Dip into fall flavorPublished 8:11pm Wednesday, October 17, 2012
By Janet Tharpe
It’s food season all year ‘round for us Kitchen Crew gals, but oh how we love when this time of year rolls around, and everyone seems to be whipping up new recipes and talking foodie finds.
Comfort food is once again in vogue, and words like “ooey” and “gooey” are commonplace. In other words, we’re in recipe heaven.
One flavor of the season that never fails to evoke a sigh of pleasure is that ooey-gooiest of sweets, caramel. Whether drizzled warm atop a favorite pie or submerged into a steamy mug of apple cider, caramel adds a hint of fall to everything it touches.
In a tasty autumnal double feature, Roberta Broussard deftly combines the richness of caramel with the hearty warmth of pumpkin.
“This pumpkin flan cake is a new version of my (original) chocolate flan recipe,” Roberta says. “It’s made with pumpkin, which I thought would be great for the holidays.”
Well, we’ve certainly reserved a spot for it on our table. Flan, a traditional caramel custard, can seem intimidating to make at home, but this cake really makes things easy. Layers of caramel, cake batter and pumpkin-infused custard are baked together, and the result is a miraculous amalgam of deliciousness. And it’s darn pretty, too.
“I brought it to work today, and it was gone within a few minutes,” Roberta says. “Everybody loved it!”
Another caramel creation that we’ve been munching lots of lately is Kesha Smith’s toffee crunch cupcakes! In fact, we like them so much that I’ve been known to describe them as “love to the third power,” because we love the toffee, love the crunch and plain love the cupcake, too.
“I am very passionate about cooking,” says Kesha, who makes her home in Baton Rouge. “And baking is a perk, because I believe every meal deserves an awesome dessert. I created these cupcakes along with my two teenagers while my husband was in Memphis. We wanted him to have something extra to smile about when he returned home!”
Those smiles have gone viral. In fact, they’ve been breaking out everywhere this recipe goes. Kesha’s light yellow cupcakes are topped with a deliciously sweet vanilla icing — thanks in part to the crafty addition of vanilla coffee creamer — and then topped with toffee bits and drizzled with caramel. Absolutely creamy dreamy.
For another cupcake treat this season, try Darla Hill’s County Fair Caramel Apple Cupcakes. These sweet and spicy cakes make me feel like I am wandering through a harvest festival. They are the epitome of fall, and each bite is pure delight. Oh, and did I mention they’re topped with a thick caramel glaze? Pop in a popsicle stick, and these mini cakes look just like adorable caramel apples. (They taste like them, too.)
Looking for a more traditional caramel fix? Wendy Rusch has declared discovery of the best homemade caramel apple recipe.
“My mom worked at an apple orchard when I was a child,” says Wendy, a resident of Fall Creek, Wis. “They made apple cider, apple pies, apple crisps, caramel apples, etc., to sell, besides all the wonderful apples. My mom acquired the recipes for these things, and they all were good, but this [recipe] is ‘O.M.Gosh good!’”
While this fab recipe does take a bit of time to put together — lots of dipping — it’s absolutely easy enough for the kids to get in on. Roll the coated apples in nuts or have the kids pick their favorite sprinkles or candies for a more colorful touch.
Whatever your style — dipped or drizzled, poured or infused — make room for a little squeeze of caramel this fall season. Your day will be oh-so-much sweeter for it.
Kesha Smith’s toffee crunch cupcakes
1 cup All-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. Baking powder
1/4 tsp Baking soda
1 pinch Salt
3/4 cup Brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup Butter, softened
2 large Egg whites
2/3 cup Buttermilk
1 stick Butter
4 cups Powdered sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. French vanilla Coffee-mate liquid creamer
1 cup Toffee bits (Heath bits or similar)
1 jar Caramel ice cream topping
- Preheat oven to 340 degrees and line a 12-cup muffin pan with 2-1/2-inch liners. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and a pinch of salt together in a bowl and set aside.
- On medium speed, beat brown sugar and butter together until well combined. Add egg whites one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Alternately beat in flour mix and buttermilk (starting with flour and ending with flour) until smooth. Scoop batter into prepared liners ¾-full and bake for approximately 18 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- While cupcakes are baking, cream one stick of butter in mixing bowl, add one teaspoon of vanilla, two tablespoons of French vanilla liquid coffee creamer and slowly mix in four cups of powdered sugar until desired piping consistency. (Add more liquid if desired.)
- Once cupcakes are completely cooled, (10 minutes in pan and an additional 20 minutes on cooling rack) pipe frosting onto cupcakes with a large, open star tip, sprinkle small pieces of toffee bits onto the cupcakes and add a light drizzle of caramel topping. Enjoy!