Carmelitas, Or How I Was Told to Bribe my Coworkers

A few coworkers and I were out to lunch, welcoming a new member of the team. The subject came up that I liked to bake, to which the woman on my left said “You know, you haven’t been baking much at all out of the “Stuff we want Liesl to make” Pinterest board. I think that you don’t really love us any more.” One of my leaders was also at the table and said, “Yeah, your year-end review is coming up. I think you need to show us the love.”

So, I got ‘gently persuaded’ to bake something and bring it in to work. Plus, we’re all facing the end of our fiscal year, so we’re all a little stressed out.

Original recipe is here: http://luluthebaker.com/2010/10/the-tale-of-the-carmelitas.html

Here’s What You Need
32 caramel squares
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp baking soda
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

And Here’s What You Do
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
2. Combine caramels and cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until completely smooth; set aside to cool slightly.
3. In a bowl, combine melted butter, brown sugar, flour, oats, and baking soda. Pat half of the oatmeal mixture into the bottom of an 8×8″ pan. Bake for 10 minutes.
4. Remove pan from oven and evenly layer the chocolate chips over crust then pour caramel mixture over chocolate chips. Crumble remaining oatmeal mixture over caramel.
5. Return to oven and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting.
6. Seriously, don’t try to cut them before they are cool. They will still be a little wobbly when they come out of the oven and will firm up as they cool.

What I Did
I really need to read recipes all the way through before charging blindly ahead (but, hey! Where’s the fun in being prepared?) I thought that one recipe would be enough to cover a 9X13 pan. So, I had to improvise and do another 1/2 recipe to try and cover the 9×13 pan. They turned out ok.

01d15f7915e22e8b8f70060006b68c08970d661302

Oh yeah….

However, here it is a week later, and I’m making another pan for Scott. This time, I had all the ingredients that I needed for a full batch, and I can already tell that they are going to turn out better than the last batch did.

01d7656d17d7539a5ef666a1275304c7bb53779217

Reaction
The coworkers loved them! I ended up bringing a few home for Scott to take to work, but I don’t think that actually happened. Because really, they are the perfect thing to pick you up after a long hard day at work. Or on a Saturday. Or a Sunday…

Until Next Time,

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes

Advertisements

Quadruple Chocolate Slam Cookies

Short and sweet today, but I do have two more recipes in the pipeline that are sure to delight!

Since I’m back to baking for Scott once a week, we’ve gone back to our game of “What cookie do you want this week?”  I may or may not have stopped asking at this point since he never knows. So, I just make what I want to make.  The humidity has definitely decreased in the past week, so the thought of baking has really been in the forefront of my mind.  We won’t mention the trip to Trader Joe’s yesterday morning that resulted in my buying almost everything pumpkin and wanting to come home and BAKE ALL THE THINGS!!!

Anyway, what better way to kick off the fall baking season with a heavenly chocolate cookie?

Original recipe is here: http://www.averiecooks.com/2014/02/quadruple-chocolate-soft-fudgy-pudding-cookies.html

What You Need:

3/4  cup softened butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 packet instant chocolate pudding mix (unprepared)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
pinch salt, optional
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
5 ounces dark chocolate

And Here’s What You Do:

  1. Combine the butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla in a stand mixer and beat on medium-high speed until creamed and well combined, about 4 minutes.
  2.  Add the pudding mix, cocoa, and beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute.
  3.  Add the flour, baking soda, optional salt, and beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the chocolate chips, chopped chocolate, and beat on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds.
  5. Form approximately 2 tbsp balls and slightly flatten each ball.
  6. Place dough on a large plate or tray, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Do not bake with un-chilled dough because cookies will bake thinner, flatter, and be more prone to spreading.
  7. Preheat oven to 350F and prepare your cookie sheet using your favorite method. Place dough on baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart and bake for about 10 minutes, or until edges have set and tops are just set, even if slightly undercooked and glossy in the center. Cookies firm up as they cool. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for about 10 minutes before serving. I let them cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.

The original recipe calls for 72% dark chocolate, which the author said they found at Trader Joe’s.  Since I couldn’t find chocolate with that coco content in it, I opted for the 60% dark chocolate that I was able to find in my grocery store. (Yes, this is one of the things that I bought in my ‘Trader Joe’s Trip of Epic Proportions’ yesterday morning.)

017240cbbf50f99bfb4eb47ea7292b931d7b3cc40f

The picture really doesn’t do these justice.  Granted, I only had two left to take photos of, but I should have taken photos earlier in the week.  They were the absolute perfect size (I used my trusty cookie scoop to form the dough, then tightened everything up with a quick roll between my hands), and so moist and tasty!

I am going to keep this recipe.  To me, it really is the perfect chocolate cookie recipe!  I should have flattened them out a little more, and they stayed pretty ‘mound-y’, but I don’t think it affected the flavor at all.

Until Next Time,

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes

A Sailing We Will Go…

The oppressive heat of the Florida summer is finally starting to wind down, and it’s time for me to gear up the baking again.

Although, not this week. Due to my guilt at not writing anything since June, I had the brilliant idea of giving a report out on the desserts that I’d tried on a recent cruise that Scott and I took. We were on Carnival, which can be a hit-or-miss when it comes to desserts eaten outside of the main dining rooms. And NOTHING beats their Warm Chocolate Melting Cake.

So, let’s dive on in!

Key Lime with Graham Cracker Crust and Almond Napoleon – Upper Deck Buffet

01927a23dbc6de2e0a8de430bcea3dd965b9fdce43

Florida is a good place to track down decent Key Lime Pie. The best place that I’ve ever had a slice was Key West (go figure). So, you would assume that any port in Florida would have access to the right ingredients.

From the first bite, I could tell that they had probably used a lime-flavored gelatin instead of the fresh lime juice. Granted, it is harder to keep ingredients fresh on a cruise ship, so substitutions are common (I won’t go into the “Mushroom Alfredo” that I know started life as cream of mushroom soup).   And I will give them props for making everything fresh on board (they claim). However, not terribly impressed by it.  Perhaps they should have borrowed some of the fresh limes from the bar.

The almond napoleon also left me a bit wanting. A napoleon is not something that I have had a lot of, but I’m pretty sure that the pastry part is not supposed to be limp. And I think that there should have been a bit of almond flavor.  And it had what I think were blueberries in it.  However, they had no flavor, so I don’t know for sure.

Bitter and Blanc – Main Dining Room

018d6a94dc9edbbdbec1394f790e442a20bec8f47b

I believe that this was supposed to be their version of bread pudding. Normally I stick to the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake at dinner, but this was for research (and I just can’t bring myself to order more than one dessert, even if it is a cruise ship and everyone is doing it.) Anyway, I was excited to try this after reading the description.

Overall, I enjoyed it. The semi-sweet chocolate custard was lovely (I would have loved a little dish of it to pour on top since I there didn’t seem to be enough of it, and the vanilla custard soaked immediately into the rest of the pudding), and the “bread” was flavorful. There was also a lot of it. The top was covered with four croutons (toasted bread cubes, for lack of a better description), that I ended picking off since they were a bit too much on the crunchy side for my taste. Once I got past the top bit of custard, I was faced with about three inches of nothing but bread until I reached the bottom. I dug around until I found more chocolate custard on the bottom, but I was so full from the bread, that I didn’t finish it.

Banana Cake – Upper Deck Buffet

012550c0deb5b9c0f90d57f64a43fed24ebee70721

Normally I am not one to like banana in desserts, but this was a delightful surprise. They called it a banana cake, but it was more of a pie, having a lovely crisp crust on the bottom and yummy and banana-y custard filling. If I wasn’t eating different desserts for research and they offered this dessert every day, I would have stuck with this one any time we ate in the buffet restaurant. Sorry about the half-eaten quality of the picture. Scott dove in before I could get a full glamor shot. The cake is also accompanied by two chocolate chip cookies. Those are pretty good, but I don’t cover them in this post.

Warm Chocolate Melting Cake – Main Dining Room

01be0a74f598cff4dcbbe007416c59da3fa5368818

This must be the Mecca of all chocolate cake desserts. I had never had anything like it the first time I ate one, and I doubt that anything will come close. This is not a chocolate dessert for the faint of heart. This is a warm, dense, gooey, cup of soul-soothing chocolate like no other. The top appears to be just another small dish of chocolate cake topped with powdered sugar. The first spoonful soon betrays the secret hidden inside each cup – this cake has molten goodness straight to it’s core. And this isn’t milk chocolate, either. This is grab-you-by-the-tastebuds-and-shake-you-like-a-dog semi-sweet chocolate.  Served with vanilla ice cream so you aren’t too overwhelmed by the chocolate.

0141dcffee6368ac8d3b300c2fec5ad4c82c9c0eb6

I want one right now. I have the recipe. I will have to try making it.

Linzer Torte and Pear Torte – Upper Deck Buffet

013629e298a0bc86bfd7a5a2f1025760507442c679

I took one bite out of each of these because that was enough. The Pear torte was really a piece of chocolate cake that had a bit of candied pear on top with some vanilla custard or something like it (custard is very popular, I’m noticing). The Linzer torte was a piece of spice cake smeared with a flavorless red jam and latticed with an equally flavorless pastry. In comparing pictures of Linzer tortes with the above photo, I’m thinking that they may need to hire a new executive pastry chef.  Thank goodness for the chocolate chip cookie.

Carrot Cake – On board coffee shop

012174f2ddff3d7d91a373a9c7ad0ddcad8c4643e3

Sweet mother of carrot cakes, this is a tasty thing to eat! Again, Scotty dove in before I had a chance to get a full shot.

This was everything a piece of carrot cake should be – nutty, carroty, just enough spices in the cake, slightly sweet cream cheese frosting…my mouth is drooling just at the thought of it!. And to top it all off, your own marzipan carrot!  We split this while playing multiple rounds of trivia on a rainy afternoon (Silly people thought they could beat me at Ultimate Disney Trivia.  Peasants.)

I have one or two more that I tried, but frankly I’m on so much of a sugar high from just writing all this that I need to stop!  I promise that I will update more often now that the weather has cooled off.  Sure, it’s in the high 80’s vs the mid to high 90’s, but that is a start, right?

Until next time,

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes