candies and confections – part 1: salted butter caramels

 

For someone with a such a sweet tooth, I am actually a little surprised that I don’t make candies and chocolates more often. Well, since Chris and I had such a great time making these caramels, that’s about to change.  It was surprisingly simple to make, with one caveat: extra care is needed when cooking a sugar/cream mixture. It is lava-like and will stick to any exposed flesh if splattered, causing a nasty burn.  That’s why I always have a big bowl of ice water nearby for emergencies.

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santa hat brownies

Santa Hat Brownies | daisysworld.netAren’t these Santa Hat Brownies just so cute?  Thanks to Erica’s Sweet Tooth for the inspiration.  I was looking for a fun and simple holiday treat and I ran across a recipe on her website. They’re so good and easy to make, especially since I bought Trader Joe’s Ready to Bake brownie mix (just pour the ready-made brownie batter in an 8-X 8-inch pan and bake for 22-25 minutes). You can use ready-made brownie bites or bake a pan of your favorite brownies. I whipped up some vanilla-mascarpone buttercream to simulate the white trim on the hats.  Voila!  A festive dessert to get everyone into the spirit of the holidays.  It really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here!

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Update: November 17, 2013

This year, I plan to bake these Santa Hat Brownies and other holiday treats to give as gifts to friends and co-workers.  Since I will be making homemade gifts, I thought it would be a great idea to make the gift tags too.  I want to make recipe cards so I can easily share the recipe and it could double as the gift tag as well.  The card below is the one I designed for the Santa Hat Brownies using Picmonkey, an online photo editing tool.  Pretty neat, huh?  I love Picmonkey and already use it to add text and overlays to the photos on this blog.  For my recipe cards/gift tags, I am going to print the photo of the food on one side and the recipe on the other.  This is going to be a real fun project!

Santa Hat Brownies recipe card | daisysworld.net

Note: I have been paying for Picmonkey’s monthly Royale Plan for the past year.  Picmonkey provided me with a free month’s membership ($4.99 value) to use them to make these recipe cards. As always, all opinions expressed here are my own. (Product Review Disclaimer).

Santa Hat Brownies
Yields 12-16 brownies

Ingredients:
1 pan of your favorite brownies, cooled and cut into desired size and shape (I used a round cutter)
12-16 small strawberries, cleaned and hulled
vanilla-mascarpone buttercream (recipe below)

Vanilla-Mascarpone Buttercream
Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
2-1/2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Method:
Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat butter and mascarpone cheese until light and creamy, about 2 minutes.  Add vanilla extract and salt.  Add 2-1/2 cups of sugar, half a cup at a time and continue beating until smooth.  Add more sugar, if needed to reach desired consistency and sweetness.

To assemble, pipe a ring of vanilla buttercream on top of each brownie.  Cut off the base of a strawberry so it is flat and place it upside down on each brownie, pushing slightly to secure in place.  Top the tip of the strawberry with a dot of buttercream to finish the santa hat.

Adapted from this recipe found on Erica’s Sweet Tooth

© Daisy’s World, 2011-2012. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Daisy’s World with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

snickerdoodle cookies

The essence of the classic snickerdoodle cookies lies in its utter simplicity.  They are unfussy cookies made from ingredients you most likely have on hand – flour, eggs, butter, salt, baking soda, sugar, and cinnamon. You probably even have the cream of tartar, which you forgot you had, shoved all the way in the back of the spice cabinet. Snickerdoodles can be made entirely by hand, without any kitchen appliances, although I prefer to use the stand mixer for convenience. All you really need is a bowl and a whisk to combine the ingredients and your hands to roll the dough into balls and to dredge them in cinnamon sugar.  Fifteen minutes later (10 minutes to bake, 5 minutes to cool), you will be eating a crackly-topped cookie, fresh from the oven, that is soft in the middle with slightly crunchy edges.  Don’t forget the milk!

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roasted fig and mascarpone tart with candied walnuts

Time really does fly when you’re having fun…and what fun I’ve had this past week!  From celebrating my wedding anniversary to transforming my backyard into an urban vegetable garden to making some yummy desserts, this staycation has definitely been a blast!!

One luxury of my time off has been to indulge in longer baking sessions than I would normally have time for during a regular work week.  As such, I was able to develop this tart recipe.  This was a perfectly sweeet ending to my weeklong staycation.

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everything’s better with butter

Homemade butter

Homemade bread is good.  Homemade bread with homemade butter is even better!  Yes, you read it right. I made my own butter this morning!  As it turns out, butter is surprisingly easy and fun to make. Essentially, heavy cream is just whipped until it breaks and the fat separates from the liquid.  The fat is the butter and the liquid is buttermilk.  How easy is that?  I used a stand mixer, but a food processor works as well.  Shaking the fermented cream in a mason jar for about 20-30 minutes will supposedly work but I prefer to have my kitchen gadgets do the heavy work.

I followed this cultured butter recipe from the Seattle Times, which calls for culturing, or fermenting the cream, before churning.  I had no luck in finding a good quality, organic cream, so I settled for a pint of the Trader Joe’s brand.  The resulting butter is a pale yellow color and  creamy with a little bit of tang to it.  Better quality cream would have resulted in a deeper yellow color and a richer flavor.  Next time, I can experiment with adding different herbs and flavorings to make compound butter.

© Daisy’s World. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Daisy’s World with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.