Showing posts with label caramel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label caramel. Show all posts

Friday, March 31, 2017

Apple Caramel Cake

Trolling for new recipes (always!) I came upon a lovely one in an Irish cookbook I’ve had for a while. One thing that appealed to me was that you start with a nice thick layer of caramel on the bottom, rather than a crust, and you pour batter over it and top with sliced fruit before baking.

The original recipe called for pears, but I had apples on hand so I used those. Butter, sugar, apples and cinnamon—yum! What could go wrong?

Plenty, as it turned out. What I ended up with was a runny heap of brown goo. Tasted great—as a topping for ice cream, maybe. But it was not a cake! It was a mess.

The Disaster Version

But I am both stubborn and curious. Where had I gone wrong? Several places, as it turned out.

-- I failed to caramelize the butter and sugar sufficiently, so there was no real base and everything leaked all over the oven (always put a pan under whatever you bake!).

-- The recipe just said four pears  but said nothing about their size. I think Irish pears must be smaller than apples, so when the recipe called for grating one apple and adding it to the batter, I put in a lot of very juicy apple. One more strike against the poor cake, lying in a sad puddle.

But I persevered! Self, I said, make sure you get the caramel right, cut back on the amount of apple (and use a kind more appropriate for cooking—not all apples are), and bake it as long as you need to (the original instructions were a little vague about that too). When it comes time to unmold it, pray to the kitchen gods.

It worked!

Adapted from The New Irish Table by Margaret Johnson (2003)


1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

4 apples, peeled and cored

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs
2/3 cup vegetable oil


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Wrap a 10-inch round springform pan with two layers of foil, to prevent leaking. (Only time I’ve seen this recommendation, but it’s a good one)

In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar and butter over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes, until the butter and sugar caramelize. Pour the caramel into the springform pan and set aside. (It makes a layer about 1/2-inch thick. Yes, you may lick the pan--after it cools!)

Coarsely grate one of the apples (I left the skin on—you’d never know it). Slice the remaining apples.

Grated apple
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and oil together. Stir in the shredded apple, Then stir the dry ingredients into the egg mixture. 

Pour the mixture over the caramel base and arrange the sliced apples on top (in circles or rows).

Bake for 1 hour or longer (mine baked for about an hour and a half), until the base bubbles and the apples are soft and lightly browned. (Use a toothpick or wooden skewer to make sure the batter is cooked inside.)

Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes. Then (carefully!) remove the sides of the pan.


Cruel Winter (County Cork Mystery #5), available everywhere!

BTW, I've mentioned before that this book is loosely based on a real crime that took place in 1996. That crime lives on: the primary suspect (never arrested) is now suing the Irish police for framing him and concealing information--it was in the Irish news just this week. The Irish take crime seriously!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Comfort Cake

by Sheila Connolly

Winter has finally found us, and newscasters are calling this past weekend’s storm “The Blizzard of 2016.” New England, particularly the northern part, got lucky: the storm stopped at Boston. We won’t complain—we had more than our fair share of snow last year.

We stocked up early, before the snow started, and were happy to hunker down in a warm house (with power!) and three cats and the Patriots on the telly. But being snowbound, even voluntarily, brings out the urge in me to cook something. I pulled out a couple of standby recipes—gingerbread and Irish stew (both of which have appeared here), and made both.

Then I decided to think about what said winter “comfort food” to me, from my childhood. There were always cookies on hand (mostly Toll House, from the recipe on the bag), and stews (most often beef). Soups usually came from a Campbell’s can or a Lipton packet. (Sorry, Mother, but you really weren’t into the whole cooking thing, although to be fair my sister and I were always well fed, with healthy fresh ingredients and plenty of vegetables.)

As an experiment, I pulled out the tattered Fanny Farmer cookbook my mother used when she was newly married, and looked to see where it fell open (or more accurately, where most of the stains were). Funny how many of the recipes that were used most often were for desserts—my mother didn’t like desserts, but apparently the rest of the family did! So I looked at Cakes and came upon Snow Cake. Nice in spirit, but kind of boring. But the alternative recipe that came with it was for Burnt Sugar Cake, which sounded much more interesting.

Burnt Sugar Cake with Penuche Frosting


3 Tblsp Caramel Syrup
3 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup coffee
1-1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melted sugar
Now caramel (wonderful color, isn't it?)
First you have to make the caramel syrup. Melt 1 cup of sugar in a pan until it turns a dark brown. Slowly add 1/2 cup boiling water, stir to dissolve, then simmer for 10 minutes. Let cool a bit.

Beat the egg whites until stiff. Add half the sugar and set aside.

Cream the butter and add the rest of the sugar gradually, beating steadily.

Sift the dry ingredients together and add to the butter-sugar mixture, alternating with the coffee. Mix in the caramel syrup.

Fold in the egg whites. (The original recipe suggested adding sliced nuts—up to you.)

Eek! Nowhere in the recipe does it say how large a pan to bake this in! (Or whether to grease it.) Looking at the volume of the batter, I took a wild guess and used a 9” springform pan, liberally greased. A 9” x 13” pan would probably work as well.

The recipe said to bake for 45 minutes. Mine took closer to an hour.

Now for the good stuff: frosting! This was possibly the most-used section of the cookbook. My family loved penuche frosting, which is very simple. Even my non-cooking grandmother made it.

1-1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
A few grains of salt
1-1/2 Tblsp light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream

Here’s the entire recipe as given:


Cook to soft ball (234 degrees F—helps to have a candy thermometer! But my grandmother taught me how to test for the soft ball stage.)


Add 1/2 tsp vanilla

Beat “until of right consistency to spread” (which is whatever you think it is)

Frost cake. Done!

Think that's enough frosting?
All right, I confess. I adore frosting. My grandmother also adored frosting—she thought cake existed only to provide a base for it. I made a double recipe of frosting and used all of it on the cake. You can’t have too much!

Coming next week: A Turn for the Bad (the 4th book in the County Cork Mysteries). It involves smuggling in Ireland. But there is no frosting in the book, although smuggling does support a number of other vices.

Find it here:

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Caramel Candy Corn Apples

by Peg Cochran

I remember when I was a kid trick-or-treating that the elderly couple down the street always gave us the biggest, most beautiful Red Delicious apple you could imagine.  Of course this was before we had to worry about sick people putting things in apples.  At the time I thought it was the biggest rip-off.  An apple?  Puleeze.  Plus they always invited us in, and we had to stand there quietly while they chatted with my mother, wasting valuable trick-or-treating time.

Now caramel apples are a different story!  I decided to try my hand at them with mixed results.  They taste great, but I’m not very artistic (or patient) so mine didn’t turn out looking like the beautiful ones you see in gourmet food stores.  But it was fun!  I decided to use candy corn on them to accent the Halloween theme along with a drizzle of chocolate.  One of the biggest stumbling blocks was keeping my husband out of the caramels before I had a chance to make these!

You'll need apples, caramels, candy corn and sticks

1-14 oz bag caramels (the kids can help you unwrap them!)
3 apples
sticks for the apples
your choice of toppings
Chocolate chips

Melt about 30 caramels in a pan with a tablespoon of water over low heat.  Keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn.

Submerge apples one at a time in boiling water for a couple of seconds.  Remove and dry vigorously with a towel.  (this will remove the wax coating they put on apples which would make it harder for the caramel to stick.)

When the caramel is melted, hold the apple by the stick and dip in caramel.  I found it was easiest to put the apple in the pan and then drizzle on the caramel with a spoon.  When coated, quickly roll the apple in the candy corn or your topping of choice.

I placed the apples on a foil lined cookie sheet.  Note to self, either butter the foil or spray with Pam.  The caramel STICKS and I had to wrestle them free!  Melt a handful of chocolate chips in the microwave (about 1/3 cup) and drizzle over apples. 

I found I had to warm the caramel between apples because it would harden very quickly.

Available now from Berkley Prime Crime

Available now from Berkley Prime Crime


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tommy Bahama Pineapple Caramel Cheesecake - tweaked recipe.

Have you heard of Tommy Bahama clothing? It's the island-style wear that's pretty darned expensive but it's all made of beautiful quality material. It's long-lasting. I like to go into the store and simply touch the clothing to feel the textures. Have you ever done that? LOL

Well, Tommy Bahama also has a chain of restaurants. I was lucky enough to be invited to dinner. Imagine island music (or at least Jimmy Buffet), fruity drinks, palm trees in pots, rattan furniture. It all puts you in a relaxing mood. Whenever I go to places like this, I try to drink in all the environment, and if I can, remember to put that into my writing.

Setting is so important, isn’t it?

Lucky for me, the restaurant had a gluten-free menu. Isn't that fabulous! So many places are getting into the swing of this. PF Chang's, Outback Steakhouse, even Wendy's! People with allergies are able to eat out again.

But I digress. At Tommy B's, I had the most delicious gluten-free ribs with blueberry sauce, and though I'd like to share that recipe, I couldn't snag that one from the waitress. It will be out in a Tommy B cookbook...not sure of that publication date, but you can bet I'll track it down. In the meantime, I had a fabulous dessert, Pineapple Cheesecake with Caramel Sauce, and the chef was willing to part with the recipe.

Sure he was..because the recipe was for 100 portions!  LOL.

A couple of months ago, I shared a soup recipe that I'd seen in the "art" on the wall at a Chef Prudhomme restaurant in New Orleans. I copied the recipe and went home and realized it was a recipe for over 100. I narrowed it down to a recipe for 8 servings, and it worked.

So I decided to try to do the same for this Tommy Bahama cheesecake. At the restaurant, the cheesecakes were served in little rounds. The kitchen must have dozens/hundreds of little cheesecake springform pans. I didn't, so I had to work with my single springform (that serves 8) and hope it worked. It did. The deliciousness is in the sauce. Pineapple (which I’ll bet doesn't have to be fresh, though I used fresh) and caramel.

Now...the really, really fun part of this is I didn't have eight people to serve it to, so the cheesecake made a terrific mid-afternoon snack the next day and the next and the next... Cool, refreshing, and totally delicious.


Note: the caramel does get "hard" after it's made, so it must be served right away or reheated.

Second Note: This looks difficult to make but it isnt. And not even time consuming until its in the oven. Its sort of a dump method. :)

tweaked by Avery


 1 cup pineapple diced
 1 cup light brown sugar
 1 teaspoon vanilla (or vanillin)

Caramel sauce:
4 ounces dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon butter

Cheesecake batter:
1 pound cream cheese (16 oz)
1 pound cottage cheese (16 oz)
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
4 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (or vanillin)


Topping: mix all together in a saucepan. Toss well and spread thin. Cook on medium low until caramelized on one side. Toss and caramelize on the other side. (About 5 minutes) Remove from heat. Cool.

Caramel sauce:
Heat brown sugar, water, and butter until sugar dissolves and mixture is at a high boil. (About 2 minutes) Set aside to cool.

Cream the cheese, sugar, butter. Add the eggs, one at a time until fluffy. Add the sour cream, zest, and vanilla together. Fold into the mixture, making sure there are no pockets of cheeses.

Cut a round of baking paper that matches the bottom of a springform cheesecake mold. Set it in the bottom of the mold. Spray the sides of the springform pan with Pam spray (or brush with oil). Pour mixture evenly into the mold.

Set the mold on a 15 x 9 baking sheet filled with a low level of water. Bake the cake at 300 degrees for 1 and 1/4 hours or until top is tender to the touch (but not hard). Turn the oven OFF oven. Let the cake STAND IN OVEN for 2 hours.

Remove from the oven and cool for 30 minutes. [I set the cake into the refrigerator for 2 more hours before assembling.]

Spread the pineapple topping on the top of the cake. Serve each slice with a drizzle of the caramel sauce. [Note: the caramel sauce will harden when not warm. If it hardens, reheat on low-low-low heat until liquid.]


* * *
Note, last week, KittCatt (a commenter) won a prize from me, but KC, you never wrote me an email with your mailing address. If I don't hear from you by tomorrow, I'll have to choose another winner. Best, Avery
* * *

You can learn more about Avery by clicking this link.

Chat with Avery on Facebook and Twitter.

And watch for CLOBBERED BY CAMEMBERT, coming out February 2012.

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Dulce D'Leche Goat Cheese Cookies

Since I have been working hard all week on edits of Lost and Fondue, (and I'm done...and now it's on to the holidays...) I needed a break and that meant baking cookies!

I know Krista just had a cookie contest and Cleo just shared her beautiful Pfeffernusse cookies, and you might be cookie'd out, but I adore cookies. Making cookies is therapeutic for me. I love mixing the dough. I love the aromas of the spices that go into them.

I love the aromas that emanate from my oven. The house smells great for days. I enjoy how my dog hovers nearby while I bake. He knows he'll get a biscuit when I get my first cookie. [If I eat, he eats. We graze all day. That's just our way.]

The next best thing about cookies are that they can be an incentive. If I write 50's cookie time. If I edit 100 pages...cookie time. You know the drill. Set a goal; reward yourself. The system has worked for me for years.

My grandmother's basic sugar cookie recipe is the absolute best (BEST), and I'll share that one soon, but this week, I'm inspired by a recipe I found in the newspaper. It's a shortbread cookie, stuffed with Dulce d'leche filling and melt-in-your-mouth fabulous. There are two ways to make it--with goat cheese and without. I tweaked the recipe to suit my tastes.

*By the way, our very own Julie Hyzy taught me how to make the Dulce d'leche. I've linked her delicious recipe below (It is on our MLK site)!

Back to the filling...I kid you not. Goat cheese!

Here's the recipe -- both regular and gluten-free.

To my gluten-free buddies, I was surprised how well these cookies turned out. They are crispy and my regular eaters couldn't tell the difference at all! I think it's the pecans that are thrown into the mix.

The dough freezes well, too. So you can make half a recipe, freeze it, and bring it out again when you have a party.
( can talk yourself into not eating the whole batch!

Good luck there.)


(makes 2 dozen “single” cookies; 12 sandwiches)

1 stick butter, melted

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1/8 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 large egg yolk

1 cup gluten-free flour

1 teaspoon Xanthan gum

3 Tablespoons pecans, chopped fine

2 ounces goat cheese

3 ounces dulce de leche

EXTRA powdered sugar for dusting


(makes 2 dozen “single” cookies; 12 sandwiches)

1 stick butter, melted

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1/8 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 large egg yolk

1 cup flour

3 Tablespoons pecans, chopped fine

2 ounces goat cheese

3 ounces dulce de leche

EXTRA powdered sugar for dusting


DULCE DE LECHE: Easy homemade: Take a can of condensed milk. Pop two holes in the top. Place the can in a deep pan of hot water. Do not have the water cover the holes! Bring water to a boil. Turn the heat down to simmer and cook for 2 hours. Remove the can and let the can cool. Remove the top and you have Dulce de leche (caramel).


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In medium-sized bowl, whisk butter and sugar, about 2 minutes. Add the yolk and whisk. Fold the flour (and Xanthan gum for gluten-free) into the bowl. It will become moist and clump together. (It will not be as smooth as regular cookie dough. Stir in the pecans.)

Roll the dough into a ball and then, on wax paper, roll it into a log/roll about 8-10 inches long. Wrap the log and twist the end of the wrap. Refrigerate (at least 2 hours or overnight).

Remove dough from refrigerator and unwrap. On a cutting board, slice off the ends (you may still cook these, but don’t use for “sandwiches” - good tasting slices). Slice the log into 24 slices. They will be thin.

Place the slices ½ inch apart on baking sheets. Put the baking sheet (s) in the oven. Rotate the sheets after about 6 minutes. Bake cookies for a total of 12-14 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool. [ROTATING IS KEY]

While the cookies are cooking, warm the dulce d'leche over low heat. Don’t let it bubble. Remove from heat and add the goat cheese. Stir until well mixed. Cool.

Sandwich a teaspoon of the dulce mixture between 2 cookies and dust with powdered sugar.

These cokies may be eaten single, with just powdered sugar, and no dulce d'leche. Like a tea cookie. They may also be dipped into caramel for the chef.

Julie Hyzy's Caramel Apple Dip - She makes dulce d'leche for the dip and it's fabulous! CLICK THE NAME OF THE RECIPE FOR THE LINK.

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Now...for a Christmas treat...who among you write out there? I'm not talking just mysteries. Do you write poetry, write in a diary, do you blog, do you write scientific journals? Do you write thank you notes?

Share what you write in a comment. I'm giving away 1 free copy of THE LONG QUICHE GOODBYE today to a commenter as a thank you for all the good wishes throughout the year!

If you've read the book already, you can give it to a friend!

C'mon, leave a comment. :)

Happy holidays!!!

PS. Yoo-hoo to winner, Ashley, from last Sunday's giveaway for our guest blogger Janet Rudolph. You have not contacted me yet. You need to send me your snail mail address by this coming Monday or I'll have to pick another winner. Email me at avery (at) averyaames (dot) com.

And last but not least...a sneak preview of book two: Lost and Fondue is up on my website. Check it out at AVERY AAMES.

While you're there, sign up for the mailing list and you'll be included in future contests coming up to promote Lost and Fondue.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Can you Say Cheesecake?

Can you say cheesecake?

[Makes you smile, doesn't it?]

How about cheesecake with Hershey's Kisses?

Charlotte's favorite candy is a Hershey's Kiss. It's a guilty pleasure. One reviewer of The Long Quiche Goodbye wrote that she couldn't believe someone with Charlotte's palate would like Hershey's, but she does. Sure, she also likes Scharffenberger and other elegant chocolates, but it's Hershey's Kisses that take her back to her youth. Those little silver gifts, pulling out the "string" of paper, removing the foil. It's like Christmas every time you open it, right?

In Chapter 31, her grandfather makes a New York style cheesecake incorporating Hershey's Kisses and caramel. Oh, yum. It really is one of my finest concoctions, and since I adore Pepere, I let it be his creation. What fun fiction is!

[I know that Julie just shared cheesecake with us last week. Hers was an "easy" delicious recipe. This one takes a little more time. But it's worth it. Promise.]



1 lb. Ricotta cheese

¼ c. brown rice flour

½ teaspoon Xanthan gum

4 egg yolks

½ c. sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

½ teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon salt

16 oz. cream cheese

½ cup sour cream

4 egg whites (no yolks!)

½ cup sugar

½ cup crushed chocolate chip cookies

2 tablespoons butter

8 caramels sliced in half

¼ cup chocolate chips


Mix ricotta cheese, rice flour, Xantham gum, egg yolks, ½ cup sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, salt until well blended.

Add cream cheese and sour cream and mix well.

Mix separately: egg whites (with no egg yolks in them) and ½ cup sugar until egg whites form a soft peak (about 6-8 minutes).

Fold the egg white mixture gently into the cheese mixture.

In a springform pan, set ½ cup crushed chocolate chip cookies.

Drizzle with 2 tablespoons butter and press with your fingertips to create a “crust.” Top with ¼ cup of the chocolate chips.

Pour cheese mixture on top of cookie crust.

Bake at 300 degrees for 1- 1 ¼ hour. Let STAND IN OVEN, turned off, for 2 hours so the cheesecake will set and not droop.

Decorate with ¼ cup of chocolate chips and the caramels sliced in half.


**BTW, this cake is gluten-free if you substitute out the cookie base for gluten-free cookies. For all you regular eaters, if you do not have rice flour, you may substitute regular flour instead of rice flour in the cake itself and remove the Xanthan gum. I so regularly use rice flour, that I forget to switch back.

By the way, what's your favorite cheesecake?


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