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  1. Wednesday, January 15

    Salted Caramel Corn Perfection

    You GUYS. I found a truly perfect recipe for salted caramel corn. It’s just, well, perfect. Each piece of popcorn is coated just right, the texture is light and crispy, the flavor is amazing. The best part? The popcorn is wicked easy to make.

    perfect salted caramel cornI found the recipe on my friend Brenda’s food blog A Farmgirl’s Dabbles. It’s her mom’s recipe for microwave caramel popcorn. I love Brenda and her mom forever for sharing it with us. Seriously, I don’t even know how many times I’ve made it in the last two weeks. Good thing I’m not on a diet for new year’s!

    perfect salted caramel corn

    Because Brenda’s recipe makes a TON of popcorn, I figured out how to adjust everything down for a half batch. I wrote a post on Babble with step-by-step photos and instructions, but the recipe is also listed below.

    Whether you make a little or a lot, you need to make this stuff. You’re welcome.

    Salted Caramel Corn Perfection
     
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
     
    I got this recipe from my friend Brenda on A Farmgirl's Dabbles. It's her mom's recipe. I've halved it and written the directions in my own words, but you can click here for the original recipe.
    Author:
    Recipe type: Dessert
    Ingredients
    • ~ 2 qts popcorn (1/2 cup un-popped)
    • ½ cup packed brown sugar
    • ¼ cup butter
    • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
    • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt + more for sprinkling
    • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
    • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
    Instructions
    1. Pop ½ cup uncooked popcorn and place in a large brown paper bag. Pop your popcorn however you want, starting with ½ cup kernels, which will yield about 2 quarts.
    2. Place brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and kosher salt in a microwave-safe bowl, preferably with a spout. Cook in microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove, stir to incorporate, then microwave for 1 more minute on high. Caramel should be boiling.
    3. Add baking soda and vanilla to caramel. Mix well then pour over the popcorn in the back, stirring to evenly spread caramel throughout the popcorn. (It does not need to be mixed perfectly.)
    4. Roll down the top of the brown paper bag and place in the microwave. Cook on high for 1 minute. Remove from microwave, keeping bag closed, and shake a LOT in every direction. Return bag to the microwave and cook on high for 1 minute. (Note: Since the bag is so big, it will not rotate while cooking. When I cook it for the first minute, I make sure the fold in the bag faces the back of the microwave. Then, for the second minute of cooking, I make sure the fold faces the opposite directly, to help distribute the cooking evenly.) Remove from microwave. Shake the bag a whole lot more.
    5. Pour popcorn out onto a rimmed cookie sheet. I like to line the tray with a large piece of parchment paper to help with clean up. This size batch will fill one tray completely. Sprinkle the popcorn evenly with a bit more kosher salt, then break up the popcorn with your hands to mix it up.
    6. Eat!

     


  2. Wednesday, February 8

    Salted Caramel Thumbprints

    These salted caramel thumbprint cookies were my favorite cookie find this past holiday season. My friend Elisa made them for her holiday cookie plates (among many other amazing treats) and I immediately fell in love. I don’t know if it was the salt or the fact that the cookies themselves are shortbread, but I got sucked in and stole them right out from under my family when they weren’t looking.

    Elisa originally found the recipe on the lovely food blog A Cozy Kitchen. I decided to give the recipe a go. I even made the caramel from scratch, which I highly recommend. I promise it was easy and it didn’t take much time at all. I just followed Adrianna’s instructions, to great success. Elisa had used store-bought caramel to save some time. Her cookies were still wonderful, but I must admit I preferred the homemade caramel – the texture was softer and easier to chew.

    I am retyping the recipe here so I can throw in a few notes from what I learned. Enjoy!

    Salted Caramel Thumbprints
     
    From A Cozy Kitchen. Shortbread Cookie recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa. Caramel recipe taken from Salted Caramel Mousse by Trish Desseine.
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • Cookies:
    • 1½ stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
    • ½ cup of granulated sugar
    • ½ teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
    • 1¾ cup of all-purpose flour
    • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
    • Caramel:
    • ½ cup of granulated sugar
    • 2 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
    • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
    Instructions
    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. Cream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined and then add the vanilla (if you have a stand mixer, use paddle attachment). In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Dump on a floured board and roll together into a flat square. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, take out the fridge and cut into 1¼-inch squares.
    3. Jane notes: the dough was super duper crumbly. I really had to work it on the floured board to get it to come together. Also, it was difficult to roll it out into a square, so I pressed and rolled it out into a circle. After removing the dough from the refrigerator, I evenly cut the circle into 16 pie slices, if that makes sense, and form those triangles I rolled the dough into 1¼-inch balls. By doing it this way, I knew that the cookie balls were all the same size and it was just all around easier for me.
    4. Roll the dough into 1¼-inch balls. (If you have a scale they should each weigh 1 ounce.) Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet. Hold the cookie steady with one hand and press a light indentation into the top of each with your finger. Jane note: again, the dough was pretty crumbly, even when I had them shaped into balls. I had to sort of press each cookie down and shape it into a circle, then press the indentations in. A note on the indentations – I thought the cracked edges would be pretty, but the caramel oozed out of the cracks, so try not to have too many of cracks. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until they’re just a little golden brown on the sides. Jane note: I had to bake them longer than 15 minutes, my oven runs cool. Let cookies cool. While they’re cooling, make the caramel.
    5. Combine the sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a medium saucepan. Do not stir. Cook over medium-high heat to a dark caramel, swirling as it begins to brown to distribute the sugar. While the sugar and water are going at it, heat up the cream in a saucepan or microwave just until warm.
    6. Take off the heat and add your room temperature butter. Whisk the butter in, being sure it’s totally combined. Add your warmed cream and whisk vigorously. Jane note: HOLY STEAM! Be careful when you add the cream…a pretty decent amount of HOT steam shot out of the pot when I poured it in and sort of surprised my face. No damage done, but can’t hurt to warn you!
    7. Spoon a teaspoon of warm caramel into the indentations of your cookies and top with sea salt. You can eat right away or let sit for 2 hours so the caramel sets. Jane note: I sprinkled my coarse sea salt about 5-10 minutes after I filled the cookies with caramel, so that I knew it would stick. The salt sort of disappeared into the caramel, so you couldn’t see it, which was sad because the salt is pretty, but it still tasted divine.
    8. Makes 16 cookies

     


  3. Tuesday, December 20

    Salgar ROCKS…and Recipe for Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

    I am so voting for Leslie Knope because she truly is a visionary. She is the brains behind salgar after all, which is nothing short of a revelation! Plus, salgar is going to save me a lot of $$$ that otherwise would have been spent at Starbucks.

    Let’s start at the beginning. I’m a little bit in love with the Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate at Starbucks. However, there are two things wrong with this love affair. First, it costs me too much money. Second, they only serve the stuff during the holidays. I’ve kind of sort of half-heartedly tried to replicate it at home before, but never with much success. Probably because I wasn’t trying that hard.

    This year, things are different. Which brings me back to Leslie Knope. When she introduced the world to salgar last week, well, I knew that my days of whipping up salted caramel hot chocolate to rival Starbucks’ had finally arrived. And I was right.

    For those of you who don’t watch Parks & Rec (p.s. you should be), salgar is simply sugar and salt mixed together. Sure, everyone thought Leslie was crazy, but I’m a believer.

    Which brings us back to the quest for the perfect salted caramel hot chocolate recipe. On Sunday I pulled all my ingredients together. Yummy hot chocolate. Perfect whipped cream. Caramel sauce. Salgar.

    I nailed it. And I might even be so brave as to say that it’s better than Starbucks. The best part? When the whipped cream and salgar topping are gone but you still have hot chocolate left, you can just throw a little more cream and salgar on top! For some reason Starbucks doesn’t let you go back for seconds. Who needs them? 😉

    Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate
     
    From Jane Maynard, This Week for Dinner
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • Hot chocolate (whatever kind you like…but make sure it’s not flavored with cinnamon or peppermint or anything like that…just something pure…my favorite is melting chopped chocolate in milk)
    • Salgar (see below)
    • Perfect whipped cream (click through for “recipe”)
    • Caramel sauce (the kind that’s made for going on/in drinks, I got mine at Starbucks, I’ve seen it at other stores, too)
    Instructions
    1. Make your hot chocolate and pour in a mug. Add a pinch or two of salgar and a swirl of caramel sauce. Stir well. Top with whipped cream, another swirl of caramel sauce and salgar. Drink and get ready to thank me for transporting you to hot chocolate heaven in the comfort of your own home.

    Salgar
     
    From Jane Maynard, This Week for Dinner, inspired by Leslie Knope
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 1 Tablespoon turbinado sugar (i.e. sugar in the raw)
    • ½ teaspoon ground sea salt.
    Instructions
    1. Mix. Done and done.