Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Bars

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Once you make these there is no turning back. They are life changing, delicious, calorie shots of doom. And incredibly worth everything!

John came home last week talking about these amazing things one of the people he is accompanying brought as a snack. He described them and said they were just wonderful. Then during my Monday morning Pinterest browse I came across these beauties. John saw them and said “want” so I make. hahaha

I got this recipe from The Busy Baker. I didn’t change it one bit because it was just perfection.

Decadent Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Bars

  • Servings: 24 bars
  • Time: 3 hours
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INGREDIENTS:

  • For the shortbread base:
    • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 1/2 cup white sugar
    • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
    • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • For the Caramel filling:
    • 1 tin sweetened condensed milk
    • 1 cup white sugar
    • 1 cup unsalted butter
    • 4 tbsp corn syrup or brown rice syrup
  • For the chocolate topping:
    • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat your oven to 350F. Prepare a 9×13 baking dish with completely square sides by greasing it with a teaspoon or two of butter and lining it with parchment paper. The parchment paper will help you remove the bars from the pan, so make sure to leave some parchment paper hanging over the edges for easy removal.
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer (or with a hand mixer) cream the butter and sugar for the shortbread base until it’s light and fluffy and pale in colour. Add the flour and sea salt and mix on low speed just until the dough begins to come together and the flour is absorbed.
  • Press the mixture as evenly as you can into the prepared baking dish and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 18-22 minutes, or just until the edges begin to turn a very pale brown.
  • Let the shortbread base cool almost to room temperature while you prepare the caramel filling.
  • Add the butter to a medium pot over medium heat and let it melt. Once the butter is melted, add the sugar, the sweetened condensed milk, and the brown rice syrup (or corn syrup). Combine these ingredients over the heat using a wire whisk until the mixture is smooth. Continue whisking constantly as the mixture heats up and once it reaches a slow boil continue whisking for 7 minutes.
  • After you’ve whisked the boiling caramel for 7 minutes, you’ll notice it has darkened slightly and thickened a bit. Pour it quickly and carefully over the shortbread base and smooth it out with a spatula, pushing it into the corners of the pan if you need to. It’s okay if the shortbread base hasn’t cooled completely at this point. If it’s a touch warm that’s fine, just make sure it’s not straight from the oven when you add the caramel.
  • Set the baking dish aside for 10 minutes before beginning to melt the chocolate to spread over the top. This will allow the caramel to set slightly so the chocolate will spread easily.
  • Chop the chocolate and add it to a heat-proof glass bowl over a small pot of simmering water to melt it. Using a rubber spatula, stir the chocolate pieces around in the heat-proof bowl over the simmering water until the heat of the steam has melted the chocolate completely.
  • Spread the melted chocolate over the caramel filling carefully using an offset spatula until the chocolate has covered the entire surface of the caramel.
  • Set the baking dish in the fridge for 1-2 hours to allow the layers to set and remove it from the fridge 10 minutes before you plan to cut into it so the chocolate layer will slice easily. Use the parchment paper to lift everything out of the baking dish and onto a cutting board for easy slicing.

Rustic Apple Sauce

Last night I just needed a pick-me-up that was fruity and sweet but not a baked good. So I looked around and decided a nice lemony apple sauce was the way to go! I try to remember what my Aunt Dot’s apple sauce tasted like and that is what I tried to replicate. 30 minutes later I was curled up in front of the Sport Relief Bake Off eating this tasty Rustic Apple Sauce. I call it rustic because I was too lazy to peel the apples :p It turned out beautifully!

Rustic Apple Sauce

  • Servings: 1-2
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS:AppleSauce1

  • 3-4 small Braeburn apples (mine were tiny, like lunch box size)
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tbs Golden Syrup
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

DIRECTIONS:

  • Cut apples into chucks and toss into a pot on medium heat. Add in lemon juice and simmer. Once apple juices begin to collect, about 5 minutes, add in golden syrup and cinnamon.
  • Simmer covered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Simmer uncovered 10 minutes.
  • Mash with a potato masher and serve.

 

Banana Pancakes

These pancakes are so wonderful and easy, I just had to share! They are 2 ingredient pancakes with lots of room for tasty additions! I have made them twice and for me they are  easier to flip and hold together really nicely when I add 1 tbs of protein powder or flour (almond flour would be delicious!). They are very delicate and fluffy! The original recipe can be found on Gimme Delicious Food.

I would love to hear what you add in to your pancakes!

Banana Pancakes

  • Servings: 6 small pancakes
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS:Pancakes2

  • 2 medium ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • Butter or oil for the pan
  • ADD INS:
    • pinch of salt
    • 1 tbs Almond flour, cocoa powder, or protein powder

DIRECTIONS

  • Break bananas up into sections and mash.
  • Add in eggs and beat until it becomes custard like. There will still be a few banana lumps.
  • Add in what you would like or leave as is.
  • Melt butter in frying pan over medium heat. Pour desired pancake size and cook for 1 minute or until golden. Flip very carefully, as these lovely pancakes have a tendency to tear. Cook for another minute and remove from heat.
  • Repeat until out of batter and serve drizzled with honey!

Fifth place and a day in Leeds

This last week was excellent fun! We galavanted all over the place.

Last Sunday was a beautiful day and the Ouse was finally at a normal level so we took off down the path by the river and enjoyed the day. Where we were walking was a dog park I think, because there were lots of adorable dogs running and playing. As we were stopped admiring the river, a man walked by with his very cute dog. He was playing his harmonica and the dog was smiling at him. It just felt so picturesque, standing there on the bank of the river listening to the sounds of the day.

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Then Wednesday we headed out to Clifton Moor, a little  for an evening of bowling at TenPin with John’s choir. We drank slushies and bowled a couple of games. I was a kid all over again!  I was also on a roll and won the first game. It was such a rare occurrence I am documenting it!!! Over all 20+ people in the choir, I was 5TH!!! Hahaha!

Then Saturday we took our first sojourn out of York. Bec drove us (Ben, myself, and John) to Leeds for a day of watching rehearsals and enjoying a concert. It was a really lovely drive and an interesting day. It was long and I got tired, but is was fun to spend it with buddies. We went Ben’s favorite little Japanese restaurant called Fuji Hiro and had ramen. It was delicious and really fun!

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Most of the day was spent in the recital hall of University of Leeds. It was a very pretty hall.

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There was an artist sitting right in front of me during the rehearsal. He sketched so quickly and really captured the atmosphere.

We sat in a rehearsal for I Fagiolini (a vocal consort) and Fretwork (a viol consort) and then went to their evening concert. Such beautiful music. It was also interesting because the voices were exactly matched
by the viols. Usually there are fewer viols than singers, but this time they were even. This made for a very different balance and texture.

 

 

 

Busy week, but very fun!

 

Happy Monday!

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It is being to look like Spring around here

A Tale of Two Gnocchi: Mashed Potato and Ricotta

I love gnocchi! I always have. This year I decided I would learn how to make it. So I have. I started with potato gnocchi, as it is the most common. I made that 2 times and it was delicious. This week I made Ricotta Gnocchi, again an idea form Kitchen Nostalgia. I must say, I’m sold. The texture of the potato gnocchi is very dumpling like while the ricotta is more like a noodle. It is slightly more dense and very very smooth. I am not sure that I can say I like one over the other, but I can say that the ricotta batch was faster to make! I want to share both recipes with you, because they are both wonderful.

Mashed Potato Gnocchi

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 1-2 hours
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS:

Gnocchi

  • 2 cups cold mashed potatoes (mashed but not seasoned)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3/4 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS:

  • Boil, mash, and refrigerate your potatoes until cold. Do not season or use butter to mash. Any amount of leftover mashed potatoes work well, too. Just make sure it is 2 parts potato to 1 part egg and 1 part flour.
  • Place half of your flour onto your work surface.
  • Dump mashed potatoes onto flour,
  • Form a well in the potatoes and pour the egg into it. Add salt.
  • Pour 1/2 cup of the remaining flour on top.
  • Work egg, salt, and flour into potato.
  • Once incorporated, knead gently for 2 minutes. Do not over knead. Potato can become too starchy and make the dough overly sticky.
  • Add more flour ( 1/2 to 1 cup more) if too sticky.
  • Divide into workable pieces and roll into 3/4 inch rope. Cut rope into 3/4 inch to 1 inch lengths.
  • Shape gnocchi using the back of a fork to get the ridges or simply make a thumb dent. The slight texture insures that the sauce you serve with the gnocchi does not just slide off the dumplings.
  • Boil and serve.

NOTE: To freeze, place on cookie sheet and freeze individually so they won’t stick together. They keep well for 1 to 2 months.

Ricotta Gnocchi

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 45 minutes -1 hour
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS:Gnocchi1

  • 8 oz ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 oz grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • a pinch each: nutmeg,slat, pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  • In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together to form a soft, moist dough.
  • Transfer the mixture out onto a floured surface and knead for 3 minutes.
  • Roll the dough into a rope and cut into 1 inch pieces.
  • Cook gnocchi in a large pot of salted water for 4-7 minutes or until the gnocchi rises to the surface.

NOTE: This gnocchi is heavier than potato gnocchi so you do not need to shape them, just slice for the rope and they will hold their shape.

Magic Cupcakes

This is a great cake for anytime! It is a cross between a soufflé/cake and custard. Delicious and easy. With one batter this cake bakes into three layers : thin crust, custard, and soufflé like top. I came across this recipe on Kitchen Nostalgia and there are many variations. We like the vanilla the best so far because it is such a good base for fruits to be piled on top. Mmm…. But you can make lemon and chocolate ones easily.

Magic Cupcakes

  • Servings: 12 cupcakes
  • Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 tbs water
  • ½ cup + 2 tbs sugar
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • ¾ cup flour
  • 1½ cups + 3 tbs milk, lukewarm
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
 DIRECTIONS:
  • In a bowl, beat egg whites until stiff.
  • In another bowl, beat the egg yolks with water, sugar and vanilla until light. Add melted butter and beat for another minute. Add the flour and mix it in.
  • Then add the lukewarm milk (if it is not lukewarm, the butter will harden).
  • Using a spatula, gently fold in beaten egg whites.
  • Pour the batter in paper-lined cupcake pan, filling right to rim. Bake in preheated 325 F oven for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden.
  • Cool for at least 3 hours before serving. Serve sprinkled with powdered sugar.

To make Lemon: beat egg whites with 1 tbs lemon juice. And add 2 lemons (about 1/3 cup juice and zest) with the milk. Its that easy!

For Chocolate: add ½ cup cocoa prior to folding in the egg whites.

Noodle Kugel

This tasty noodle pudding is a favorite of ours. My mama has made a different kugel recipe my whole life, but I didn’t bring it with us to York so I just winged it. John was happy with how it turned out.

Noodle Kugel is delicious with fried apples and sausage. Perfect for a cozy night.

 

Noodle Kugel

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 1 h 30 min
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS:

  • 16 oz wide egg noodles
  • 6 tbs salted butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 oz shredded cheese (cheddar works well)

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9×11 glass casserole dish.
  • Cook noodles according to package. Drain and return to pot. Add butter and melt.
  • Pour noodles into greased dish.
  • In a large bowl mix sugar and eggs together. Beating in two eggs in at a time until all combined.
  • Add milk and cream.
  • Beat in cream cheese, cinnamon,vanilla, and shredded cheese.
  • Pour liquid over noodles in the pan.
  • Bake for 1 hour at 350F. May need to be covered half way through to insure noodles on top do not burn. Look for tiny bubbles all the way on bottom to insure it is cooked through.
  • Cool briefly and serve.