Easy Salted Caramel Sauce

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I bought some salted caramel sauce earlier this summer at the grocery store, and I could hardly tell that it was salted! So I made a note to try making a homemade salted caramel sauce sometime, and I finally had the chance. This Easy Salted Caramel Sauce is definitely salted and has a great buttery, sweet-salty flavor!

My recipe uses both granulated sugar and brown sugar–if you use dark brown sugar (see jar of sauce right behind the plate of apples in the photo), your sauce will have a darker color and just a very slightly stronger caramel flavor. If you use light brown sugar (see jar of sauce in background), your sauce will be lighter in color and slightly more buttery in flavor. I’ve made it both ways and I like both–the difference is not that big and the caramel sauce tastes great both ways!

Use this caramel sauce as a topping over ice cream, as a fruit dip for apples or pears, or drizzle it over cakes or muffins…it adds a great flavor when you’re wanting something sweet, salty, and caramel-y! I like drizzling it over apples, and the apples I used here are called SweeTango® apples (I received a few complimentary apples to try out), which are crisp and sweet with a little tart punch. They tasted great with this caramel sauce!

EASY SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE by NancyC

Makes about 2 cups

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed dark or light brown sugar (dark brown sugar with give you a deeper-colored caramel sauce)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup half and half (light cream)
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, cut into slices
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt or sea salt (for less of a salted flavor, just use 1 teaspoon)

Mix the sugars, heavy and light creams, and butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir gently for 15 minutes while ingredients are melting and cooking–mixture will thicken slightly. Turn up heat to medium and cook for another 2 1/2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, as mixture comes to a full boil. Then let mixture continue boiling for an additional 2 more minutes, stirring constantly. Remove sauce from heat and stir in salt. Cool caramel sauce for about 15 minutes and pour into a canning/mason jar.

Use caramel sauce warm or let cool in jar another 15 to 20 minutes before storing in the refrigerator, tightly covered, until ready to use. The caramel sauce can be stored up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

To reheat, place uncovered jar in microwave and heat for 30 seconds; remove and stir sauce, then heat for an additional 30 seconds (or longer, if needed) and stir again before using.

I love the flavor of caramel, especially in the fall. You can’t beat caramel and apples together! Do you have a favorite caramel treat?

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Avocado Chocolate Mousse

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Sometimes I get the greatest recipes when I’m in the lunchroom at work! Like this Avocado Chocolate Mousse. I got the recipe from Robin, who has a blog of her own. She was telling me about a health and nutrition event she went to where they were preparing recipes with healthy ingredients and this Avocado Chocolate Mousse was one of them. I love avocados, but avocado and chocolate? Robin assured me that this mousse tasted like a creamy chocolate truffle and she was right!

This mousse is very rich, but in a healthy way–so you’ll want to use tiny dessert glasses, like they do in some restaurants, to serve this. It will definitely satisfy your chocolate cravings! And it’s dairy-free, unless you decide to top it with a little light whipped cream like I did. Thanks for sharing this recipe, Robin! :)

AVOCADO CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

Makes 4 small servings 

  • 2 large ripe avocados
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar or honey (I used honey)
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • Optional: light whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles, for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Top with light whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles, if desired.

Note: This can be made the day before you serve it.

You don’t really need to add the whipped cream or sprinkles because this mousse tastes great all by itself–but it does make the dessert look a little cuter! Have you made any dessert recipes using avocado as an ingredient?

I’m linking this to Fiesta Friday at the Novice Gardener.

Dark Chocolate-Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake

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The title read, A Cake You Can Eat for Breakfast and Dessert.” Well, that got my attention! The Yahoo Food article also said “A cup of coffee will disguise this treat as breakfast, and a scoop of ice cream transforms it into dessert.” Perfect! I always love recipes that give you that kind of flexibility! :)

So of course I had to try this coffee cake. I used more dark chocolate, added a little more cinnamon, and used pecans instead of hazelnuts. Yum! This coffee cake has a thick batter that bakes into a dense yet cakey chocolate-cinnamon treat. I found that my baking time was less than what the original recipe recommended, and you do want to be careful not to overbake this, or it will be a little dry.

This coffee cake is great for morning or anytime–especially if you are a fan of dark chocolate!

DARK CHOCOLATE-CINNAMON PECAN COFFEE CAKE by NancyCreative, adapted from Bon Appetit

Makes 9-12 servings in an 8 x 8″ pan

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing pan
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) dark chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup plain whole Greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter 8” square baking pan; set aside.

Toss pecans, chocolate chips, cinnamon, and ¼ cup of the sugar in a small bowl; set aside.

In medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In large bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter and remaining ¾ cup sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. With mixer on low speed, add dry flour mixture ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with yogurt in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. You’ll end up with a nice thick batter.

Spoon half of the batter into prepared pan and smooth top; top with half of the chocolate/pecan mixture. Spoon remaining batter over this and smooth top; top with remaining chocolate/pecan mixture. Bake cake until top of cake is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes (be careful not to overbake, or it will be dry! I recommend checking it after it has baked about 35 to 37 minutes). Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cake cool in pan before cutting into squares, and serve (if you want to eat it warm, let it cool about 10 minutes before cutting). I think this coffee cake tastes best warm myself!

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It’s been awhile since I’ve made a coffee cake, so this hit the spot! I have a few other coffee cake recipes I’ve been wanting to try. Have you made any good ones lately?

Linked to Thursday Favorite Things,  Foodie Friday, I’m Lovin’ It, Tickled Pink.

Butterscotch Pecan Banana Bread with Butterscotch Drizzle

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I haven’t made banana bread for some time, so I decided to try making an autumny type of banana bread with butterscotch chips and pecans–for some reason, I tend to make more butterscotch-flavored things in the fall! I chopped up the butterscotch chips so they would be lighter and more evenly distributed in the batter, and I really liked the way this Butterscotch Pecan Banana Bread turned out! It’s dense and moist with a nice blend of banana-butterscotch flavor. I also made a butterscotch drizzle to go on top, because a little drizzle of extra sweetness never hurts, does it? It’s kind of like a “hard-shell” drizzle and will break off a little as you cut the loaf, but it gives the top of the loaf just the right amount of butterscotch sweetness!

BUTTERSCOTCH PECAN BANANA BREAD WITH BUTTERSCOTCH DRIZZLE by NancyCreative, adapted from Food.com

Makes one 9 x 5″ loaf

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 large ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup butterscotch chips, coarsely chopped–measure out the 3/4 cup before you chop them (Note: chill them in your fridge before you chop them; that makes them easier to chop!)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (measure them out after you’ve chopped the nuts)

Butterscotch Drizzle

  • 1/2 cup butterscotch chips
  • 3/4 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease or spray a 9 x 5″ loaf pan; set aside (if your pan is not non-stick, you may want to dust it with flour, too).

In medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg. and salt; set aside.

In large bowl, combine mashed bananas, sugar, eggs, and melted butter, blending well. Add in the greek yogurt and blend everything well.

Add the flour mixture, half the amount at a time, to the banana mixture and mix just until everything is blended together. Fold in the coarsely chopped butterscotch chips and finely chopped pecans. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake at 350˚F for 50 to 53 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing, then cool completely on wire rack. When loaf has cooled, top with Butterscotch Drizzle.

To make the Butterscotch Drizzle, place butterscotch chips in a small microwave-safe bowl and heat for 30 seconds. Stir, then heat for another 30 seconds and stir again, until melted chips are smooth and creamy. If the chips aren’t quite melted enough, heat another 15 to 30 seconds and stir. Add in the coconut oil and blend well. Immediately drizzle over cooled loaf, then sprinkle chopped pecans on top. Let glaze set about 15 to 20 minutes before cutting into slices and serving.

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I didn’t realize butterscotch and bananas made such a great combination! Have you made anything with these two ingredients before?

Acorn Treats

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I saw these fun fall treats on the Hershey’s site and they were so cute I just had to make them! They’re so easy, too…kids would have a lot of fun making these. Acorn Treats are great for fall parties, snacks, and fun food gifts…they’re perfect for any autumn get-together or celebration!

The Royal Icing acts as the “glue,” attaching the Kisses and peanut butter chips to the Mini Nilla Wafers. The icing is very easy to make (see directions below), but if you don’t want to make your own, you can use purchased icing that comes packaged in a container with a small tip. I’ve also seen other bloggers use creamy peanut butter as the “glue,” and you could even try Nutella. Whatever you use, you just need a small dab! I used the Royal Icing (see recipe below), and I was very happy with how that worked out.

You can use either milk chocolate, dark chocolate, or pumpkin-spice flavored Kisses–I decided it would be fun to have a variety, so I used all three! For the top part of the acorn, I used peanut butter chips on the “acorns” with milk and dark chocolate Kisses, and semi-sweet chocolate chips on the “acorns” with pumpkin-spice Kisses. You can also use butterscotch chips.

Have fun trying these out!

ACORN TREATS slightly adapted from Hershey’s

Makes 64 to 73 treats per bag of Hershey’s Kisses

  • Royal Icing (see recipe below) or use purchased decorator icing that comes in a container with a small tip
  • 1 (10 to 12-ounce) bag of Hershey’s Kisses-Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, or Pumpkin Spice–or a combination of these flavors! (Depending on size, bags contain about 64 to 73 kisses).
  • 1 (11-ounce) box Mini Nilla Wafers
  • 1 (10-ounce) bag peanut butter chips or 1 (12-ounce) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips (or substitute butterscotch chips); or use a combination of flavors (you won’t need the whole bag, so if you already have part of a bag of chips left over from another recipe, that should be enough)

Prepare Royal Icing: Stir together 1 cup plus 3 Tablespoons powdered sugar and 1 Tablespoon warm water (the original recipe says to also use 1 1/2 teaspoons of pasteurized dried egg whites (meringue powder), but I couldn’t find any, so I left it out–I used an extra Tablespoon of powdered sugar instead). Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer or mix by hand until spreadable. Add additional water, 1 teaspoon at a time, to get desired consistency (I added an additional ncAcornTrts3nmTablespoon plus a teaspoon of water to get a stiff, spreadable icing). Transfer icing to pastry bag with desired tip. Cover icing and tip of pastry bag with damp paper towel to keep icing from drying out. Note: If you don’t have a pastry bag, you can use a toothpick to dab small amounts of the icing on the Kisses and chips. This recipe makes about 1/2 cup icing, which is plenty for what you’ll need.

To assemble treats: Place mini vanilla wafers on a tray or plate with flat side of cookie toward the top. Squeeze a small amount of icing onto the bottom of a Hershey’s Kiss. Immediately press candy bottom onto vanilla wafer cookie. Allow icing to set.

Place small dab of icing on bottom of peanut butter or semi-sweet chocolate chip. Immediately attach to top of cookie to finish acorn. Let icing set before serving.

That’s all there is to it! Super-easy!

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Have you made any fun, easy treats to celebrate autumn this year?

Linked to Inspire Me Monday.

Six of My Favorite Pumpkin Recipes

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Every autumn I get in the pumpkin-baking mood. Here are some of my favorite recipes I’ve posted before–if you haven’t seen them already, you may want to check them out!

Pam’s Pumpkin Sheet Cake (above)…a large, moist, yummy cake topped with rich cream cheese frosting!

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Pumpkin Cornbread or Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins…great for a fall breakfast or brunch!

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Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting…a great autumn cupcake!

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Pumpkin Bread with Pumpkin Buttercream…tastes great with or without the frosting–you can serve it for breakfast or brunch unfrosted, or serve it for dessert with the frosting!

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Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread…another pumpkin bread, with a delicious cream cheese filling!

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Double-Glazed Pumpkin Scones…a real treat any time of day!

Have you been doing lots of pumpkin-baking? Let me know if you try any of these out!

Linked to Foodie Friday.

Very Strawberry Coconut Cream Soda

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When I saw that this soda was made with coconut milk, that got my attention. Fresh strawberries and coconut milk sounded pretty good! The original recipe that I found at Food.com also has sugar in it, but I substituted honey for the sugar. I also added extra strawberries.

This soda is creamy and fruity–a healthy way to enjoy a soda! This recipe is for a single serving, so if you need more servings, just multiply the ingredients by the number of servings you want to make.

VERY STRAWBERRY COCONUT CREAM SODA by NancyCreative, adapted from Food.com

Makes 1 (8-ounce) serving

  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 Tablespoons refrigerated coconut milk
  • Ice cubes
  • Club soda or carbonated water, chilled

In a small bowl, combine the strawberries and honey, stirring so strawberries are coated with the honey. Then use a pastry blender to mash the strawberries. You’ll have about 2/3 cup of the mashed strawberry-honey mixture. Stir in the coconut milk and blend everything well.

Place the mashed strawberry-honey-coconut milk mixture in an 8-ounce glass. Fill the glass with ice, up to 1″ below the top rim of the glass. Then pour in the club soda, filling the glass to the top. Stir the cream soda with a straw or iced teaspoon, blending the club soda in with the other ingredients, and serve immediately. Serve with a straw and spoon, since the mashed-up strawberries clog up the straw occasionally!

I just had to make this before the end of summer, which is coming up soon! Even though I like autumn, I’m kind of sad to see summer end. How about you?

Root Beer Float

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You need to make a Root Beer Float at least once during the summer! It’s such a wonderful cool and creamy, foamy and fizzy treat! I drank plenty of Root Beer Floats when I was a kid, so it was fun to enjoy one again recently. I made my float in a vintage glass I found at a flea market and felt like I was right in a soda shop! :) You can chill your glasses in the fridge beforehand if you want them to be extra cool.

ROOT BEER FLOAT by NancyCreative

Makes 1 serving

  • 2 good-sized scoops of Vanilla ice cream
  • Root Beer, well chilled

Slowly pour root beer into a tall glass until it’s about half full. Place one scoop of vanilla ice cream into the glass. Then slowly pour a little more root beer over the ice cream, until glass is about 3/4 full. Let foam settle and add the second scoop of ice cream. Add a little more root beer until the glass is full. Serve immediately.

Did you know the ice cream soda was invented by Robert McCay Green at the sesquicentennial celebration in Philadelphia in 1874? Mr. Green ran out of cream for the flavored sodas he was selling and substituted vanilla ice cream instead…and a new drink was created!

Funny how some of our favorite recipes are created by happy mistakes or changes like that! Have you ever created a favorite recipe of your own substituting a different ingredient?

Banana Split Ice Cream Sandwich from I Scream Sandwich!

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Photo from I Scream Sandwich!

Did you know that August 2nd is National Ice Cream Sandwich Day? I just heard about it recently myself. Before I was involved in the food blogging world, I had no idea how many IScreamSandwich90365JFfood holidays there were–too many to keep up with! :) But I do love ice cream sandwiches, so I thought I’d share a little about a book that has lots of recipes for the homemade kind, I Scream Sandwich, by Jennie Schacht. There’s a wide variety of ideas for sandwiches made with brownies, bars, cakes, brioche, crusts, gelatos, sorbets, and even dairy-free options…just about any kind of ice cream sandwich you could imagine!

There are also helpful ice cream sandwich-making tips in the first chapter, Sandwich Secrets. And in the second chapter, Jennie writes about Essential Equipment, Ingredients, and Building Block Recipes. The rest of the book is filled with yummy full-color photos and ice cream sandwich recipes like:

  • Inside-Out Carrot Cake (Cream Cheese Ice Cream on Carrot Cake Cookies)
  • Key Lime Pie (Key Lime Ice Cream on Sugar Cookies)
  • S’mores (Fudge Ripple Ice Cream on Graham Crackers with Toasted Marshmallows)
  • Apricot Croissan’wich (Apricot Sorbet on a Croissant)

And then there’s the Banana Split ice cream sandwich (pictured above), made with assorted ice creams and toppings on a hot dog bun with Caramelized Bananas. I didn’t have time to try this recipe out myself, but it sounded like such a  fun one that I thought I’d share it with you! And you can use either homemade ingredients or store-bought to make these.

BANANA SPLIT ICE CREAM SANDWICH from I Scream Sandwich!

Makes 6 sandwiches

“…Part sandwich, part sundae, it’s a great way to use up bits of leftover ice cream and sauces, all while maintaining a semblance of health (bananas! berry sauce! fruit and nut garnish!). I’ve even used soft honey-whole wheat buns in place of the brioche and they perfectly soaked up all the melty ice cream and sauces…For a banana split party, line up the buns, sugar-crusted bananas, ice cream with small scoops, bowls of sauce, and any additional toppings, and let everyone make their own.” – Jennie Schacht

ASSORTED ICE CREAMS AND TOPPINGS

  • 3 or more flavors of ice cream or gelato (homemade or store-bought), enough to make 18 small scoops in total (1 to 2 Tablespoons per scoop)
  • 3 or more sauces (homemade or store-bought), such as Salty Carmel Swirl (page 156), Fudge Ripple (page 156), and Berry Ribbon (page 159)
  • Any additional toppings you desire, such as fresh berries, chopped toasted nuts, marshmallows, whipped cream, or candied cherries

HOT DOG BUNS

There’s a recipe for homemade Brioche Buns in the book, but you can also use 6 soft, good-quality bakery or store-bought hot dog buns.

CARAMELIZED BANANAS

  • 3 bananas, peeled and split lengthwise
  • 2 to 4 Tablespoons granulated sugar

Lay out the bananas cut-side up on a flat flameproof surface and sprinkle each half evenly with 1 to 2 teaspoons of sugar. Holding a kitchen torch 1 to 2 inches from the surface, move the flame slowly and steadily over the bananas until the sugar melts and then browns, 1 to 2 minutes. Alternatively, broil the sugared bananas on a baking sheet as close as possible to the heating element, watching closely until the sugar is melted and golden brown, 2 minutes or longer, depending on your broiler.

SANDWICH

Split and open the buns, leaving them hinged on one side. Remove some of the soft insides from both sides of the bun to form a well.

For each sandwich, place a bun on a plate and lay a caramelized banana against the top half of the open bun. Place 3 small scoops of slightly softened ice cream on the bottom half, up against the seam. Top each scoop with a spoonful of sauce, warmed if desired, and any additional toppings you wish. Press gently to close the bun, and serve immediately.

Doesn’t that sound like a great cool summer treat? Do you like ice cream sandwiches, and have you ever made homemade ones?

Recipe/photo reprinted with permission from Stewart, Tabori & Chang. All rights reserved.

Lemon Brownies with Lemon Glaze

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This recipe is for all of you lemon-lovers out there…these Lemon “Brownies” may not have any chocolate in them, but they have a dense, brownie-like texture with plenty of lemony yumminess in every bite! I was a little skeptical about lemon brownies, but after making these, I love them every bit as much as the chocolate kind! I adapted this from a recipe I found at Rita’s Recipes. I used more lemon juice and zest for my version.

You actually need quite a few lemons for these brownies…about 6 to 7, depending on the size of the lemons. You’ll need to juice them and zest some of them, so there is a little work in making these, but it’s definitely worth it! I’m not that crazy about zesting lemons myself. If you’re not either, you could still try it without the zest…it may be less lemony, but I’m sure they’d still be great!

LEMON BROWNIES WITH LEMON GLAZE by NancyCreative, adapted from Rita’s Recipes

Makes a 9 x 13″ pan

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 6 Tablespoons lemon juice (you need about 3 to 4 lemons for the juice and the zest)
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease or spray a 9 x 13″ pan; set aside (for easy clean-up, you can also line your pan with parchment paper; leave paper edges sticking up out of the pan so you can just lift the brownies right out of the pan when they’re finished baking).

Juice and zest your lemons; set aside in a small container.

In large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add in the flour and salt, mixing until well blended.

In small to medium bowl, whisk eggs and add lemon juice and lemon zest, blending well. Pour this mixture into the flour/butter mixture and mix ingredients until smooth.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake at 350˚F for 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (the edges will be browned). Let brownies cool for a few minutes in pan. While cooling, you can mix the Lemon Glaze

Lemon Glaze:

  • 2  to 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar (depending on how thin or thick you want the glaze)
  • 5 Tablespoons lemon juice (you need another 3 lemons for the juice and the zest)
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon zest

Mix powdered sugar and lemon juice together, blending well, then add in the lemon zest and stir until zest is mixed in evenly. While brownies are still warm, spoon and spread about half the glaze over the top of the brownies (some of the glaze will soak into the brownies); wait 10 to 15 minutes (the glaze will just be partially set) and then spoon the rest of the glaze over the first layer of glaze. Let glaze set completely (this might take an hour or so, especially in humid weather) and then cut into squares or bars and serve. If you want the glaze to set more quickly, you can put the brownies in the fridge for about 20 to 25 minutes, then cut and serve. Actually, you may just want to pop them in the fridge anyway, because these taste great cold, too!

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I like making lemon-flavored things in the warm weather months–they’re so refreshing! Do  you have a favorite lemon recipe you like making in spring or summer?

Linked to Anti-Procrastination Tuesday, Tutorial Tuesday.

Mango Parfait from 150 Best Desserts in a Jar

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51vAE27HW4L._SY300_Have you served any desserts in jars yet? I’ve seen some great ideas on Pinterest and in several magazines, so when I heard about 150 Best Desserts in a Jar, I was happy to review it and discover a whole collection of yummy recipes, from rich and decadent to light and healthy. Author Andrea Jourdan has developed quite an array of recipes that sound easy and delicious–puddings, cobblers, pies, cakes, trifles, parfaits…just about any kind of dessert you can think of! And you can creatively present them in attractive jars…antique jars, canning jars, or just uniquely-shaped jars you’ve kept…I’m always saving jars from jams, relishes, and other items because they’re just too pretty to discard!

The book is divided into two parts: Warm and Comforting (crumbles, cobblers, puddings, bread puddings, custards, cakes, and souffles) and From the Fridge (fruity and/or creamy desserts, gelatins, trifles, tiramisu, chilled cakes, sweet soups, parfaits, and frothy desserts). I thought the Marble Chocolate Cake with Coffee Cream Sauce, Warm Salted Caramel Pudding, Blackberry Bread Pudding, Pear and Almond Crumble, Brownie Frozen Delight, and Banana Cream Pie Crunch all sounded wonderful. But I decided to try one of the healthier recipes, the Mango Parfait, because I was craving a healthy dessert…and this really hit the spot! Mangos are sweetened with a little sugar and paired with creamy Greek vanilla yogurt for a great-tasting treat. It’s really cool and refreshing, so you’ll have to try this out soon!

MANGO PARFAIT from 150 Best Desserts in a Jar

One of the most popular exotic fruits, the mango here brings its tangy flavor to a perfect companion–yogurt. This is my family’s favorite healthy treat after lunch.–Andrea Jourdan

Makes 4 servings

  • 3 mangos, peeled and sliced, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) ground cardamom
  • 2 cups (500 ml) Greek-style vanilla yogurt

Mangos: In food processor fitted with the metal blade, puree the flesh of 2 mangos with the sugar.

Place remaining mango slices in a bowl. Sprinkle with cardamom and mix gently. Set aside.

Assembly: Spoon approximately 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) mango puree into the bottom of each jar. Cover with 1/4 cup (60 ml) vanilla yogurt. Repeat. When ready to serve, garnish with reserved mango slices.

Tips: For a sweeter treat, add 1 Tablespoon (15 ml) maple syrup to the top of each jar. Mango and maple syrup are a great match. Use any leftover mango puree to make a smoothie.

You could also sprinkle some granola cereal on top of these parfaits–that would make a nice garnish. I was having a little trouble slicing my mangos–most of my slices didn’t look that great–so I cut most of my mangos into chunks and that worked fine, too.

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Hope this inspires you to make some desserts in jars–it’s easy and fun!

Caramel Apple Oat Squares

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I first made these Caramel Apple Oat Squares years ago when I clipped the recipe from a magazine. I love caramels and apples, especially together, so I knew I would like this dessert! It’s kind of like having a caramel apple pie, but a little easier and quicker to make! And I like that it has oats in the crust. I added some cinnamon to the crumb mixture and substituted chopped pecans for the walnuts, but you can use either.

This has been in my recipe file for quite a while and I recently came across it again at EagleBrand.com.  So I thought it would be a great time to make these, take a few photos, and share the recipe with you!

CARAMEL APPLE OAT SQUARES slightly adapted  from Eagle Brand®

Makes a 13 x 9″ pan

  • 1 3/4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour (I used unbleached)
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
  • 20 caramels, unwrapped
  • 1 (14-oz.) can Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1 (21-oz.) can apple pie filling (I saw a version of this recipe where someone used fresh thinly sliced apples, but they didn’t say how many…I think 2 cups would work if you wanted to try that)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Cut in chunks of butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Reserve 1 1/2 cups crumb mixture; press remainder on the bottom of an ungreased 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from oven.

In small bowl, add chopped nuts to reserved crumb mixture; set aside.

In heavy saucepan, melt caramels with sweetened condensed milk over low heat, stirring until smooth.

Spoon apple pie filling (or thinly sliced fresh apples if you’re wanting to try that) over the partially baked crust. Top with caramel mixture, then the reserved crumb-nut mixture.

Bake 35-40 minutes or until set. Let cool about 5–10 minutes, then cut into squares and serve while still warm. These taste great served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, too!

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Sometimes the caramel mixture bubbles up around the edges while baking…don’t be alarmed if yours is doing this…it will settle down when it’s out of the oven! You may need to loosen the caramel from the edges of the pan as you’re cutting this into squares.

Note: If you cut these into squares of 8, which would be a pretty good size, each piece is about 550 calories. You can always cut them into smaller squares of 12 if you’re counting calories!

Carrot and Orange Sorbet from The Ultimate Guide to Homemade Ice Cream (and a Giveaway!)

If you enjoy making your own ice cream, or would like to start, you’d probably love the recently-published book The Ultimate Guide to Homemade Ice Cream: Over 300 Gelatos, Sorbets, Cakes, & More. Written by master chef Jan Hedh, this hardcover book includes an amazing variety of recipes for ice cream, gelatos, sorbets, ice cream cakes, parfaits, and other delicious ice cream treats, along with great photos. I’m giving a copy of this book away, compliments of Skyhorse Publishing, so see the end of this post for details!

Chef Hedh is from Sweden, one of the top ice cream-consuming countries in the world, and some of the unique recipes he has developed include Basil Yogurt Ice Cream, Avocado Ice Cream, White Mocha Ice Cream, Pumpkin Sorbet, Blueberry Sorbet, Espresso Granite, and decadent desserts like Chocolate Meringue Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream and Meringue Pavlov with Passion Fruit Sorbet and Fresh Fruit.

The recipes have both European and U.S. measurements, which is handy for everyone. One of the ingredients used in many of the recipes is gelatin leaves, a common ingredient in European recipes. It’s the same substance as granulated gelatin, just in a different form. Four gelatin leaves are equivalent to a standard 1/4-ounce packet of granulated gelatin (or one teaspoon). So for the recipes that call for 2 gelatin leaves, you just need to substitute 1/2 teaspoon of granulated gelatin. I just thought that information would be handy to know, since I hadn’t heard of gelatin leaves before!

The recipe I’m sharing here, Carrot and Orange Sorbet, needs to be frozen in an ice cream maker after mixing the ingredients, like most of the recipes. I currently don’t have one, so I haven’t made this recipe myself yet. But I thought it sounded like a good and easy recipe that some of you might want to try out!

CARROT AND ORANGE SORBET from The Ultimate Guide to Homemade Ice Cream

  • 2 gelatin leaves (4 g) or 1/2 teaspoon of granulated gelatin
  • 125 g (3/5 cup) sugar
  • 75 g (1/3 cup) water
  • 60 g (1/5 cup) orange blossom honey
  • 250 g (1 cup) fresh carrot juice
  • 250 g (1 cup) fresh orange juice

Soak the gelatin leaves in cold water for at least 10 minutes (if you’re using granulated gelatin, you don’t need to do this).

Put sugar, water, and honey in a pot, and bring to a boil.

Remove from the heat, add the gelatin (if using gelatin leaves soaked in water, you’ll need to drain them), and stir until dissolved. Cool the sugar solution to 95˚F. Add carrot juice and orange juice and freeze the sorbet in an ice cream machine.

Now for the Giveaway! Here’s how you can enter to win The Ultimate Guide to Homemade Ice Cream:

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED-And the winner is…

Thanks to all of you who participated in the giveaway! There were a total of 21 entries, and the True Random Number Generator at Random.org chose Commentor #8, who is Carol! Congratulations, Carol, and I’ll be getting in touch with you to send the book to you!

Leave a comment on this blog post between now and Thursday, August 23, at midnight (CST)–the random drawing will be made from the comments on this post only! The winner will be chosen randomly via Random.org and announced the following day. Winner will be notified via email (if winner does not respond in 3 days, I’ll do another drawing).

First entry: Leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite ice cream flavor.

Bonus entry: If you are a new or existing follower or subscriber, you can leave one extra comment, telling me the way (or ways) you are following.

The giveaway is open to residents of the continental U.S. and Canada.

So what’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

Desserts for a Sweet Fourth of July

Here are a few yummy desserts I found over at MarthaStewart.com. All of these great photos are from Martha’s site, too. Some of these don’t involve any baking, so even if it’s really hot out you can still make some yummy no-bake treats! The Red, White, and Blue Berry Trifle (shown above), is one of the no-bake desserts, and it’s so fun and festive, even without the sparklers! (The sparklers shown are special cake sparklers, recommended for outdoor use only!)

I love these Flag Cupcakes, decorated in a simple and easy way with piped blue buttercream dots and red licorice stripes!

These Pretzel Sparklers are a lot of fun, too! All you do is melt 4 ounces of semisweet chocolate, then coat the top third of each pretzel rod with the chocolate, using a pastry brush. Cover with sprinkles, stand upright in a glass and refrigerate about 5 minutes, or until firm. You could also use white chocolate instead of semisweet chocolate and add some edible glitter to make them more sparkly if you want.

Here’s another Red, White, and Blueberry Trifle…this one is made with cream cheese; the other trifle (the first photo in the post) is made with mascarpone cheese.

These Red, White, and Blue Parfaits look cool and refreshing with their red and white striped layers!

I like the idea of using raspberries and blueberries to decorate these Fouth of July Cupcakes…such a simple and easy idea, and so pretty!

These are just a few of many ideas at MarthaStewart.com…there are 30 fun and patriotic ideas for you to take a look at!

Wishing you a sweet Fourth of July! What kinds of treats will you be making for your celebration?

Chocolate Malt Cake Pops from 175 Best Babycakes® Cake Pops Recipes

I think cake pops are cute and fun, so I was looking forward to reviewing this new cookbook, 175 Best Babycakes® Cake Pops Recipes (softcover) by Kathy Moore and Roxanne Wyss. Moore and Wyss are expert food consultants who develop recipes and test products like the Babycakes® Cake Pop Maker, which is designed to make cake pop-making quick and easy. The recipes in this book were especially created to be used with this cake pop maker, and there are all kinds of fun flavors you can make! The cake pops featured on the cover give you an idea of the many ways you can decorate cake pops. There are more ideas and some colorful photos inside to inspire you, too, along with helpful cake pop-making and decorating instructions. This book shows you how to do basic and not-so-basic things like coating the cake pops, decorating with sprinkles, adding decorative swirls and spirals, triple-dipping or marbleizing the pops, and making simple faces. Some of the yummy-sounding recipes include Caramel Cake Pops, Cream-Filled Chocolate Cake Pops, Chocolate Truffle Cake Pops, Root Beer Cake Pops, Almond Cream Cake Pops, and Classic Red Velvet Cake Pops.

The Babycakes® Cake Pop Maker not only makes cake pops–you can also bake doughnuts (or what many of us call donut holes), mini Ebelskivers, and cute little round biscuit and muffin bites! These would be great for brunch, showers, or parties. There are even recipes for savory nibbles you can serve as appetizers. So you can make lots of yummy things with this handy appliance!

If you’re not familiar with the Babycakes® Cake Pop Maker, here’s what it looks like…

It bakes 12 cake pops at a time in just 4 to 6 minutes, so it would be especially great for using in the summer months–you wouldn’t have to use your oven and heat up the kitchen. I don’t have this cake pop maker myself yet, but looking at all these recipes and ideas makes me want to try it out! If I had a cake pop maker, I’d probably try the Chocolate Malt Cake Pops first. So I thought I’d share that recipe with you. If you don’t have a cake pop maker, you might be able to make cupcakes with this recipe…I don’t know that for sure, but I don’t see why you couldn’t!

CHOCOLATE MALT CAKE POPS from 175 Best Babycakes® Cake Pop Recipes

Makes 26 to 28 cake pops

  • 2/3 cup (150 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) chocolate malted milk powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 ounces (90 g) semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons (30 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons (30 mL) sour cream
  • 2 Tablespoons (30 mL) milk
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) finely chopped chocolate malt candies
  • Nonstick baking spray
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, chocolate malted milk powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Place semisweet chocolate and butter in a large microwave-safe glass bowl. Microwave on High in 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until melted. Set aside to cool for 2 minutes.
  3. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat brown sugar and granulated sugar into melted chocolate mixture. Add egg and beat well. Add egg yolk and beat well. Beat in vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low and beat in one-third of the flour mixture. Beat in sour cream, then another one-third of the flour mixture, then milk. Beat in the remaining flour mixture. Stir in chopped candies.
  4. Spray cake pop wells with nonstick baking spray. Fill each well with about 1 Tablespoon (15 mL) batter. Bake for 4 to 6 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer cake pops to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining batter.
  5. If desired, attach sticks to cake pops.

TO DECORATE: Dip cake pops in melted chocolate candy melts, then immediately sprinkle with additional finely chopped chocolate malt candies. If not attaching sticks to cake pops, use the fork tool (or fork) to dip the cake pops, then place them on a wire rack over a sheet of foil or waxed paper to set.

Excerpted from 175 Best Cake Pops Recipes by Kathy Moore and Roxanne Wyss © 2012 Robert Rose Inc.www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Have you made cake pops before? What’s your favorite flavor?