Fleur de Sel Caramels

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I finally got to knock something off of my bucket list! My fiancé and I have been wanting to make caramels for a while, especially after we used our candy thermometor to make some crunchy toffee this past winter.

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For this month’s Secret Recipe Club, I had the delight of perusing Lynsey’s site, Lynsey Lou’s. I had several recipes I wanted to try out from this southern gal’s recipe index before I spotted the caramelsBlueberry  Lemon Cupcakes with Pomegranate Frosting, Cheez-it Crusted Chicken, Homemade Marshmallow CremeBrown Butter Caramel Cookies, and  Garam Masala Muffins.

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These caramels, by way of Barefoot Contessa, really hit the spot. I am quite picky about the texture of my caramels and like them on the soft side, but not too runny so that they get all over your face. I would bring these to room temperature before eating, lest you crack a tooth! Next time I might try cooking them a little less so that sugar doesn’t harden up quite so much, as well as experimenting with some flavors.

If you’re feeling up for it, you can dip some of the caramels in chocolate. It was messy, but well worth it (hence the lack of photos).

Check out the other Secret Recipe Clubbers below, or head on over to Lynsey Lou’s.

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Green Velvet Graduation Cupcakes

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Graduating college is a big deal! It’s tradition for me to make cupcakes or cookies for my sister’s graduation (high school, associates degree, undergraduate, and soon to be graduate!). Her schools colors are green and yellow so I opted for a “green velvet” cake and my tried and true cream cheese frosting.

Velvet cakes, I’ve found, are actually a pretty good crowd pleaser. It’s not a vanilla cake, and not quite chocolate. And these were even more awesome because I made some edible graduation caps to go on top. I was inspired by this post and used colored candy melts with my brownie bite pan and candy cup mold. And yes, I sorted out all the green colored mini M&Ms and cut the green out of strips of rainbow sour belt, but I was determined to have a super cute graduation cap and tassle!

The cupcakes were a hit and we surprised my sister at an end of the year Girl Scout event with a mini party in our hotel room.

Rollin’ Off Rolo® Cupcakes

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With every ending there’s a new beginning. Or so they say. At work we had some interns that were returning back to school. A large project was coming to an end and we were all “rollin’ off” to new things. One of the intern’s favorite candies was Rolos® and she told me one day how she used to make candies out of pretzels and Rolo® candies. I decided for the end of project celebration to make these cupcakes, especially for her.

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I had not remembered eating Rolos®, but there have been commercials about them recently. I wanted to get the Rolo® Minis (no un-wrapping required) and was surprised that they were a bit hard to find; in spite of or because it was around Halloween season.

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Baked goods had become the standard accompaniment to my visits in to the office and these did not disappoint. In fact, I had under-estimated how many people would be in the office that day and there was a mini-riot at the lack of cupcakes. Thankfully I was able to pacify them with the leftover Rolo® candies that I had brought in case such a situation would arise.

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This treat used my standard go-to chocolate cake recipe, paired with a graham cracker crust and filled with chopped Rolos®. The topping is a cream cheese frosting to keep bites from getting too sweet. I topped the whole cupcake with a single candy and drizzled it with salted caramel.

Chocolate & Cherry Oatmeal Espresso Cookies

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I wasn’t lying when I said that we make oatmeal cookies all the time. They serve as a great base for many different flavors and can be customized with consistent results. They take less than 15 minutes from bowl to mouth (if you don’t mind burning your tongue) and only dirty one bowl.

This particular flavor combination was inspired by a vacation we took to Seattle. I had heard a lot about Macrina Bakery and we loaded up on baked goods while we were there. We managed to keep ourselves from eating all of the cookies and brought back a Rick’s Apricot Chocolate Espresso cookie. I substituted apricots with dried cherries here and used ground espresso powder.

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Milk Punch

Milk Punch

Somewhere between egg nog and coquito, this drink is one of my favorites to have during the winter season. Even though it is served cold, the spices are very warming.

This version is upgraded a little bit with the addition of a premium liqueur called Banane du Brésil by Giffard. I first tasted it at Repeal Day Ball 2013 and was lucky enough to receive it as a Christmas present from my fiancé. He had to travel all over the DC area since this liqueur is no longer distributed in the area. Thankfully he was able to find one bottle, tucked away in a forgotten dusty corner at Ace Beverage. When combined with Wild Turkey 14 Year Bourbon, it tastes like a bit like a grown up liquified bananas foster.