Salted Caramel Mocha Fudge

Christmas baking is in full swing around here and I don’t know about you, but I can’t let the season pass without making some fudge! In the past I’ve made plain chocolate and peanut butter fudges for our annual family goodie gifts, but I wanted something a little fancier this year. Enter this little beauty of a recipe. I’m a big fan of the salty/sweet combination lately and I looooove the Starbucks drink of similar flavors. This fudge was no disappointment! Super rich chocolate, a sweet drizzle of caramel and a little sprinkle of sea salt. Are you drooling yet? Bonus- this recipe makes a HUGE batch, so you’ll have plenty to share… If you really want to share. 😉

Ingredients:

Makes (1) 15 in x 10 in x 1 in pan, or ~ 5 pounds

  • 4 cups granulated sugar 
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder
  • 1 bag milk chocolate chips
  • 1 bag semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate 
  • 25 (almost 1 bag) marshmallows 
  • 1 bag (2 cups) soft caramels
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Sea salt, for sprinkling

Directions:

First, line your pan with wax paper- enough that some hangs over the sides. In a medium sauce pan, combine the sugar, milk, butter, vanilla, and espresso powder over medium-high heat.

 Stir continuously and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat slightly and keep at a rolling boil for about 2 minutes (keep stirring!).  

 
In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine all of the chocolate and the marshmallows. 

  Pour the boiling hot mixture over the top… 

 Then beat with the whisk attachment for 2-3 minutes. You’ll have to stop and scrape the bowl a couple of times- it’s pretty sticky!  

 While your fudge is mixing, combine the caramels and heavy cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between, until completed melted and smooth.  

 Now, the fun stuff. 😜 Pour that big ol’ bowl of chocolate into the pan, spreading evenly. Then take the caramel and drizzle over the top…  

 And swirl into the chocolate with the top of a knife.  

 Then sprinkle with sea salt. Oooooh, mama.  

 Resist the urge to eat spoonfuls of this piping hot tray of deliciousness and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight, then slice into squares. I got between 60-70ish per pan and could have gotten more… The squares honestly don’t need to be huge; this fudge is RICH. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.  

  

 

 Recipe from Shugary Sweets.

Salted Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes

When thinking about flavor profiles that go well together, I don’t know any I don’t automatically go to sweet + salty, . Sweet, yes. Salty, yes. Together? Oh yes. Throw some buttery smooth caramel sauce into the mix and you have one decadent little cupcake. I’ve found several salted chocolate caramel cupcake recipes and they almost always use a caramel buttercream. While I’m sure it’s delicious, I wanted to stick with a chocolate-caramel ganache (inspired by the Flying Cupcake, of course). Have a tall glass of milk or a cup of coffee on hand because ooooo-whee are they rich!

Ingredients:
For the caramel sauce:
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
¼ tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
For the ganache:
1 lb semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups heavy cream, room temperature
For the cupcakes:
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsps cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups water
1/3 cup plus 3 tbsps vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Sea salt, for sprinkling

Directions:
Start by making the caramel sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar, cooking until it foams and turns an amber color.
/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/6e6/67857438/files/2014/12/img_3322.jpg

Off the heat, stir in the heavy cream, vanilla, and salt. Set aside to cool. Now the ganache! I know, I know, this all seems backwards. But you have to give the caramel time to cool and the ganache time to set up… Trust me, I’m doing you a solid here. 😉 Add your chocolate to a microwave safe bowl and heat in 30 second intervals, stirring between. When completely melted and smooth, add your warmed heavy cream and blend well.
/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/6e6/67857438/files/2014/12/img_3321.jpg

Add some of the caramel sauce (I’d guesstimate about 1/4 cup, more if you’d like more caramel flavor) and blend. Set aside until thick and spreadable. *Note: this can take up to 4 hours…do NOT put in the fridge to speed this up. You’ll end up with lumpy ganache!*
/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/6e6/67857438/files/2014/12/img_3323.jpg

Now that those are done, let’s make some cuppy cakes! Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare cupcake pans with 24 liners. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder. Add the water, oil, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla and mix until smooth. Fill 2/3 full of batter and bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Transfer to wire rack and let cool. Once cool, put some of your caramel sauce into a pastry bag with a small round tip or a squirt bottle and inject a fair amount into each cupcake. This can get messy!
/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/6e6/67857438/files/2014/12/img_3333.jpg

Once you’ve got your cupcakes injected with caramel, pipe thickened ganache onto cupcakes. Sprinkle each with sea salt and serve!
/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/6e6/67857438/files/2014/12/img_3346.jpg
Caramel sauce recipe from Annie’s Eats, ganache recipe from Real Simple, cake recipe from Rachael Ray magazine.

Salted Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Bars

Ooo-whee, are these bars GOOD. Like, really, really, ridiculously good. They’re also pretty rich, so slicing them small is a must. Also a must? A hot cup of coffee. Not that I’ve ever eaten these for breakfast…

Anywho. They’re a bit time consuming to make as you have to make the cookie layer, then the caramel, and then the caramel has to set… You get the picture. The end result is soooo worth it though. Buttery shortbread dissolves into sweet vanilla caramel, all topped with a rich chocolate layer that’s sprinkled with sea salt. Are you drooling yet? These have earned the nickname “homemade Twix” amongst my friends and coworkers, which is fairly accurate. The cookie’s just not quite so crunchy. Not a bad thing! I highly recommend these as your next baking project.

Ingredients:
For the shortbread layer:
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar

For the caramel layer:
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp light corn syrup
2 (14 oz.) cans sweetened condensed milk

For the chocolate layer:
8 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tsp light corn syrup
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Sea salt for sprinkling

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper. To make the shortbread layer, start by whisking together the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until well blended. With the mixer on low speed blend in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Transfer the dough to the baking pan and press in an even layer over the bottom of the pan. Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.
IMG_3066.JPG
To make the caramel layer, combine the butter, sugar, corn syrup and condensed milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, stirring constantly. Continue simmering and stirring until the mixture turns an amber color and thickens slightly (as you can see, I let mine sit a little too long and I got some sticky pieces on the bottom).
IMG_3068.JPG

Pour the mixture over the shortbread layer, smooth the top, and allow to cool completely and set. Pop it in the fridge to expedite this part if you please!
IMG_3070.JPG

IMG_3071.JPG

I make the chocolate glaze the lazy microwave way, but you can obviously do it the proper double-boiler way if you choose. Here’s how I do it: combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter in a microwaveable bowl.
IMG_3080.JPG

Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring between, until butter is completely melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy.
IMG_3081.JPG

Pour evenly over the caramel layer and use a spatula to smooth the top. You get no points for prettiness; it’ll taste just as good either way. 😉
IMG_3086.JPG

Allow to cool for a minute or two and then sprinkle with fleur de sel. Chill, covered, until ready to slice and serve.
IMG_3087.JPG

Recipe adapted slightly from Annie’s Eats.

Caramel Brownies

You know that one thing you make that’s always a hit and everyone asks for when there’s a pitch-in? These are that thing. My work crew absolutely loves these brownies, and with good reason. The brownie recipe itself is fairly basic, but a layer of caramel filling really sets them apart. Slice ’em up small because they’re pretty rich, but I can guarantee just one won’t be enough! 😉

Ingredients:
For the brownies:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

For the caramel filling:

  • 14 oz. caramel candies, unwrapped
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with foil and grease the foil well with butter or cooking spray. Combine the butter and chocolate in a small bowl.

20140705-084836-31716212.jpg

  • Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring each time, until smooth and glossy.

20140705-085057-31857884.jpg

  • Whisk in the sugar, eggs and vanilla.

20140705-085133-31893450.jpg

  • Stir in the flour and salt just until combined.

20140705-085216-31936747.jpg

  • Spread about half of the brownie batter in the bottom of the pan in an even layer.

20140705-085358-32038540.jpg

  • Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, keeping the oven set for the same temperature, and let cool for 20 minutes.

20140705-085459-32099726.jpg

  • Just before your bottom layer is finished cooling, make your caramel filling. Combine the candies and cream in another small bowl.

20140705-085631-32191211.jpg

  • Heat, stirring frequently, until melted and smooth.

20140704-201838-73118862.jpg

  • Immediately spread the caramel mixture over the bottom brownie layer.

20140705-094100-34860569.jpg

  • Spread the rest of the brownie batter over the top of the caramel layer. This can be a bit difficult, and you may end up swirling the caramel and batter in some spots. However, I’ve never had a complaint so I refuse to change my technique. 🙂 Ha!

017e690211afad13c56b3f981db3cd2f077444f6ad

  • Sprinkle the chocolate chips  on top. Bake for 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before slicing and serving… and I mean COMPLETELY, or you will be fighting a losing battle with some ooey, gooey goodness.
  • Lift the brownies from the pan using the edges of the foil. Remove the foil and cut the brownies into individual squares. Store in an airtight container.

*I have no photos of the sliced brownies because they were packed up and eaten THAT quickly. They’re that good!

20140705-093429-34469230.jpg

Recipe slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats