Gourmet Holiday Caramel Apples recipe and pics guide

Alright cake lovers, it's now officially the Holiday season and we have to get serious up in here. At this moment, I'd like to talk about something very near and dear to my heart. Caramel Apples. I've made it almost tradition. As soon as October comes and caramel apples hit the market shelves, I have to get a pack. They're my go to snack for my Sunday movies, my after dinner dessert, or just when I'm happy...and when I'm sad. When ever I love something this much, I always think "Why not just make it". So, a couple of years ago, I attempted Ze Caramelle Appelle (fake french accent). I thought that I was about to LIVE MY ENTIRE LIFE. However, ten minutes after dipping my apples, there was more caramel on the counter than on the apple. At that moment, I knew I messed up...lol. 

I've known how to make a good caramel sauce for a while now, but the "good caramel sauce" that you make for other desserts my not be good caramel for apple dipping. So, I did my research and went back to the lab aka my test kitchen. I found out two things. 
1. I washed my apples but never removed the wax. Skipping this step alone might result in the caramel slippage. Easily remove the wax by dipping the apples in hot water for a few seconds and rubbing away.
2. I needed a thicker, full proof sauce and I refused to use the caramel candies. Even though that is an option if you prefer to do it that way. 

You guys know I love you, and this is love. I'm sharing with you a delicious caramel apple recipe that will knock those socks right off. This recipe is for 5 medium large apples. If you're making more, simply double or triple the recipe. In the video tutorial (below) I made 4 caramel apples and had plenty of caramel left over for candy making. The caramel is soft, buttery and melts in your mouth. My mom is now slightly addicted. This is a perfect holiday gift. So instead of going for cookie making. Make a few apples, wrap them up in a goodie or treat bag and hand them out as homemade gourmet gifts! 
Also, follow my Instructables page for more recipes like this one.
Click above to watch tutorial.

1 C Brown Sugar
1/2 C Light Corn Syrup
1/2 Can (7 oz.) Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 Stick Butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
You'll also need:
4-5 Apples
Sticks for apples (I used wooden cake dowels)
Hot Water
Waxed Paper
Shortening or nonstick spray
Optional Toppings:
Chopped Peanuts
Reese's Peanut Butter Chips
Chocolate Chips
Christmas decoration candies

1. Add all of the caramel sauce ingredients into a sauce pot and cook on medium low heat. Check the sauce often and make sure to stir constantly to avoid the sauce from burning and sticking.

 Using a candy thermometer,cook the sauce until it reaches a temperature of 235 degrees OR just cook the sauce for about 30 minutes until it's thick and creamy!

2. While the caramel sauce is cooking, this is a great time to remove the stem of the apples and add your sticks. I used wooden cake dowels that I cut in half. You can also use Popsicle sticks, actual sticks (this looks beautiful and rustic) or perhaps a long lollipop stick.

Once that's done, place your apple one by one in the hot water and allow to sit for about 10-15 seconds to melt the outside wax. Using a clean towel, gently rub away that wax. You'll know the wax is gone because the apple won't be as shiny. Without this step, the caramel might slide off.

3. Grab a plate or counter space and lay down some waxed or parchment paper. Apply about a tablespoon of shortening to the waxed paper or a good amount of nonstick spray to prevent the apples from sticking.

If you haven't done so already, prepare all of your toppings in bowls.

4. This is the best part. Now that your caramel sauce is ready, remove it from the stove and place with the rest of your setup. Carefully dip an apple (holding it by the stick) into the caramel sauce and roll the apple to coat the entire surface. Hold the apple over the sauce, allowing some to drip away. Immediately dip the apple into the toppings of your choice and place on the parchment paper.

Do this for all of your apples. Be aware that the caramel sauce will start to stiffen up. Get it back to it's consistency by placing it back on the stove for a couple of minutes while stirring, then continue.

5. Drizzle your caramel apples with white chocolate, dark chocolate or colorful candy melts. For a Christmas theme, try drizzling red and/or green candy melts onto the apples. The caramel will stiffen pretty quickly, so if using sprinkle candies apply them with haste or sprinkle into a bowl to dip the apple into.
Allow the apples to sit in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to ensure that the caramels holds onto those toppings.

6. Turn these apples into gourmet gifts by tying a silk ribbon around the stick and placing into treat bags. I highly encourage you to recreate this recipe rather than melting caramel candies. The quality of the caramel is to die for.

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Bloody Brain Cake

Halloween is near and everyone is looking for that perfect dessert. Well, this bloody brain cake will give you both a trick and a treat. Spook your guests with this easy brain cake that you can whip up in no time. Click the video to watch the tutorial.

You'll Need:
A metal bowl
Cake batter
Fondant colored light brown (use three drops of brown gel dye)
Burgundy or Maroon gel dye
Strawberry pie/cake filling
Vanilla Frosting
1/2 Cup Water
Long knife

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a large metal bowl as you would a cake pan. Pour your batter (1 box or enough for two 8" cakes) into the bowl and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 325 and bake for 20 more minutes until a knife inserted comes out clean.
2. Once cooled, remove the cake from the bowl and carve away two sides (across from one another) leaving a curved edge. Continue to round the edges of the cake by carving away little pieces until you get a brain shape. One end will be slighter wider than the other end. Similar to the shape of a chicken with no legs or wings....does that help?
3. Frost the cake with vanilla frosting only applying enough to coat the cake. Then, using a large knife, mark the center of the cake lengthwise. This line will mark the left and right hemisphere of the brain.

4. Create a tan colored fondant by using a 2 to 3 drops of brown gel dye. Once ready, roll pieces of fondant into logs about 1 cm. in width, or as thick as a Crayola marker. Create different lengths.

5. Begin to add your fondant pieces to the cake at random but working on one side at a time. Remember not to cross that center line. Curve some of the fondant pieces that are closest to the line for a more realistic brain.

6. Similar to a puzzle, fit the pieces of fondant together keeping them as tight as possible to avoid gaps. Every once in a while, lightly press the fondant to flatten the surface and push the pieces closer together.
7. Once you've covered the entire cake. Use a large knife to create the center gap and separate both hemispheres. We're not cutting the cake, just using it as a spacer, you can also use a ruler for this.
8. In a bowl add 1/2 cup of strawberry cake filling, 1/4 cup of water and a couple drops of burgundy or maroon gel dye. Mix to combine. Depending on brand of filling, another 1/2 cup of water may be added to thin the sauce out. It should be a jelly like consistency but slightly runny.
9. Spoon the sauce down the center of the brain, and fill in any small gaps between the fondant pieces. Allow some of the "blood" to drip down the cake and also smear some on the cake plate.
Top with a knife!

Happy Halloween
Click above to watch the video tutorial.

How to make Fondant Leaves | Baby Shower Cake

It's the season for beautiful colors, warm flavors and some creative fondant work.

I was asked to do a baby shower sheet cake covered in fondant leaves and acorns with a pumpkin topper which is a big chocolate cake ball covered in fondant. This gave me the perfect opportunity to purchase some leaf cookie cutters that I've been wanting for a while. I wanted two specific leaves and in different sizes. Wilton's fall leaf cookie cutter set was perfect. I knew that I was going to be making the acorns by hand so I wouldn't be using that cutter, but it will definitely come in handy for some Fall cookies. 

These intricate leaves look very hard to make, but in fact they're not, they're actually more fun than anything. This is one of those projects where you get to play with your food. The hardest step is choosing what colors to blend. So let's get started, here's how to make realistic fondant leaves for all of your autumn baking needs!
If you have any questions please leave them below and/or watch the video.
The actual cake flavor is an Orange Velvet Cake with blue swirls (to represent the baby boy) and chocolate buttercream frosting. Also, watch the video to learn how to make fondant acorns.

You'll Need:
5 or 6 shades of fondant: Burgundy, Green, Light Green, Brown, Yellow and I also added Orange.
Fall leaf Cookie Cutters
Rolling Pin
Gumpaste Ball Tool
An egg carton or a mold to shape the leaves (rolling pin, bowl, etc.)
Choose an arrangement of colors. For the first set of leaves, I combined green, yellow, burgundy and brown.

The second set of leaves are green, yellow, and leftover fondant from the first set.
Combine the fondant pieces and knead until the colors have combined to your liking. Remember not to over-work the fondant, you still want to be able to see each of those colors that were added.

Roll out the fondant and cut using the leaf cutter of your choice.

Optional: Using a ball gumpaste tool, thin out the edges of the leaf by gently running the larger end of the tool along the edge.

Next, using a gumpaste veining tool (or a toothpick), apply a vein going down the center from base to tip. Following the natural shape of the leaf, apply a vein in each section and finish by adding smaller veins.

Shape the leaf by laying in an egg carton, a bowl or any other clean inanimate object that might do the trick! Let the leaves harden over night and voila! You've got edible fall leaves! Enjoy!

 Click below to watch the video and see how I made fondant acorns!

They're alive! Try these easy buttercream cupcakes with only a few necessities. Swap out the piping bag for a small sandwich bag to consider these one of the quickest, cutest Halloween cupcakes ever. Scroll all the way down to watch the YouTube tutorial. Don't forget to subscribe to the channel while you're at it! 

You'll Need:
Frosting: Green, Black, White
Piping bag w/ small round tip or a Sandwich bag
Butter Knife

1. I used a couple dots of green gel dye to achieve this shade of green. Using a butter knife, simply pat a large mound of frosting on the cupcake and flatten the top while keeping some height to the frosting. If needed, scrape the knife around the frosting for a cleaner edge.

2. Place the black buttercream in a piping bag with a small circle tip OR a sandwich bag with a small cut in the corner. Pipe zig-zags across the top of the cupcake to create the hairline. Continue to go around the edge and fill it in completely. Use the piping tip or a tooth pick to completely fill in all of the small gaps.

3. Next, create a few stitches by piping one short line (about 1/2 in.) with 2 or 3 lines going across. For Frankenstein's mouth, I decided to do a zig-zag smile and a straight face, but you can do whatever you'd like here. I'd recommend making each cupcake look different.

4. Place white frosting in a sandwich bag with a small cut in the corner to pipe the whites of the eyes. To remove the peak on the eyes, simply wet a finger and lightly pat the white dots to flatten.

5. Once again, take the black frosting from before and pipe small black dots in the center of the whites. This is also a great place to personalize the cupcakes. Here, you can make the direction of the eyes different on all of your cupcakes.

You can also pipe a small dot on both sides of the face to make small bolts.

Happy Halloween.

PERFECT Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

So you're at a Cafe or some well known restaurant chain. You decide to purchase a dessert with your coffee, say a cookie perhaps? You take a bite of that cookie and the 'OMG' alert signals in your brain start to go off. You are now consuming one of the best cookies you've had in a very long time. The texture, the flavor, chocolaty but not overwhelming. Just enough vanilla and that hint of brown sugar. 

You think about purchasing another one, but NO, that'd be too many calories...and who knows what's in these things to make them taste sooo good. If only I could make them at home. 

If I sound "infomercially" it's because, gosh darnit this is a winner.

I don't think I'm the only one who has been in this situation countless amounts of times. But cake lovers, it doesn't have to be this way! Below....I have for you the unofficial (but official) most amazing chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe ever. It's not only soft and delicious, but it's homemade. I'm talking ingredients that you probably have in your kitchen right now! I'm going to cut myself off so you guys can get to baking. Let me know how they turn out. Scroll to the bottom for the YouTube tutorial or click here.

3/4 C Unsalted melted butter
1/2 C Granulated sugar
1 C Dark Brown sugar

1 tbsp. Vanilla extract
1 Whole egg
1 Egg yolk

2 C Flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 C Regular chocolate chips
1 C Mini chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine the melted butter and both sugars. Mix for 1 minute.

2. Add the vanilla extract and eggs to the bowl and continue to mix for 5 minutes while preparing your dry ingredients.

3. In the meanwhile, sift together the flour, salt and baking soda. I prefer sifting my dry ingredients onto a sheet of parchment to easily pick up and pour into the bowl. This is of course is optional, do whatever works best for you.

4. After about 5 minutes, the batter should have almost doubled in volume and turned a couple of shades lighter, almost resembling peanut butter. At this time add your flour mixture to the batter and mix until just combined (less than a minute).

*We want a tender cookie, so try not to over-mix. As soon as the flour is fully incorporated, it's ready.*

5. Lastly incorporate your chocolate chips into your dough by hand. Scoop onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. For best results, use an ice cream scoop. This way each cookie will cook evenly and be uniform in size. Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned.

6. When ready, allow the cookies to sit for 5 minutes before transferring them on a cooling rack. To keep soft when storing, place the cookies in an air tight container. Don't refrigerate unless you'd like a crunchier cookie.