CARAMEL WEEK: Caramel Banana Bread Pudding

Welcome to CARAMEL WEEK!!!  This week marks a momentous occasion when strong and courageous women bloggers stand up for what is good and holy in the world–caramel.

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I honestly could not be more excited for all of the delicious recipes from caramel week!  To think of all of the caramel taste testing that went on during recipe development is mind-boggling.  There was a lot of spoon-dipping and finger-licking in my kitchen alone!

It took me a surprisingly long time to decide on what to make, mainly because caramel anything is amazing.  A local restaurant serves an incredible bananas foster bread pudding, so I thought a riff on that might be fun to try.  Boy, am I glad I did!  This caramel banana bread pudding is The Taste.

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I always start my recipe development by scouring the internet and cookbooks for recipes similar to what I’m planning on making.  I usually check Foodgawker.com, FoodNetwork.com, America’s Test Kitchen, Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, and whatever other books I have lying around.Ingredients

Once I’ve found a few favorites, I examine the ingredients in each, decide upon what I think would taste the best, and what my ratios should look like.  I really liked the idea of challah bread because it is thick and eggy, which fits perfectly with an eggy bread pudding.  I decided to use more brown sugar in my recipe because bananas and brown sugar are like bread and butter, like Sonny and Cher, like a shmoke and a pancake.  I also knew that I would need to replace some milk with heavy whipping cream because…well…heavy whipping cream makes everything better.  Obviously.

Challah

After I decide upon my ingredient list, I make up ratios needed to increase the flavor town (pinch of salt here, extra vanilla here, etc.).  Eventually my bread pudding recipe was ready to go and I was ready to start cooking!

Slice your challah into 1 inch cubes like this.

Slice your challah into 1 inch cubes like this.

I ran into a problem when I was pouring the milk and egg mixture over my challah; I didn’t have enough liquid to cover the bread!  Nothing to fear, I simply added a splash more cream and wrote down a new estimated amount on the recipe.

This is what your pudding should look like after soaking and smooshing for an hour in the fridge.

This is what your pudding should look like after soaking and smooshing for an hour in the fridge.

If my recipe is a winner, I post it on the blog.  If it’s terrible or mediocre, it’s back to the drawing board!  Recipe development sounds scary, but it’s really fun to get creative with your favorite ingredients and to try out new foods.

For the bread pudding you will need:

  • 1 loaf challah bread (the loaf I found at the store was huge, so just use what you need to fill a 9 x 13 pan) — cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 banana — mushed
  • 3.5 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp butter (melted and cooled slightly)
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp rum
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For ingredients and directions for the salted caramel sauce, visit Comfortably Domestic’s blog.  Her sauce is wonderful.  It tastes almost like a Werther’s Original, but so much better!

Comfortably Domestic's Salted Caramel Sauce (This was a key ingredient for the bread pudding because the saltiness mixed with the sweetness and took the dish to the next level)

Comfortably Domestic’s Salted Caramel Sauce (This was a key ingredient for the bread pudding because the saltiness mixed with the sweetness and took the dish to the next level)

  1. Leave the challah out on a cookie sheet overnight to dry.  You can also dry the bread out in the oven at 325 for 10 minutes.
  2. Place the challah in a 9 x 13 pan.  Do not use a glass pan for this!  The pan will go straight from the fridge to the oven and we don’t want any broken glass pudding mixtures in the bottom of our oven.
  3. Mix all other ingredients in a large bowl until combined.
  4. Pour mixture over bread.
  5. Put the bread pudding in the fridge for 1 hour.  Squish the bread down into the milk every 20 minutes so that each cube of bread is soaking.  This allows the bread to absorb all of that nummy milk mixture and to ensure you aren’t inadvertently making croutons.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  7. Bake for 45 minutes or until pudding is no longer jiggly.
  8. Serve and drizzle Kirsten’s salted caramel over the top.

Check out the other wonderful caramel treats throughout the week with this schedule of events:

Have you ever created your own unique recipe?  How do you develop recipes?

-Mads

One Kitchen Many Hearts

Hello friends,

Welcome to another edition of your semi-monthly box of goodies from One Kitchen Many Hearts!  Our little corner of the internet decided to come together (probably because of our shared love of treats) and send each other care packages every other month.  This month’s “Spring Fling” themed box arrived from Megan at Country Cleaver and she blew my mind with the awesomeness of this box!

The women of One Kitchen Many Hearts

The women of One Kitchen Many Hearts

Honestly, the box of pre-made mole was the first item I saw and I was…well…horrified.  I mean, the 1970s box design doesn’t exactly scream, “Eat me!  I’m the best authentic mole in town!”  As soon as I saw the note with the awesome hand-drawn mole, I knew immediately she sent me the box because of our shared love for the Austin Powers movies.  Do you remember the mole scene?  “Yes, nice to mole you…MEET you!  Nice to meet your mole.  Don’t say mole.  I said mole.”  hahaha cracks me up every time.  I honestly can’t wait to try it.

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Then my jaw fell to the floor when I saw THIS BEAST:

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Megan and I recently waged a war on Twitter against Jonathan in regards to how to care for cast iron.  If you haven’t visited Megan’s blog, go there now.  On Tuesdays she sometimes writes a “How To Tuesday” post with cooking basics.  A recent post was on how to season cast iron pans, and I realized we had been cleaning ours wrong all along!  I took the only obvious course of action, which was to blame Jonathan and publicly shame him on social media.  Obviously.  I think she sent us this pan to end any marital conflict she may have inflicted upon us.  Thank you, Megan.

She also sent me a baggie of dried cantaloupe.  Can you say nummy?  I think I’m going to chop it up and add it to yogurt, or oatmeal, or cookies…too many possibilities!

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I also love the possibilities for this little peanuty guy:

SQUIRREL

SQUIRREL

Megan did such a great job finding box items that were special to me.  Thank you, Megan!!!

To see what I sent Jeanne, hop on over to Inside NanaBread’s Head.

Check out the rest of the loot here:

Rebeka @ Kvetchin’ Kitchen
Kirsten @ Comfortably Domestic
Megan @ Wanna Be A Country Cleaver
Allison @ Decadent Philistines Save the World

How do you stay in touch with friends?  Do you ever send care packages?

-Mads

SURPRISE: Happy Birthday Jeanne!

Hello everyone,

If you’ve been following the blog and theme weeks for awhile, you know that Jeanne from Inside NanaBread’s Head is a large part of my world.  She keeps our little group organized and up-to-date on crafting, hooch, and Tex Mex delights.  She’s hilarious, caring, and absolutely one-of-a-kind.  So we decided to throw her a virtual surprise party for her 50th birthday!!!

Happy birthday, Jeanne!

We all brought a dish to share for the party…AND…we’ve scheduled an even bigger birthday surprise for Saturday.  So stay tuned!  It arrived on Jeanne’s doorstep in the form of 11 sealed packages.  🙂  heeheehee

Now Jeanne’s love of Tex Mex inspired something deep inside of me to make a cheesy dip…obviously.  So I created this Cheesy Chorizo Dip to bring to the virtual party.  Can I get an amen?

You will need:

  1. 1 package softened cream cheese (8 oz.)
  2. 8 oz. light sour cream
  3. 1 Tbsp. taco seasoning
  4. 1/2 diced onion
  5. 2 cloves minced garlic
  6. 1/2 minced jalapeño
  7. 1/2 chorizo sausage
  8. 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  9. 2 diced green onions
  10. 1-2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  11. Bag o’ tortilla chips!

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Mix the cream cheese, sour cream, and taco seasoning together.

This picture is a result of me playing around with a new iPhone app.  Please disregard how ominous the sour cream looks.  I promise, the sour cream only brings love!  This got weird fast.

This picture is a result of me playing around with a new iPhone app. Please disregard how ominous the sour cream looks. I promise, the sour cream only brings love! This got weird fast.

Brown the chorizo and onion together over medium high heat until thoroughly cooked.  Toss in the garlic and jalapeño, sautéing for about 1 minute, until the flavors are released.

Chorizo browning on the skillet looks like dog food in pictures, so instead, please enjoy this snap of some chopped onion, garlic, and jalapeno.

Chorizo browning on the skillet looks like dog food in pictures, so instead, please enjoy this snap of some chopped onion, garlic, and jalapeno.

Mix the chorizo mixture with the cream cheese mixture.  Attempt not to eat with spoon.

Put the mixture into an oven-proof dish and top with the shredded cheese.

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Bake until mixture is bubbly and golden brown (approximately 10 minutes…I didn’t actually time this because I was doing other things in the kitchen.  Don’t trust me, just keep an eye on it!)

Top with the green onions and cilantro.  EAT with chips!

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Jonathan and I couldn’t agree on whether or not this was better than my original taco dip recipe, but the meat added an element of yowza!  Enjoy!

Happy happy birthday, Jeanne!

-Mads

To keep the party going, check out… Kirsten’s Orange Cream Pie, Allison’s Coca Cola Cake, Beka’s Aged Manhattan, Megan’s Nutella Turnovers, Anne’s Mexican Vanilla Ice Cream Cones, Monica’s Tropical Ice Cream, Katie’s Chocolate Cake with Cooked Flour Frosting, Lauren’s Mini Key Lime Pies with an Animal Cracker Crust, Madeline’s Fig, Fontina and Pecan Flatbread, Carrie’s Coconut Banana Brownie Pie, and Kat’s Guacamole.

One Kitchen Many Hearts Box

Hello internet,

By now you know that every other month my group of bloggy buddies sends each other goodies in the mail.  It’s a wonderful way to stay in touch, give each other trinkets unique from our region of the US, and to stuff our faces with the noms we receive.  Normally I only receive packages when I go on an Amazon.com shopping bender, so a handcrafted box of love is a wonderful change of pace.

The ladies

The ladies

This month’s theme was Winter Essentials (i.e., all of the things you need to successfully survive the winter in a girly and elegant way).  I realize winter is non-existent in California, but we played along anyway. 😉

Snowflake cookie cutter is essential!

Snowflake cookie cutter is essential!

I received my winter essentials box from Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic.  Homegirl is a wonderful food nerd, crafter, mother of 4 boys, Midwesterner, and friend.  I love getting boxes from her because she intuitively knows what I need as a Midwestern expat…she gets me.

To start, she sent a mitts and paws kit, complete with lotions and soaps to keep my hands from drying up.  I can’t tell you how grateful I was for this because my hands get so dry and cracked, even in milder climates. Sad times.

Mitts and paws kit

Mitts and paws kit

She also made homemade hot cocoa mix!  I laughed out loud when I saw this because I attempted to make hot cocoa mix for Allison’s box, but failed miserably.  My attempt at cocoa was clumpy and bitter, so I ended up throwing it directly in the trash.  Kirsten, I’m going to need your recipe!  Alton failed me…as always, that bastard!

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I got another box of Danish dark chocolate…score!  This stuff is incredible.  So incredible that it’s hard not to eat the entire thing in one sitting.

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Speaking of eating everything in one sitting, Kirsten also sent me the best orange shortbread cookies in the world!  These cookies disappeared faster than the Girl Scout cookies, which is really saying something.  They had the perfect balance of tart orange zest and buttery cookie dough.  The recipe is in the works and will be up on her blog soon, so stay tuned.

Orange shortbread cookies from heaven

Orange shortbread cookies from heaven

Thanks for an incredible box, Kirsten!

What is on your winter essentials list?

-Mads

White Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream Frosting: Sweets for Your Sweetiepie Week!

Hello everyone!

Welcome to another themed week of goodies: Sweets for Your Sweetiepie Week!!!

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Our lovely team of rock star bloggers have put their heads together to ensure that you have a recipe to make for your loved ones this Valentines Day!

If you’ve been tuning in for a while, you know that I get amped up over any holiday and V-Day is no exception. I love an excuse to give out hugs, tell people I care about them, and most importantly to binge on chocolate and wine. This year I am in class all night, so my celebration will have to wait until the weekend. Luckily, my class is Human Sexuality, which is the most exciting class you could have on Valentines Day. 😉 I’m hoping we talk about something upbeat like fetishes or swinger parties, and not erectile dysfunction or supernumerary nipples.  Ok wait, both of those topics are great too.  I guess I’m super excited for class!  Maybe I’ll become a sex therapist?!

Anyway, I made these treats so we could enjoy ourselves all week long!

Jonathan is not a huge dessert fan, usually because he claims they are too “sweet”. But his favorite sweet to indulge in is white chocolate. We were recently at a party with a make-your-own-cupcake bar (GENIUS) and I spotted Jonathan helping himself to a few different varieties, which inspired these White Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream Frosting.

Can you think of a better combo than white chocolate and raspberry? I cannot.

For the cupcakes you will need:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 oz. white chocolate bar
  • 8 oz. white chocolate chips (a smidge more than 1/2 bag)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a cupcake pan or use these adorable cupcake wrappers for V-day!
tins

Cream together butter and sugar.  Add the vanilla and eggs until smooth.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a saucepan over low heat, melt the 4 oz. white chocolate bar and milk.  White chocolate has a funny way of melting, which is to say it doesn’t melt well.  It gets kind of runny and chunky, but pay that no attention.

Ghirardelli FTW!

Ghirardelli FTW!

Slowly combine the flour mixture with the butter and sugar mixture until smooth.  Try not to whip the crap out of your batter because it will harden your cupcakes.  Nobody wants a cement cupcake.  Be GENTLE!

batter

Slowly add the melted chocolate mixture to the batter until creamy.  Then add your 8 oz. of chocolate chips.

The extra white chocolate chips tossed in at the end really give this recipe an extra oompf of creamy white chocolate flavor!

Double white chocolate intensity

Double white chocolate intensity

Pour the batter into the greased cupcake pan.

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Bake at 375 degrees for 16-18 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let the cupcakes cool completely before moving to the frosting stage.

For the frosting you will need:

  • 1 1/2 stick butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 Tbsp raspberry jam

Whip together butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, whipping cream, and pinch of salt until it looks like frosting (about 30 seconds on high).

frosting

Then add the raspberry jam and mix it into the frosting with a rubber scraper.  If you are lucky, your friend Jeanne from Inside NanaBread’s Head will send you a giant jar of delicious homemade raspberry, cranberry, and cherry jam for you to use in this recipe. If you aren’t lucky, you will walk with your head hung in shame to the grocery store to get sub par jam.

Thank you, Jeanne!

Thank you, Jeanne!

If raspberries are in season, it might be fun to make a raspberry compote to use in the frosting instead of jarred jam. I didn’t do this because raspberries were $4 when I created this recipe.

Spread the frosting evenly over the cupcakes and top with fresh raspberries or sprinkles.  These cupcakes were divine and got the stamp of approval from the hubby and my coworkers!  Num!

White Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream Frosting

White Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream Frosting

What are you making for Valentine’s Day this year?  What are your plans this holiday?

-Mads

Please check out the rest of the sweets on other blogs throughout the week! These bloggers are fearless bakers and make me drool on a daily basis. I hope you find something you want to make for your sweetheart!

Sunday:

Monday:

Tuesday:

Wednesday:

Thursday:

Friday:

Saturday: