Sugar shock, or What I did on my summer vacation

The last two weeks have been absolute bliss: a much-needed vacation, without too much worky work, and with lots of time to do just what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it.  That has meant primarily two things: spending time with my sisters, and playing around with new confections.

Caramel and chocolate are key features of most anything I make (not counting the 3-year-long marshmallow phase), so finding new recipes that utilize those confectionery resources is always a treat.  My go-to recipe for caramels has been a wonderful salted cream caramel with which I fill my very favorite mold:

salted cream caramel

I used to look for reasons to make these.  They are the kind of caramels that enforce a moment of silence on those who partake of them.  In fact, I have been known to bring a supply of them to the office with me, as they are sometimes the only way to quiet restive colleagues, if only for a moment.   Molded bonbons, particularly with such a fluid filling, can be a bit tricky for an amateur like me, so I have been looking for a more solid caramel of equal lusciousness that I could cut and dip.  Try as I might, I could not find a suitable substitute – too sticky, too runny, flavor not robust enough – nothing even came close to that stop-you-in-your tracks caramel flavor and silky texture.

Enter David Lebovitz (not in person, or anything; I’m not that lucky).  More precisely, enter his salted butter caramel recipe.  I made it yesterday, complete with the holy trinity of risky moves (brand new recipe; unfamiliar ingredient – plugra, which I had never used and which I bought just for the occasion; and new kitchen appliance – induction burner).  The result?  I’d say pretty good: Mary came over for a supper of slow-cooked beef minestrone and whole-grain toasts with herb butter and parmesan, and we tried the barely-set caramel for dessert.  Mary fell into a sort of fugue state; the only words she could muster for a few moments were, “These are my new best friend…”

I totally forgot to take any pictures of the process or the pre-finished product, but I did get these:

They are the perfect caramel – buttery, salty, burnt-sugary, a little gooey, but not at all stick-in-your-teethy.  We’ll see if they have the same silence-inducing effect when I bring them into the office for post-vacation re-entry day on Tuesday…

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What it’s all about

Mary and I (name’s Patty) are sisters, and not just because we share a set of parents.  I suspect if we hadn’t been born into the same family, we would have found each other at some point in our lives anyway – we’re that kind of sisters.  Life sisters.

This blog was born in my living room, on a bellyful of late-summer ladies’ lunch and ice cold chardonnay, with the idea that we would each blog our culinary adventures every now and then.  We’re hoping we can get Chris – life sister, lunch partner, and fantastic cook and baker – to join the fun, but she’s not committing to anything.

Mary leans savory, I lean sweet, and both of us throw ourselves into our cooking and confecting with delirious abandon.  Neither of us has blogged before (unless Mary is hiding something from me…), but we’re both as comfortable with a keyboard as we are with a chef’s knife.  Let’s see where this goes!

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