Unrivaled Chocolate Caramel Treats

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Unrivaled Chocolate Caramel Treats! Do you get weak in the knees over chocolate? You may be tempted once you taste this salty sweet confection. One little piece will have you rolling your eyes in delirium. The crust keeps this bar crunchy, kinda like a shortbread cookie. And the sea salt crystals form a balance that is unrivaled! This recipe has a few shortcuts, so it can be thrown together in a matter of minutes. No baking is required. Don’t hate me!

UNRIVALED CHOCOLATE CARAMEL TREATS

Ingredients:

Club crackers, whole

1 cup crushed Club crackers

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup coconut, flaked

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup butter, melted

16-ounce can of Chocolate Fudge Frosting

1/4 cup pecans, chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt crystals

Instructions:

Put one layer of whole Club crackers on the bottom of a 7″X11″ pan. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar, coconut, milk, and melted butter. Boil ingredients for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; let cool. Form a layer of caramel mixture over crackers. Put another layer of Club crackers on top. Frost with canned frosting, sprinkle with pecans and sea salt crystals. Store in the refrigerator.

Judy’s Pumpkin Sea Salt Caramel Sauce

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Judy’s Pumpkin Sea Salt Caramel Sauce! I always get excited when I receive the gift of food. My friend, Judy, thrilled me beyond measure when she shared this treat from her kitchen. It’s the perfect combination of sea salt caramel and pumpkin purée. It not only transforms a cup of coffee into a pumpkin spice addiction, but it also tastes incredible on a breakfast muffin. If you ask my husband, he’ll say you can eat it over ice cream by the spoonful.

JUDY’S PUMPKIN SEA SALT CARAMEL SAUCE

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon water

3/4 cup heavy cream, room temperature

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/3 cup pumpkin purée

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

In a 2-quart heavy-bottomed pan over medium-low heat, combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring often to avoid scorching. Continue cooking until sugar turns light amber in color and all sugar crystals have dissolved, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add butter and mix well. Change utensils to a heat-resistant whisk and quickly whisk in the cream and pumpkin. Lastly, add cinnamon, nutmeg, sea salt, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth, removing all lumps. Transfer to a jar. Cool at room temperature, seal, and store in the refrigerator.

Yummy Salted Caramel Cookie Dough Bars

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Joy of Eating: Yummy Sea Salt Caramel Cookie Dough Bars! “Honestly, you had me at Salted Caramel”, someone exclaimed to me recently. If you crave chocolate or adore peanut butter, this dessert will grab your attention. Although its golden caramel layer is dotted with mounds of cookie dough infused with white and dark chocolate, underneath lies a layer of peanut butter, oats, and toffee bits. Oh my! You may need a scoop of natural ice cream on top just to cut the sweetness. Trust me when I say, “A little goes a long way!”

YUMMY SALTED CARAMEL COOKIE DOUGH BARS

Ingredients for Cookie Dough:

3/4 cup butter, unsalted

2 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter, creamy

2 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1 cup instant oats

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 cup toffee bits

Ingredients for Caramel Topping:

11 ounce bag of caramels

14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1/4 cup butter

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9″x13″ pan with nonstick oil and line with parchment paper. Using a food processor, cream butter and sugar together. Add peanut butter and blend well. While running, add one egg at a time, thoroughly mixing in each egg. Add vanilla. In a small bowl, combine flour, oats, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add flour mixture to sugar mixture. Fold in chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, and toffee bits. Spread 2/3 of the dough on the bottom of the pan. Meanwhile, unwrap caramels and place in a saucepan with butter and sweetened condensed milk. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until caramels are fully melted. The mixture will be smooth. Slowly pour caramel sauce evenly over dough. Flatten the remaining 1/3 dough like a pancake, cut into squares, roll into balls, and drop randomly over caramel sauce. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle coarse sea salt over all. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

Turtle Cheesecake Cupcakes

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Turtle Cheesecake Cupcakes! Every so often I succumb to my sweet tooth. At those times I admit, I throw caution to the wind. If I’m going to splurge on something sweet, I pull out all the stops. Hence, today’s feature includes a caramel pecan cookie dough crust, a sensuously satisfying vanilla cheesecake center, and a spectacular topping of sea salt caramel, chocolate chips, and sugared pecans that says, “Go all the way, you’re worth it!” Now you can be pampered as well.

TURTLE CHEESECAKE CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

16-ounce package refrigerated Pecan Turtle Cookie Dough, room temperature

16 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, room temperature

14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate morsels

1/2 cup sugared pecans, chopped

1/3 cup caramel butterscotch ice cream topping

Coarse sea salt, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Line muffin tins with cupcake papers to make 24 cupcakes. Cut each square portion of cookie in half. Place one section of dough in the bottom of each paper-lined muffin cup. Bake 12 minutes. Meanwhile, using a hand mixer and a medium-sized bowl, beat the Neufchâtel cheese, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, vanilla extract, and sea salt for 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides as needed. Spoon 3 tablespoons of cheesecake mixture over each cookie crust. Bake 18 minutes longer. Cool cupcakes on a wire rack. Refrigerate Turtle Cheesecake Cupcakes for one hour. Before serving, top each with mini chocolate chips and sugared pecans. Drizzle caramel butterscotch sauce over all. Garnish with a sprinkling of coarse sea salt.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter C

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Daily Special: Caramel-Bacon Spice Cake! For the sweet and savory child inside all of us, this recipe takes the cake. It is a combination of salty, sugary, and spicy…in every bite. Your mouth will think you’re at the circus being stimulated by all the contrasting flavors! Amazingly, they come together with moist results. Hop on board and take a ride with this incredible treat.

CARAMEL-BACON SPICE CAKE

Ingredients for Cake:

1 1/4 cups flour

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon all spice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup butter

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Set aside. In a medium bowl beat eggs, milk, and vanilla until blended. Set aside. Using a mixer, cream butter until light and fluffy. On low speed, slowly alternate the egg mixture and the dry mixture until well blended. Pour batter into a greased 9″x13″ pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until a pick comes out clean.

Bacon-Caramel Frosting:

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups powdered sugar

2 ounces bacon bits

In a medium saucepan, mix brown sugar, milk, and butter. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Let cool for 15 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add powdered sugar and beat until creamy. It should be thick enough to spread on the cake. Top with crisp, crumbled bacon.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter B

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Daily Special: Banana Bottom Parfaits! Three cheers for a dessert that is will make everyone smile. It’s light and creamy with a touch of sweetness, and a fruit finish that has you pushing back from the table and saying, “Ahhhhh!” Whether you choose a mini shot-glass portion or a stemmed goblet, the presentation on this dessert is rated 5-star, according to my husband.

BANANA BOTTOM PARFAITS

Ingredients:

Shortbread cookies, broken into pieces*

1 box 3.4 ounce Banana Cream Instant Pudding

2 cups cold milk

3/4 cup Cool Whip Whipped topping

2 bananas, peeled and sliced

Carmel Pecan Topping (see recipe below)

Toasted Coconut for Garnish

French Vanilla Cookie Straws

* I used Kauai Kookie Banzai bite-sized cookies.

Instructions:

Crush shortbread cookies into coarse crumbs. Using a hand mixer, beat pudding mix and milk in medium bowl for 2 minutes. Fold in whipped topping. Reserve 4 banana slices for garnish. Between the dessert dishes, layer a few banana slices in the bottom of each parfait glass. Add a spoonful of caramel sauce. Next layer the shortbread pieces. Carefully spoon in the banana pudding, making sure the layers remain separated. Repeat layers ending with pudding on top. Refrigerate 15 minutes or longer. Before serving, sprinkle with toasted coconut, garnish with one banana slice, and a cookie straw.

Hint: To prevent sliced bananas from turning brown, toss them with lemon juice. Pat bananas dry with paper towel before using.

Pecan Caramel Sauce

Ingredients:

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup half and half

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 teaspoons Crown Royal

Pinch of sea salt

1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Instructions:

Mix all ingredients except pecans, in a 2-quart sauce pan over medium-low heat. Cook while gently stirring 5-7 minutes, or until thicker. Turn off heat. Add pecans. Pour into jar. Store in refrigerator.

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Yuletide Favs: Judy’s Pumpkin Sea Salt Caramel Sauce!

Eating My Way Through the Holidays! Yuletide Favs: Judy’s Pumpkin Sea Salt Caramel Sauce! I always get excited when I receive the gift of food. My friend, Judy, thrilled me beyond measure when she shared this treat from her kitchen. It’s the perfect combination of sea salt caramel and pumpkin purée. It not only transforms a cup of coffee into a pumpkin spice addiction, but it also tastes incredible on a breakfast muffin. If you ask my husband, he’ll say you can eat it over ice cream by the spoonful.

JUDY’S PUMPKIN SEA SALT CARAMEL SAUCE

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon water

3/4 cup heavy cream, room temperature

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/3 cup pumpkin purée

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

In a 2-quart heavy-bottomed pan over medium-low heat, combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring often to avoid scorching. Continue cooking until sugar turns light amber in color and all sugar crystals have dissolved, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add butter and mix well. Change utensils to a heat-resistant whisk and quickly whisk in the cream and pumpkin. Lastly, add cinnamon, nutmeg, sea salt, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth, removing all lumps. Transfer to a jar. Cool at room temperature, seal, and store in the refrigerator.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter Z

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Zero Candy Bar Cookies! White chocolate fudge has been popular since it was introduced in a candy bar a hundred years ago. At that time it was called the Double Zero Bar due to its “chilling” snowy white color, reminding the public of an ice cube. To this day it is sold in a trademark cool silver wrapper. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, they say. Today’s cookies are nothing short of heavenly. 
ZERO CANDY BAR COOKIES
Ingredients: 

1 cup butter, softened 

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla 

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 eggs

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 sea salt

1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups peanuts, chopped

3.4 ounce Zero Candy Bar, chopped
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar, and brown sugar until creamy. Add vanilla and almond extracts. Beat well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well mixed. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Gradually add to the butter mixture. Stir until blended. Fold in white chocolate chips, mini chocolate chips, peanuts, and Zero Candy Bar pieces. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Drop cookie dough, using a melon ball scoop, onto the baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Let cool for 2 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining dough. Yield: 6 dozen. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet; Letter E

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Be Our Guest: Eagle Brand Caramel Rum Sauce! For caramel-lovers all over the world, this recipe can be your legacy. It’s rich, it’s thick, it’s buttery, and it’s laced with a hint of dark rum that gets the party started. Take a moment to tick off the countless ways you can drizzle caramel sauce over food. Spread it on toast, then sprinkle with cinnamon. Add it to coffee for a smooth latte. Turn it into an apple dip coated with salted peanuts. Whip it into pudding or smoothies. Top off a bowl of ice cream. You get the idea. If your imagination stalls out, simply dip a teaspoon into the jar and enjoy the caramel sauce all by itself. 
EAGLE BRAND CARAMEL RUM SAUCE
Ingredients:

14-ounce can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk

2 tablespoons dark rum

2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Pour sweetened condensed milk into a 9-inch pie plate. Cover with foil. Carefully place the pie plate into a shallow pan. Fill the larger pan with 1/2 inch hot water. It will surround the pie plate. Bake 2 hours or until sauce is thick and caramel in color. Remove larger pan from oven. Take the pie plate out; remove foil and pour caramel into a large bowl. Using a hand mixer, beat on LOW speed for one minute. Add dark rum and vanilla extract. Continue beating on LOW speed until liquid is blended. Increase speed to HIGH for one minute longer. Caramel will appear smooth and creamy. Cool 15 minutes before serving. Store in the refrigerator.