill and bake.

Next, prepare the crumble.  In a medium bowl combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and rub it into the flour mixture with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Cover and chill for 30 minutes before using.

Lastly, prepare the peach filling.  In a medium bowl combine the sliced peaches, cornstarch, salted caramel sauce, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Gently toss to coat, then allow to stand for at least 10 minutes at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 425 F.  To assemble the pie, fill the pastry crust with the peach filling, then evenly spread the crumble over the top. Bake for 12 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 F and bake for 45 to 55 more minutes, or until the crumble is deeply golden brown and the filling is bubbling all over. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.  Garnish with extra caramel sauce and enjoy!





Salted Caramel Pudding

Remember when I couldn’t stop gushing about Izzy being a real house bunny?  Oh, I never stopped, you say?  Even on non-hop days?  Oops.  Well, let me give you an update on her status anyway.  As you can see, she’s been on the couch.  At first, I was thrilled.  I had fantasies of reading a book with a little bunny curled up in my lap.  Yeah, like that will ever happen.  She did sit on me for a while once though!  Anyway, one time she was sitting on the couch, and all of a sudden, she just started peeing.  I was shocked and sad.  So now her couch privileges have been revoked.

She is however allowed on the second floor when we’re home as the baby gate we use to block the stairs likes to fall over of its own volition way too often.  She never stays up there too long, as I think she knows it’s far away from her food.

Ok, on to the food portion of this post.  I’m sorry guys, I don’t know about you all, but I need to take a quick break from carb on carb action.  And since it’s still kind of hot outside, let’s make some pudding.

You might not be able to tell from this blog, but I very much enjoy pudding.  While my first attempts at making the stuff from scratch yielded something closer to a milkshake, I have since improved my skills and my ability to use cornstarch, the universal thickener.

It’s getting easier for me to troubleshoot recipes, and this has led me to expand my pudding horizons into flavors like salted caramel.  Which is one of my favorite things ever.

This pudding is smooth and luscious, and that caramel flavor cannot be beat.  So when you’re in a carb coma and need to switch it up, this is the way to go.

Salted Caramel Pudding

Adapted from Portuguese Girl Cooks

Makes 6-8 individual servings

3 cups whole or 2% milk, divided
¼ cup cornstarch
¾ dark brown sugar, packed
¾ cup water
5 large egg yolks
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp kosher salt

In a small bowl, whisk ½ cup milk and cornstarch until combined. Set aside.  In a medium saucepan, heat the remaining 2 ½ cups milk until simmering. Remove from heat and set aside.  In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks for about 3 minutes until smooth.
To make the caramel, stir the brown sugar and water in small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat, and cook without stirring until an instant read thermometer reads 210 – 220 degrees F. Remove from heat.  Gradually whisk in the hot milk into the eggs, then the cornstarch.  Slowly whisk in the caramel. Return the mixture to the saucepan and whisk constantly over medium heat, until the mixture thickens and a thermometer registers 175 degrees F, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in the butter and salt. Pour through a sieve into ramekins or mason jars.  Cover and chill for 4 to 5 hours or until set.


Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Butter Cake

Earlier this week I promised you all a story.  I mentioned in passing that over last weekend, Luke and I spent a little time in the backyard getting our golf swing on.

As I mentioned, I was the one teaching him.  Now you know something a lot of people don’t know about me.  I was once a collegiate golfer.  For one year.  But it still counts!  I started golfing my sophomore year of high school, and ended up captain my senior year.  Impressive, right?

Yeah, well…I was the only senior and there were only four girls on the team, so, I don’t bring it up much.  Playing in college kind of ruined it for me because our coach only cared about the best players (which I was not).  We’d be at practice, and I’d be consistently hooking the ball, so the coach would watch me once or twice, give some lame piece of advice and then move on.  So then I’d start slicing.  But he’d never come back around again.  For the record: it’s really hard to correct your own swing.  It’s much easier to correct someone else since you can see their body’s movements.

I did my best with Luke.  He needs a lot of practice, but I think he has potential.  He’s got it in his head that if he wants to start a business some day, he’s gotta know how to play golf.  Fair enough.  Oh, and I have one more announcement before I move on to the cake.  Izzy was up roaming around on the couch no less than three times yesterday!  I knew she could do it.  Now all I have to do is train her to sit on my lap.  (It’s harder than it sounds, girlfriend is not the cuddling type.)

So I’ll cuddle some cake instead.  And by cuddle, I mean with my mouth, so effectively, that translates to eating.  This cake combines some of my all-time favorite flavors together: caramel, chocolate and cookie butter.  Don’t act like you don’t know what cookie butter is.  If you really don’t know, google it, and then go to Trader Joe’s and buy a jar because it’s amazing.  It gives the cake a slight caramel-y flavor, which is complemented nicely by the caramel glaze.  Add some chocolate chips, and you’ve got yourself one mighty fine dessert.

Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Butter Cake

Adapted from Sugar Plum

Makes one 8” round cake

For the cake:

3 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3 Tbsp cookie butter
½ cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk

1 cup mini chocolate chips

For the caramel glaze:

¼  cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8” round cake pan with cooking spray.

First make the cake.  In a large bowl, beat together butter, cookie butter and sugar until creamy.  Beat in egg, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda and salt until well combined.  Beat in flour, alternating with the milk until just combined.  Beat in chocolate chips until combined.  Scrape batter into the prepared pan.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown, and a toothpick inserted into cake comes out with moist crumbs attached.  Cool 10 minutes before running a knife around the outside edge and inverting cake onto a platter.

While the cake is cooling, make the caramel.  Combine the brown sugar, milk, and butter in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. When the sugar is bubbling vigorously and is a medium amber color, remove from heat.  Poke holes all over the cake with a toothpick or chopstick, then pour the caramel glaze over the top.  Let set, and serve!



Caramelized Banana Peanut Butter Cake

This cake is an obvious showcase for my love affair with bananas and peanut butter.  That being said, let me make it clear that I enjoy peanut butter with only the one fruit.

‘What about apples and peanut butter?’ you ask.  Well, that may be a thing, but it’s nothing to me.  Hah, I crack myself up.  Something about the crisp yet juicy flesh of a good apple seems counterproductive when paired with the salty slickness of peanut butter.  The two practically separate in my mouth, leaving me wondering why I didn’t just pick one or the other.

Baking apples and peanut butter together is perfectly acceptable, but only because both parties lose the inherent qualities that make them like matter and anti-matter in my mind.  Ugh, all this talk of apples makes me crave fall.  Is it September yet?

Ok ok, I’m getting to the cake already.  We’ve got caramel, bananas and peanut butter all wrapped up into one shiny package.  How can you say no to that?

I had been waiting to make this cake ever since I bookmarked it, and I was pleased with the result.  For some reason, my first batch of caramel seized like crazy, but the second one was fine.  The cake is dense and moist, and the bananas smothered in their caramel casing are sweet, but not overly so.  Very scrumptious, and highly recommended.

Caramelized Banana Peanut Butter Cake

Adapted from Scientifically Sweet

Makes one 8” cake (about 10 servings)

For the caramelized banana layer:

2 medium ripe, but firm bananas, peeled and sliced into ¼” thick pieces

1/3 cup sugar

¼ tsp white vinegar

¼ cup heavy cream

For the cake:

1 cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup whole wheat flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp salt

1 medium banana

½ cup packed brown sugar

¼ cup creamy peanut butter

¼ cup peanut oil

1/3 cup whole milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line or grease an 8” round cake pan and set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, spread the sugar in an even layer and drizzle 1 Tbsp of water over it.  Cook, without stirring, until it begins to bubble.  Swirl the pan periodically for even heating.  Continue to cook until the sugar liquefies and turns golden amber.  Remove pot from heat and carefully pour in cream while stirring constantly.  Add sliced bananas and return caramel to the heat for 20 seconds.  Pour bananas and caramel evenly into the bottom of your prepared pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Add the bran left in the sieve from the whole wheat flour.  Whisk it all together to blend evenly; set aside.

In a large bowl, mash the banana.  Whisk in the brown sugar until there are no lumps.  Whisk in peanut butter until smooth.  Add the egg and whisk until blended.  Whisk in oil, milk and vanilla until well incorporated.  Fold in dry ingredients until just combined.

Pour the batter over the bananas in the pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 40 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes or so, then carefully invert the cake onto a platter.  Peel off parchment if you used it.  (I greased my pan with cooking spray and nothing stuck to the bottom.)  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Chocolate Caramel Filled Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Since it seems like another dreary week is on the way here in New England, I’m going to post a recipe I’ve been really excited about.

They seem like ordinary snickerdoodles, no?  Well, surprise!  They aren’t.  I bet reading the title of this post didn’t give that away at all…

I know pumpkin is wayyy out of season, so if you want to make regular caramel stuffed snickerdoodles, I wouldn’t be offended.  I’m just trying to use up our canned goods so we have less to transport in our move at the end of the month.  Because I cannot abide getting rid of our pantry to move 30 minutes away.  It’s just not happening.

So back to the cookies.  Eating one of these right off the baking sheet (with appropriate cooling times, we don’t want burnt tongues) is amazing.  Melted, gooey caramel enveloped by a soft cinnamony cookie; it’s something everyone needs to experience at least once.  After they cool, you can microwave the cookie for the same effect. And it’s still just as awesome.

Chocolate Caramel Filled Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Cookie adapted from Crepes of Wrath

Makes about 20 cookies

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 ¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp kosher salt
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp all-spice
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
½  cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup + 2 Tbsp pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 Tbsp molasses
1 egg, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar, for coating the cookies
2 Tbsp ground cinnamon, for coating the cookies
20 chocolate or regular caramels, unwrapped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, all-spice, nutmeg and cloves in a medium sized bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes, then add in the brown sugar and beat until fluffy, about another 2 minutes. Add in the molasses and pumpkin puree, and beat until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add in the egg and beat until combined. Gradually add in the flour mixture, beating slowly until just moistened. Put the dough in the freezer for 5 minutes to firm it up.

Combine the 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, 2 Tbsp of cinnamon.  Line or grease your baking sheets and scoop 2-Tbsp sized balls of dough out from your bowl. Flatten the dough with your hand, place a caramel in the center, then roll the cookie into a sphere, making sure there are no gaps.  Roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture, then place on the baking sheet, about 2 inch apart from one another. Press down lightly with your palm. Repeat for the rest of dough and caramels.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until slightly more golden and set – the edges should be firmed up but the center will still be a bit soft. Place the cookie sheets on cooling racks and allow the cookies to cool for 5-10 minutes before removing them to finish cooling directly on the rack.

Dulce de Leche Brownies

I am a sucker for anything caramel-related.  I’d probably eat the foods I hate the most if they were drenched in caramel sauce…though I guess vegetables (because whose least favorite food isn’t a vegetable?) in caramel sauce would be kind of weird.

Ok, so that example got away from me.  Obviously, I am trying to convey my adoration for caramel, be it a sauce, in a candy bar, or swirled into another baked good. I love it all.  Luke does not.  How am I supposed to marry this person?!?!

Just kidding.  It means more caramel for me of course!  And to keep myself from sitting around eating dulce de leche from the jar with a spoon, I decided to put it to better use, wrapped up in chocolate, so that maybe, just maybe, the man who’s not so crazy about caramel will enjoy a great dessert with me.

Mission accomplished.  I was surprised that the dulce de leche on top baked into a hard crust, but a caramel crust is better than no crust.  Maybe it was because I used store-bought (I know, I know, but I was lazy and the jar was already open).  To make your own dulce de leche for this recipe, click here.  These brownies are sure to please the chocolate-caramel lover inside us all.

Dulce de Leche Brownies

Adapted from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

Makes one 8X8” pan

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

6 oz bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped (or in morsel form)

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

¾ cup sugar

3 large eggs

¼  tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup dulce de leche, store-bought or homemade

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter and chocolate chips over medium heat until smooth. Stir in cocoa powder and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition. Add salt and vanilla. Fold in flour until just combined.

Pour half of the brownie batter into a greased 8×8″ baking dish.  Spoon 1/2 of the dulce de leche over the brownie batter in small clumps. Use a butter knife to swirl it into the brownie batter.

Pour the remaining half of the brownie batter into the pan and smooth. Scoop the remaining dulce de leche in small clumps over the surface of the brownie batter and swirl with a butter knife.

Bake for 40-45 minutes until the center is just set or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the brownies comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely before slicing.

Gingerbread Peanut Caramels

Today is my favorite part of Easter.  As a child, the candy was provided for me, hidden inside the colorful plastic eggs my mother would hide around the house.  She’d leave little wicker baskets filled with that fake Easter grass outside my brother’s and my bedroom door, awaiting our bounding footsteps come morning.

My mom would also label the eggs she hid so my brother couldn’t dominate the search and keep me from my rightfully deserved Easter goodies.  The eggs would contain jelly beans, coins, and chocolate eggs.  She would also hide a larger chocolate rabbit for each of us.

Man, Easter is great.  Though nowadays, no one hides candy for me, I just go and buy it at a massive discount, and still reap the same amount of pleasure.

Caramels aren’t really an Easter candy, but it’s always nice to shake things up.  Hey, I just had steak last night for Easter dinner, so anything’s possible.

These caramels have a deep, luscious gingerbread flavor that is brilliantly punctuated by bits of chopped peanut.  I need to make caramel more often.   This stuff is sooooo good.

Gingerbread Peanut Caramels

Adapted from Vanilla Sugar Blog

Makes a lot of caramels (like 60-70)

4 Tbsp salted butter (I used unsalted)
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup half & half
½ cup light corn syrup
½ cup molasses
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Giant pinch of sea salt
½ cup of honey roasted peanuts, roughly chopped

Line an 8X8” baking dish with foil and grease. Get out a candy thermometer and clip onto a tall, heavy pot. Get your chopped peanuts ready, set aside.
Combine the butter, chocolate, milk, molasses, sugar, and salt in the pot. Place over medium heat and stir constantly and CONSTANTLY scrape the bottom of pan.  Let it boil and cook until the temperature reaches around 247 -249 (soft ball stage).  This will take 20-25 mins.  Make sure you can commit yourself to your caramel for this time period.

Once it hits this temperature remove from heat.  And add in the vanilla extract and stir (it will make a lot of noise and sizzle).
Next, working fast, add in your peanuts, and give it a good stir.
Once mixed, pour the hot mixture into your prepared baking dish.
In about 45 mins to one hour you should be able to handle caramel. Gently invert it from the  baking dish and transfer to a wooden board or plastic cutting board.
Using a sharp knife cut long strips about ¾ of an inch, then cut those strips into 1 or 2 inch pieces.) Wrap in wax paper and enjoy!  The caramels will stay good for 2-3 weeks, and while they may become a little hard, they are still perfectly tasty.