Sunday, October 23, 2011

Spiced Apple Cider Caramels

Hope everyone had a good week.

For my part, I spent the week tinkering in the kitchen with batches of caramel and I have a wonderful new recipe to share with everyone. A caramel that tastes of freshly mulled apple cider. Oh yes, it's good.

Those of you going "Ppbbth, Caramels! I waited all week! Me want prizes!" I'll post the winner from last weeks giveaway of the big McCormick Halloween Goodie box too. Just zip down to the bottom of today's post.

For us candy makers, how about we get started on these apple cider caramels.

Now, just to be clear, "apple cider" around here is basically apple juice. I know it was wrong of us North Americans to adopt the term cider for a non-alcholic beverage, but we did it anyway. We just wanted to confuse everyone and I apologize. So just to be completely clear, we won't be using the fermented drink made from apples, no. Today we're working with a jug of fresh apple cider, which is essentially unfiltered apple juice. If you cannot get the fresh, cold pressed unfiltered stuff, go ahead and substitute the best quality/tasting apple juice you can find.

These caramels are a variation of my popular fleur de sel caramels, with a reduction of mulled apple cider. If you haven't tried them, you'll find that they're rich, smooth and far superior to those waxy squares you find in the supermarket.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pumpkin Old Fashioned Donuts

It's Sunday and I'm back with pumpkin treats! Talk about deja vu, right?

When treats are good though, one can excuse repetitive use of ingredients. Besides, I've got pumpkin on the brain. Halloween is fast approaching and they're popping up everywhere--along with those 'fun sized' candy bars that will be my undoing.

So lets just get right down to how today's post came about. One of the added perks of being a blogger is you get lots of very friendly folks emailing you, offering to send you things to try. I tend pass on about 99% of these just because I'm a busy lady and I've got enough stuff to eat and store in my home without people sending me more and trying to finagle a blog post--and because no one has offered to send me an Audi TT (Audi, what gives?).

I do however like the opportunity to give things away to my readers. So today, thanks to the lovely folks at McCormick, I have a box of goodies for one lucky reader in the U.S. of A packed with goodies like McCormick vanilla extract & food colorings, and a few other little treats from Le Creuset, Mui, Wilton and Palderno World Cuisine to assist with your baking fun. 

For my part, I'm whipping up a Halloween themed post. I had several ideas, all utilizing the standard company of Halloween players. Some very cute, some scary and some complicated. In the end though, I settled on tasty. Tasty and pumpkin-y. 

Besides, my last pumpkin recipe didn't use exactly one can of pumpkin and that made those with the small cans of pumpkin, like commenter Katie, go all sad-emoticon.

That makes me :( too. 

I also had leftover pumpkin, so today we're using it and we're making a batch of festive fall donuts.

: ) @

See what I did there?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

Hello, Cake.
I have a wonderful pumpkin cake to share today! 

About this time last year I had gone on a pumpkin cake baking spree. It never resulted in a blog post as I was disappointed with nearly every recipe that I tried. Some cakes were good, but not so good that I felt they warranted an endorsement.  I had some rather particular ideas of what a pumpkin cake should be like: moist, tender and with just enough spice to provide those fall warm and fuzzy feelings. 

Unfortunately though, I wasn't feeling so warm and fuzzy after baking and tasting all those cakes.  You see, the more recipes I tried, the worse the cakes seemed to get. Some were heavy with spices, which I thought I would enjoy, but often found they gave the cakes a harsh edge. Other cakes I found a bit soapy, which I attributed to the citrus or too much cardamom or ginger in the base. One particular horror to emerge from my ovens was a cake that managed to taste of baking soda and metal.  In all, it was a disappointing run.

So I gave up and moved onto other baking projects to populate the blog. I figured I would pick up the quest again when my desire to eat pumpkin cake returned. Well, along with the damp fall Seattle weather, that desire has returned and this time I found the cake. When I tasted it, I knew no tweaking on my part would improve upon it.  It was just right.  Delightfully moist and echoing the flavors of a pumpkin pie.

It was the perfect base for my whipped cream cheese frosting.  I guarantee a generous slice will provide those warm and fuzzy feelings. 

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