Grapefruit and Yogurt Pound Cake

Hi ya’ll amidst the transition to a new site, I wanted to share this refreshing little number with you.  “Cake” and “refreshing” aren’t usually words that go together, but this may be one of only a handful of exceptions.

While I am at it, I should admit that I have not met a member of the citrus family that I didn’t like.  Anything that has me grating and squeezing the goodness out of a lemon, lime, grapefruit, or orange is off to a good start in my book.

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So, I am pretty willing to jump on the citrus fan club, but THIS. CAKE.  Seriously!  If you have been here before, you will know that I am all about butter – especially in baked goods.  I know that butter is not exactly trending these days, but what can I say?    A cake with yogurt instead of butter would normally make me skeptical too, but, in this case, yogurt means lighter texture, a bit healthier, extra moist, and a more pure citrus flavor.  Yes, please to all of the above.

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Spoiler alert: Stay tuned for a lemon lavender version coming at you on the new and improved almostproperly.com in a couple of weeks…. Who knew a new site wasn’t instant?  This tech-phobic blogger certainly didn’t.  CSS what?  Sooooo grateful for my tech savvy girly who is walking me through even the most basic of basics and knows what the heck things like SQL are and that JAVA isn’t always coffee.

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Tea parties, brunches, picnics, or even dessert?… Grapefruit and Yogurt Pound Cake is a very good answer.

Grapefruit and Yogurt Pound Cake

Servings: 8
Active time: 15 minutes       Total time: 75 minutes

For the Cake:

  • 1 1/2 cup flour, sifted then measured
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tbl. grapefruit zest
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 5 tbl. grapefruit juice

For topping the cake and glaze:

  • 3 tbl. grapefruit juice
  • 1 tbl. plain Greek yogurt + 1 tbl. water OR 1 tbl. regular plain yogurt (not Greek-style)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted

To assemble the cake: Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, whisk to combine flour, salt, and baking powder.

In the bowl of stand mixer, combine zest and sugar with your fingers until very fragrant and small clumps begin to form (About 1 minute).

Wish together eggs, oil, vanilla, and grapefruit juice in a small bowl.  Using stand mixer, add to sugar mixture by beating on medium speed just until combined.

Then add 1/2 of the yogurt.  Mix just until combineed.  Then add 1/2 of the flour mixture.  Mix just until combined.  Repeat with other half yogurt and flour mixtures, ending with flour and mixing just until combined each time.

Grease and lightly flour a loaf pan (I prefer glass ones since they more evenly distributes the heat.)

Pour cake batter into loaf pan and lightly tap on counter to release any trapped air.  Bake for 50-60 minutes or until knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Immediately after removing from the oven, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen.  Allow cake to cool in the pan for 10 more minutes.  After 10 minutes, remove cake from pan and continue to cool on wire rack for approximately 15 more minutes.

To assemble the glaze: In a small bowl combine yogurt (and water, if using Greek yogurt) and powdered sugar.  Using a fork, mix until smooth.

Final Touches:  Brush the 3 remaining tablespoons of grapefruit juice on top of cake.  This will add an extra punch of fresh grapefruit flavor while also making the cake extra moist!  Once the cake has fully cooled, drizzle the top of loaf with glaze.

For best glaze results, wait 15 minutes for glaze to set prior to serving:)

 

 

Healthy Vegan Coconut Chia Pudding

Its here!  Its here!  A respite from the rain and gray!  Spring weather has finally ARRIVED in Seattle!  Tulips are blooming and that big ball of fire in the sky is basking us in its warm rays.  Its Seattle, so my standards aren’t high, but we hit 70 the other day!!  70!  Whoop!

The first sign of spring weather makes me a little nutty.  I got all pioneer-y and was tilling up the soil in our little raised garden beds and dreaming about what to plant in them, forgetting that I am a horrible vegetable gardener.

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Every dinner has been made on the grill.  And we have been prolonging staying outdoors as long as possible with the help of our fire bowl and hot tea.  And, most importantly, we have been breaking out the warmish weather treats.  Although this No-Cook Coconut Chia Pudding might taste like a treat, shhhh, its pretty darn good for you.  Tastes little tapioca balls but with all the antioxidants and protein of Chia.  It is made with coconut milk, coconut water, chia seeds, vanilla extract, shredded unsweetened coconut, and a pinch of salt.  Top it with your choice of fruit and honey, and you have a satisfying little snack or dessert.  Best of all, it only takes 5 minutes of prep!!

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Healthy Vegan Coconut Chia Pudding

Active time: 5 minutes                          Total time (including chilling): 3 hours
Servings: 8
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 – 14oz. can coconut milk (approximately 1 3/4 cup)
  • 3/4 cup coconut water
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
  • Fresh berries or other fruit, for serving
  • Honey (optional), for serving

In a large jar or bowl, add chia and shredded coconut.  Pour in coconut milk*, and coconut water.  Stir to combine.  Then Gently stir in vanilla and salt.

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Cover or fasten the lid and refrigerate for 3+ hours for the chia seeds to gel and the pudding to thicken.  Can be stored in refrigerator or up to one week.

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Serve in small bowls topped with fruit and honey if desired:)

(*Note: Use full fat coconut milk.  If coconut milk is separated or has non-liquid sections, lightly warm coconut milk on stove-top while stirring just until combined and liquid throughout.)

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Peanut Butter Pie

Can we talk about peanut butter for a minute?  Which side are you on?  Camp love-it or camp hate-it?  Creamy or crunchy?  I fall into camp love-it and creamy, please.  I don’t know many that stand on the neutral line with peanut butter.  So, I will happily admit that I am in  LOVE!  Peanut butter cups are my guilty pleasure.  Chewy peanut butter cookies are my jam.  Peanut butter on apple slices are my go-to snack or lunch.

Yesterday my little brother turned 24.  And, I guess that makes us twins because now we are both rocking 24… never mind that I have celebrated a small handful of “24th” birthdays.  Sooo… Moving right along.  My family has an old-school, homemade birthday dinner tradition – where your dinner and dessert requests are granted by Momma-dearest.  So in keeping with tradition, my “twin” brother placed his requests.  Venison stew, a salad he can dump bleu cheese dressing on and for dessert…….

His Birthday dessert request is the one peanut butter treat that is so airy, fluffy, dreamy, and over-the-top indulgent that I cannot, will not allow myself to make it.  Peanut Butter Pie.

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I do not want to hear about the undoubtedly high calorie count, nor do I care.  This is worth the splurge!……. Note to self:  You deem a lot of items splurge worthy.  Look into that.  Or maybe don’t.  

So ya’ll, I am taking a page from Momma-dearest’s repertoire today.  Because Peanut Butter Pie.

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Traditional flaky pie crust (But, I bet graham cracker crust would also be pretty awesome!).  A layer of melted semi-sweet chocolate chips.  And a mountain of fluffy, creamy peanut buttery filling.

Need a make-ahead dessert?  You can make this pie up to 3 days ahead of time!  Need a relatively easy dessert?  No-bake filling, and I won’t judge you for going pre-made on the crust;)  Want something a little outside the box? In my book, a dessert that is essentially a giant open-face peanut butter cup is sufficiently outside the box.

By the way, I am in recipe-delevopment mode on a bite-size version of this recipe.  Think a truffle meets a buck-eye ball  – but with cloud like decadent peanut butter filling.  Why the heck not?!  So watch for those little guys in the weeks to come!  

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In the meanwhile, compliments of Momma-Dearest, take in the wonders of Peanut Butter Pie!  “Twin” brother approved for 24 years.

Peanut Butter Pie

Servings: 10-12

Total Time:  3+ hours (includes cooling)                 Active time: 30 minutes

Crust

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup shortening (Crisco)
  • Water

Chocolate Ganache

  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tbl. whipping cream

Filling

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 6 tbl. butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter, creamy
  • 8 oz. cool whip

Disclaimer: Use any pie crust recipe you desire!  This is my mom’s crust recipe.  It works well for her, but despite many attempts, I am not successful at it.  So use what works for you!

If following this crust recipe, mix dry ingredients.  Divide shortening into tablespoon sized pieces and combine with dry ingredients.  Add just enough water, one teaspoon at a time, for the dough to stay together.  Roll out dough and place it in a pie plate.  Use pie weights or dry rice on parchment to help Pinch edges and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

For ganache, melt chocolate chips and stir in whipping cream.  Spread over interior of cooled pie shell.  Allow ganache to cool and set.

Melt butter and brown sugar together in small saucepan.  Mix in milk and peanut butter until well combined.  Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. Combine peanut butter mixture and cool whip in a stand mixer until combined.  Place in pie crust and allow to cool for 2+ hours and up to 3 days.  Create a tent with plastic wrap while chilling if longer than over night.

 

 

 

Mascarpone Cheesecake with Amaretti Crust and Cranberry-Maple Compote

Its Christmas time, which also means its time for my favorite cheesecake EVER!

Yes, it has a really long name.  But this is a really stupendous cheesecake!  Every part of the name is important!  We can’t leave out mascarpone because of the complexity and creaminess.  We can’t leave out amaretti because it’s flavor magic, and we have to list the Cranberry-Maple compote because its cranberries and pure maple syrup simmered together into the best holiday topping your tastebuds can imagine!

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I should probably add that this cheesecake recipe (without the festive compote) is what I make most often on my birthday.  This is my all time favorite dessert.  Period.  Cheesecake in general is great, but this one is truly the best ever!

Thats really all I have to say about it.  I prefer to let the tastiness speak for itself.  Hope you all make it and enjoy!!

Merry Christmas!

Mascarpone Cheesecake with Amaretti Crust 

and Cranberry-Maple Compote

For the Crust:

  • ~ 3.5 oz. amaretti cookies
  • 4 full sized graham crackers
  • pinch of salt
  • 5 tbl. melted butter

For the Filling:

  • 20 oz. cream cheese, room temp.
  • 8 oz. mascarpone, room temp.
  • zest from 1 small orange
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tbl. fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

For the topping:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. fresh orange juice
  • 1/8 tsp. salt

For the Compote:

  • 8oz. of fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar

CRUST: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Crush the cookies and graham crackers in a food processor or with a rolling pint.  Add pinch of salt and mix.  Then add melted butter and mix.  Press into bottom of spring form pan and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven to cool.

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FILLING: In the bowl of a stand mixer combine cream cheese, mascarpone, sugar, salt, and orange zest until combined.  Mix in eggs one at a time and add vanilla and orange juice.  Pour filling on top of cooled crust.

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Bake for 25-30 minutes until top trembles when lightly shaken.  Cool for approximately 20 minutes.

TOPPING: In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients.  Gently pour on top of cheesecake and bake for additional 10 minutes until topping has just set.

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Once cheesecake has cooled completely to room temperature, refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days!  (Yay, for a make-ahead desert!)

COMPOTE:  Also, can be made up to 3 days ahead!!  Combine all ingredients in sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  Reduce temperature to simmer and allow mixture to thicken slightly for 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly.  Allow to cool and then transfer to a glass jar.  (Can be re-warmed slightly prior to serving.)

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Fall Time’s Perfect Pumpkin Caramel Bars

Fall weather, fall leaves, fall activities, apple cider, and fall time treats go hand-in-hand this time of the year.  Trader Joe’s seems to have stocked its shelves with anything and everything that can be pumpkin spice-ified.  Pumpkin flavored cheerios,  really now? But, alas, case in point.  

Don’t get me wrong, I love pumpkin and squashes of all shapes, sizes, tastes, and textures.  In sweets & in savories, I am game!  By the time New Year’s rolls around, my husband doesn’t even want to hear the word “pumpkin.”  He is more of a sugar cookies with thick butter cream gooey-ness on top.  So I earned my “good-wife” badge by appeasing his request.

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In reviewing my week-night meal plan for this week, I probably should have moderated the squash intake a bit, but beggars can’t be choosers.  Thats right, I’m talking to you my lovely family.

Who else is loving my $6 HomeDepot-impulse-buy scarecrow?! :)
Who else is loving my $6 impulse-buy scarecrow from Home Depot?! 🙂

So amidst the pumpkin patch-ing, dog walking amongst color changing leaves, and cuddling up with a good book a time or two; I have been soaking in the flavors of Fall with some baking.  Thus far, my experiments have resulted in a couple of “share worthy” recipes.  Maybe you have even tried these Salted Caramel Apple Crisp Bars…If not, you should!  ….Unless you don’t like apples, caramel, or delicious things.

Harvest party, anyone?
Harvest party, anyone?

So I believe I may have mentioned my pumpkin fandom, right?  But in case you fell asleep back there, I LOVE pumpkin.  Pumpkin Caramel Bars seem like a no-brainer because pumpkin + caramel + brown sugary-shortbread crust are, to quote The Sound of Music: “These a few of my favorite things…”  And, combining them = AMAZING!

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Before I launch into the recipe, I have a confession to make.  Pie crust and I are not buddies.  I love pie.  And when I say this, please note that I reallllly LOVE pie.  But I am of the “pie crust is an art form” line of thinking, and this is one form of art that I have yet to master.  So the charm-factor that accompanies homemade pumpkin pie is negated with the thought of battling it out with pie-crust.  So these bars have all of the pumpkin pie goodness on top with a way more awesome and way more simple base – same base as I used on the Salted Caramel Apple Bars!! So pumpkin lovers, consider yourselves warned, these addicting.

Perfect Pumpkin Caramel Bars

For the Base

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • shy 1/2 tsp. salt
  • shy 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour

For the layer of Caramel 

  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

For the Pumpkin Filling

  • 1 can of pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 3 tbl. flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  In a separate bowl combine rest of crust ingredients, then add 1/3 at a time to the butter mixture.  Mixture should be crumbly. Press mixture into the bottom of  a parchment lined 13 x 9 inch pan.  Bake for 10-12 minutes and then remove from oven.

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Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees.

Now to the caramel.  Melt the butter in a sauce pan and then add the brown sugar. After the sugar crystals have dissolved but before the mixture starts to bubble heavily, slowly stir the cream into the mixture.  Continue to stir over heat until a thickened sauce forms and it can coat the back of a chilled spoon.  This should only take a couple of minutes.  Remove from heat and immediately pour an even layer over the partially baked crust.

For the pumpkin filling, combine pumpkin, condensed milk, and brown sugar in a stand mixer until completely combined.  Add beaten eggs a little at a time, mixing between each addition.  In a small bowl, combine flour, salt, and spices.  Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture 1/3 at a time.  Mix until combined but don’t over-mix.  Pour the pumpkin mixture over the caramel layer and return the pan to the oven.  Bake for an additional 25-30 minutes, or until the center of the pumpkin mixture has set.

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Allow the bars to cool in the pan, removing them while the pumpkin mixture is hot can cause them to lose their shape.  Cool completely before eating.  For best results, store in the refrigerator.

Yummm….

Salted Caramel Apple Bars

The summer of 2015 will go down in Washington state as being one of the driest and hottest yet.  Wild-fires ravaged the eastern half of the state.  The low snowfall from the previous winter caused alpine streams to cease flowing.  Even our Olympic National Park that is home to two rain forests was shaken by forest fires.  Now that we are rounding the corner into fall with they blustery wet days Seattle is famous for, many who call the Evergreen State home – myself included – are breathing a sigh of relief.  Aaaaaaaaah…. **kicking feet up on the ottoman with a cup of tea**

Seattleites in particular are not made for heat.  We melt. We whine. We order rotating fans in bulk with our Amazon Prime accounts….

This year, more than any other I can recall, Fall weather is a  welcome and refreshing change.  Sweaters, boots, and warm drinks: Bring ’em on!

Fall in these parts is also synonymous with Washington apple season.  Hello, Honeycrisp and Pink Lady!  Whether they are a crisp refreshing snack or the star in a warm-your-soul dessert, apples are the best!

Ever since I was young, apples dipped in gooey caramel are a weakness favorite of mine.  My latest caramel + apple addiction has been dipping apple slices in this salted caramel dip.

If you are also a caramel + apples fan (a.k.a. the best kind of people), then these gooey salted caramel apple bars have your name written alllll over them.

The warm nuttiness of whole wheat flour mixed with butter and brown sugar topped with thinly sliced apples, homemade salted caramel, and a little streusel will make these caramel apple bars your new best friend.

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So Fall weather, its time to officially introduce myself, and I think these bars will send the right message for my welcome-wagon to Fall.  Fall: Come on over to the beautiful city of Seattle!  We promise we won’t rain on you …. too much.  😉

Salted Caramel Apple Bars

For the Crust and Streusel Topping

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour

For the Filling

  • 2 large crisp granny smith, pink lady, or similar apple variety; very very thinly sliced (use a mandolin if you have one)
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt (to taste)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • raw turbinado for sprinkling on top of fully assembled bars

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  In a separate bowl combine rest of crust ingredients, then add 1/3 at a time to the butter mixture.  Mixture should be crumbly.  Set aside approximately 1 1/4 cups of mixture.  Press the rest of the mixture into the bottom of  a parchment lined 13 x 9 inch pan.  Bake for 10-12 minutes and then remove from oven.

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Now to the caramel.  Melt the butter in a sauce pan and then add the brown sugar. After the sugar crystals have dissolved but before the mixture starts to bubble heavily, slowly stir the cream into the mixture.  Continue to stir over heat until a thickened sauce forms and it can coat the back of a chilled spoon.  This should only take a couple of minutes.

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Assembly: Arrange apple slices over the crust once it has been removed from the oven.  Then pour the caramel sauce over the apple slices.  Crumble the streusel topping over the top and adorn with turbinado for crunch and sparkle if desired.

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See all of the the sparkly little turbinado crystals?

Bake the assembled bars for 30 minutes.

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After the bars are done baking, use the parchment to remove bars from baking dish immediately (to prevent over-baking).  Then allow the bars to cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing.

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Now the only thing I have left to master with these is moderation.  I could eat the whole pan!  If I were to eat all of it, but didn’t cut it into slices, can that mean that I only ate one piece?  

We haven’t finished the last of this batch and I am already wracking my brain for excuses to make these again and again.  Hurry up and host a holiday party, someone!!  I’ll be bringing these!

Gooey Salted Caramel Sauce

I have embarked on an adventure that has forced me to bring my own sanity into question.  It didn’t seem this crazy when I did it for my own wedding.  Nor did it feel that way when I did the same for a small handful of friends’ weddings.  I have agreed to make the cakes for my cousin’s wedding this month.

I can do this.  I can manage my time.  Write out a plan for what to do each day leading up to the wedding and stick to it.  Not a problem.  Been there, done that.  Well, not exactly…. You see, I agreed to this when there was an estimated 100 guests.  Still larger than any wedding I have baked for before but not by much.   But, now there are roughly “200, plus or minus 25,” according to my cousin.  Oh boy…  

The bride and groom are without a plan B.  While my plan B is to hit up costco if this whole plan goes to hell and a hand basket, I am plan A.  YIKES!

So, I have begun the adventure of baking for 200 (give or take).  We  –  meaning the bride, groom and I  –  have a plan.  We have flavors selected, and colors, flowers, cake toppers, and stands coordinated.  And I am ready!  Well, semi-sorta, non-professionally ready…….  Ok, totally unprepared and feeling more panicked by the minute.

But like I said I am plan A, so I have begun round 1 of baking, vacuum sealing and freezing baked cake.  Thank goodness for family with industrial sized freezers and vacuum sealers!  This week I got a jump on the chocolate cakes.  And because my cousin hadn’t tasted this flavor yet, I made a semi-mini batch of the filling and frosting as well.

Her filling is gooey salted caramel.  Homemade, soft, gooey, salted caramel.  In case you were wondering, the last sentence can also be read: “The Best Cake Filling of All Time!”

Now the 2nd best part about this filling is that it is also a sauce… And gooey salted caramel sauce is great on ice-cream, apple slices, brownies EVERYTHING!! So I gave my cousin and her fiancé a bit to taste with the mini-cakes and then I may or may not have kept the rest for myself.  😉

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As such we have been enjoying dunking apple slices, drizzling on ice-cream sundays, over brownies and french toast and coffee, etc.  Shoot, who am I kidding!?  We have been eating caramel like it is going out of style.

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So if you are a fan of rich, sweet, gooey, slightly salty caramel then prepare for caramel nirvana.  This caramel is super easy and quick!  No candy thermometer required (although having one handy wouldn’t hurt)!

Gooey Salted Caramel Sauce

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 tbl. heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sea salt (or more to taste)

Chill a small metal spoon in the freezer.  In a saucepan, bring butter, corn syrup, brown sugar, and condensed milk to a boil while stirring constantly.  Slowly stir in heavy cream.  Allow to boil for a couple minutes longer while stirring. Remove spoon from freezer and dip back of spoon in caramel.  If the caramel coats the spoon and cools to a soft, gooey texture, then it is done.  Also known as softball stage (238 degrees if you are using a candy thermometer)!  For this recipe, you do not want cook it long enough that the caramel turns chewy.  Once it reaches the softball stage quickly stir in the vanilla and salt.  Pour caramel sauce into a heat proof bowl to cool.  If you left it in the sauce pan, it will continue to cook!

If you are making this as a cake filling, allow caramel to cool completely.  Then simply create a dam with whatever frosting you are planning to use around the edge before adding the caramel to the layer.  This way it will stay in place.

This recipe makes over 2 cups of sauce!  Plenty of caramel to go ’round;)  Apple slice anyone? Or how about a brownie sunday?

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Also, how cute caramel sauce be as a hostess or Christmas gift in a mason jar?!  (No need to refrigerate!)  Gift me some of that, please! Gooey and delicious!!