Two Easy Caramel Sauces


Simple 10-Minute Caramel Sauce

I am indebted to Mel’s Kitchen Cafe for this recipe.  I have made small changes, but she deserves the credit on this one.

1 stick (8 Tbsp) butter
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste

Combine butter, sugar, salt and cream in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat.  Stir gently, then increase the heat to medium and bring the mixture to a boil.

Boil for 10 minutes without stirring. Watch closely for signs of scorching and lower heat if necessary.

Remove from heat and carefully stir in the vanilla bean paste.  Avoid mixing too vigorously or scraping the sides as this may cause the sauce to crystallize.

Use immediately or let the sauce cool a bit before pouring into a container to refrigerate. Keeps in the refrigerator for several weeks.


Easiest-Ever “Cheater” Caramel Sauce

Caramel (premade)
Heavy whipping cream.

The caramel I use for this is here.  You know when you’ve bought a huge bag full of those tiny squares in the bulk food section and then unwrapped them for what seemed like hours so you could melt them down?  This is the same idea, BUT it’s infinitely better tasting and comes in a block, so you can easily slice off as much as you need without the hours of small-motor skill practice.  It LOOKS like this may be the same product (based on the description and reviews) for less, but the title says it’s a “chocolate caramel sauce,” which is confusing and may be something different.  I haven’t used that second link personally before, but I can vouch for Amazon’s return service if it is, by chance, the wrong thing.

Anyhow…This caramel makes the most delicious sauce for apples and pretty much anything else.  It’s truly worth the price tag for special events and splurges.

To make the sauce, simply melt the caramel in your crock pot for about an hour or so.  Alternately, you can do this in a double boiler or in your microwave on LOW for VERY SHORT increments.  If you microwave it for too long or at too high a temp, it may crystallize or harden, so take care with this method.

Stir in enough cream to thin the sauce to the desired consistency.  I use around two cups if I’m melting the whole five-pound block.  Continue stirring until the sauce is well blended.  Enjoy!


National Chocolate Day: Chocolate Ice Cream

I realize I am a day late to the party.  I think my invitation got lost in the mail.  Honestly, I had no idea that yesterday was national chocolate day until I hopped on Instagram and saw all the deliciousness going on over there.

I tried to crash the party with a re-post, of this cake, but I was not pacified.  So, after my kiddos were in bed, I whipped up and then enjoyed some quick, decadent chocolate ice cream.IMG_1224

In the world of homemade ice cream, there are two types: French and Philadelphia. While the more traditional French style relies on eggs (either cooked or raw) for a creamy, custard base, Philadelphia-style ice cream has no eggs.  Eggy desserts and I have a rocky relationship.  It’s a texture issue on my part.

So, homemade ice cream at our house is always Philadelphia-style.  If you don’t own an ice cream maker, you should.  Ask Santa.  You won’t be disappointed.  Ice cream is one of those foodstuffs that is so easy, inexpensive and delicious to make at home.  I am partial to this two quart version, because then we can make enough for everyone in one batch, even if we have guests over.

I love the hint of orange in this recipe.  It comes from either the zest of an orange, or this lovely little oil that is pressed from the rinds of oranges. It works wonders for adding a little citrus flair when you don’t have the fruit on hand.  It packs a powerful punch, so a drop or two is plenty in this application!  Bonus uses: it easily removes that obnoxious sticky residue leftover by some labels and it’s a great degreaser. There are lemon and lime versions also.

As far as I’m concerned, any day is a good day for a few bites of this chocolate ice cream.  No need to wait for October 28th to roll back around!

Chocolate Ice Cream:

2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon real vanilla
1 teaspoon orange zest or 2 drops Boyajian Orange Oil (optional)

Combine cream, cocoa, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Heat until just simmering. Remove from heat and stir in chopped chocolate until completely dissolved. Add milk, vanilla and orange zest or orange oil.

Cool completely. You can refrigerate the mixture for about four hours, or if you’d like to eat sooner, try this: plug your sink and add several inches of cold water and plenty of ice.  Set the saucepan with chocolate mixture in the water and stir occasionally, until the mixture is nice and cold.  Add more ice to the sink if needed.

Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. When finished, this treat will have a soft-serve texture.  To firm it up before serving, transfer it to an airtight container and freeze for an hour or so.  Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the freezer for a day or two, but the texture may begin to suffer after much longer.  I doubt there will be any left at that point to worry about, though. IMG_1223IMG_1231

Harrison Chocolate Torte

IMG_0914Try not to get whiplash as we careen from healthy middle eastern dishes with gorgeous veggies toward chocolate cake so delicious, it may in fact be illegal.  I cannot help my love for chocolate, it’s hereditary.  I am convinced that eventually geneticists will identify the gene on which the code for “chocolate addict” is written.  Until then, I am unscientifically stating that the love for chocolate runs in families.  Have you ever met someone who didn’t like chocolate?  I know a few people and I simultaneously pity and envy them.  I’m not much of a candy person, but I have a strange, primal attachment to chocolate.  I blame/thank my mother, her mother and all the women on that side of the family.

So, this cake honors my ancestors as well as my chocolate-loving friends, you know who you are.  I’ve been accused of putting illegal substances in it to make it more addicting, but I can give only this equation as explanation:


Harrison Chocolate Torte

8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (I use half bittersweet, half semisweet)
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
 large eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325°F.  Grease a 10-inch spring-form pan and dust with sugar. Stir chocolate and butter in saucepan (ideally heavy bottomed) over low heat, stirring constantly. Cool several minutes at room temperature. Add sugar, whisk until combined and then whisk in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla, salt and flour and whisk until combined.

Pour into prepared pan and bake 25-35 minutes until barely puffed in center.  Tester will NOT come out clean. Cool completely and refrigerate while making ganache (optional) and mousse.

Optional Ganache

1 cup heavy cream
12 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
4 Tbsp. butter softened
1 Tbsp vanilla

Combine cream, chocolate and butter over low heat, stirring constantly until combined.  Stir in vanilla.  Pour over chilled cake and invert raspberries over ganache.  Chill until set.

If not using ganache, proceed to mousse layer.


2 Tbsp cocoa powder
5 Tbsp hot water
7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate , chopped fine
1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Combine cocoa powder and hot water in small bowl, stir until combined.  Melt chocolate in the microwave on medium or in a sacupan on low, stirring often, just until smooth. Remove from heat and cool several minutes.  Stir cocoa mixture into melted chocolate until fully combined.

Whip cream, granulated sugar, and salt in a stand mixer at medium speed until soft peaks form.

Using rubber spatula, fold chocolate mixture into whipped cream until no streaks remain.  Work quickly. Spoon mousse over cooled cake.  

If using ganache, top with whipped cream.

If NOT using ganache, top with a layer of raspberry jam and then whipped cream, or just top with whipped cream (I add a little powdered sugar and vanilla bean paste) and fresh raspberries.

When serving, run knife under hot water between each cut for cleaner slices.


This is what the optional ganache layer looks like.  If you’re adding it, put it right on top of the original cake layer:


Then the mousse:


If you’re NOT using ganance, add the raspberry jam now, or just skip to the whipped cream.


Top with whipped cream (cool whipped cream gadget here) and serve with fresh raspberries:

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