Tag Archives: caramel

Chocolate Babka Bread Pudding

Some time ago, I made two babkas filled with chocolate chips, Nutella and pecans. I gave away one, but only ate a few slices from the second loaf before freezing away the rest. After spending three days on preparing and cooking the turkey for Thanksgiving, I didn’t want to invest more time and energy on a dessert, so I went scrounging through the freezer and pantry, to find out what I had available already.

I found the frozen babka and decided to make bread pudding. Instead of making a vanilla custard sauce to serve over the pudding, I warmed up some leftover caramel sauce.

I ended up having enough babka to make two small and one medium bread pudding. Each small pudding served two while the medium pudding was enough for four generous servings. A tasty transformation of leftovers out of the freezer with little effort.

Chocolate, Nutella and Pecan Babka Bread Pudding – serves 4

4 cups cubed babka
1 cup 2 % milk
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk ** (or 3 tbsp sugar)
1 tbsp sugar (optional as the babkas weren’t too sweet)
1 tbsp margarine or 1 tbsp melted butter
1-2 tsp vanilla extract.
2 eggs

** Leftover sweetened condensed milk used cause it was available

Divide up the babka cubes among 2 unbuttered mini aluminum foil pans.

Warm up milk, stir in condensed milk, sugar and margarine until the sugar and margarine has dissolved. Let cool in the fridge, then stir in vanilla and eggs and whisk well.

Pour over the bread cubes, cover and let the custard soak into the babka cubes in the fridge overnight.

Next day, preheat the oven to 350 deg Fahrenheit.

Place the pans in a larger container, fill to about half way up the pans with hot water and bake the puddings for 30-40 min or until the custard is no longer wet in the middle.

Slice and serve with ice cream or a vanilla custard sauce.

ETA: Although you can use frozen babka to make the bread pudding, I do NOT recommend freezing the finished/leftover bread pudding. On thawing, it ends up soggy and unappealing.

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Cracker Jack/Caramel Corn

I haven’t made caramel corn in years!

And when I went looking for my mom’s roasting pan, it was nowhere to be found. I hope I didn’t give it away in the basement clearance, but I’m afraid that I did. So I had to halve the recipe below to fit into the largest baking dish I have with a raised edge. And then I remembered the aluminum foil roaster I used when I made the two babkas. Unfortunately, it was the same size as the baking dish … just barely large enough to hold the halved batch of popcorn. Since I couldn’t STIR the popcorn every 15 minutes as the recipe requires, in order to dry out the popcorn and the caramel coating, I ended up transferring the popcorn between the two baking dishes.

Caramel Corn – makes ~16 cups popcorn

1 cup popcorn kernels
2 cups brown sugar, packed firmly
1 cup butter
1/2 cup corn syrup
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla sugar
1/2-1 tsp baking soda
2 cups unsalted, roasted and skinned peanuts (optional)

Spray a roaster with a capacity of about 20 cups with cooking spray or oil lightly.

Air pop the popcorn kernels and place them in the roaster. For the Cracker Jack version, stir the peanuts through the popcorn.

Preheat the oven to 250 deg Fahrenheit.

In a large saucepan, over medium-high heat, bring the sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt to a boil, stirring continuously for 5 minutes. It will foam up and bubble vigorously so make sure you have lots of head room.

Remove the saucepan from the heat, and stir in the vanilla and baking soda.

Pour caramel over the popcorn trying to distribute it as evenly as possible. If you have an extra pair of hands helping, have the other person stir to distribute the caramel as you pour, while it is still hot and liquid. It will harden very quickly and be impossible to redistribute.

Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes to break up the clumps, until done. Transfer to another container to cool.

Break apart any remaining clumps and store in an airtight container.

PS: Before I scrapped my sourdough starter, I took some pictures of the gluten strands in the glass jar. They looked very artistic, or is that artsy? What do they look like to you?

Re-imagining Basic Recipes pt 2

I like recipes that you can modify for different dishes or presentations like the basic pasta dough recipe below. It’s based on the proportions used in the spinach pasta I made a while back.

A 10 oz batch of pasta coloured with 1/8 and 1/3 cup of beet puree, respectively. The colour isn’t dramatically different but I’m hoping the cooked pasta on the more concentrated batch will end up being much darker than in my first posts. And then maybe I can do a tricolour pasta dish.

 

Some adaptations are better than others. I used the last of my sourdough starter to make a batch of chickpea flour (besan) crackers. I added some nanami togarashi (7 spice chili blend) to flavour it. The crackers were tasty enough but I didn’t really taste the chickpea flour. The flavour may have been overcome by the all-purpose flour sourdough starter. Next time, I’ll use all chickpea flour and some baking powder for leavening.

The chocolate cookie cups were filled with various items from vanilla ice cream (topped with sprinkles) to homemade caramel sauce poured over chopped nuts (I used walnuts but pecans would be lovely) and then topped with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. And finally, mixed citrus curd lightened with whipped cream and topped with some more ice cream. I think a chocolate chip cookie (minus the chocolate chips), or even a gingerbread cookie, dough would give me a more versatile/neutral base for filling, but this was a good first attempt of the technique.

 

 

 

Salted Caramel Sauce

Spring seems to have finally arrived. The daffodils my dad planted years ago have bloomed, which adds a lovely note of colour to the front of the house.

I’ve been busy working and, by the time I get home, I’m too exhausted to do much more than throw something in the microwave. On the weekends, I do the bare minimum of housework, mostly laundry, and spend the rest of my time sitting in front of the computer monitor reading and resting for the week to come.

I usually have a container of ice cream in my freezer, for quick desserts, but ice cream is a little bare bones, so I made this salted caramel sauce to dress it up. The recipe was posted several years ago as an accompaniment to a pumpkin pie cheesecake that was … to die for. Since I’m not fond of pumpkin, that’s a great compliment from me.

Salted Caramel Sauce – makes ~ 1 1/2 cups

1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream (35 % butterfat or whipping cream)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch coarse salt (reduced from the 1 tsp recommended)

Add the sugar to a medium sauce pan. Drizzle the water around the edges of the sugar so it washes towards the center of the pan and does not stick to the sides. Heat the sugar and water in a sauce pan over medium heat and simmer it until it turns a medium amber colour. Do NOT stir the mixture in the sauce pan.

Remove from the heat and carefully pour in the heavy cream.

Return to heat and cook until smooth, stirring with a wooden spoon. Stir in the butter.

Allow the sauce to cool for a few minutes and stir in the vanilla extract and salt.

Let the sauce cool and transfer it to a glass jar or other lidded container and refrigerate.

Store your leftover sauce in the fridge and warm it up briefly, in the microwave, before pouring it over your ice cream. Too warm, and it will melt your ice cream … too cool, and it won’t flow well. It’s tricky but even if it doesn’t LOOK pretty, it will be delicious. I used my home made whisky vanilla extract in the sauce, cause that’s the way I roll when I want to indulge in a decadent dessert.