What an incredibly fun weekend its been!
Friday night, Lizz, her mom and I went to a book signing for one of our favorite authors: Jen Lancaster! If you haven't read any of her books, you need to. Like, now. Her first book, Bitter is the New Black, was one of the first books I can remember that had me laughing so hard I couldn't read straight! We obviously had a horrible time...
I'm almost halfway through her latest book, and I can already tell its among the funniest! Never fear, a true blogger at all times, we brought her some "Bitch" brand wine and I slipped her my blog business card... she even asked me for my tag line and complimented my cupcake necklace. Brushes with fame are so fun! We followed the book signing with a visit to The Cheesecake Factory in the Hancock Center. I swear, I only go to Cheesecake Factory with Lizz!
Lizz and I both started with a lovely glass of Riesling
I got stuffed chicken tortillas, Lizz's mom got shepherd's pie, and Lizz got Chicken Madiera. The photos are in that order:
I love that Lizz knew to hand me the plate with the "pretty" side facing, and she even rearranged the asparagus so it looked nice. (Side note: she has also taken to sending me photos of fun meals she makes! Methinks a guest post is in order...hint, hint). We headed home after 11 p.m. and I walked in the door of our house well after midnight.
I spent Saturday running errands with Adam, and then Saturday night working on my mom's belated Mother's Day present. Since last week, we went to visit with Adam's grandmother, my mom and I did Mother's Day today, so I spent yesterday making something special for her.
Any ideas as to what that's a jar of? Let me turn it around for you...
Still no? Ok, ok, I'll just tell you. They're caramels. Homemade vanilla-maple and salted dark chocolate caramels. And they're buttery, sweet, gooey and delicious... what, you want to know how to make them?
No problem! I found a few recipes online, and they all had a few things in common: butter, sugar, cream, and salt if desired. The cooking temperature was the same: 255 degrees.
Dark Chocolate Salted Caramels
Makes about 60 caramels
- 2 c. heavy cream
- 10 oz. good dark chocolate, chopped (I used Green & Black Organic 85%)
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 c. white sugar
- 1/2 c. light corn syrup
- 1/4 c. water
- 1/2 tsp. fleur de sel (or other flaked or fine sea salt), plus some for sprinkling
- 3 Tbsp. butter, cut into 1 Tbsp. chunks
- necessary utensil: candy thermometer
You'll need a large pot and a small pot (at least 5 qt. and a smaller one). Heat the cream to boiling and then add the chopped chocolate. Allow to sit, add the vanilla, then stir well until the chocolate is melted and incorporated. Set aside, off the heat. Place the remaining ingredients in the large pot. Make sure to attach the candy thermometer to the side of the pot, then bring the sugar mixture to a boil. Don't stir it, but every once in a while, swirl the pot. Bring the sugar mixture up to 255*F (or hard ball stage) and then slowly pour in the cream. The mixture will foam and bubble up, but then calm down. Bring it back up to 255*F, and then pour into a parchment-lined 9x13 baking pan. Allow to cool 10 minutes, then sprinkle with additional fleur de sel, and then allow to cool at least 2 hours. Cut into small sections (I used a pizza cutter) and then wrap in pieces of waxed paper.
Variations: Eliminate the chocolate, replace with 1/4 c. maple syrup and scraped vanilla bean.
Some more pictures, because I'm proud of myself...
I'm really glad I saved about 10 of the chocolate ones in the freezer for "emergencies"... Oh! And my mom loved them!! Our Mother's Day was great fun: shopping at NY&Co, wandering around WIlliams-Sonoma, lunch at Sushi Station, and then grocery shopping at Caputo's, the best market ever. Yes, we went grocery shopping...we both get the same goofy thrill over gorgeous produce and unique products!
Happy late Mother's Day mom! I love you!
Last thing: The winner of the $25 Wal-Mart gift card giveaway: