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Blog posts of '2018' 'March'

Bourbon Creamsicle Caramels
Bourbon Creamsicle Caramels

Last weekend I was feeling a bit adventurous with the cookies and decided to go on a quest for the perfect salted caramel chocolate chunk cookie (which unfortunately is still in development.  In my approach I though I would grab some grocery store caramels as the soft melting center of my cookie, so I bough a bag.  I opened one (of the 30 or so in the bag) took a  bite and all I thought was “this is caramel flavored wax”… yuck.  So my cookie quest became a bit grander…. now I had to figure out homemade caramels. 

Well google is replete with recipes and looking over them all they seemed to be highly similar in approach.  The basic recipe seems to have been handed down from a handful of grandmothers and now inhabits all corners of the internet.  One recipe from Meaningful Eats even has this photo of the grandmother’s recipe card.   All the recipes follow this basic approach with some substitutions here and there.

I made up a big batch at 10pm and suffered through the hour long stirring.  Poured them out and then hit the hay.  The next morning, I rushed to the fridge, cut off a huge chunk and did a little taste test.   Soft rich buttery and delicious (not a hint of wax to be found). After my first batch and the fact that they disappeared off the counter at an alarming rate, I decided to play around with this recipe and expand the flavors a bit.  I love butter rum flavor and bourbon seems to the perfect partner for the caramel so I knew I was going to use bourbon in the recipe.  Since there was already some vanilla and the addition of the bourbon would ratchet up that flavor profile a good bit I thought some counter part flavor would need to be added.  Naturally with vanilla & bourbon I decided a hint of citrus would expand the taste a good bit and settled on orange.  Orange + Vanilla always = Creamsicle in my mind so I gave it a whirl.

My batch of these caramels will be at the store this week so feel free to come by for a taste (if they last).

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 2 cups light corn syrup
  • 2 cans (24oz) evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed)
  • ¾ teaspoon table salt
  • ¼ cup good quality Bourbon PLUS 2 Tablespoons
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons orange extract
  • 2 tablespoons fresh zest from a large orange  

Regarding use of unsalted butter and the salt addition – this is easier to manage the salt content instead of using salted butter – if you use salted butter in this recipe be sure to pull back on the extra salt in the recipe.  The temperature of the candy is a bit higher than many of the online recipes because so much liquid is being added after it cooks.

  1. Prepare a 13x9 inch pan (I use a jellyroll/cake pan) but a glass casserole will work equally well.  Butter the pan with a small amount of butter (soft not melted).  Lay a sheet of parchment into the pan and be sure it goes up and above all side.  Then butter, liberally, the parchment. (buttering the pan allows the parchment paper to stick well and then buttering the parchment paper allows the caramels to be removed easily.  DO NOT attempt this without parchment paper.
  2. Add butter, sugar, corn syrup, salt and ¼ cup bourbon to a heavy deep sauce pan.  Heat on medium to medium high until a soft rolling boil.  Stirring constantly.
  3. Once mixture is boiling slowly add the 2 cans of evaporated milk with constant stirring.  Each can should be added in the smallest quantities to avoid curdling.  Each can should take about 10 minutes to add.  The cool milk will cause the mixture to stop boiling – soon as this occurs stop adding until the soft gentle boil returns.  KEEP STIRRING
  4. Continue to cook at a gentle constant boil with constant stirring until mixture reaches 240 degrees on a good quality candy thermometer or a high-quality instant read.  It will feel like it takes forever to get from 118 degrees to 128 degrees, but the following 12 degrees will pass quickly so keep a close eye.
  5. When caramel reaches 240 degrees REMOVE from heat.  Stir in final 2 tablespoons Bourbon, vanilla extract, orange extract and orange zest.  Keep stirring this until fully incorporated (about 2 minutes).
  6. While still hot pour caramels into the prepared 13x9 pan.  Move directly to refrigerator and let cool at least 3 hours (overnight will be best).  Remove from pan when cold and cut into thumb sized pieces (probably about 80 pieces depending on how big a thumb you have).  Wrap individual candies while still cool in wax paper and share!
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"Big Kid Quilts" - the baby blanket you have been waiting for.
"Big Kid Quilts" - the baby blanket you have been waiting for.

The new "Big Kid Quilts" from Little Unicorn are the best new 'baby blanket' around.  Sized for both an adult and child to sit and cuddle under, these new 100% cotton muslin quilts are quickly becoming the top registry blanket for new moms.  These super breathable blankets are just about perfect for any climate allowing cool comfort in summer and warm snuggly comfort in colder seasons.  Parents are moving away from traditional baby blankets in favor of more versatile products that can be used from day one and grow with your child.

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Brown Sugar Ginger Cookies – sweet and spicy in just the right proportion.
Brown Sugar Ginger Cookies – sweet and spicy in just the right proportion.

For the past six or seven weeks I have been spending Friday nights baking up cookies for Saturdays at the store.  I’m not sure how it happened that this became a thing, but it did and now it is kind of getting expected to see a platter of homemade cookies sitting on the front counter (at least the staff is starting to expect it)

I adore cooking and baking and anything culinary and love messing with traditional recipes and making them my own.  A recipe from Cooks Illustrated, my favorite cooking gurus, caught my eye a few weeks ago.  The “Brown Sugar Cookie” recipe seemed like something I needed in my repertoire mainly because it mentioned and used butter that had been browned on the stove creating that toasted nutty aromatic flavor I LOVE.  So I gave it a whirl.  The addition of candied ginger seemed like a perfect fit.

These have been crowd favorites and disappear pretty quickly when I have brought them in.  Neither a cakey sweet sugar cookie nor an overly spicy ginger-snap, this cookie falls right in the middle with it’s nutty butter flavor, rich brown sugar caramel undertones and just the right amount of sweet ginger bite.

Yields 18-24 cookies

  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ¾ cups packed dark brown sugar (plus additional ½ cup for rolling)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large yolk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 Tablespoons candied ginger – coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and put rack on top position.

  1. Melt 10 tablespoons of the butter in skillet on stovetop.  Using medium heat and constant swirling cook butter until it begins to brown.  The milk solids in the butter with brown to a caramel color and a nutty aroma is produced.  Do not burn the butter and pay close attention.  When completely browned pour into large heatproof bowl with the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter.  The hot browned butter will melt the un-browned butter.  Allow to cool.
  2. In medium bowl measure out flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Wisk these dry ingredients until well mixed.
  3. Add brown sugar (1 ¾ cups) to melted butter.  Mix thoroughly removing any lumps with wooden spoon.  Add egg and egg yolk and vanilla.  Mix well, mixture will be uniform and creamy looking.
  4. Mix flour mixture and ginger into batter until fully incorporated and uniform.
  5. In shallow dish mix ½ cup brown sugar and ¼ cup granulated sugar with a fork to make a uniform lump free mixture for dredging the cookies.
  6. Roll golf ball sized portions (approx 1/4 cup) of the dough into uniform ball with your hands, roll in the sugar mixture and place 2 inches apart on PARCHMENT lined baking sheet (you will need two sheets or need to produce in two batches)
  7. Bake cookies on top shelf of oven for 12-14 minutes.  Cookies will flatten and tops will crack when done.  Cool completely on wire rack.  (Best when fully cooled and even better the next day when flavor melds).  Store (when fully cooled) in airtight container.


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Straight Talk - In-line Double strollers
Straight Talk - In-line Double strollers

Get straight forward information about single to double expandable strollers and how they might fit your needs for a family of multiples or family with children close in age. Don't be fooled - there is no perfect stroller. The particular configuration of the second seat has drawbacks and features and we detail those concerns so you can match the right stroller to your lifestyle and family needs. The often daunting offering of strollers that expand to fit multiple children is discussed with our recommendations for different types of families.

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