Caramel Two Ways

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Today I’m sharing two recipes using caramel. The first one is my recipe for espresso caramel sauce; It’s a quick and easy recipe for all coffee lovers out there, and you know how I love my coffee, especially espresso. I like to serve this sauce on gelato, but since it’s a caramel topping, it’s great on almost everything…especially chocolate desserts!

The second recipe is for my gluten-free Linzer cookies. In this recipe, you thicken up the caramel just a little, so it sits oh-so-delicately inside of the cookies. Give them a try over the next few weeks! There’s nothing like baking to take your mind off of things, especially when the result is a sweet treat!

Espresso Caramel Sauce:
serves 6 to 8
You will need:

– 1 cup of sugar
– 1 shot of espresso
– 1 cup of heavy cream

To prepare:

Place sugar in a small sauce pan on medium heat.

Watch the sugar carefully, with a silicone spatula brush down the sides of the pan until combined and the sugar turns a deep amber color.

Pull the caramel off the heat and add the espresso while stirring until combined, it will bubble and spit this is normal. Next add cream very gradually while stirring the entire time until combined. If there are any lumps don’t worry they will melt once you put it back on the heat.

To Finish: Place the pan of caramel back on low heat, stirring continually until the caramel starts to slowly bubble not boil. This takes about 3 minutes.

Pull from the heat and place into a glass or ceramic container with a spout, place in the fridge until you’re ready to use.

Warning: With all hot sugar be extremely careful so as not to burn yourself. If you’ve ever burned yourself with hot sugar you know it’s very dangerous. This is not an activity for children.

Rosemary + Salted Caramel Linzer Cookies

You will need:

For the cookies:

– 1 cup hazelnut meal (or nut meal of your choice)
– 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour or substitute Cup 4 Cup
– 1/2 tsp baking powder
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 2 sticks (1 cup or 225 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
– 1/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
– 1/2 cup granulated sugar
– 1 large egg
– 1/2 tsp finely chopped rosemary (up to 1 tsp for a stronger flavor)

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for the caramel filling:

2/3 cup granulated sugar
– 6 tbsp water
– 1 tbsp unsalted butter
– 6 tbsp creme fraiche (or heavy whipping cream)
– 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
– 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt, plus more for sprinkling

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Preparation:

Whisk together the hazelnut flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

Combine butter and sugars in a large bowl and beat vigorously until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg and chopped rosemary, then beat again until well-blended, another 30 seconds. Finally, fold in the flour mixture until just incorporated.

Divide dough into two or three balls, pat them into discs, and wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill the dough in the fridge for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

Heat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Roll out a disc of dough to about 1/8- or 1/4-inch thick, depending on your preference. Unlike pie crusts, which I generally roll out between sheets of parchment, I found this to be easiest on a well-floured surface, sprinkling flour over the top and lifting the bottom to re-flour as needed. (The latter makes cutting and removing the cookie rounds much easier.) Cut out cookie rounds using a 2-inch cookie cutter of your choice. For half the rounds, use a smaller cookie cutter (around 3/4 inch) to cut patterned holes — these are the windows for the cookie “lids.” Save the minis to make miniature cookie sandwiches (or just to nosh!). If the dough becomes too soft as you’re using it, just pop it into the freezer for a few minutes to firm it up again.

Place the “lids” and cookie holes on one baking sheet and the whole cookies on another, since the whole cookies may take a little longer to bake. Bake both sheets of cookies until golden at the edges, about 10 minutes for the bottoms and 8-9 for the lids. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Repeat with remaining dough; you can re-chill and re-roll cookie scraps as many times as needed.

If powdering the lids, arrange the lids (or all the cookies, if you prefer) on a baking rack with a tray or paper underneath to catch the excess sugar. Sift powdered sugar over top as desired.

While the cookies are cooling, make the caramel. Prepare a bowl of ice water and set it aside within easy reach. Combine sugar and water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Stir just until sugar dissolves, then let simmer, without stirring, until the mixture just turns golden. Remove immediately from heat and add butter (be careful, as it may sputter). Swirl until the butter is dissolved, then add the creme fraiche or heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt. Return to heat, reduce heat to low and stir until the heavy cream is fully dissolved. Drop a small spoonful of the caramel into the ice water and touch it — if you can form it into a pliable ball, it’s done.

Working quickly, while the caramel is still soft, drop about a teaspoon of caramel onto each of the bottoms of the cookies, then place a lid on top and press gently to seal. Sprinkle a bit of flaky salt over top if you like. Enjoy once the caramel is cool. Cookies will keep for a week in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.

xx Annette

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Easter Brunch Beverage:: The Pink Mimosa

mimosa

Made with pomegranate juice, grapefruit juice, and bubbly, this pink mimosa is perfect for springtime and would be beautiful in a pitcher for guests to help themselves, even if guests are a little limited this year. Imagine your punchy Easter tablescapes with this bubbly beverage front and center!

Cheers!

xx, Annette

Grapefruit and Pomegranate Mimosas
Serves 6
You will need:

– ½ cup granulated sugar
– ½ cup water
– 2 cups grapefruit juice*
– 1 cup pomegranate juice – such as POM
– 1 bottle Rose Champagne, well chilled
– Pomegranate arils to garnish

To prepare:

Heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat – until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool completely. Refrigerate until cold – at least 2 hours. Combine the simple syrup, grapefruit juice, and pomegranate juice in a large pitcher and chill for at least 1 hour.

Combine 2 ounces of the grapefruit mixture with 4 ounces of the chilled rose in a champagne flute. Garnish with a few pomegranate arils.

*Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice is simply stunning in this festive take on a traditional mimosa, but for a time-saver look for fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice in the produce section of your local market.

Photography by Lesley Graham
Recipes Meghan Splawn

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Easy Flower Arranging

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While it might seem like a daunting task, arranging your own flowers can be simple yet stunning, and honestly, nothing gives me more pleasure than to arrange flowers for my own home or parties. If you follow a few easy steps, you’ll be arranging your own flowers in no time!

When beginning the design process, I start with what’s available at my local market (and even Trader Joe’s!), and I try to select a strong color theme like pink or even white. Selecting just one color flower, but choosing several varieties in that same color, is an easy way to pack a punch without a lot of thought. It honestly cuts way down on the stress, especially if you’re not quite ready for combining colors.

However, if you want to give it a go, follow these steps. For this arrangement, I selected a few colors that go well together like pink and lavender.

Step one: clean the bottom of the stems, and make a fresh cut.

Step two: place all the fillers in your container. For this arrangement, I’ve chosen a pitcher for my container, and Queen Anne’s Lace and Baby’s Breath as fillers. Pro tip: this pitcher from Ikea (one of my favs, as you know) is an ideal flower container!

Step three: add in your larger blooms. Here, that’s ranunculus and hyacinth. Be sure to work your way around the vase or pitcher. Either move around the table as you work, or spin your container to make sure your stems are even.

Step four: step back and fluff your arrangement as needed. Try to change the water every 2-3 days, and cut the stems on a diagonal every few days, too. This will keep your arrangement fresh and pretty!

xx Annette

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Sweet Crepes with Chocolate Mousse

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Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web manager and friend. Today, I am sharing a fun recipe from Annette’s archives perfect for Valentine’s Day this weekend.

Even though Valentine’s Day is on a Friday this year, my husband and I have decided to skip the hoopla and stay home instead. However, staying in doesn’t have to be boring and bland, right? I discovered this recipe for sweet crepes, and I thought it would be such a fun way cook something together in the kitchen and get a sweet result in the end.

Here’s a recipe for sweet crepes with chocolate mousse. Let us know if you give it a try!

xo,

Nicole

Basic Crepes
Yield: 12 to 15 crepes, 4-6 servings
For the crepes, you will need:
– 1 ½ cups whole milk
– 2 large eggs
– 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
– 1 cup all purpose flour
– ½ teaspoon kosher salt
– 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To prepare:

Combine the milk, eggs and melted butter in a blender and puree for 10 seconds. Add the flour and salt and blend again until smooth.

Heat a small non-stick pan over medium heat. Add about a teaspoon of butter to the pan and swirl the melting butter around the pan into a thin, even coat. Pour two tablespoons of crepe batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly. Cook for 30 seconds or until the edges begin to dry and flip. Cook for another 10 seconds and remove to a warm oven if serving immediately or to a plate to cool completely for storing. Continue cooking the batter as above – coating the pan with butter every after every 2 or 3 crepes.

*Note: Cooled crepes can be stacked, and stored in zip-top bag in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for 2 weeks. Thaw frozen crepes at room temperature at least an hour before reheating. Reheat stored crepes in warm oven or a microwave just before serving.

**Note: Lore holds that the first crepe is always a flop. Think of it as a test of your pans heat and adjust the heat accordingly.

For the mousse, you will need:
– 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
– 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
– 2 cups chilled heavy cream

To prepare:

Fill a small saucepan half full with water and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Meanwhile find a small heat-proof bowl that will fit inside the saucepan without touching the water. Melt the chocolate in the small bowl over the simmering water, stirring frequently with a spatula. Once melted add the espresso powder and stir until dissolved. Remove the chocolate from the heat to cool while the cream is whipped.

In a large bowl, whip the heavy cream with a hand mixer on medium speed until slightly thickened, approximately 1 minute. Add the warm chocolate to the lightly whipped cream and continue whipping on medium speed until the cream achieves soft peak – approximately 1 minute longer.

Cover the mousse with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Art direction + Photography by Lesley Graham
Recipes + food styling by Meghan Splawn

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Sparkling Pomegranate Punch

mimosa

drank

If you’re joining your girlfriends later this week for a little Galentine’s Day celebration, I wanted to share a quick and festive pomegranate punch for the big day. Think of this sparkling treat like a mimosa, but instead of orange juice, use a yummy mixture of pomegranate and grapefruit juice. The result is a pink mimosa that is perfectly ladylike…but let’s be real, I’m sure guys will love it too.

Let me know if you give it a try for Galentine’s Day, or any other event coming up this spring.

Cheers!

xx, Annette

Sparkling Pomegranate Punch
Serves 6
You will need:

– ½ cup granulated sugar
– ½ cup water
– 2 cups grapefruit juice*
– 1 cup pomegranate juice – such as POM
– 1 bottle Rose Champagne, well chilled
– Pomegranate arils to garnish

To prepare:

Heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat – until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool completely. Refrigerate until cold – at least 2 hours. Combine the simple syrup, grapefruit juice, and pomegranate juice in a large pitcher and chill for at least 1 hour.

Combine 2 ounces of the grapefruit mixture with 4 ounces of the chilled rose in a champagne flute. Garnish with a few pomegranate arils.

*Fresh squeezed grapefruit juice is simply stunning in this festive take on a traditional mimosa, but for a time-saver look for fresh squeezed grapefruit juice in the produce section of your local market.

Photography by Lesley Graham
Recipes Meghan Splawn

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