If you would have asked me 5 years ago what I considered to be comfort food, I would have told you mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, or even a really great burger. Times, they definitely have changed. The only burgers I eat now are of the vegetable variety, and my metabolism has given me strong hints that eating a pile of mashed potatoes when I need a little bit of food-based TLC is probably not a good idea.
We’re living in a foodie culture now too, so while half a decade ago I would have been well versed on russet vs red, now I’m all about food trends like Pumpkin Spice, bacon, and my favourite for the past few weeks, Salted Caramel.
Salted Caramel came back onto my radar when I visited the Miele kitchen at the Interior Design Show recently. While we were eating the Chef began talking about how she loved to add sea salt or kosher salt to almost everything she cooks. Her assistant piped up and told us to add a sprinkle of sea salt to our next glass of chocolate milk, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I pretty much went straight home and sprinkle a little sea salt on my chocolate milk. The verdict? Pretty amazing.
I’m a latecomer to the salted caramel bandwagon, because it’s fall and it’s pretty much everywhere right now. But don’t worry, you don’t have to go out to get your salted caramel fix: there are a lot of great recipes you can make at home that will be so good, you’re going to want to try salted caramel everything.
Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Salted Coffee Caramel Apple Skillet Cookie
Yes, the name is a mouthful, but so is this delicious salted caramel dessert. I love how you can create this one in a cast iron pan, and it probably tastes better than any apple pie I’ve ever tried. Photo and recipe from halfbakedharvest.com.
1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons oatmeal
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or half all-purpose, half whole wheat, or all whole wheat pastry flour)
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup coconut oil, melted (or canola)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4-6 ounces semi-sweet or dark chocolate, chopped into chunks (about 1 cup)
Salted Coffee Caramel (or 1 1/2 cups salted caramel sauce)
1 cup black coffee
1 1/4 cups brown sugar (add 1/4 white sugar if you like a sweeter cookie)
1 cup canned coconut milk (or heavy cream)
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon Kahlua
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
2 – 3 of your favorite apples (I used honey crisps and granny smith)
Toasted pecans for topping
Ice cream (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 10 or 12 inch oven safe skillet.
To make the the caramel add the coffee and brown sugar in a medium sauce pot. Bring a a boil and boil 5 minutes. Slowly add the coconut milk and butter, whisk to combine. Bring back to a boil, reduce heat to a low boil and cook 5 -10 minutes longer, until the sauce has thickened and coats the back of a spoon. If using a candy thermometer do not let the sauce go above 180 degrees F. Remove from the heat and stir in the Kahlua and salt, set aside.
To make the cookie dough, in a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, add the oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, melted coconut oil, eggs and vanilla and beat until combined and the dough holds together (the dough will seem oily, this is good). Mix in about 1 cup of the chocolate chunks.
Turn half the batter out into a prepared pan, pushing the dough into pan. Then pour about 1 cup of the caramel overtop and spread it out all over the cookie. Sprinkle with some chocolate chunks and then place the remaining half of the dough over the chunks. Some of the chunks will most likely be sticking out, that is fine. Don’t worry about it looking perfect. If desired you may even add more chocolate to the top. Most of the time I do.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes. Do not over bake. Remove from the oven and let sit 5 minutes. Top with the thinly sliced apples, a good drizzle of the remaining caramel and then finish with the roasted pecans and a sprinkle of sea salt.
Salted Caramel Brownies
Brownies are a staple in my house, but even if you bake them with Ghirardelli chocolate the way I do, sometimes the same old fudge brownies get a little stale. Try adding a salted caramel twist to your brownies with this recipe from BBCgoodfood.com.
200g unsalted butter, plus a little extra for greasing
100g chocolate, 70% cocoa solids
100g chocolate, 50% cocoa solids
397g can Carnation caramel
1 tsp flaky sea salt, plus a little extra for the top
200g golden caster sugar
4 medium eggs, at room temperature
130g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease then line a 23cm square traybake tin with baking parchment. Melt the butter in a medium pan, break in all the chocolate, then remove the pan from the heat and wait for the cubes to melt.
In a small bowl, mix 175g of the caramel with 1 tsp sea salt – it will loosen up. Put the rest of the caramel in a large bowl with the sugar and eggs, and beat with an electric hand mixer or balloon whisk until even.
Whisk in the chocolate and butter. In another bowl, combine the flour, cocoa and a good pinch of table salt, then sift this on top of the chocolate mix. Beat briefly until smooth.
Pour half the brownie batter into the tin and level it with a spatula. Using a teaspoon, spoon half of the salted caramel on top of the batter layer in 5 thick, evenly spaced stripes. Spoon the rest of the brownie batter on top and smooth it out, trying not to disturb the caramel beneath. Top with the rest of the caramel in the same stripy fashion. Drag a skewer or tip of a knife through the caramel to make a feathered pattern on the top.
Scatter with a little more sea salt, then bake for 25-30 mins or until risen all the way to the middle with a firm crust on top. When ready, the brownie will jiggle just a little when you shake the tin. Let it cool completely in the tin, then cut into squares.
Rosemary-Roasted Peaches with Salted Caramel Sauce
There is nothing, and I mean nothing, like a roasted peach. The peaches we have in BC are perfect for this recipe because they’re already juicy and bursting with flavour. Photo and recipe from food52.com.
For the rosemary sugar and roasted peaches:
3/4 cup raw sugar
3 tablespoons chopped rosemary leaves (from one or two leafy sprigs)
4 firm, ripe peaches, pitted and halved (peeling is optional)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
For the salted caramel sauce:
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup or golden syrup (see note below)
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Fleur de sel, to taste
To make rosemary sugar: In a food processor, combine raw sugar and chopped rosemary (make sure the rosemary is completely dry if you’ve just rinsed it). Process for about 30 seconds, or until well integrated. (You won’t need the full amount of rosemary sugar for one recipe, but it keeps well tightly covered, and it can be used in countless ways: to sweeten iced tea, to sprinkle over fresh fruit, etc.)
To pan-roast peaches: Preheat oven to 425° F. Liberally sprinkle cut sides of halved peaches with the rosemary sugar, and follow with a pinch of salt.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Arrange the peaches in the skillet, cut side-down. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes without disturbing, until the cut sides begin to brown. (Note: The peaches will throw off juice while they’re browning, but it will eventually thicken in the oven.)
Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast for about 10 minutes. Flip the peaches, drizzle with butter, and continue roasting another 5 to 10 minutes, or until tender. (The total cooking time will depend on the size and ripeness of your peaches.)
To make salted caramel sauce: Combine sugar, corn syrup (or golden syrup), and 1/4 cup water in a deep saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring once or twice, until the sugar has dissolved. Continue cooking without stirring (stirring can cause the sugar to crystallize), swirling the pan occasionally while the sugar cooks. If you notice any sugar on the sides of your sauce pan, brush it down with a wet pastry brush to dissolve the sugar crystals.
Cook until the sugar has reached a deep amber color, about 7 to 10 minutes total. Then, immediately take the saucepan off the burner. (Keep a close eye: Your caramel can go from perfect to burnt in a matter of seconds. If using a candy thermometer, cook the sugar until it reaches 350° F.)
Once the pan is off the heat, add the heavy cream (stand back because it will sputter upon hitting the caramel), and then whisk in the butter until smooth. If the caramel develops any lumps, place it back over low heat and whisk until smooth. Let stand for 3 minutes, then add the vanilla extract. Season the finished caramel with fleur de sel to taste. Tightly covered and refrigerated, the caramel sauce should keep for several weeks in the fridge; gently rewarm it before serving.
Salty Caramel Bourbon Sauce
Leila just treated us to an amazing list of recipes that use bourbon on Shelly’s Friday Favourites a few weeks ago. If you liked that post, you’ll love this recipe for salty caramel-bourbon sauce. Imagine the possibilities! Photo and recipe from buzzfeed.com.
1 cup granulated sugar
In a medium sauce pot, heat sugar and 4 tablespoons bourbon over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves and the mixture is smooth. Increase heat to medium and stop stirring. The mixture should come to a boil. Boil for 6-8 minutes, swirling the pot every 30 seconds and wiping down the sides of the pot with a wet pastry brush (to prevent sugar from sticking to the sides and crystallizing).
When the mixture is thick and deep golden, remove from heat. Add the heavy cream slowly, whisking constantly (mixture will bubble), followed by the butter and salt. When everything is combined, stop whisking and let cool for at least 4 minutes, then add vanilla extract and the remaining tablespoon of bourbon.
Let the caramel cool slightly, then divide into the two gift jars, and cover. Caramel will keep, refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to 2 weeks.
Serving suggestions: pour liberally over ice cream, drizzle on pancakes, or just eat it straight off the spoon.
Tis the season to add salted caramel to abs
Need a few kitchen supplies to get you started? Here are my picks for this week:
Baking is more fun in cast iron pans
Whip up some salted caramel sauce in a food processor
Homemade ice cream makes every salted caramel dish even better
Main image from tablespoon.com
By Shelly Wutke, Editor Appliances and Home & Lifestyle
From blenders to laptop computers, I like to take everything I write and put a personal spin on it. As a Vancouver freelancer for 5 years, I’ve written for the Globe & Mail, The Vancouver Province, Chicken Soup for the Soul (grab your hanky, that one is a tear jerker), and on too many websites to list. My personal website is at survivemag.com and if you like Twitter, come find me and chat at @kidswap.