Salted Caramel Sauce

Caramel has the ability to take an ordinary dessert and elevate it to extraordinary. The addition of sea salt…sublime!
Who would guess that it takes only 15 minutes to make at home?
Served over ice-cream or alongside pie, you have a quick and easy dessert.

Equipment you will need:

Medium saucepan with high sides
Heatproof spatula
Candy thermometer (optional)

Salted Caramel Sauce
Makes about 2 cups

1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 stick of softened unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons Fleur de Sel or coarse salt

In a small saucepan over low heat, add cream and salt. Stir to dissolve and set aside.

In a saucepan, add the sugar, water, and corn syrup. On medium heat, gently stir to dissolve the sugar, taking care not to splash up the sides of the pan.

Once the sugar is dissolved, turn the heat to high, stop stirring, and attach a candy thermometer if using one. Bring the mixture to a boil.

Continue boiling until mixture turns a rich caramel color and registers 300F on the thermometer. Remove from heat.

Color should look like this.

Add the butter, then the cream. It may bubble up slightly, so take care.

Continue stirring off heat, incorporating the caramel with the butter and cream until you have a nice rich color.

Allow to cool. Store covered in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks.
Decadently delicious!

 

 

Cornbread Stuffin’ in a Muffin

It’s countdown to Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday. Great food, good friends and family gathered around the table to give thanks for our bounty. I can’t think of a nicer celebration. In my never ending quest to find a better way to get the holiday dinner on the table more efficiently, I’ve decided this year to bake my stuffing in muffin tins. No last minute fussing. Simply pop these out and onto a serving dish.

Start with cornbread, either homemade or store bought. Savory works best. I make my own using this recipe. You will need a 9″ cast iron pan.

Makes 4-1/2 cups crumbs
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cornmeal
4 teaspoons vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 450F

In a bowl, lightly mix the eggs and buttermilk. Add the remaining ingredients except the oil and stir well.

Heat the oil in the skillet. When hot, stir the oil into the batter, then pour the batter back into the skillet and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until firm to the touch. Turn out onto a rack, cool, and make into crumbs for the stuffing. I use the food processor.

Cornbread Apricot Stuffing

Makes 21 muffins

2 cups chicken stock
1 cup finely chopped dried apricots
6 T. unsalted butter
1 cup chopped onions
3/4 cup chopped celery
4-1/2 cups cornbread crumbs
4 cups fresh bread crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons crumbled dried sage or 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
4 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 375F

Generously butter 2 muffin tins.

Warm 1/2 cup of the chicken stock and soak the apricots in it until softened, 20-30 minutes.

Melt the butter in a medium size skillet and add the onions and celery. Sauté until softened and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the cornbread crumbs with the bread crumbs. Add the cooked onions, celery and any melted butter in the pan. Season with salt, pepper and sage.

Add the soaked apricots and their soaking liquid and mix well.

Add the eggs and the remaining 1-1/2 cups of chicken stock. The stuffing should be quite wet.

Scoop into the buttered muffin tins.

Ready for the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned and firm to the touch.

Run a knife around the edges to make certain they will release. Turn out onto a serving dish and serve while warm. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Making Jello without the Box

America’s favorite dessert just got healthier. Making your own jello is easier than you think. No artificial color or flavor, just pure fruit juice, gelatin, and a cream cheese layer. I threw in some pomegranate seeds to celebrate the season and …voila!

Recipe

for a 6 cup mold
1 pomegranate
2 cups cranberry juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups apple juice
8 oz. cream cheese at room temp
1/2 cup milk
4 T. powdered sugar
15 sheets gelatin (see note) or 4-1/2 T. Knox unflavored powder gelatin

Note: Gelatin can be purchased two ways. The most common is in powder form that can be found at your local grocery store. The other is in thin sheets that I mail order here. I prefer using the sheets. They produce a beautiful glass like jello with a clean taste and without the yellow tinge of the powder.

Cut a pomegranate in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Set aside.

In a saucepan, mix 1/4 cup sugar with the cranberry juice and heat only to dissolve the sugar. Transfer to a bowl and cool completely. Repeat with the apple juice.

In a mixer, beat cream cheese, milk, and powdered sugar until smooth. Set aside.

Add gelatin to 3 small bowls. If using powder, add 1-1/2 T. to each bowl, or 5 sheets to each bowl. Cut each sheet into 6 pieces with scissors.

Pour about 1/2 cup of the cooled juices over the gelatin only to cover. You will have one bowl of cranberry and two of apple.

Set aside to soften at least 10 minutes. In the meantime, simmer some water in a double boiler.

Once the gelatin has softened, starting with the apple, place it in the double boiler and stir until completely dissolved, then mix it into the cold apple juice that you have set aside. This is your top layer. Pour 2 cups of it into your mold ,and place in the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes until it is the consistency of egg whites. Then add your pomegranate seeds. Set it back into the refrigerator while you prepare the next layer.

Repeat this process with the cream cheese layer. Heat the second apple juice- gelatin mixture over the double boiler and stir to dissolve the gelatin, then mix it into the cream cheese mixture. Remove the mold from the fridge, and pour evenly on top. Chill another 15 minutes or so before adding the final cranberry layer.

Repeat this process of dissolving the cranberry-gelatin mixture and then mixing it into the remaining cranberry juice. Pour into your mold and allow to chill at least 6 hours or overnight.

To release from the mold, pour hot water into a large bowl. Carefully lower the mold into the water making sure water doesn’t get into the mold. Hold for about 15 seconds, then turn out onto a serving plate.

An elegant and healthy dessert for your holiday table.