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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Easy Breezy Valentines (AKA a simple way to kiss ass at work)

I come from a family that loves to give gifts. I realized this, with excitement, at a young age and have reveled in it ever since. My grandparents used to buy me a gift on my brother’s birthday (seriously!) and vice versa. We also got presents — not just candy — for Halloween, Valentines Day, Easter and, honestly, just for arriving at their house at the start of summer vacation.

I vividly remember getting out of car, suitcase in hand, and running into “my” bedroom to see what book was on my pillow, wrapped in my grandma’s trademark tissue paper. I guess the best word to describe me at this age would be spoiled. But hey, it was a book. It’s not like I got my own car or anything.

I also come from a family with plenty of affection for sweets so it’s no surprise that I love a well-stocked candy dish. One magically wonderful thing about my grandparents’ house is that every time I show up, there is a candy dish on my nightstand. As a kid, it used to contain M&Ms or Starbursts, with the occasional Swedish Fish thrown in for good measure. Since college, knowing my taste for tart candies, my dish has been filled with Sour Patch Kids and the like. There is really no better treat than candy at arms reach.

The reason I bring this up is because I also like to give random gifts and candy is generally a crowd-pleaser.

Since Valentines Day is a ridiculous holiday anyways, it’s a fun one to surprise people on. Last year I decided to try out this cute thing I had pulled out of a Martha Stewart Living magazine just a few weeks prior. It was not only an adorable idea but also affordable. And since I wanted to make one for each girl in my office, cheap was kind of a necessity.

I bought the cookie cutters, paper dish and goodie bags at JoAnns and put the gifts together the night before. They were so cute I felt the need to share the idea just in case you’re looking for a simple but tasty way to let someone in your office know you are thinking of them — especially when it’s in a positive way for once.

Candy Hearts

Finished and ready to gift!

The best part is you can tailor this for any holiday using different cookie cutters and candy colors. The possibilities are endless. Just remember — you get to eat all the leftovers, so don’t pick out any crappy candy flavors!