Recipe review: Homemade Caramels by Tastes better from scratch

In the spirit of the coming holidays, I decided to try out a recipe for homemade caramels.

Homemade Caramels

When I was younger, my mum would buy a large jar of caramel candies. I would share them with my brothers and I remember this so vividly because I loved these caramel treats. Eventually my taste changed slightly and my love for sweets moved from caramel to chocolate.

In fact, the initial thought of making caramels came to me when I decided to bake caramel-stuffed chocolate cookies. I needed to make the caramel candies myself so that I could guarantee the softness of the caramels even after they had been baked inside to cookies.

I chose to make and review this recipe for 2 reasons.
1. This recipe uses evaporated milk instead of cream (I had only milk at the time).
2. The picture on the website convinced me.  The caramels looked so delicious.

The recipe and Instructions

The recipe for making these homemade caramels calls for simple ingredients that you probably have already. The ingredient you may not have in your pantry is 'corn syrup'. However, you need it to make  this recipe.

Any sugar or candy tutorial requires in depth and detailed explanations. This is because, working with sugar is tricky and numerous things can go wrong. The instructions for making this recipe were perfect. The way things should be added was stated. The period of time each stage of the cooking process would take was stated as well. Hence, this recipe is great for amateurs at working with sugar.

While most candy or sweets recipes require that you use a thermometer. Here, they explain how to test for doneness even if you do not have a candy thermometer.

Lastly, to help those who have little understanding of what color the candy should have or what the cooking process looks like, there is a video showing how to make Homemade caramels on the website.

Homemade Caramels

The texture

Caramel candies vary in texture. Sometimes, they are quite hard and chewy. But, when the caramel is not cooked long enough, the caramel may stay in a liquid state or melt at room temperature.

In the instructions, it is recommended that you boil your caramel until it reaches 238 degrees F. I boiled my caramel till it reached 240 degrees F simply because its quite hot where i live. When it reached 240 degrees F, I did the cold water test.

After leaving the caramel to set overnight, I cut them into small pieces.
The result was a chewy but soft caramel that did not hurt my teeth. The top of the caramel became slightly melted after being at room temperature for a few hours.

The next time that I make this recipe, I will cook the caramel a bit longer so that it stays hard at room temperature..
On the plus side, crystallization did not occur even when the caramel was at room temperature.

The taste

This tasted like a simple caramel candy. It was buttery, and sweet. However this candy does not have any frills and extra flavors.

You can add other flavors and spices to the homemade caramels recipe from Tastes better from scratch. This can help you get various flavor variations of your caramel candy.
When using liquids to flavor your caramel, you will need to be cautious of the amount of liquid you use.

Note: To alter the flavor of the caramel, you can use extracts or infuse your milk before making your caramels.

Homemade Caramels

Do I recommend the Homemade Caramels recipe by Tastes better from scratch ?

Yes, I recommend this recipe. Making this recipe takes time and you will need to stir constantly but, it is worth the effort. Once you master this recipe, you will be able to flavor it differently, use dry add ins, and enrobe your caramels in chocolate.

The is the perfect base recipe for caramel candy. Significantly, you must take the weather of the place you reside in into consideration while cooking your caramel.

The holidays are upon us, make a large quantity of these and share them with family and friends.

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Recipe review: Bourbon barrel-aged blondies by King Arthur Flour

I have a thing for baking with booze. So, I am always looking for delicious recipes that are made with beer, wine, liquers or spirits. Hence, when I saw these Bourbon barrel-aged blondies by King Arthur Flour, I decided to try out the recipe.

Bourbon barrel-aged blondies

Note: I used a regular beer that I had in my fridge to test this recipe.
Today I will review the Bourbon barrel-aged blondies by King Arthur Flour and tell you if you should try out this recipe.

The recipe and Instructions

Bourbon barrel-aged blondies

To make the bourbon barrel-aged blondies by King Arthur Flour, you need basic baking ingredients, beer, and some nuts. I omitted the nuts listed in the recipe because I do not like nuts in baked goods.

If you want to make this blondies recipe at a whim, you will be able to do so. If you do not have a bourbon barrel-aged beer, you can replace it with another liquid of choice. However, you should take the consistency of the liquid you choose into consideration.

The instructions for making these Bourbon barrel-aged blondies are easy to follow.
To make these blondies, you will need to melt the butter and mix in the sugar. After the butter and sugar have cooled down, whisk in the beer and eggs until everything is well combined. Finally, you stir in the flour, pour your batter into your baking tin and bake the blondies. The blondie batter bakes quickly and needs to be removed from the oven immediately the baking time elapses.

If you leave these blondies in the oven after they are done, your blondies will be dry.

The Texture

Bourbon barrel-aged blondies

The Bourbon barrel-aged blondies by King Arthur Flour is dense but not fudgy. Instead, the blondies are dense without being heavy or having a gummy mouthfeel.

I have made the recipe twice and both times the blondies were slightly dry. To counter this, I will add an extra tablespoon or two of beer or butter when I make this recipe again.
If I had used the nuts the recipe called for, the blondies would have a slight texture variation.

Also, the blondies did not have the crackly top like the picture shown on the KingArthur Flour recipe page. To improve the appearance and texture of my blondies, I sprinkled some sugar onto the top crust  and heated it using a blow torch.

The taste

I tasted the blondies a few hours after i took it out of the oven and it was delicious. However, I left it for another 12 hours and tasted it again to see how the flavor had changed.

The Bourbon barrel-aged blondies by King Arthur Flour is moderately sweet. The prominent flavors are beer and the caramel notes of the sugar. The butter added a slight but important layer in the flavor profile of these blondies.

I reduced the beer before baking with it so the flavor was intense. If you serve this to people without informing them of the beer in the recipe, they may think that you added a little yeast to the blondies. While yeast and blondies do not sound appealing together, these blondies taste amazing because of the complex smooth yeasty flavor.

The beer used In this recipe adds a flavor that will leave people guessing. If you enjoy nuts in your baked goods, you should add them as directed in the recipe.

Bourbon barrel-aged blondies

If you want to switch up the recipe a little, you can drizzle your blondie batter with a little salted caramel before baking. Too much caramel will change the way the blondies bake and alter the flavor too much.

The Bourbon barrel-aged blondies by King Arthur Flour is a delicious treat because of its beautifully balanced flavors and sweetness. It tastes even better the next day.

Significantly, the type of beer you use to make this recipe, will alter the flavor of the blondies.

Do I recommend the Bourbon barrel-aged blondies by King Arthur Flour?

Yes, I do. If you love blondies, you should try out this recipe. Importantly, if you have a sweet tooth, this may not be sweet enough for you. Still, if you love to try boozy desserts or alcohol flavored baked good, I believe you will like this recipe.

There are so many add-ins you can use to alter this recipe to meet your needs.

I will be adding this to my faves and i will update this review when I have made this recipe with changes.

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Recipe Review: Pineapple Upside-down cake by King Arthur flour

Today, I will be reviewing a pineapple upside-down cake recipe from King Arthur Flour.

Pineapple Upside-down cake

For those who are unfamiliar with this dessert, Pineapple upside-down cake refers to a type of pineapple cake. The bottom of the baking pan is lined with pineapples, and a mixture of butter and sugar before you pour the cake batter into the pan. After the cake is done baking and Is turned out of the baking pan, the pineapple and caramel become the top of the cake. Hence, the cake is called a ‘pineapple upside-down cake’.

One appeal of the upside-down cake is the pineapple arrangement at the bottom. The pineapple flavored caramel from the cooked butter and sugar at the bottom of the pan and the sponge that soaks up the pineapple and caramel syrup also makes this a delicious cake.

The challenge of making an amazing pineapple upside-down cake lies in 'finding a balance of sweet and well flavored'. I avoided pineapple upside-down cakes in the past because I found the caramel and pineapples at the bottom to be cloyingly sweet.

A few days ago, I found this pineapple upside-down cake recipe from King Arthur Flour. The cake looked so beautiful that I put aside my aversion to cloyingly sweet treats and made the recipe.

Below is my recipe review for the Pineapple upside-down cake by King Arthur Flour

The ingredients and instructions

Any time I choose a recipe to review, I check the ingredients to make sure that the required ingredients are easy to find. The ingredients in this pineapple upside-down cake recipe are essential baking ingredients that you probably have in your pantry. The only things that you may not have are the pineapple pieces and coconut extract. Fortunately, the coconut extract is optional.

The instructions for making this cake were clear and straightforward. The temperatures and baking time for the stated pan size were  clearly stated as well.

If you are not a baker or do not love baking, the instructions for this recipe are well explained and easy to follow. I recommend that you read the recipe completely before baking this cake.

Pineapple Upside-down cake

The texture

Most pineapple upside-down cakes have 2 textures. The texture from the top of the cake and the second type of texture is from the cake.

The top of the cake is the baked pineapple and caramel mixture. There is a slight crunch from the pineapple and stickiness from the cooked brown sugar and butter.

The cake itself is textured like a simple vanilla cake. The part of the cake where the pineapple, caramel, and pineapple pieces met had soaked up a bit of the pineapple and caramel syrup. Hence, that tiny part of the cake was like a pudding.
The cake was soft but not fluffy, it was not dense either. I felt like this was a good texture for a pineapple upside-down cake. However, I found the cake a little dry.

When the pineapple, caramel and cake were eaten together, the dryness was not as prominent.
Next time i make this, I will start checking for doneness about 5-10 minutes before the baking time elapses.

The taste

If you love flavorful desserts, you will love this cake. All the flavors used in this recipe compliment each other beautifully. The prominent flavors in this recipe are the pineapple, brown sugar, butter, and spice.

When I ate this cake, the first flavor I identified was the pineapple, then the brown sugar, spices, and butter. I was barely able to taste the coconut extract because the other flavors overpowered the flavor of the coconut. If you want a prominent coconut flavor, you may have to double the quantity of extract you add to the batter.

The problem I had with this recipe was that the brown sugar topping made the cake cloyingly sweet. If you are not a fan of sweets, you should use half the quantity of brown sugar topping used to make the cake.
Pineapple Upside-down cake

This cake is delicious because of the flavors. The recipe for the topping of this cake calls for cinnamon and ginger, however, I used a five-spice mix instead. The spice is what makes the topping so delicious and while I found the cake too sweet, I could not stop licking the pan that I used to mix up the caramel topping.

Lastly, aside from the amazing flavor of this cake , the smell was intoxicating. While this cake was baking, the smell of pineapples, caramel and spice wafted all around the house and gave me a warm fuzzy feeling.

Do I recommend the Pineapple Upside-down cake recipe by King Arthur flour?

Yes, I do. While I feel that the cake was a little dry, the flavor of this cake makes all the difference. I recommend that you make this and check for doneness five minutes early. If you like tropical-flavored and scented cakes, fruity desserts or cakes with texture. This cake is for you.

Even if you do not like all these wonderful things, bake this cake for the scent alone. If I could buy this as a scented candle, I definitely would.

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