Things that are too delicious to be allowed in my house…

Sweet & Salty Caramel Corn, otherwise known as evil incarnate

Sweet & Salty Caramel Corn, otherwise known as evil incarnate

I have pretty decent willpower when it comes to food — with a few notable exceptions. At the top of that list resides the Jalapeño Cheeto (not to be confused with Flaming Hot Cheetos whose only redeeming quality is this excellent video). I don’t know what magic took place to make Jalapeno Cheetos even more delicious than the original flavor, but it worked. These things are the straight-up definition of addictive and I am absolutely powerless against them.

My initial encounter was a few years ago when my husband left a small bag open on the kitchen counter before he left for work. I came home early and poured out a few nibbles before folding up the bag and putting it away. Those few bites was all it took. I kept creeping back into the kitchen and sneaking handfuls until the bag was (shamefully) empty.

When my husband came home, I told him he was forbidden from bringing them into our house ever again. While he hasn’t completely complied with that request, they are thankfully a rare indulgence.

I mention this story because I have recently discovered  — thanks yet again to my husband, bearer of evil temptations — something just as hauntingly addictive as those spicy, cheesy morsels.

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A Year in the Making: Springtime Sugar Cookie Nests

Sugar Cookie Nests

Sugar Cookie Nests

Last year I saw some really, really cute cookies on Pinterest. They were little thumbprint cookies, topped with chocolate and decorated with tiny chocolate eggs. I had every hope of actually making them. But then life happened and my motivation for fiddling around with tiny cookies flew right out the window.

Luckily this year was less chaotic and I actually managed a few sweet spring-time experiments like homemade Peeps and — finally — these little sugar cookie nests. And I have to say they were adorable enough (and tasty enough!) to be worth the wait.

While there are TONS of cookie nest recipes around, I really liked the simplicity of this one — no mini muffin pan necessary, just a basic sugar cookie recipe and some imagination. I contemplated using coconut flakes as the grass, but in the end I went with melted dark chocolate, green jimmies and mini chocolate eggs.

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Bittersweet Salted Beer Caramels: The beer-day finale

Salted Beer Caramels

Beer Birthday invitation!

Birthday invitation!

This is the third and final post in my “How to throw an epic beer-themed birthday” series. Having covered the basics, and how to make awesome candied beer nuts, this post will show you the second party favor I handed out — salted caramels made with beer.

After a lot of online digging, I finally settled on this recipe from the Food Network. It had some good reviews and seemed simple enough to fit into my timeline. If I make these again I might do something more adventurous like these, but this time around I went for a straightforward recipe.

It called for only a few ingredients: a bit of butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, heavy cream and, of course, beer. I chose another Oregon brew for this project: Gilgamesh’s Vadar, a black IPA aged with coffee beans. I wasn’t sure of the coffee flavor would come through (it didn’t), but it still sounded like a great beer to use in a dessert.

Salted Beer Caramels

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A biscotti by any other name…would be a tozzetti?

Tozzetti

Plate full of biscotti tozzetti

I am still slightly uncertain as to why this cookie is not a biscotti. After all, they are both “twice cooked” which is the general translation of biscotti. I’ll concede there is a slight difference in the dough. When I’ve made biscotti, the dough tends to be drier and some light kneading is usually required to get the logs properly formed. The tozzetti batter was much looser and after its first baking, looked more “free form” than traditional biscotti.

But presenting your co-workers with cookies that look like biscotti, while telling them they are not in fact biscotti, makes you feel a little silly.

And yet I’m happy I trusted Bon Appetite’s recipe because, no matter what you call these unassuming crunchy cookies, they are delicious. I’m a sucker for any kind of sweet that goes best with coffee because then you can eat it for breakfast without an ounce of guilt. These were perfect dunked into my morning cup of joe.

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Ultimate Autumn Breakfast: Apple Oven (Pan)Cake

Apple Oven Cake

Apple Oven Cake w. Powdered Sugar

I was leafing through Sunset magazine a week or so ago when a recipe for an Apple Oven Cake jumped out at me. Given my fixation on apple cider and butter, it’s a no-brainer that something involving apples and cake would be at the top of my fall baking list. However, my plans for it were a little off base.

Somehow I missed that this cake is more of a puffed pancake (a la Dutch baby) than a cake-cake. Good thing I read the reviews before I started baking because this isn’t the sort of cake that gets better as it sits! Oh no, it’s best eaten right out of the oven, spoonful after spoonful, while it deflates like a fallen souffle.

So while I had planned to ply my co-workers with apple-filled goodness, I baked this warm, caramel-y treat for my husband instead. It was a lazy Sunday morning and we had a long hard day of wine tasting ahead of us. I thought this apple cake would make the perfect (and filling!) fall brunch.

And this time around, I was right on track.

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Hi-ho brigadeiros!

My newest obsession

My newest obsession

After the last few weeks of pure indulgence in my life, I was trying really hard to be good this week. I had lofty goals involving a veggie-only diet detox, cutting back on the beer and exercising daily. I can proudly say the last two items were fairly easy to achieve, but the healthy eating part proved to be a serious failure — and sadly I have no one to blame but myself.

See, I kept thinking about this recipe I had torn out of an old issue of Food & Wine. Accompanying it was a big glossy picture of delicious looking confections coated in cinnamon and nuts that I just couldn’t shake from my mind. Finally I broke down and thus began my downward spiral into the land of brigaderios, aka Brazilian truffles.

I should mention that at the very last minute I diverged from the intended recipe to this one. It had awesome step-by-step pictures to go with it and used regular cocoa powder instead of white chocolate which helped swing my vote.

Regardless of the minor differences in the recipes, these delightful little gems are incredibly easy to make. This batch consisted of one 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk, 1/2 cup of cocoa powder and 2 TBS butter. Melt the concoction down on low-medium heat for 10-20 minutes until it’s very thick (stirring often), chill and roll. Seriously, there can be nothing easier than this.

Oh and in case you’re wondering how they taste, they are insanely sinfully good. Think of a cross between brownie batter, fudge and chocolate caramel. Resistance is futile.

Which is really bad news for my dreams of a healthy diet plan. Oh well. As a co-worker said to me, hello winter weight…

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