Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Caramels

For those few of you who have gotten to try these caramels, yes, this is THE caramel recipe. I had debated publishing this recipe, but then I decided that I'm never going to make money via my food creations, and really I want to be an author instead, thus exchanging one impossible dream for another. :)  So, without further ado...

Stacey's Caramel Recipe:
1.5c heavy cream, organic
2.25c whole milk, organic
3c sugar, organic
1 vanilla bean
1.5c glucose
3/4 stick (6 tbs) of butter, organic

Oiled parchment paper in 7x7" and 10x10" cake pans
Candy thermometer

First, a WARNING: Caramel takes forever to make.  So be ready to have at least 2 hours to do the first part.  Since I needed extra caramel, this is 1.5x my normal recipe where I would only fill the 10x10" cake pan.  I should also note that you need the really sturdy cake pans that won't warp.  If you use cake pans or jelly roll pans that warp, your caramel is going to be all different thicknesses.

Put the cream, milk and sugar into a 4qt stockpot.  Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.  Add the seeds and the pod to the pot.  Heat the ingredients over a medium flame, stirring constantly with a heat-resistant (to 500F) silicone spatula, until it starts to boil, around 200F and then add the glucose.  Glucose is annoying to measure - this Adjust-A-Cup is my favorite tool to do it with. 

Here's the first part where you'll be waiting quite a while.  This might take 15-30 minutes of stirring.  Once you get to 230F on your candy thermometer, add the butter and continue to stir constantly.  Then you are in for MORE waiting and stirring.

Once the thermometer reads 242F, the caramel is ready to pour into the prepared cake pans.  I've had lots of candy thermometers fail on me, so sometimes this is a crap shoot.  I think it's supposed to be somewhere between soft ball and firm ball stage if you want to check the old fashioned way.  I have this candy thermometer, and 242F seems to work for me.  Then I keep stirring for a minute or so, so that the bottom of the pot can cool a tiny bit.  If I don't do this, as I'm pouring, the thin layer of caramel at the bottom scalds as I'm trying to get all the caramel into the pans.  And if you're like me, and hate making caramel as much as you love eating it, you'll try to get as much caramel out of the pot as possible.  For this recipe, two-thirds goes into the 10x10" and one-third goes into the 7x7".

Let the caramel cool to room temperature (I like to leave mine in a cold oven, that way I don't have to worry about covering it and it steaming up, and I also don't have to worry about dust getting on it), and then you can cut it up however you like.  Sometimes I like to roll it around some homemade marshmallows.  This time, I spread some tempered chocolate on the bottom and cut them up for dipping.

This set, I put some toasted almonds on,

and then dipped them in chocolate.

And, then I made some of my classic caramels dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with salts - Hawaiian Black Alaea Salt and Fleur de Sel.

Now that I've given you my best recipe, someone figure out what the recipe is for becoming a famous author and trade me.  :)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is my version of Jacques Torres' recipe...

Stacey's Chocolate Chip Cookie Ingredients:

1 1/4c brown sugar, organic
1c + 2 tbs sugar, organic
2 1/2 sticks salted butter, organic
1 1/2 tbs vanilla bean paste
2 eggs, organic

1 1/4tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
2c unbleached flour, organic
1 1/2c whole wheat flour, organic
3 tbs cornstarch
1 1/4 lb semi-sweet Guittard chocolate chips (3 1/4c chips)

Wilton Cookie Sheets

First I preheated the oven to 350F.   I microwaved the butter a little so that it would be soft and then I added it and the standing mixer bowl with the sugar and vanilla.  I mixed until fluffy.  Then I added the eggs one at a time, and blended again until fluffy.

You're supposed to blend all the dry ingredients separately, but I'm lazy so I just dump them all on top.  This is the amazing part that I just found out.  Change out the batter mixing attachment for the dough attachment and you don't get flour everywhere.  You'd think after all this time I would have found that out sooner than just recently.  :)

In this version, I also switched out about 1/3 of the semisweet chocolate chips for milk chocolate chips, but I don't always. Semi-sweet is just as yummy, but I have a giant box of the milk chocolate that I wanted to play with so occasionally I dump them in something.

I refrigerated the dough overnight and then spooned out about a 2-3 tbs size ball (2") onto the cookie sheets, a couple inches apart.  I baked them for 10 minutes, rotating once after 5 minutes.  The most critical part for me is using my temp gun to find the surface temperature.  190-200F makes for soft on the inside, crunchy on the outside cookies that make people ask me, "How did you do that?"

Friday, July 8, 2011

Cinnamon Ginger Rum Cake

Ode #5 to the Flavor Bible.  Flavor Bible... you complete me...

Stacey's Cinnamon Ginger Rum Cake Ingredients:
1c unbleached white flour, organic
1c whole wheat flour, organic
2 tbs cornstarch
1.5c sugar, organic
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder

2 eggs, organic
1/3c canola oil, organic
1c whole milk, organic
1/3c water
1/3c dark rum
1.5-2tbs grated fresh ginger

9x9" cake pan with cake liner, 3 silicone cupcake cups

First I preheated the oven to 350F and then I combined the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Then I combined the eggs and the oil and whisked it a bit.  I grated the ginger into the rum, and then added that to the eggs and oil.  I added the water to the milk in another measuring cup.  I poured the ginger mixture into the dry ingredients and then about 1/2 a cup of the water/milk mixture into the dry ingredients as well.  I microwaved the rest of the water/milk for 2 minutes to get it hot while I stirred the batter gently until just combined.  I poured the hot milk over the batter and stirred again, gently until combined.

I poured most of the batter into the cake pan (about 1.5" deep) and used the rest of the batter to fill the cake cups.  I always like to have a bit of extra cake to leave at home, since I bring the pan to work.  :)

It might have been nice to make a rum frosting or something... maybe for another time. 

Moist, spicy, rummy... I'm definitely not going to spit it out. :D

Saturday, July 2, 2011


I love mint, chocolate, and marshmallows so I decided to mash these all together for Father's Day and give it to my Dad.  I just used my Half Batch Marshmallow recipe, but I took out the vanilla and added 1 ounce of Creme de Menthe liqueur and a tiny bit (like a pinch) of blue powdered food coloring at about the halfway point during the aerating.

The resulting slab was only slightly blue green, but once the chocolate was on it, the marshmallow seemed a bit more colorful for some reason.

I put a layer of Guittard milk chocolate on one side, instead of cutting them and rolling them in the cornstarch/powdered sugar mixture, to make them easier to dip.

Once the chocolate set, I turned the slab over onto the chocolate side and cut squares out for dipping.

Then all the happy little cubes went for a swim, one by one into tempered milk chocolate and I fished them out with my dipping fork.

Once the coating set, I drizzled a little bit more chocolate on them for a nice decorative touch.

Thank goodness there were some extra.  Boyfriend and I have been stuffing our faces with the rest.  Chocolate covered marshmallows really are my favorite confection... :)