Category Archives: Dessert

Perfect Carmel Popcorn

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A new favorite: Homemade Carmel popcorn. I found this recipe online at: carmelpotatoes.com. The recipe was for carmel popcorn balls, which I used for Christmas presents. Then I started making it as a bowl of popcorn for a movie night treat and it has become a household and party staple. It is super easy. Here is the official recipe from Carmel Potatoes’s website:
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“Ingredients:

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 rounded cups mini marshmallows (or about 25 large)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
18 cups popped corn (about 6 tablespoons of kernels)

Directions:

Pop corn and set aside in a large bowl. {I like to remove any unpopped kernels – nothing worse than biting into those!}

In a saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Add brown sugar and let cook just one minute and then add salt and vanilla. Add marshmallows and stir until melted. Immediately pour over popcorn and coat completely. Let cool for just a few minutes or until you can handle it. Spray your hands with cooking spray and form 8 popcorn balls (approx. 3 inches). Of course you can just spread it on a tray to cool and serve it in a bowl if you’d rather.” – Carmel Potatoes blog
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I make it by popping a TON of popcorn- like a huge bowl. Then melting 1 stick of margarine (I don’t use butter here b/c it’s expensive- I’m sure butter would work fine though) Add a heap of brown sugar and a bunch of marshmallows, a sprinkle of salt, and a dash of vanilla. Melt it all together and pour over the popcorn. Mix well and chow down! It is much easier to eat as regular popcorn than as a popcorn ball. This is even still good the next day or two.. maybe longer, I’ve never given it a chance to last that long! If you are into the whole “salted carmel” thing- add coarse salt at the last minute- I think it’s pretty good.

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Krispy PB Carob Goodies

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While standing in the kitchen this evening my eyes happened upon peanut butter, Rice Krispies, and agave syrup.  I said aloud to my husband- “ooo! I just got a yummy idea!”  Five minutes later we were sampling a tasty treat.  Wa-la!

 I think I may have had something similar to this before. I’m pretty sure it was made with powdered sugar and corn syrup though.

So to make it I just poured some rice krispies into a bowl (maybe 1 1/2cups)  then softened about 1/4 or so of a cup of peanut butter in the microwave. I poured the gooey PB over the cereal and gave a hearty squirt of agave syrup over it all (maybe 1/8 cup.. probably less).  I mixed it all up and pressed into a baking dish. Put it in the freezer for a few minutes then began devouring it.  I had bought some carob chips for my best friend who has gone mostly vegan for health reasons. I had tried carob powder before and liked it but had never tired the chips in a recipe (plain, they don’t taste so good).  I melted a handful of the carob chips in the microwave and spread it over the rice krispies and it tasted pretty good together. So there ya go, a moderately healthy, super easy, vegan dessert.  I will admit they don’t stay together as well as a normal rice krispy treat, but if I had froze them longer they probably would have.  Also maybe using a little honey with the agave would help them be stickier.

What is healthy for you in this?

Agave–  a low glycemic and natural sweetener.  It is sweeter tasting than sugar so you can make things sweet using less. Also most importantly it is a naturally occurring form of sugar so it ha s a low glycemic index. That means it won’t make your blood sugar spike. Constant blood sugar spikes are bad for your body and can cause diabetes and heart problems.  So always keep an on how much sugar you are eating, whether it is natural or not- you don’t want too much at a time. Be kind to your body and your future self. The things we eat now really will affect how we age.

Carob– Wow, I had no idea. Listen to this:  Carob is naturally sweet. Anyone who has tasted unsweetened cocoa can tell you it is disgusting! Carob on the other hand is apparently sweet- naturally- it does not need to be processed and refined and have sugar and milk and such added to make it taste good.  It is made into chips using things like malted barley and palm kernel oil. No chemicals or sugar added.  It also can be used to stop diarrhea in children, it is caffeine free, it aids digestion, is high is calcium and vitamin E and it has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.  All the amazing things God has given us naturally in this world and how good they are for us- never ceases to amaze me! Our creator is so awesome!     OK, so carob does not taste exactly like chocolate but I may have to start using it more often.   Here is a picture of a carob pod. The carob powder is made from the peas of the pod.

Peanut Butter- In small amounts a great source of energy and protein!  Unfortunately I used JIFF, but natural peanut butter is pretty tasty too and much much healthier!  I love to make peanut butter at Whole Foods- they have the machine where you can just flip a switch and it grinds the peanuts into butter right there- to tasty and fresh! 🙂

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Our New Official Birthday Cake:

My 26th birthday is on the horizon.  Every year my husband and I get together with my best friend  and her husband on New Years Eve to celebrate Christmas, the New Year and of course, my birthday!  Often my best friend, a genuinely talented baker, makes me a cake but this year I made my own.  You can check out her blog @ thecaramelcookie.com

I checked out The Cake Book by Tish Boyle from the library a few weeks ago in search of the perfect cake recipe.  I finally decided on the “Brooklyn Blackout Cake”.   Described as “a really moist chocolaty cake with a fudgy pudding filling, dark chocolate frosting and lots of chocolate crumbs covering the whole thing.” You should know by now I’m not all that into following recipes, so baking is not my forte, but I followed this recipe to the T and it turned out beautifully.  I’m really not sure if I can wait until tonight to dig into this cake… we’ll see.   Here are the basics of this adventure.

The night before I made the cake, we made the pudding filling because it needed to have time to chill.  My husband helped and actually did most of this part himself.  The pudding had 4 egg yolks, 2tbs cornstarch, 2/3 cup sugar, 3 oz semisweet chocolate, 2/3 cup heavy cream and 1 tsp vanilla extract.  Cornstarch amazes me, the way it can make liquids so think. I’m sure the 4 egg yolks helped too!  Fist we beat the egg, cornstarch and 1/8 tsp of salt.

Then heat  1 cup water and heavy cream to a boil on the stove.  Pour half of the cream mixture into the bowl of egg yolk and cornstarch, whisk together then pour back into saucepan on stove with the rest of the cream.  This is so that the egg mixture mixes in with the hot mixture without becoming like scrambled eggs.  Bring back to a boil (stirring continuously), remove from heat and mix in chocolate.

Last, stir in the vanilla, pour into a bowl, cover and chill in fridge for at least 2 hours.  Give it a good taste test before you put it away though, it is yummy!

The next day I made the cakes.  This is how much I am not a cake baker- I had to specially buy round cake pans and borrow a cake carrier to make this!   To make the cake you grease and flour the cake pans and preheat the oven to 350*

Then sift together 1 and 1/2 cups flour, 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 tsp salt and 1 1/2 tsp of both baking soda and baking powder.   Then add 2 cups white sugar and blend together.

In a separate bowl, whisk together 2 large eggs plus an additional egg yolk with 1 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup unsalted butter, and 2 tsp vanilla extract.

Slowly beat eggs mixture into the dry mixture about 1 minute. Then add one cup of hot coffee, mix just enough to blend together.  Before pouring into pans, mix by hand a few times to ensure bottom of the bowl has been mixed. I do not like coffee at all and was nervous about adding the coffee to the cake batter. But I know that it works really well with dark chocolate, bringing out a rich dark chocolate taste.  Tasting the final product you would never know it had coffee in it.  I am very proud of myself for following this part of the recipe, it was difficult, but worth it.  🙂

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes then scrape around edges of the pan with a butter knife to loosen before flipping out onto a wire rack. The best way to do this is to put the rack on top of the cake pan, then holding firmly, flip rack and cake pan together.  Tap all over the bottom of the cake pan to encourage the cake to come out smoothly.   Allow cakes to cool completely.  We left them overnight and finished this project the next day.

The next step is to cut the 2 cakes into 4 thinner cakes by using a long serrated knife to cut in half.  If you mess up on one it’s ok because you need one cake half to use for crumbles and snacking anyways!  Place one cake half on the tray or carrier you plan to keep the cake in.  Remove pudding from the fridge, whisking till smooth gooey and ready to be spread.

Plop half of the pudding mixture onto the cake half and smooth out.

Then carefully, I used a plate to help, place another cake layer and place on top covering with the rest of the pudding.

Place a 3rd layer on top of this and get ready to frost!

I made the frosting before I started the layering process, but here if how it’s done.  Using some kind of double boiler concoction (I don’t have one, but a skillet over a pot of simmering water worked just fine!) melt 4 ounces of unsweetened bakers chocolate.

Warning: Do not taste unsweetened chocolate, it is a scary thing.  Wonderful when properly added to a recipe, but scary by itself.  I can’t help but wonder how humans figured out that when added with other things, this stuff would taste good. Must have been divine intervention.

Next, allow melted chocolate to cool a bit while you beat 11 tablespoon of unsalted butter until creamy. Next add 1 and 2/3 cup confectioners sugar, beat 2 minutes (it will eventually blend together, keep beating!)  Next beat in 2 tsp vanilla extract and the melted chocolate.

Then spread the frosting onto the cake.

Last, place half of the left over cake layer into a food processor or blender to create the cake crumbles for the outside.  Press crumbs lightly into cake sides and sprinkle on top.  Reward your hard work by eating the rest of the left over cake layer while scraping the bottoms of the pudding and frosting bowl.  Ah! Pure bliss!

Mmm Mmmm MMMmm I can hardly wait to eat it!

What is good for you in this cake?

CHOCOLATE!  Dark chocolate has a healthy dose of antioxidants. However when combined with milk, we don’t absorb as much of them, so since this cake has milk… and I’ll probably wash it down with milk… it’s not the best form of chocolate, but I am all for dark chocolate in any form and it’s my birthday- so I think I have the right to believe that this cake is very good for me and all who eat it!

Chocolate Heaven- Happy Birthday to Me!