Tag Archives: caramel

Pumpkin Cheesecake Tart with Caramel Rum Sauce


Pumpkin Cheesecake TartThis Pumpkin Cheesecake Tart with Caramel Rum Sauce is ease personified in baking.

The simple Caramel Rum Sauce can be made weeks ahead and refrigerated.

The Pumpkin Cheesecake Tart has a graham cracker crust that is pressed in and filled with a cream cheese mixture alternated with a pumpkin mixture which are swirled together.

The baked tart can be frozen if made ahead.

That’s pretty much it – an epic short intro for me!  Oh, I couldn’t leave without telling you to  check out the Pumpkin Mousse Torte for another seasonal pumpkin dessert. Continue reading

Caramel Apple Tart


Slice of Caramel Apple TartCaramel Apple Tart is everything you would want in an apple dessert.  Full of apples, spices, brown sugar and brandy, it’s covered with walnut streusel and caramel.

So you ask, what is the difference between a pie and a tart?  The answer is essentially nothing significant.  A pie is quite often covered with a pie crust.  Tarts never are and are generally baked in fluted tart pans with removable bottoms – think quiche pan only deeper.

That’s where the streusel comes in.  Something has to go on top of the Caramel Apple Tart to keep the filling juicy.   The caramel that tops this particular tart gilds the lilly even more.  This  was a favorite with my wholesale clientele.  So much so that we would have two 24 quart containers of caramel going at once to satisfy the demand. Continue reading

Gluten Free Turtle Cake with Salted Caramel


Turtle CakeThis Decadent Gluten Free Turtle Cake was supposed to posted last week.  But I ran into a problem.  Actually six problems.  Six gluten free chocolate cakes later, here is the recipe.

I have a son who was recently diagnosed as celiac.  Although he lives about 300 miles away, I try to think of things for him.  I was determined to make this chocolate cake gluten free.  I had a recipe in mind but I had to ditch the flour.  Easier said than done for sure!  To make it more of a challenge, I didn’t want to use a gluten free flour substitute. In the end, I used cocoa which gives the cake an edge, but a delicious one. Continue reading

Hazelnut Crunch Bars


Finished Hazelnut Crunch BarHazelnut Crunch Bars are a fantasy dessert.  Milk chocolate, rice krispies and toasted hazelnuts form the crunch base for these bars which are topped with a layer of caramel.   A light as air marshmallow tops the caramel and the dark satin ganache finishes the Hazelnut Crunch Bars elegantly.

When I had the bakery, I was asked by the Hyatt to duplicate a Hazelnut  Crunch bar.  That one was topped with a chocolate mousse and while very good, I borrowed the base from that one for my Hazelnut Crunch Bars.

As far back as the mid 80’s, I have had a love affair with homemade marshmallow long before it became so popular.  In fact, in the March/April 1984 issue of Cuisnarts magazine “The Pleasures of Cooking”I supplied the recipe used in the article “Many, Many Marshmallows”.

There are two methods of making marshmallows.  The one made with egg whites is lighter, airier and taller than the one made with gelatin alone.  The gelatin one is more firm and a bit bouncy. But there is no right and no wrong.  It just depends upon which one you want to make.  The marshmallow I used for the Hazelnut Crunch Bars is made with egg whites.

I made both versions to ascertain which I preferred.  You can see the difference between the two,A comparison of two different methods of making marshmallowThe marshmallow on the left is made with gelatin only.  The one on the right is made with egg whites.  You can see the difference in texture and height as the one on the left is denser, firmer and a bit bouncy.  The marshmallow on the right is made with egg whites and is much lighter, more tender and is taller.

Both versions require a sugar syrup taken to 240°F.  The syrup is then poured over either a gelatin mixture or beaten egg whites that have been stabilized with sugar.

At this point, if you use the egg white recipe,  you have an Italian meringue.  It is then stabilized with the addition of liquified gelatin.

Marshmallow may be colored after the sugar syrup has been added. Gel pastes work best here.  Just add the desired amount and beat until it is cold and light.  There are several ways of flavoring the marshmallow.  Extracts may be used as well as freeze dried fruit that has been powdered in a blender.  Since marshmallow is fairly neutral in flavor, it does a good job of picking up the fruit flavor.  Coloring can be added to intensify the look. One of my favorites is to roll them in toasted coconut.

I have also read of adult marshmallows being flavored with booze, although I haven’t tried it.

While I love marshmallow plain, I like to incorporate it into desserts as a component part.   While beautiful to look at, these Hazelnut Crunch Bars are even better to eat. It is like a symphony of flavors in your mouth.  So when you think of marshmallow, don’t confine yourself to hot chocolate, s’mores or eating them plain, although there is definitely nothing wrong with those options.  Think Hazelnut Crunch Bars!

There are four component parts to this dessert.  The base adds the crunch being made with rice krispies, toasted hazelnuts and milk chocolate.  This is a very thick mixture and sets up very quickly.  It is important to have the pan lined with parchment and sprayed as well as having  the back of a large spoon sprayed in enable quickly spreading out the base.

The caramel is spread over the base and this is set aside.  Once the marshmallow is made, it is necessary to get it spread over the caramel layer right away.  If the caramel has set up and is firm, use a blow drier to heat it up a little while the marshmallow is beating to insure that it adheres.  The final flourish is the dark chocolate ganache.

When cut, it appears there are 5 layers but that is because the bars must be cut with a hot, dry knife which smears the top of the marshmallow layer with the chocolate.

Caramel –using the ingredients below, please go here for how to photosCaramel for Hazelnut Crunch Bars1 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups sugar (300 grams or 10 2/3 ounces)
2 tablespoon corn syrup
7 tablespoons unsalted butter (105 grams 3 2/3 ounces)
1 cup 40% cream, hot
1 teaspoon vanilla

Place the water, sugar and the corn syrup in a 2-quart saucepan. Stir over heat until the sugar is dissolved completely. Bring to a boil; wash sides of pan down with a natural bristle pastry brush dipped in cold water, then boil, without stirring, until the mixture becomes a medium golden color.

Off heat, immediately add the butter and stir until it is melted. Combine the cream and vanilla then stir in all at once. If some of the cream lumps up don’t worry.   Return to medium high heat and bring to a boil.

Boil to 234°F on a candy thermometer. Pour into a bowl. Do not stir at this point as it can become granular if you do. Allow it to come to room temperature.

This can be made a week ahead if desired  Refrigerate after it has cooled.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

Hazelnut CrunchIngredients for Hazelnut Crunch Bars1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts (70 grams or 2 1/3 ounces)
9 ounces  milk chocolate (255 grams)
1 cup + 2 tablespoons rice krispies (35 grams or 1 1/4 ounces)

Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment and spray the parchment and sides of the pan.  Set aside.

Process the hazelnuts fairly fine. Empty into a large bowl. Add the rice krispies. Rice Krispies and nuts in a bolw for Hazelnut Crunch Bars

Mix well and set aside.  Rice Krispies and hazelnuts mixd for Hazelnut Crunch Bars.Spray the back of a large spoon with cooking spray. Set aside. Place the milk chocolate in a bowl and place over a double boiler to melt or melt at half power in the microwave. Milk Chocolate melted for base of Hazelnut Crunch BarsPour over the nut mixture and very quickly mix all together with a large spoon or your gloved hand. Combining base ingredients for Hazelnut Crunch BarsPour into the pan and quickly spread it smooth with the back of the sprayed spoon.Base in the bottom of the pan for Hazelnut Crunch BarsSpreading base in the bottom of the pan for Hazelnut Crunch BarsBase spread in the bottom of the pan for Hazelnut Crunch Bars

If the caramel is stiff, microwave it briefly to soften it then spread it over the crunch layer.  Set aside.Caramel on the base of the Hazelnut Crunch LayerCaramel over the base of the Hazelnut Crunch Bars

MarshmallowIngredients for Hazelnut Crunch Bars1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar, divided (200 grams or 7 ounces)
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 1/2 envelopes unflavored gelatin (1 tablespoon +1/2 teaspoon, 10 grams or 1/3 ounce)
1/4 cup cold water
3 egg whites (100 grams or 3 1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a small saucepan, combine the water, 3/4 cup sugar (150 grams or 5 1/3 ounces) and corn syrup. Water, sugar and corn syrup for marshmallowBring to a boil, wash down sides of pan with a brush dipped in water. Boil to a temperature of 240 degrees.Washing down sides of pan for Hazelnut Crunch Bars

Sprinkle the gelatin over the 1/4 cup cold water.Gelatin in water for Hazelnut Crunch Bars

Stir to combine.  This is referred to a blooming the gelatin.  Set aside.Gelatin bloomed for Hazelnut Crunch BarsIn the meantime, put the egg whites and vanilla in the bowl of a mixer Eggs whites and vanilla in mixing bowl for Hazelnut Crunch Barsand beat until soft peaks form. Egg whites beaten to soft peaks before the sugar syrup is added for Hazelnut Crunch BarsSlowly add the remaining sugar and beat to stiff peaks.   If the syrup has not reached 250 degrees, reduce the mixer speed to low and keep beating. As soon as the syrup has reached the temperature, slowly pour it into the egg whites. Try to keep the syrup between the beater and the bowl when pouring.Pouring sugar syrup into the egg whites for Hazelnut Crunch BarsLiquify the gelatin in the microwave for about 30 seconds and pour it into the hot egg whites. Beat until cold and stiff.Marshmallow whipped for Hazelnut Crunch Bars Whipped marshmallow on a whisk for Hazelnut Crunch BarTowards the end of the beating, heat the caramel layer with a blow dryer to warm it if it has set up so the marshmallow will adhere to the caramel. When the marshmallow is ready, Immediately pour it over the caramel and Marshmallow over layer for Hazelnut Crunch Barssmooth it out. Let it cool completely.Marshmallow spread over caramel for Hazel nut bars

Pour the ganache below over the marshmallow.   Spreading the ganache over the marshmallow for the Hazelnut Crunch BarsSpread evenly over the marshmallow. Ganache on top of the Hazelnut Crunch BarsRefrigerate to set ganache. Loosen the edges with a small flexible spatula and turn out.   Turn right side up and, with a hot knife,  cut 6 across and 4 down. The knife must be dipped in very hot water and quickly dried with a paper towel for each cut.  Let the knife cut slowly through the ganache which will be cold and firm, then cut straight down.  This sounds a lot more complicated than it is.   However, realistically you will get into a rhythm and it isn’t difficult at all to make these very professional looking cuts.

Dark Satin Ganache-using the ingredients below for how to photos please go here.
1/2 cup 40% or heavy cream
1/4 cup clear cornsyrup
5 tablespoons butter (75 grams or 2 2/3 ounces)
10 ounces 58% to 62% semisweet chocolate (285 grams or 10 ounces)

Combine the cream, cornsyrup and butter in a small saucepan until very hot. Submerge the chocolate and after several minutes whisk until combined. Pour over the marshmallow.

Yield: 24 bars.  These can sit at room temperature but for longer storage refrigerate.

For Petit Fours, cut each bar in half yielding 48 pieces.

Double Banana Caramel Cream Pie


Double Banana Caramel Cream Pie
My love of baking was undoubtedly a gift from my mother among very many others that have sustained me, not only throughout my lifetime, but also throughout my business career.

This Double Banana Caramel Cream Pie would have pleased her immensely.  My mother was a fantastic cook and baker.  To support us while my father returned to college for his second degree, we had 16 people for dinner at our house every night during the week and two teachers lived with us.  Mother cooked all of those meals without help and on Sunday she pulled out all the stops for her family.  She was an amazing woman!

My favorite desserts were anything with custard, pudding or pastry cream as a component.  Mother was an interesting combination of scratch cooking (I ate croissants at every important occasion, including holidays, before anyone in the states ever heard of them) and little shortcuts she learned along the way.  One of her shortcuts was combining Jello vanilla pudding mix which she made reducing the amount of milk slightly and combining it with whipped cream.  This was one of my favorites.  She would use it in cream puffs, banana cream pie and all manner of desserts calling for pastry cream.  I loved every one of them. Continue reading