Monthly Archives: December 2009

From Scratch: Sea Salt Caramels

For me, that new ritual may very well come in the form of sea salt caramels, a treat I made this past Friday for a holiday gathering of friends that happened on Saturday. When I saw Ina Garten make them on her show a few weeks ago, I thought sacks of the little treats would make great party favors; plus, in a season in which people are receiving plates full of cookies, fudge and fruitcakes from friends and neighbors, this little bag of caramels would be an unexpected treat. What’s more, they last a good long time, much longer than cookies or fudge, and therefore could be put away and enjoyed next month, even, when one is not being offered sugar-laced snacks several times a day.

I was indeed glad I made these. First, they were fun to make, and the kitchen smelled intensely of butter and vanilla long after the caramel mixture was setting in the fridge. In addition–and perhaps more importantly–they taste great: creamy and rich, with buttery, nutty, salty notes; you can tell they were made from scratch. Continue reading

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Cutie Clafouti

As I mentioned in my most recent post, I’ve been working my way through Nicole Rees’s amazing cookbook, Baking Unplugged. The text celebrates the joys of making things completely by hand–no machines or fancy gadgets required.

So far, every recipe I have tried (five, as of this writing) has been fantastic, from stick-to-your fingers moist chocolate snack cake to breakfast rolls flavored with orange zest and cardamom and dotted with rum-plumped golden raisins. Among these five recipes, the simplest has been the Cranberry Clafouti; it’s also been one of the most enjoyable, with a depth of flavor that I would have never expected from a dessert that is like a custardy puff pancake. Continue reading

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