caramel Tag

OMBRE SALTED CARAMEL FLAN POPSICLES

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IN A COOK’S UNIVERSE, THE BAKER’S REALM IS A MYSTICAL AND DANGEROUS WORLD

Recently, someone asked me what’s the typical number of trials I have to go through before arriving on a satisfying recipe.  And to that I said, “Two, I guess?  Most likely?”.  Well… in all honesty, I didn’t mean to lie.  I just forgot to ask, if they were asking the cook?  Or the baker?

I’m definitely more cook than a baker.  And as a more-cook, relatively speaking, I have a more optimistic repertoire of savoury things where I have demonstrated slightly more competence in not screwing up.  But in reality, if I were to take into account of the other side of the fence as well, the wild and parched, the untamed and unpredictable, the land of where the sweet things are… then my friend, I don’t think I have hairs enough to count my failures.  In a cook’s universe, the realm of the bakers is a mystical and dangerous world, governed by a whole different set of laws and physics and creatures who look beautifully from afar like a herd of pink unicorns, but once approached, will vaporize into a cloud of black smokes and swallow my expectations in whole.  It is scary.  And it is real.  And it is a place, unless guided by other wizards specializing in this black magic, that I do not like to enter lightly.

But sometimes the universe, especially my universe, is not perfect.  Sometimes there’s no precedent, or magic potion to follow for what I wanted to create, or more accurately, re-create.  For this instance, a childhood treat that Jason and I practically grew up with and hold dearly in our heart, the caramel flan popsicle (or as they called it in Taiwan, “pudding popsicle”) that we used to be able to buy in almost every convenient stores, but mysteriously vanished in the past decade.  And in times like these, I just had to hood up, bid the loved ones farewell, climbed over the fence, into the woods, and hoped that something, anything, would make it back in one piece.

Well, it didn’t.

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BRIOCHE WAFFLE STUFFED W/ GROUND PEANUT BRITTLE

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THEY MELTED… THEY BUBBLED… THEN THEY GOT ABSORBED IN THE SWELLING CUSHIONS OF THE CRISPY EDGED, SOFT HEARTED, BUTTERY AND CHEWY BRIOCHE WAFFLES

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You know how like in the movies, when they really want to make you feel sorry for a certain character, let it be the sweetest human being or the most hated villain, doesn’t matter, that all they have to do is to show you a scene where he/she comes home to a dimly lit kitchen, where his/her inner loneliness get stripped naked in front of an even emptier fridge?  Yes, empty fridge.  What is it about an empty fridge that so tenderly strokes our sympathy?  I mean that trick works every time.  I mean, even the most stone-hearted audiences would feel something, must feel something, if they see… I don’t know, Darth Vader, after slaughtering a whole village of Ewoks, comes back to his space-chamber behind closed doors, and starts eating a half-empty jar of mustard with stale crackers (with that labored breathing oh god I’m gonna cry…).  I mean, that shit is just sad.

But lately, I’m starting to feel the opposite about my fridge.

I think, no, I believe, that if I were to take a photo from the inside of my fridge at any given moment in the past several months, it would probably strike a close resemblance of a jacuzzi pool, inside the Playboy’s Mansion, on a New Year’s Eve in the 80’s, right before countdown.  Or at the very least, the kind of chaotic and repulsive glut that I would imagine it to be…  There had been clearly some management issues, I admit.  It had gotten to a point where I actually cracked an egg with just my index finger, in the failed effort to rest it in between a head of cabbage and a jar of peanut butter, which sat on top a pot of stew next to 3 bags of kimchi.  I mean, it’s not the same kind of sadness, but this shit is just as bad.

So yesterday, I had to do something.  I committed what I would call, an inventory genocide, where I killed half of the population inside my fridge, ruthlessly, purely based on the justification of… well, illogical madness.  Anything that I couldn’t remember who or what or when or how it got here, or simply because it looked at me the wrong way, must go.  Just 5 minutes in, I could already see a ray of the fridge-light breaking through a cloud of blackened asparagus.  But just when I was red-eyed amidst my efficient bloodbath, I reached deep down to a corner of the fridge, and something stopped me dead on my track.

A box of forgotten but pristinely delicious, ground peanut brittle from the making of this.  I couldn’t… I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  It looked so innocent, so sinless, in fact, completely filled with scrumptious roasted peanut flavours and practically, did I mention, ground salted caramels!  What kind soulless human being would I be if I put ground salted caramel to sleep!?  I must figure out a way to do them justice… and in a way, looking back now, I think that I have always known what it would be, the most buttery brioche waffle I have been wanting to sink my fingers in for quite some time now.  They call it, the liège waffles, the Belgian waffles, the yeasted dough practically drowned in butter then strangled with pearl sugar, browned and melted in between the searing teeth of a hot waffle-griddle, and it sounded just like the beautiful, alternative death for my well deserved victim.  I mean, what is a pile of ground roasted peanuts and crushed salted caramel, but the perfect brioche stuffing?

They melted… they bubbled… then they got absorbed into the swelling cushions of the crispy edged, soft hearted, buttery and chewy brioche waffles, while the rest of the undeserving fridge-scraps watched, howling in jealousy.  Not a bad way to go… not a bad way to go at all.

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BRIOCHE WAFFLE STUFFED W/ GROUND PEANUT BRITTLE

Yield: 8 small waffles

Brioche/liege waffle dough is halved and slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

    BRIOCHE/LIEGE WAFFLE DOUGH:
  • 1/3 cup (80 grams) whole mik
  • 2 tbsp (30 grams) water
  • 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp (12 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp instant dry yeast
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 7 tbsp (100 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • FOR STUFFING:
  • Ground peanut brittle as instructed here, or you can ground any type of store-bought brittles the same way
  • Honey to drizzle

Instructions

  1. TO MAKE THE DOUGH: Combine whole milk and water in a glass, then microwave on high for approx 50 seconds. It should feel very warm but doesn't burn, around 110F/43C (this will help the dough start faster). Transfer into a stand-mixer bowl with dough-hooks, or large bowl with hand-held mixer with dough-hooks, along with all-purpose flour, egg, light brown sugar, instant dry yeast, vanilla extract and salt. Knead on low until all ingredients are evenly incorporated, then on medium speed for 3 min until smooth and elastic. The dough should be slightly sticky at this point. Start kneading in the butter, 1 tbsp at a time. Only add the next when the previous addition has been fully incorporated, about 2 min for each tbsp. Once all the butter's been added, knead on high speed for 3~4 min, until very shiny, smooth and elastic.
  2. Cover with plastic-wrap and let proof for 1:30 ~ 2 hours, until fully doubled, then punch out the air and transfer to a working surface (the dough is so buttered up, you won't need to flour), and divide into 8 equal portions. Flatten 1 portion out into a flat disk about 1/4" thick (7 mm), then set on top of a small bowl (the natural dent will make the stuffing easier). Place 2 tbsp of ground peanut brittle in the center, then bring the edges of the dough together over the top and pinch tightly to seal. Try to make sure there's no holes or tears. Set aside and repeat with the rest (if there seems to be butter oozing out of the dough, it's totally fine).
  3. You can now either let the stuffed brioche proof again at room-temperature for 40 min, or space them over a sheet-pan covered with plastic-wrap and leave in the fridge overnight. I did this at room-temperature, but the overnight-method will result in better flavours. The brioche will expand and almost doubled again.
  4. TO COOK: Preheat your Belgian-style waffle-griddle on medium-high heat. There's no need to oil the griddle. Place 1 brioche in the center and cook according to the manufacture's instruction, for about 5~6 min until golden browned on both sides. If any peanut brittle oozed out of the waffle during cooking, just wipe them away before cooking the next. Place the cooked brioche on a cooling rack and repeat with the rest. Serve immediately with drizzled honey.
https://ladyandpups.com/2015/06/26/brioche-waffle-stuffed-w-ground-peanut-brittle/

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THE PARADOX OF ICE CREAM-SPRING ROLL W GROUND PEANUT BRITTLE

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…BUT IT DOESN’T STOP THERE.  THE REAL MIND-BLOWING PART IS THE LAST DESCENDING SPRIGS OF THE UNIMAGINABLE… FRESH CILANTRO LEAVES

If you were those who like to travel to unfamiliar places, see unfamiliar pictures, eat unfamiliar things, chances are that for many times, you have been caught up in moments where I’d like to call – the encounters of food paradox.  Foods that don’t make sense, shouldn’t make sense, but the moment we put one in our mouth, the argument between logics and instincts all quiets down, and the only sensation left with any capacity for thoughts, is how defiantly delicious it stood against our prejudice.   It changes everything, on top of the very least, our palette henceforth, will never be the same.  This post, I hope, is about exactly that.

I have been longing to find a way, an accessible angle, to tell you about a thing called, ice cream-spring roll.  It’s a common street-food in Taiwan, not particularly flashy or groundbreaking.  In fact, among the immensely competitive and ever evolving Taiwanese street-foodscape, one may even argue, standard stuff.  But if you have no affiliation with the food-culture from this island proud for nothing but, the concept of this ice cream-spring roll, with its deceivingly predictable name, may just very well be your next big revelation.  Up front, what is expected surely is that there’s ice creams, most likely local flavours like taro or mango but could also include strawberry and vanilla, which are rolled inside a chewy crepe made with simply flour, water and salt.  No innovation there.  But to make things more interesting, a tall pile of sweet nutty and salty ” sandy streusels” is being shaved directly from a ginormous brick of peanut and caramel brittle, matching its proportion to the ice creams to almost 1:2.  The shaved/ground peanut caramel brittle alone, already completely push the texture and flavour of the spring roll to another dimension, but, it doesn’t stop there.  The real mind-blowing part, is the last descending sprigs of the unimaginable, the last to belong in the dessert isle, the controversially pungent… fresh cilantro leaves.  What?!  

You know I would describe it to you if I could.  I’d say it’s melty, creamy, sandy and crunchy all encased inside a film of chewiness.  I’d say that it’s sweet with pops of saltiness, the permeation of powdered peanuts and caramel and a whiff of herbs in the back-note.  But for the life of me, I cannot describe to you the immense confusion upon the impact of the first bite, then the gentle surrendering into the next, then a breeze of exhilaration on the last.  So I won’t.  You’ll have to try this one out yourself.  Because, that’s the beauty of a food-paradox isn’t it?  One that does and should be lived outside the limitation of words.  Maybe you’ll hate it.  Maybe you’ll love it.  Whatever it is, we will celebrate the forever-forward exploration that is eating.

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RE-CONSTRUCTED BANANA AND PEANUT BUTTER MASCARPONE PIE

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As seen on my Instagram, this vibrantly yellow bowl is from Dishes Only.

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I DON’T KNOW.  IT’S NOT A DESSERT.  IT’S THING.

When it comes to the awareness for Del Posto’s celebrated pastry-chef that is Brooks Headley, as well his critically acclaimed cookbook Fancy Desserts, I’ll admit, I was late to the game.  To start, I’ve never been to Del Posto, even for the time while I was still living blissfully in New York, I never.  I knew where it was.  I knew it was good.  But for the many times that I’ve passed it by, I dug into my dangling shallow pocket, and went for the Halal-truck parked around its corner instead, unregretted.  Then to further my negligence, I didn’t even give it the slightest consideration when their Brooks published his first, wacky and unconventional cookbook named – reeked of intimidations – Fancy Desserts.  I mean those who know me, from experiences perhaps too personal, already mourns my biological disability to even execute the dumbest-ass desserts, let alone, as if,  fancy.  The title only sounded slightly more appealing than watching a documentary on spaceship engineering.  But, my firmly footed ignorance all began to shake when my loyal advisor, The Piglet, out of many many other the-Gisele-Bundchen of cookbooks, named it The Best of 2015.  Finally, I sighed, I Amazoned, and I realized that for all this time…

I was so wrong.

Behind its unfiltered and seemingly unstudied photographs, is a smacking and dignified mockery to all the others who lack its otherwise overabundant substances.  I realized that a cookbook can only dare this level of anti-pornographic statement when it’s got nothing, absolutely nothing more to prove to us shallow pigs, than to say, I’m too good for pretty.  And it is.  This is the most honest, egoless and humorous cookbook I’ve ever read, but LOL aside, the book mercilessly attacks my mortal imagination with one-after-the-other daring recipes that completely defies logic, but wins intrigues if not hearts (throw in a James Beard Award for good measure).  I must, I murmured.  I must immerse myself in his teaching…

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PAN-GRILLED MARSHMALLOW TOASTS WITH SEA SALT

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SOME SAY WONDERFUL THINGS ARE BORN OUT OF DESPERATIONS.

BEFORE TODAY, I’VE ALWAYS THOUGHT THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT SPANDEX.

There is something I want you to know about Beijing, or perhaps, about this entire country in general.

If someday you too find yourself living as an angry tick inside the thick filthy furs on this enormous, hyper-capitalism beast, at least you’ll know this to your comfort.  Which is, fret not, because it is not only possible but entirely effortless to maintain all daily functions of life (whether a happy or miserable one…), up from remodelling your kitchen down to keeping yourself groomed, all of it … without stepping one foot outside the front door.

This is a city that takes consumer economy, bloody seriously.  You can get almost anything, luxurious or middle-class or just plainly dirt-cheap, anything, with a simple click of a button and have them delivered to your front door with fees next to nothing.  Order groceries online at 3 AM and have someone, messaging you minutes after, to ask you if you want your pork ribs chopped.  Type “yes, please” or “no, thank you”, and the next day at 4 PM, you’ll have everything you need for an all-out BBQ party including a brand new grill.  It is a, if not the only perk, of living here.

Then, there’s something else I also want you to know about Beijing, or perhaps this entire country in general, during the Chinese New Years.

Which is, that last, precious ounce of will to live that you’re holding onto so tightly through petty convenience and e-commerce therapy?  That will all… and I mean aaall, come to an abrupt and screeching halt, every year, at the first light of dawn on Chinese New Year’s Eves.

Then.  Lasts.  For.  Weeeeeks.

OK, perhaps you don’t know what this means.  It means online grocery shop, stops.  Online anything, stops.  Deliveries, half of them at least, stops.  My lifeline of this entire city, stops.  Right, of course I can remove myself from my bunker and physically go to an actual market to evade my impending starvation, but did I also mention… that it is cold here during CNY?  The kind of face-biting, ears-stinging coldness that makes the 15 minutes bike-ride between my apartment and the nearest market, feel like miles.  So thanks but no thanks.  Times like this, when desperation strikes, I could only resort to the emergency convenience store downstair.

Yes, well, that convenience store… that fucking convenience store that, when I needed it the most such as say… today, presented me with the mere company of a moldy broccoli and its desperate plea for a merciful death.  “Solly, Chinese New Years.”, the dude shrugged.  Was he serious?  I wouldn’t know what to do with a fresh broccoli let alone a moldy one.  Houston, it’s official.  You will find me stiff-cold by a torn bag of dog food in the bathroom…

Some say wonderful things are born out of desperations.  Before today I’ve always thought they were talking about spandex.  But now, now I know they were talking about things like this.  The transformation of an exhausted pantry to unexpected, glorious beauty.  What can you make from half of a baguette, a bag of marshmallows, some butter and flakey sea salt?  Apparently, much more than the sum of its parts.

As I stared into this little stack of pan-grilled marshmallow toasts with crispy edges and caramelized crusts, chewy and gooey layers of sweetness with pops of brininess, I marvelled at human’s sheer will to, not just survive, but survive well.  It took more than basic animal instincts for a blood-sugar thirsty female to patiently stood by the stove, gently pressing down the butter-browned baguette in a slow and warm embrace with the melting marshmallow, then the last 30-seconds push for it to caramelize into a gorgeous crust.  But it was all worth it.  Buttery, crispy, sticky and chewy with sparking saltiness.  A dignified end on the last day of this CNY’s starva-thon.

Tomorrow, the pulse of this city will slowly start to tick again as holiday ends.  But I have a feeling that this marshmallow toasts with sea salt is going to last much long than that.

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CARAMEL STRAWBERRY, BRIE, BUTTER/SUGAR TOASTS

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AFTER 10 months of not being able to leave… not a country, not even a state/province, but a particular CITY due to personal circumstances, at a certain point, the “think tank” starts to resemble more like a warm puddle in the middle of a barren desert.  Nowadays I seek recipe-inspirations like a stinking camel seeks for water, only minus the ability to regurgitate.  Don’t get me wrong.  All paranoid recipe-bloggers, me included, respects a well-stocked recipe-reservoir like doomsday-preppers hold high regards for canned beans.  It’s almost a co-dependant relationship and my list is about a mile long.

I guess… a closet full of recipes and nothing to cook, best puts it.

But ironically, as the painstakingly studied and tested recipes often end in heartbreaks, some of the best things I’ve cooked here are incidental occurrences on a whim.  Which brings us to today’s: So random I don’t even know what to call it.  Yah.  I don’t know what to call it because it came from a peripheral glance over the last 30 seconds of a TV-show that I don’t even know the name of, which (I think) pulled some golden-browned butter/sugar toast out of a skillet and served with soft cheese.  The idea stayed with me not because it was as hazy as a hallucinated mirage, but because instead of the more popular way of making “creme brûlée” toasts as under the broiler, this does it more efficiently and successfully, inside a skillet.

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CARAMEL STRAWBERRIES WILL BURST… THROUGH THIS BUTTERY, SUGARY, SALTY AND CHEESY GLORY


If you have ever tried making creme brûlée toasts under a broiler, you’d know that it’s an extremely volatile and unpredictable task.  Every single factor – the type of bread, the amount of sugar, the type of oven, blah blah blah – can contribute to its blackened, smokey, inedible demise.  But by doing it in a skillet – letting the toasts absorb a mixture of butter and sugar until they brown, caramelize and adhere to the golden browned toasts – the outcome is a much more controllable, crunchy, and delicious surprise.

Since we are already in the zone of talking caramel, why stop here?  Drawing inspiration from a traditional Chinese roadside snack, where they skewer various types of fruits, coat them with a whiffy thin layer of hot malt sugar then let hardened, I thought there’s no reason why caramel-coated strawberries would be unwelcomed between creme brûlée toasts and warm, melty brie.  And once in a very long while, everything just sort of goes according to plan.  The creme brûlée toasts are buttery and crunchy, with just enough heat to soften a good smear of French brie.  Then the caramel strawberries will burst through their crackly, lacey jackets as pressure applies and run their juices through this buttery, sugary, salty and cheesy feast of unnamed glory.

I guess there’s still some milage left in this tank.

  
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Makes:  2 sandwiches or 4 open-face

I don’t know why I’m fixated on making these more of a “sandwich” when in fact, it will probably be prettier and easier to eat as an “open face” (you know, like bruschetta).  So I’m leaving that option to you.  For an open-face toast, you’ll maybe need to double the amount of caramel/candy strawberries depending on the size of your bread, and also the size of strawberries.  I needed 6 small strawberries to fill 1 toast.

The freshly grated nutmeg is very important as it gives an “ooomph” to the flavour.  Don’t be shy.  You’ll want to see flakes of it through out the toasts.

Updates 2014/08/05:  Thanks to a reader we now know the show that inspired this!  It’s called Heartland Table with Amy Thielen.  In the show she uses maple syrup instead of sugar, which I think is a even better idea!  If you want to try maple syrup, substitute 3 tbsp of granulated sugar with 1/4 cup of maple syrup.


Ingredients:

  • Caramel and strawberries:
    • 1/3 cup (70 grams) of granulated sugar
    • 2 tsp of water
    • 12 ~ 14 small~medium size strawberries
    • Small cup of ice water on the side
  • 4 slices of rustic country bread
  • 4 tbsp of unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp of granulated sugar
  • 1 large chunk of good quality brie
  • Fresh nutmeg for grating

To make the caramel/candy strawberries:  Wash and remove the stems from the strawberries, then set aside.  Have a small cup of iced water ready.  Heat the sugar and water in a small pot over medium heat.  Cook until the sugar has melted and turned from clear to a pale yellow then to a rich, amber color (careful not to let it turn dark brown or it’ll taste bitter).  This will take approx 5 min.

Remove from the heat, then pick up a strawberry with a fork and dip it inside the caramel to coat thinly (there will be a bit of sizzle).  Let excess caramel drip off, then dip the strawberry in the iced water for 5 sec for the caramel to harden.  Remove the strawberry from the fork and set aside.  Repeat with the rest (If the caramel starts to cool down and is too thick to work with, return it to medium heat until it has loosen up again).

To make the toasts:  Melt the unsalted butter and sugar in a large flat-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat (if your skillet isn’t large enough to fit all 4 slices perfectly flat, then do it in two batches).  Once the butter and sugar look evenly blended (even though you may still see sugar-granules in the mixture), place the sliced bread inside the skillet with a tongs.  Swirl the bread inside the mixture for a few seconds to coat evenly, then flip and coat the other side as well.  Both sides of the bread should have evenly absorbed all the butter and sugar.  Cook the breads until golden browned, with caramel crust on each sides.

Remove from the skillet, and while hot, apply a generous layer of brie on top.  Pile the candy strawberries on top and grate a good amount of fresh nutmeg on top.  Serve immediately.

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CARAMEL APPLE PIE BISCUIT

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GENERALLY speaking, food makes people happy.

I’d like to think that I make happy foods.  I’d like to think that to the people wondering to this place, who are just one kale salad-away from opening a suicide.word, a fast responding blueberry oatmeal cookie, in some ways, is a contribution to humanity.  I’d like to think that to you out there who voluntarily devotes to a gluten-less life, though beyond my shallow comprehension, must have had your profound and keen purposes… the unintentionally gluten-free mochi donut is my gentle way of saying, I don’t get it but hey let me get you a donut.  Then of course, when all else fails, the sky is falling and all balls are tucked, a full frontal of a pornographic burger wouldn’t be the worst thing to remember last, before quitting it, whatever it is, all together.

But this theory has been testing quite unsoundly in my personal life-lab in the past week (previously on…), mostly due to my neurotic anxiety who has a very inappropriate humor of its own which has proven to be funnier than eating.

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Just to be clear, this is not where I brag about thing, but I’ve been cruising effortlessly through the most successful and effective, week-long fasting program that normally only Beyonce can pull off, and finding it a little… bittersweet.  This would have otherwise been a great news, a long-planned and awaited reunion with my dormant human-shapes, unfortunately just not in the optimal scenario as I envisioned it.  Don’t get me wrong, waistline, you look fabulous but fuck I look like shit.

MY ANXIETY… HAS A VERY INAPPROPRIATE HUMOR OF ITS OWN

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So in a desperate effort to restore such theory, I’ve embarked on a mission to make the happiest food alive.  Given that this is high pie-season, what’s better than something that, even just by the sound of its name, incandescently cheerful – the all American apple pie.  Hey, I figured if it’s happy enough to have sex with, it’d be sufficient for my condition.

But having said that, I have to be acutely aware of the danger of what a pie-making disaster can do to a fragile state of mind.  These crusty, happy-sounding fellas can be, more often than not, little mean soggy bi-polar bastards.  Best not to go there for the sake of my livelihood.  Instead, I’m going to impose the happy ideal of an apple pie onto these much faster, easier, and above all else, less disaster-friendly folks.  I’ve decided to turn it into biscuits.

So there I found myself in a gloomy, bleakly spirited afternoon, clinging over the edge of the kitchen-counter gulping down dose after dose of buttery crumbed biscuits that are sweetened with salted caramel and twinkle-lighted with soft, candied apples and warm cinnamon, allspice and nutmegs.  Then it occurred to me that, no, I needed something even more potent.  So I brushed them with melted butter and tumbled in nutmeg sugar.  At this point they were already reaching heavenly goodness but I was a holier mess, and I kept thinking that it just… just needed a litttttle something more…  What is it?  God damn it I had it at the tip of my tongue…

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Then OH RIGHT!   Of course.  Silly me.

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Makes: 7 small biscuits

Ingredients:

  • Caramel apple/wet ingredient:
    • 1/2 cup (154 grams) of granulated sugar
    • 1/4 cup (61 grams) of apple juice
    • 1 1/2 cup (185 grams/approx 2 small apples) of small-diced baking apple
    • 1/4 tsp of sea salt
    • 1/8 tsp of ground cinnamon
    • 1/8 tsp of ground allspice
    • 1/8 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg
    • 1/4 cup (60 grams) of apple juice
    • 1/4 cup (58 grams) of heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cup (212 grams) of all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tbsp of aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp of baking soda
  • 5 1/2 tbsp (80 grams) of unsalted butter, very cold and diced
  • 2 tbsp of melted butter for brushing
  • 1/4 cup (77 grams) of granulated sugar + 1/8 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg for surface

To make the caramel apple/wet ingredient:  In a sauce pot, bring 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and 1/4 cup of apple juice to a boil over medium heat.  Swirl occasionally and continue to cook until the liquid has evaporated and the sugar becomes a rich, dark amber color.  This will take a few minutes.  Then add the small-diced apples and continue to cook over medium heat.  The caramel will harden in contact of the cold apples, so stir with a spoon until all the caramel is melted again.  Cook until the liquid/juice from the apple has mostly evaporated, and the sauce slightly thickens again, approx 7 ~ 10 min.  You should have what looks like about 1/4 cup of liquid in the pot, and the apples should be almost translucent, like candied.

Stir in the sea salt, ground cinnamon, ground allspice, and freshly grated nutmeg.  Then add another 1/4 cup of apple juice and heavy cream.  Mix evenly then chill for at least 1 hour in the fridge, or 30 min in the freezer until cold.

To make the biscuit:  Preheat the oven on 425ºF/220ºC.

Whisk all-purpose flour, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl (or you can do it in the food-processor).  Add the diced and cold unsalted butter, then with a pastry-cutter, cut the butter into the flour until the largest bit is about the size of a small pea (or pulse the food-processor until this happens, then transfer the mixture to a large bowl).  Add the chilled caramel apple/wet ingredient, then with a spatula, fold the mixture together until a wet dough forms.  The dough should be wet and sticky.  If it’s too dry with loose crumbs and flour not coming together, add another tbsp of heavy cream.

Transfer to a floured surface and pat into 1″ (2.5 cm) thickness.  If the dough feels warm or even room-temperature (due to the wet ingredient not being chilled enough), wrap in plastic and flash-freeze for 30 min before proceeding.  Cut the biscuits out with a small cutter, then transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Gather the scraps and cut again.  You should have about 6 ~ 8 biscuits.  Brush the top with heavy cream then baking in the oven until golden browned and puffed, approx 15 min.

Allow to cool for 20 ~ 30 min on a cooling rack.  Brush the tops with melted butter then gently press against the nutmeg-sugar until it sticks.  If you want to slice it open for ice-cream sandwich, use a serrated knife because these are quite delicate.

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