Monday, October 24, 2011

Vanilla Bean Caramel Apples


Sometimes I contemplate writing just about apples, or just about caramel and leaving behind all my heart to just make a good looking 'professional' post. Nope, can't do it. I'm the kind of girl who wears her heart on her sleeve. I am the gal who feels a twinge of heartache for the last apple left on the tree.


Such is life. Breathe in, breathe out, smile. We win some, we lose some. We are given what we need, when we need it.  I slow down every day and feel the magic of something... wether it is the milkweed seeds blowing in the wind or just celebrating the ability to move by throwing the football with my son. Celebrating life feels good....even on a bad day.


Sometimes it takes a fiery argument and a long walk for me to come to my senses. Even that can be a celebration. Little victories, small gains, remembering that sometimes it is okay to be wrong, even though we don't like to admit it. We are wild creatures, aren't we? Big hearts, lovers with tempers, friends who drift away, mothers and fathers, friends who are close, irate neighbors, bad drivers, gentle teachers, big hearts, timid, speak too loud, hear my voice, unkind, jealous, anxious, kind, cooperative, crazy full of love people.


The caramel apple was on my "confectionary to-do list" (yes... I do have one). I was tired of biting into apples that are bland, dry, and covered with a caramel so hard, it will pull your teeth out and send you to the dentist. My husband hates the caramel apples that taste like plastic. Plastic covered apples... hmmmm maybe he's on to something. I digress.  I/we hate bad apples and plastic-like caramel apples. They are no fun for anyone. You end up throwing them into the compost pile. Even the racoons rejects them. This is my attempt to right the wrong of bad caramel apples.

                                                                                                                        
                                                                     
 Vanilla Bean Caramel Apples


1 cup organic non salted butter
1 cup organic dark brown sugar
1 cup organic light brown sugar
1 can 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1 cup light corn syrup
3" of vanilla bean, scored down the middle
20 - medium sized GOOD apples... I used  honey-crisp
sticks for apples

Place parchment paper on large baking sheet. Butter parchment paper. Place sticks into majority of apples.** In large sauce pan (heavy bottomed) put all your ingredients....everything, and turn on medium. Let this come to a boil and stir frequently. Let caramel reach 243 degrees. Pull off burner and let cool slightly. Begin dipping apples. Rotate/twirl caramel around the apple a bit, you will have some wrist action here. Place on parchment paper. Let cool completely. Share with neighborhood children, and adults alike.

**notes
*Bubbles will form in the caramel, do not fret, they will disappear.
*Caramel will probably sit at 228 degrees or so,  until the water is finally out of the mixture, then start watching your thermometer. You don't want your caramel to burn.
*Parchment works better than wax paper.
*Apples are best eaten the day of.
*Apple size will vary, possibly varying how many caramel apples are made. Leave a few apples without sticks, you don't want to ruin a perfectly good apple with a stick when you find out there is no caramel left.
*Save yourself some heartache, use a tasty apple. There is life beyond a granny-smith. Not sure she feels the same.
*Kids enjoy making this, watch out that caramel smarts! Ouch, sugar burns are no fun.
*If you have four year old kids in your neighborhood, they will come knocking at your door asking for seconds! Indulge them!

Loads of caramel apple kisses, and yes, sometimes I am wrong - hoping that if I keep saying it, it will get easier?  xoxo - megan






Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sugar Skulls, Día de los Muertos, Day of the Dead




I have been making sugar skulls since 2003. Every year I pull out all of my supplies, get out all the goodies and pounds of sugar, and spend a manic couple of days creating these calaveras de azúcar. I finished with Gallery Night on Friday where I was at Chiripa demonstrating how to make these sugar laden tributes to the Day of the Dead. We had an amazing turn out. There were kids, college students, teachers and of course many of my dear friends and family in attendance.  I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to  share some of my creativity with others. I have photos of gallery night posted here.


Sometimes, I feel so locked in my own kitchen just bursting at the seams, wishing I had more opportunities like this one. How great to be able to pass on knowledge to others who are just as excited as you are about something!



If you are interested in the "how to" of creating these. Please visit my sugar skull blog post of last year. There are several photos which show you how to mold, and un-mold the skulls. MexicanSugarSkull.com has all the goods you need if you wish to purchase the molds or some of the other items you would need for this project. 


For now, these skulls are heading back over to Chiripa where they will be on sale. I am currently taking orders for skulls, if you are interested please drop me an email. Megan @ foodalution.com  I will also be offering sugar skull parties where people can be merry, and spend an evening learning about the Day of the Dead while making a skull for themselves.


Each skulls comes with it's own heart ♥ - a reminder of the love that we have for those in our lives who have passed on. ♥


Calavera Kisses  - xoxoxo megan


Thursday, October 13, 2011

How to Stencil Numbers onto your Cake


A few days ago when I posted the recipe for the above cake and chocolate frosting, several of you were interested in the "how-to" of getting the numbers onto the cake. Below are photos of how I did it. Enjoy!






Easy does it! Happy Decorating! xoxo megan


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - A heart-full of squash.




Sunday, October 9, 2011

Chocolate Frosting Confetti Cake

Happiness is a chocolate cake ~ (or just loads of good frosting)

Getting Dreamy for my son's birthday. Hitting the double digits and never looking back. Happy day to my one and only boy! 10 years old and loving it!

Most of the time my cakes are made so the person receiving the cake can eat it on their special day. That's what a birthday cake is... right? Not so with this cake.  I have not been feeling well for the past week, hence no posts. I have been resting and taking it easy.  I finally felt well enough to  make my son's cake, albeit five days late. As the saying goes, better late than never!

This cake made me happy, made him happy, it made all of us happy. Who wouldn't be overjoyed to see a large chocolate cake decorated with thousands of brightly colored nonpareils? Sometimes, simple is better.
But this post is really about my son and chocolate frosting. I could care less about what hides underneath the chocolate deliciousness. It was the frosting that made us all happy. (And the little colored crunches.) Kind of makes you feel like you are eating confetti in candy form.

My son:

1) Is hilarious.
2) Has a BIG heart!
3) Loves his family.
4) Is kind to others, especially little ones.
5) Eats most anything I cook.... and raves about it.

The photo on the left sums it all up! Toothy ten year old grin, full of life, and happy that his mother finally made him a cake. I spent all morning long making it and he didn't even notice the finished cake until 1:00. He finally slowed down enough to see the giant number "10" staring back at him from the chocolate frosting."For me?" he asked. Yes, "For you."

My son was a chocolate lover from the very beginning. He was past his due date, I was getting quite large and uncomfortable, yet the midwife asked me to hold on. 'He will come when he is ready' was her mantra. One day, after a long labor inducing type walk, I made myself a treat that I had read could help bring on labor. I brought out my molinillo and made myself a bitter sweet chocolate brew made with fresh chilies, cocoa poweder, water and a bit of sugar. Wa! Did I ever go into labor~ That night, (or early morning) of October 4th, 2001, Deva Sun, was born. Happiness is a new baby boy! Thank you Deva for choosing me as your mama! 
little man with his big sis.




Best Chocolate Frosting - for your favorite cake ~ adapted from America's Test Kitchen 
enough for a two layer cake. 
20 TBS unsalted organic butter, softened, room temp. 
1 cup confectioners sugar
3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa - Valrhona preferred
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz. milk chocolate, melted and cooled to around 85 degrees. - important step, do not add the hot melted chocolate to your frosting, you will ruin it.
In a food processor with the blade attachment process the butter, sugar, cocoa until nice and smooth. Add corn syrup and vanilla and process again. Scrape the sides as needed. Pulse until you have a smooth, delicious and creamy frosting. Taste along the way. Use immediately for best results. I have never stored this, even though you probably can. Just pull out of the refrigerator a good hour before you will be using it. 
This is one of my favorite chocolate frostings. It is more smooth than a ganache, has more curb appeal than chocolate cream cheese frosting and just feels good in your mouth. Creamy, chocolatey deliciousness.


Confetti Kisses and Chocolate Hugs! xoxo megan



Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - a hike of space and time.