Salted Caramel is a taste bud extravaganza! Combining salted caramel with chocolate has to be a winner.
A few weeks ago I discovered this recipe on Pinterest and, of course, had to try it. I made a batch to give as gifts but stashed a few servings away for me, too. It’s delicious. Add the sea salt to your taste and…BONUS…you have to try it to assure that the combination is absolutely perfect.
A cup of salted caramel hot chocolate mix for a long winter’s night…mmmm!
SALTED CARAMEL HOT CHOCOLATE MIX
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups good quality Dutch cocoa powder
1 to 3 tablespoons good sea salt (I used 1 1/2 tablespoons)
1 cup dry milk powder
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
10 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
Heat the 2 1/2 cups sugar in large, heavy pan, over medium heat. Stir often.
When the sugar begins to melt, continuous stir (or swirl the pan) to melt without burning. The sugar seems to crystallize but it will melt to a deep amber color after 15-20 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the vanilla (it will spatter). Whisk the caramel until smooth again, then immediately pour in the lined baking sheet. Allow it to spread without touching the sides. Set aside and let the caramel harden, at least 1 hour.
When ready to make the mix, use the back of a large spoon to tap the caramel several times into small broken pieces that can fit into the feeding tube of a large food processor.
Turn the processor on, and while running, feed the caramel pieces into the tube so the processor pulverizes the caramel into a fine powder. Continue to add the pieces, a few at a time, until it is completely powder (a cloud of caramel dust will float out of the tube). Turn the processor off and follow the next steps to complete the mix.
Add the rest of the ingredients, except the chocolate, into the food processor with the caramel powder. Replace the lid and process until smooth.
Add the chocolate to the bowl and process again until the mixture is a fine powder.
At this point, I made a cup to taste to assure I added enough sea salt. Originally, I started with 1 tablespoon and after tasting, I added another 1/2 tablespoon to the mixture.
Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, for up to one month. To serve, stir 3 tablespoons mix into 1 cup hot milk.
Adapted from Pennies on a Platter 2007; Adapted from Mom It Forward
Norwegian Christmas Bread (Julekake) brings back fond memories of our elderly Iowa friends, the Butlers. Growing up, Anna would bake Julekake, Kringla, and Lefse to share with friends. She would brew a strong cup of coffee for adults and children to enjoy with the seasonal treats. A cup of hot coffee with a toasted slice of Julekake and butter, at Anna’s oak table was the best. Today, I sit at the same oak table in my dining area thinking of the wonderful stories and memories created in that small farm-house so many years ago.
Kringla is an annual tradition with Julekake only every few years. Kneading bread dough is hard for me so I’ve included, along with the traditional recipe, my version for the bread machine. This year I borrowed daughter Sarah’s Kitchen Aid mixer to make the traditional recipe, which I split into two parts to accommodate the smaller size of the mixer.
NORWEGIAN CHRISTMAS BREAD
This is the original Christmas bread recipe from Norwegian family friend, Anna Butler
2 packages dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup chopped citron or candied pineapple
3 cups scalded milk
1/2 cup butter
2 cups raisins
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped candied cherries
2 beaten eggs
1/2 teaspoon crushed cardamom
10 to 11 cups flour
Dissolve yeast in warm water.
Scald milk and then add butter, salt and sugar. Cool to lukewarm. Add to yeast mixture and add 1/2 flour and eggs. Beat well.
Add fruit and cardamom and remaining flour to make light dough. Knead and place in a greased bowl. Let rise until light.
Knead and let it rise again.
Shape into 5 loaves and place in greased bread pans. Let rise 1 hour or until light. Brush tops with egg yolk mixture of beaten egg yolk and water.
Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. After removing from oven, brush top with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar
NORWEGIAN CHRISTMAS BREAD (ADAPTED FOR THE BREAD MACHINE)
This is a conversion of the original Christmas bread recipe from Anna Butler
1/6 cup lukewarm water
1 cup scalded milk (cooled to lukewarm)
1/3 stick melted margarine
1 small beaten egg
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/6 teaspoon cardamom
3 to 3.3 cups flour
1 package yeast
2/3 cup raisins
1/6 cup citron
Place ingredients in bread machine in the order given but put raisins and citron aside.
Start bread dough in knead mode and add raisins/citron when your bread machine prompts for add-ins.
Peanut Brittle was a Christmas tradition for my Mother. As a matter of fact, she would make so many candies to share with the neighbors, family and friends. Her home-made candy traditions included the peanut brittle, divinity, chocolate fudge, peanut butter fudge, and caramels. I’ve gained 10 pounds just thinking about it…and this doesn’t even include the list of cookies and breads she would make! She would decorate a box and include a sampling of all of her wonderful goodies.
While I wish I could do the same, I know that I would be sampling everything a little too much so only make a few of my favorites this year. Peanut Brittle is a favorite and at least it has ‘some’ protein, right?
Whatever your traditions, continue and share the memories or your childhood with your children and encourage them to create their own traditions.
1 cup corn syrup
1 1/2 cups raw peanuts
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup white sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda (added after candy has cooked)
Combine everything but peanuts and baking soda, and cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.
Add raw peanuts. Boil and stir constantly with wooden spoon about 15-20 minutes.
Cook to hard crack stage (300 degrees). Remove from heat and add 1 teaspoon baking soda.
Don’t stir much after you add the baking soda.
Pour in large buttered cookie sheet and spread out to corners fast with hands while hot and place quickly on cold table, cement or surface until foam disappears and candy hardens.
Cranberry relish is Thanksgiving tradition. My Mother always served fresh cranberry relish and I have continue the tradition. The relish is tart and crisp, a nice contrast to the savory turkey, gravy, and dressing. If you prefer a sweeter relish, add more sugar to taste.
As I prepare the relish, I wondered how my Mother chopped the ingredients without our Food Processors and the I remembered…she used the cast iron food grinder…which I still have. It worked beautifully AND helped build those arm muscles. If only I had a place to attach the grinder so I could use it!
This Thanksgiving, as always, be thankful for our families, our health, our friends and that we have the joy of sharing Thanksgiving with loved ones!
FRESH CRANBERRY RELISH
1 bag fresh cranberries
1 red apple
1/2 to 1 cup sugar (to taste)
A day or two before serving, rinse the cranberries. Remove any soft or blemished cranberries.
Wash and core red apple and chop into large chunks.
Wash and halve and orange. Remove white membranes and slice off top and bottom peel of orange. Chop into large chunks.
Place cranberries, apple, orange and sugar in food processor and chop until coarsely ground. Chill for a day or more and serve.
Fall is in the air and the apples are fantastic. What a perfect time to make fresh applesauce just like Mom used to make. I’m honored that this tradition continues as older daughter, Megan, made this year as well.
A trip to the Farmer’s Market for fresh apples and a little time and you’re ready to go.
I’m fortunate enough to still have the vintage colander sieve with wooden pestle my Mother used for many years, making quick work of making ultra-smooth applesauce. I have even cooked the apples with the skin on (and sometimes with the seeds) knowing that the colander/sieve will strain out the skin and seeds.
8 apples (Granny Smith’s work well–but use what you have)
1 cup cold water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
sugar to taste (or none if you prefer)
Wash the apples under cold water. Peel and core each apple and cut into smaller pieces. Put apples, water, and sugar in saucepan.
Cook over medium heat. When the water begins to boil, turn down heat to medium low to simmer and add cinnamon. Cover with lid and lower heat again to keep from sticking. Stir often while cooking about 40 minutes. Add more water if needed.
Use a vintage sieve and pestle, potato masher (or food processor) to mash apples into smooth, thick sauce.
Serve warm or chill in refrigerator. Freezes well.
My sister-in-law, Betty, gets all the credit for making my trip to Nicaragua a reality. Betty has kindly shared the following information about her Mother’s (Gamma’s) Fudge Recipe and her introduction of the recipe to Nicaraguan families in San Ramon, using local, ground cocoa beans.
My Mother had a way with Hershey’s cocoa powder. It was a cupboard staple, allowing a host of unique concoctions to be served in our family kitchen. There was chocolate gravy, made in a skillet from a roux of flour, sugar, and cocoa powder laced with milk and butter. It had a certain satin sheen when ready to be served for our before-school breakfast. Yikes! There was also an ugly chocolate pie, made with cocoa powder, sugar and butter pats folded simply into pastry and baked. Yum! Nothing, however, competed with her five-ingredient fudge, ready in 20 minutes if one of the family developed an after-dinner sweet tooth. We didn’t often have layered cakes or fruit pies, but we had fudge to die for.
Family legend says that during the Depression and the rationing of sugar, that the prized candy was coveted – so much so that a sad tale is told that while “beating the mixture” the sauce pan capsized into the dirty kitchen sink while Mother attended to a baby’s wailing – only to have the cry equaled by the disappointed older brother, Karl, who awaited the prized fudge.
Most of the family still loves Gamma’s Fudge, especially thinking of it and Buttermilk Fudge at Christmas-time when she carefully rationed it among families. I’ve made it for kids and grandkids. I even made it with Nicaraguan women when we recently visited, with Cathy, in the small town of San Ramon. Processed chocolate candy is not affordable to the locals, so I taught three different households how to make fudge using their own ground cocoa beans, their local sugar and dairy and butter or margarine. Thankfully, vanilla extract was for sale, a spoonful at a time, at one of the many tiny shops lining the four streets of San Ramon. The fudge was a big hit – and I am hoping some were able to make it into a cottage industry – or maybe just into a new family tradition.
GAMMA’S FUDGE (Spanish)
In a saucepan, combine:
2 C. sugar
1 C. milk
4 T. cocoa
Heat over medium-high heat, stirring to blend until the mixture reaches a boil. Then adjust heat to maintain a low boil. Check mixture frequently until it begins to thicken, but do not stir too vigorously as the mixture will turn grainy. After about 15 minutes, check to see if the mixture forms a ball when a teaspoonful is dropped into a glass or cool water. When you are sure the chocolate ball is forming and there is loss of brightness to the mixture, turn off heat, then add:
4 T. butter or margarine
1 T vanilla or vanilla extract
Hand beat the mixture within the tilted saucepan until it thickens and forms folds when dropped from spoon back into the mixture. When very hard to beat, pour the mixture on a plate that has been greased with a little margarine. Let stand for 30 minutes before cutting into 1-inch squares.
If for some reason the fudge does not harden, use the crumbles as chips in cookies or as sprinkles on top of ice cream. This recipe can also be used to make a fudge sauce when reheated with a little milk or cooking stopped before the mixture is at hard-stage.
DULCE DE AZUCAR DE GAMMA
Simple ingrediente de 5 Fudge
En una cacerola, combine
2 C. azúcar
1 taza de leche
4 T. cacao
Calienta a fuego medio-alto, revolviendo ocasionalmente para mezclar, hasta que la mezcla llegue a hervir. A continuación, ajuste de calor para mantener a fuego bajo, para comprobar si la mezcla de chocolate, cuando cayó en el agua, forma un grupo de bolas. Asegúrese de no mezclar con demasiada frecuencia, sin embargo, como se puede convertir en dulces granulada.
Cuando uno está seguro de que el chocolate es la combinación de una pelota, así como la pérdida de su brillo, apagar el fuego, añadir
4 T. mantequilla o margarina
1 T de vainilla o esencia de vainilla
Mano batir la mezcla hasta que espese y forma pliegues cuando se deja caer por cucharada de nuevo en su mezcla. Cuando muy difícil de batir, vierta la mezcla en una placa que ha sido untada con un poco de margarina.
Deje reposar durante 30 minutos, luego se corta en cuadrados de 1 pulgada.
Si por alguna razón no se endurecen, se derrumba como el uso de las cookies o en helados. También se podría utilizar como una salsa de recalentamiento con un poco de leche.
Sin embargo, esta consta de 5 ingredientes simples y la clave es cómo late el tiempo suficiente que sólo “establece” una vez que se vierte en el plato.
Gooseberry…a prickly bush with hard green fruit, very sour to the taste. These green gems were not in my fruit repertoire growing up in Iowa. When I moved to St. Joseph, MO after college, I was introduced to them but not a big fan. When I met my husband, and his Mother (referred to as Gamma), I was quickly educated on the value of the meager gooseberry. They coveted a rare can of gooseberries at the grocery store for a pie or cobbler, toting a few cans back to relatives in North Carolina.
When we bought our home several years ago, we HAD to plant a gooseberry bush. Little did I know how prickly these bushes were, until our first harvest. My arms looked like I had been attacked by a herd of cats. Now it was time to clean the gooseberries. Holy smokes…it took flippin’ forever! Each gooseberry has a stem and a brown beard (my term) that need to be removed from the berry. I LOVED it when Gamma visited during gooseberry season. She was content to sit in the shade and do ‘the dirty work’ of cleaning these little devils. Missin’ you Gamma and not just at Gooseberry time!
I was happy to take it from here and make the gooseberry pie or cobbler, drowning the filling in white sugar to mask the very sour gooseberry flavor. The end result is a very tasty, unique, seasonal dessert. The fresh gooseberry cannot be matched by a can of gooseberries, but will do if you are having tremendous gooseberry cravings.
This year, I decided to tackle the gooseberry harvest alone. My 9-year-old Golden Retriever, Joe, decided to help. His idea of ‘help’ is to guard the berries and then help himself to a gooseberry or two from the harvest. I truly thought one bite of gooseberry would quickly send him off to another part of the yard. I was wrong. Joe LOVES fresh, sour, crunchy, gooseberries. Silly boy!
For the two quarts of gooseberries needed to make the cobbler, it took over 2 hours of cleaning. Good thing I had a movie to watch! Cleaning is the hard part, but making the cobbler itself is easy, peasy. I split the recipe into two smaller pans so I could share one pan with others and save one pan for family.
Gooseberries…worth the effort…once a year (or so)!
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 quarts Gooseberries
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
2/3 cup milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
Mix sugar, flour and salt; combine with berries and lemon juice. Pour into a greased 13x9x2″ baking pan; dot with butter.
Place in a preheated hot oven (400 degrees) about 15 minutes; be sure that mixture is hot and bubbling.
In the meantime, mix the topping. Sift together 2 cups flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add milk and slightly beaten egg to dry ingredients. Stir with fork to blend well.
Remove hot fruit mixture from oven. Drop topping mixture onto hot berries, making 12 biscuits.
Return to hot oven (400 degrees); bake about 20 minutes, or until biscuits are browned. Serve warm with ice cream.
What a delight to get up in the morning, dress and not worry about applying cosmetics or blow-drying my hair. At least that is what I thought until I looked at my pictures when I returned home. YIKES! That is why you are seeing more photos of food and scenery than of me.
I would wander to the dining area in the morning to enjoy a fresh banana (craving one now) and a hot cup of that coffee! I take a moment to soak in the beautiful morning view while my travel buddies wander in, one by one, to convene for breakfast.
This particular morning, we were served wonderful pancakes with fresh jams. My absolute favorite was the banana jam. Again, I wonder how I’ve never tasted banana jam. Genius!
When I returned home, I searched for Banana Jam recipes and found the following recipe in the Jamlady’s cookbook. I made it. I liked it. We served it at daughter Sarah’s bridal shower along with scones and clotted cream. It’s a cherished member of my growing collection of recipes.
My Mother occasionally made this salad, often with fresh ingredients from her garden. The last time I made this recipe was 15+ years ago for a Christmas party. This week I resurrected the recipe and tried it out in several ways. Each combination was wonderful.
1) Side dish to barbecue ANYTHING
2) Pairs very well with fish and would be GREAT on fish tacos
3) On a sandwich (daughter Sarah’s fiancé, Kyle, put it on a turkey, cheese, and ham salad combo sandwich). Sounds incredibly weird, but delicious!
Besides being delicious, this salad keeps in the refrigerator for several days. In fact it just keeps getting better and better.
REFRIGERATOR CROCK SALAD
1 head green cabbage
2 green sweet bell peppers
2 red or orange sweet bell peppers
2 teaspoons celery seed
2 cups white cider vinegar
2.5 cups sugar
Shred cabbage, peppers, carrots, onions in a large bowl. Soak in salt water for 2 hours. Drain well.
In a separate bowl, combine the vinegar and the sugar. Pour over shredded ingredients and refrigerate. Let sit for a minimum of 3-4 hours before serving.