Monday, November 21, 2011

Maple, Caramel Sea-Salt Blondies

This is a crowd pleasing, home-run treat. There is a little bit of everything- the salt, the sweet, the chocolate- all in one. Although there seems to be several steps to making these Blondies, this really is, quite an easy recipe to make. It is a whip-it-up kind of dessert.

This recipe is for a substantially sized batch. You can adjust the amounts depending on how many you would like to serve. This bacth will yield about 25 blondies.

3 sticks melted butter
3 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
about 20-25 caramel squares- cut in quarters
Coarse sea salt (for topping)

For topping the blondies you will need an additional cup and a half of milk chocolate chips and the coarse sea salt.

Preheat oven to 350.

Grease one 8x8 pan and one 9x13 pan-- as a little trick I use the wrapper that the butter was in, to grease my pans. There is usally enough left on there to do the job. No waste!
You could use just one large pan but will need to acccount for the additional thickness cooking time.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, transfer to a large bowl-then add the brown sugar and mix well, using a whisk.

When the brown sugar and butter are blended well, add the maple syrup, vanilla and the the eggs-one at a time. (Make sure the mixture has cooled enough to add the don't want the heat from the butter to cook the eggs.) Stir well. Then add the flour mixture, in 3 parts, stirring well after each addition. Finally, add the caramel and chocolate chips.
Pour 1/3 of the mixture in to the 8x8 pan and the remainder in to the other pan. Spread evenly.

 About 15 minutes into baking, take the pans out of the oven and sprinkle with sea salt. You don't want it to cook in completely but you want the blondies to be sticky enough that the salt stays put.

Return pans to the oven until a toothpick comes out just clean. Make sure not to overcook, better to take them out a touch too early and have them a little extra gooey than to overbake them into a brick.
 In a microwave safe bowl, take the rest of the chocolate chips and heat in 30 second segments, stirring between each reset. When completely smooth and evenly melted, remove and spread over top of the blondies.

Let cool until chocolate has become solid. Cut into 1.5" sqaures.

As a caution- If you plan to refrigerate these, make sure you have ample time to let them soften again. The caramel could be too hard for your teeth.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dunkin Donuts Autumn Awesomeness

I love seasonal goodies! I admit it, show me anything holiday or seasonally themed and you've got my attention. Keeping it is the challenge. Whether it's a pumpkin treat around Halloween and Thanksgiving or a Chocolate Peppermint concoction at Christmas- I need quality product at an unbeatable price. The best bang for my buck!! Thankfully I don't have to look far. Dunkin Donuts has sweets, treats and the coffee I need to get me through my hectic day. Living in Florida it's nice to have a change of season right in my coffee cup, even if I can't bundle up and go on a hayride or pick apples in the orchard.

Dunkin’ Donuts now features an array of  autumn inspired creations of delicious food and beverages, available at participating locations. The fall line up includes a Pumpkin Coffee and Latte (available in both hot and iced), new Pumpkin Packaged Coffee available in a special 8-oz size, Pumpkin Donuts, Munchkins™ and Muffins. The brand has also introduced a new Caramel Apple Donut, and for traditional autumn refreshment, Apple Cider served hot or iced.
           Check out Chef Stan Frankenthaler’s recipe highlighting fall’s bounty of flavors. He makse it easy for you to spice up the season right in your own kitchen. One of my favorites is:
Caramel Apple Donut Tart (serves six) 

·         4 Apples (a mixture of Granny Smith and Macintosh)
·         Cider Caramel (see recipe below)
·         Medium Dunkin’ Donuts Apple Cider (14 oz)
·         1 ½ Cups Granulated Sugar
·         4 Tablespoons Butter, plus 2 Tablespoons for Ramekins
·         4 Dunkin’ Donuts Caramel Apple Donuts
·         6 Ramekins
·         Heat oven to 350F.
·         Using the 2 Tablespoons of butter, lightly grease each ramekin.
·         Prepare the caramel sauce (below).
·         Peel the apples, cut each in half and then slice into thin crescent shapes.
·         Layer the apples into the bottom of each ramekin, making sure to begin layering around the outer edge in a circle and finishing in the center. Place a second layer on top (the apples in the end will be the top of the dessert, so you want to make sure to keep them layered nicely).
·         Cut each donut in half, creating two crescent shape pieces. Taking each half, slice into thirds, again each piece should be crescent shaped. Set aside.
·         Once the caramel sauce is made, divide among the 6 ramekins and pour the sauce over the apples.
·         Top the apples and caramel sauce with the donuts. Layering the donuts again around the edge, crescent side out (preferably the glazed side of the donut facing out), covering the entire top of the dish.
·         Cover in aluminum foil, bake for approximately 30 minutes, then remove the aluminum foil and bake for another 10 minutes.
·         Remove the dishes from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
·         Using a knife, gently run it around the edge of each ramekin.
·         Using a plate in one hand place on top of the apple donut tart, with the other hand, flip the tart and plate over. Remove the ramekin, the apple donut tart should slide right out and you will now have the apples on top.
·         Serve with ice cream or whipped cream. 
Tell us what your favorite coffee and baked goods combo is!
Leave a comment below for a chance to win a Dunkin' Donuts gift card. Winner will be chosen at random. Contest closes at 12pm on Monday, November 14, 2011.

Don't forget to check out for the latest and greatest. Also, the DD Rewards program is awesome!! I have already received coupons for a free coffee just for signing up!! SCORE!